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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    4 page Digipak with 8 page booklet insert.
    The booklet has the complete set of poems printed in full glory.
    The text of each poem can be viewed as lyrics online and are included any download

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1.
Paring 04:28
Here is a two verse poem coming into view emerging from memory as a rewritten blues. Short of words it doesn’t know it needs. An elongated melody stretching into a key unlocking a tongue that isn’t owned by me. I wrote the title on the back of a grubby ticket. Scratched out graphite in stub pencil patterns like firework hieroglyphics marked on a piano. Now the two of us pair the core of our complicity. Black and white turns into daylight so my flamin’ buddy can slip a left hand chord a little density.
2.
There is a gale blowing Dorian across the Bahamas. A lashed out trail of ferocious winds destroying all that has been built by homing survival, sucking it back into the mud spat whirlpool spittoon. Braying oceans, flooding in tumult in the face of some mythic god’s pathetic judgement. Terror’s Ball. This Richter measured curse crashes these cracked climates into a soured rage of hurricanes across levels of depth. There is something very wrong here. Barely holding fast to the land sunk, below the road. No upright condo on the seaboard, no fisherman’s hovel, no funky palace, no shelter from Dorian parting the giant waves to the flattened Abaco Islands drowned in their own sea.
3.
Perhaps even his reluctance to leave Algeria had been about the piano. But he had left, hadn’t he? Every step of the way, the weeks of walking into his own sleep, aching across his shoulders with the utter concentration of keeping his money safe. The padding in his breast pocket, tapped eight times a day, nine times a night for four months. Normandy was enough, no need to step further. Pascal’s three small rooms and a toilet, freely offered and freely taken had seemed like a gift from gods he did not believe in. Malika, making him those cinnamon pastries that first evening he arrived. Another act of kindness he felt inadequate to repay. In truth Pascal and Malika Léandre had given him a second chance, a second chance which he now realised he’d been seeking ever since he left Algiers. But he had left, hadn’t he? Now he kept returning to the gite. Not being able to leave this refuge. Each morning the excuse, maybe his bag from the boulangerie, the baguette and cheese, or his keys to the old citroën dyane he’d bought in order to exert drive and discipline into his plans for a new ordered way of life. This is what he spoke into the front of his brain, but there, lurking right at the back was the fact that this was really all about the piano. Within two full days of settling into Pascal and Malika’s blessed pile of rooms he had found another piano similar to the one he’d left behind in South Sudan. The French one was fully varnished, yet tonally they shared a dark ‘fat’ warmth, the kind of resonance that builds up inside quality pianos when smothered with a patina of playing. It stood inside a chapel six kilometres away. He could sit with it whenever he wished, other than the first Sunday of the month. On this definite day the dwindling congregation used it like a bell practising La Belle Époque for their own funeral cast in echo. And he couldn’t get passed it and he couldn’t get round it, couldn’t confound it, wasn’t able to dismiss the machine; the taunt wire, the little felt hammers and those two damn, slightly squeaking pedals. Couldn’t cradle his left hand through the fingers of his right. Stalks growing from his wrist joints bent over into a melody as if they were the nib of his grandfather’s fountain pen scratching at manuscript. But he’d walked out of Algeria, hadn’t he? Come to France to start again only to find what was left behind three thousand kilometres down the road was here, leaving him leave to leave to grace the keys and sit long enough to open up the passage of his heart and cry with his hands.
4.
Blades of grass cut into the footprints of a circular path so worn with bare feet it breaks up, raked by the scuffling population continually going back to a beginning they no longer mind treading on. I see Britain bleeding green blood into the ground. I hear parrots crowing. I smell intestine on the edge of knives exposed in a yellow meadow of wild flowers. Collectively we watch the pageant of Jerusalem erected on Mount Pleasant; a sharp edged impasse scratched into each corner of occupation at Westminster. Pastures of tarmac, under a blank canvas, the hard pale mottled surface of parkland in memory of King George V; a man mown down by the lawnmowers of a faraway fractured isle that nobody remembers anymore. The trick, and there is no denying it, a trick exists. The trick is to blunt the blade and let the grass grow over everything that has passed along this path.
5.
Ornette cried for his own country often enough. Turned his tears inside out and spoke like most musicians could not; to speak of things the rest lacked the vocabulary to tell. Sadness for America played live at a distance in 1965. Too close, would bring the devil to your door; invite plague to invade. Which is what has happened, as we know well. If he were here today Ornette would be weeping with your grief and sharing the sorrowing for all those young men’s lives as a terrible war wound, dressing an enigma in hell. For this was the beauty of his sadness for a land where the men who live in the white house deny respect to women and your stars stripe the skies marking where freedom fell. Oh, America, if he were here today Ornette would play this love song for your soul. But as it is, the price of a beloved’s heart has already been paid. Melancholia is a magic spell.
