When my good friend and contributor to musicmuso.com Hugh Ogilvie emailed me with an idea, I'm always keen to hear what's been floating around his head. "Rather then me writing a review of an album, why don't I convey my thoughts in the form of poetry", he asked. I was super keen to give this a shot. What follows is Hugh's reaction upon hearing I See You, the latest long player by The XX....
Looking outwards into the half-light, can you fit into this moment? Do those keyboard refrains float invitingly in your delicate presence or are you lost to the realness of the world, caught between early morning’s doleful stretching and the hesitant beginnings of a new dawn?
When did we become lost? Was it somewhere within the clouds and the stars of our imaginations or in a more earthly domain? We find each other again, leaning against a brick dust red wall, the thrum of the club dancefloor feeling its way into our willing ribs, clawing at the cage surrounding them. The bass speaker throbs in time, the tune collapses, the next one emits a signal to the heart, seeking escape, release.
Cautious, reluctant – who is going to make the first move, to take the risk? The music echoes our thoughts in brilliant technicolour; I turn to face your face, holding an instant, tinged with a regret, inchoate regret, wanting so much to be with you now. The guitar echoes, my being caught up in the arpeggio riffs, the melody consoling me as the comedown creeps in : the inevitable comedown, the one we have both experienced before. How did it come to this?
Desire ebbs and flows, a tide of rich and dangerous emotions. ‘Same right, same wrong, only difference is that I’m the one’. A piano line injects slow motion vigour into tired veins, the bass line pulls us along into the cavernous tunnel, willing us into sweet darkness and oblivion. The lights flicker in the distance, I reach out for you: ‘They all say, I will become a replica , your mistakes were only chemical’.
The vocal is fragile, the mood all pervasive, we skip around corners in search of a sign, craving mystery and difference, an intensity of feeling to remove us from this gravity-led existence…. Can we possibly float free, stand on the stage, give ourselves away? Space is all around us, can we touch that emptiness and let it fill up our souls, bringing colours, thunderbolts, desperate beauty – do we have to grow old? Is time immaterial?
The beams of the morning invade the reverie, people emerge from the shadows, shy smiles pucker sallow faces, the colours returning gradually, the memories of the night before flitting fitfully, struggling for escape into the ether – let it not be this way. Can we not relive this for eternity or would it be too much to cope with – ‘Go on, I dare you’…
We could whirl from New York to London, Reykjavik, Los Angeles and back again, searching for answers to half-formed questions. The beat kicks in, gently. Can we lift ourselves up for one more dance before cold reality beckons us into the hours, minutes and seconds of the unwilling daybreak? Will we ever find truth or will the grains of loss forever keep slipping through our fingers?
‘…..Before it slips away, say something loving.’ Oh, we go, here it comes again. The night is over, the day has begun. We return to pavements, stray leaves hugging lamp posts, gulls cawing emptily into the bitter air, the murky depths of the river beckoning us forward, trudging into the city, to enfold ourselves with new, startling experiences. The road opens up : look up, move on, there will chances to return to forever moments, infinite seconds, just like those we held close in the endless hours before.