An appreciation of The The’s Trilogy Box: Radio Cineola Volumes 4,5,6 (Cineola/Lazarus 2017)
Night sounds in the day. The preposition’s adjusting.
Shifting in his chair, from the evening, darkness composed,
Across dawn. Matt Johnson takes care of the moon,
By refocusing light on the city, powering it with electronics
And the appraisals of those who shape scorn.
In this trilogy box, a master musician scores protest.
As everyone knows, music masters what language
At its very best can part serve. Perhaps that’s why
These last years the songwriter fell silent,
As it would seem that his personal sound spoke succinctly
Traversing the expected use of known words.
But now a new song is here, detailing a loss, but reviving
The sacred love for a sibling who this melody brings to life.
We Can’t Stop What’s coming, indeed. But Johnson commands
Its attention, with ‘the taste of tears’ and new darkness
Muse and music meet singer as fresh poetries realign.
After the soundtracks, Moonbug and for his younger brother’s
Films, Tony and Hyena, The The’s music graces its own intense
Images. There is a world in decline; political, economic,
A world of sharp ashes and increasingly crushed villages.
Communties of the mind, if not in the suburbs.
As Johnson looks out on London, from spells in the Middle East
And New York he sees that we need some new reformation
In which the fusion of forces can be held in the hand,
Bottled, bought. But we must learn to see what is truly
Changing around us if we are to uncover the parasite
Worm in the blood. CD ONE, Volume Four features twelve
Past successes. A series of outsider covers soothes some of
The The’s strongest songs. Each one has been slowed, stripped and served
By a host of European musicians, as if a glacier of protection
Has caught the cold sunlight to illuminate for us
All that’s wrong. This is the Day calls for change in either aggressor
Or victim. Thomas Feiner forewarns in lugubrious drawl what takes place.
Gravitate To Me’s energy as displayed on Mind Bomb
Is here a mask’s warning on the duo Elysian Field’s shining face.
Love is Stronger than Death, always one of Johnson’s great Titles,
Under Tom Bright’s acoustic allows this celebration to affirm
That The The in their day were better and truly ‘bluer than midnight’
And that all the night’s colours, were, through the instruments’ played
Ours to learn. Packaged now in this box and in a book like case,
Music’s volume attains bibliographic importance,
And with Johnson’s new song shows the day
Is his once again as what could be called a rock band become landscape;
A frontier to draw faith from as each of us front the affray.
CD TWO, Volume Five shows some of Johnson’s own struggle,
Featured in Johanna St. Michael’s documentary,
The Intertia Variations, we see Johnson at work at Radio Cineola
His new aural incarnation that makes a website a new method
And form of release. As the music industry dies, Johnson
Pioneers renewed struggle. He recites John Tottenham’s epic poem
Over electronica and found sound. 71 stanzas relate
The calamitous hold of inaction, while Johnson’s fire
Is breaking through surrounding stone to shape ground.
The dilemma of the artist is seen and heard through these verses
As ‘ a destructive over-awareness of time/Knives through the spaces
Of a hot afternoon,’ The world’s cold. As we grow older we need
More and more time to deliver, but just as some of its taken,
What will remain can’t be sold. Johnson shows this
Through his empathetic recital. One can hear his soul gather,
Mining at dusk, what’s to come. One is aware of an artist at work
And feels that after resting the spirit there can be a host
Of new stages from which new things to say have begun.
On CD THREE, Volume Six, Johnson broadcasts from Midnight
To Midnight. He interviews and converses
With a range of experts on hand. William Engdahl. Neil Clark.
Marian St. Laurent. David Edwards. Abdi Assadi. Neil Sanders.
Lucinda Rogers and Zoe Hepden. Each detail the plight through small
And sometimes vast premonition, while beneath Johnson soundtracks
With cloud crusted keyboards, radios and tape loops,
All that’s to fear and all there is to discover.
A new way of being and for the prisoner’s chains to fall loose.
The internal bird flees the coop and signs the sky scarred above us.
Radio Cineola’s stark protest is the music of air whipped by wings.
Here then, is the way to really know what is coming.
And to change what will happen by what you oppose, know and sing.
In rearranging his past Johnson’s The The detail futures
In which the fucked present can learn to love everything.
He has remastered the day and granted glaze to the darkness.
He has rebroadcast a new way to ask what and why.
Here is music that speaks as it joins thought to feeling.
Here are clouds christened with the power to stain and shape sky.
David Erdos 3rd November 2017