6.
White Chalk 04:08
I’m no honkie Rapper; I don’t choose to roll on someone else’s holy ground. And let’s make it a statement of fact that “Black Lives Matter” but I can’t rap-it-to-yer because no one gets me to chatter using the rhythm of someone else’s sound. I swear I do not want Westminster’s keys to the tunnel of love. Affairs of their trial of bile are never quite enough. There, written on a blackboard in white chalk, is the name of the racist eunuch who was found drowned in his own Rivers Of Blood. “In Bristol there’s a statue of Ram Mahan Roy. A photographic opportunity to enjoy capturing yourself with a contemporary celebrity who gave up the ghost in 1833. Who is he? He is the: Scholar of the Spirit, of the Spirit of the Age of Empire & Trade, of The Raj & The Slave. Victoria & Wilberforce plant a road to Partition but-Roy, but-Roy, but-Roy abolishes sati. What is sati? Sati was: The ritual act of suicide; a Hindu woman burnt alive in the fire of her husband’s funeral pyre.” Ram Mahan Roy is buried in Arnos Vale cemetery. There’s no sabre rattling to the memory of RMR. Grass and weeds, only grass and weeds.
7.
Silent Way 05:00
His head has gravitated to the floor, a heavy weight of whispers utterly absorbent to blue melody. Feet apart, legs arc bent, stretch forward and pick up the split riff of séance sound bleatin’ without the spirit-devil stealin’ the soul stirrin’ on a hum of rhythm. In the blistered Tao I heard his brass speak muted silence until it got completely in my way. It wasn’t loud and clear, in fact barely in my ear; the sentence that sentenced me was like a swift spear passin’ through the drum to pin a pause in thin air. A way too Silent Way, spoken words pronounced his blowin’, knowin’ dust gathered in the black vinylgroove label spinnin’ red Columbia. There are no prayers to chant and mutter under breath; repeatedly too hard a hiss to hear out loud. This is about time travel, about the way a lacquered trumpet journeys into the soul of song. Deep into each fold of love pumps a red beat of blood carrying us away, way into the dark night of ourselves; repeatedly that voice glistenin’ whispers.
8.
She stepped into his afternoon offering the madness of the moon. It suddenly seemed sanity was the rest of life and the night would soon close in around them with all the intimacy of mixed meanings. And so it became so. They stayed close to the surface of the moon, regularly keeping watch and testing the glow that remains in the senses of the afterlight. They stayed together because a ray of dark is pitch bright in their memory. And so it became so. Sometimes a barely audible tune is sung in remembrance of the moon. Sometimes it comes in the dread of knowing it will be their elegy. The parting gift given to love when it is wrenched from the act of faith. And so it became so.
9.
In Tune 02:52
This young man was born blind, completely so. No light and shade can penetrate those pebbles buried in his eye sockets scabbed against sore skin. Now hear this – he brings us an air of intuition and vision, practicing a precise stirring of sound because his ears detect the width of pronunciation. The sigh before the word is spoken, the high syllable, hesitations, broken accents, repetition – those giveaway clues of repeating reels which explain to me the world I look upon; grammar is not what he reads but what surrounds him, breathed back and forth, patterning explanation from the bottom of the bell to the top of his tuning fork beaten for piano, he interprets the air within our sharpened flats of untangled conversation.
10.
Coward 02:49
I am a man still scared of heights if cornered in a place not of my own choosing. I am a man given sand in my salary for fearing to face the reality of my decisions. I am a man paddling in unsalted sea, lost on the edge of oceans I am forever loosing. I am a man frightened to dive for pearls because I crawl through water as if it is desert. I am a man wondering why heroism continually punches my wound with bruising. I am a man asking for salvation when I know the cost is more than it is worth. I am that coward who ran away at the start.
11.
A decorated paint splattered up-right piano with an invitation for anyone to play it. Kids like to sprinkle their fingers over the keys in replication of sounding Jackson Pollock, into sharp topped tinsel, booming the bottom end. But this Saturday morning, before breakfast was being considered or open for the asking, this guy was improvising double hands; chord craft in the manner of Terry Riley riding raga in the middle of Brooklyn in the winter of his years. His right hand lifted melody out of tuning in the manner of a magician curving coins from a paper cup. As we walked into the corridor a lullaby of harmony sang sixteen beats of piano hammering a wired pilgrimage to safe journeys

about

Steve Day: words, voice, whistle, hand-percussion
Mark Langford: music, bass clarinet, piano
Julian Dale: double bass, tracks 1, 2, 4, 7
bowed glass bowl (track 4)

Mark Langford and I had been living in different parts of the city since the 1970’s. We were aware of each other, but didn’t arrive in the same space together until autumn 2016. I needed a reeds player; he didn’t realise he required a poet nor I an exceptional pianist, but we ‘got each other’ completely. We are a true pairing and we have pared down these performances to essentials. On five tracks this includes the contributions of Julian Dale, a bass player of nuance and detail, who appreciates ‘less is more’.
Steve Day, 2020.

credits

released January 2, 2020

Recorded at Eastover Studios: September, October 2019 Engineering: Mark Langford
Mixed & mastered by Richard Parsons, Pirate Studios, November 2019
Cover artwork: Lizzie Langford
Copyright: Steve Day/Mark Langford.

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