Bombay Bicycle Club: A Different Kind of Fix

My first musical discovery of 2012: Bombay Bicycle Club.

At the start of the year, I had been searching for significant album releases of 2011. I had not been able to listen to, let alone review, many new releases of last year. After deciding to keep it regular this time, I scoured all the major releases(which I had left) from 2011, most conspicuously Tom Waits‘ Bad as Me, The Hunter by Mastodon, Imaginaerum by Nightwish, Evanescence‘s eponymous album. On a whim, maybe intrigued by the name, I also took A Different Kind of Fix by Bombay Bicycle Club.

The very first listening of the album shook me with pleasant surprise, albeit being utterly unfamiliar with indie rock genre. This was not like the incomprehensible indie and art-rock songs I’ve tried my hardest to listen to and grasp, and fail miserably; it was to a certain degree incomprehensible, yes, but immensely likable. Somewhere, they sound struck just the right chord, so you catch their frequency even if the dynamics of the sound elude you.

The opener, How could you swallow so much sleep, remains my favorite, as one I listened to first and most. The dreamy sound, and opening crescendo, like a dream slowly opening its eyes to the world, was just awesome. Coupled with the somnolent lyrics spoken in a dazed, wandering voice of Jack Steadman, provide for just the right mixture of optimism and melancholy for you to get high on this song. The next song, Bad Timing, put me a little off-track though, but they return with a similar but stronger and less dreamy sound of Your Eyes, right after which there is the triple-punch of Lights Out, Words Gone, Take the Right One, and Shuffle. These songs, combining the dreamy sound of the first song, with more optimism, more involved and surreal lyrics to form the best part of the album. Lights Out, Words Gone take you again on a dreamy journey, ascending continuously higher with Take the Right One, until the eerily discontinuous Shuffle jolts you right back into reality. Later songs feature as surreal and odd lyrics, but are built around equally weirdly interesting sounds, not as dreamy and surreal, but more catchy, pop-sounding, and taking unexpected detours in place. Leave it, and Favorite Day are very good too.

Now I think I need to listen to their previous works. This album has dispelled my doubts as to whether I’ll be able to enjoy any indie/art/avant-garde/alternative rock music, at least temporarily. The first half of the album reminds me strongly of My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, though with significantly less sound amplification, distortion and noise. But the dreaminess, melancholy, and surrealism is there.

Madness just around the corner

Recently, I was reading “Life is what you make it” by Preeti Shenoy. And its story brought back to my mind one thought that has crossed my mind many times and every time I have brushed it under the carpet in order not to think about it. How close I’ve often come on the verge of madness and how often I’ve survived it…

Reading the novel was horrifying. Horrifying because I was reading what could possibly have been my state(in a hugely altered form obviously), if things would have been different. And its not just about me. I’ve seen enough examples, of both the cases; people on the edge of the precipice, somehow hanging on, and people in free fall, abandoning everything.

Why do humans go crazy? What is it the drives them mad? Is it a gradual attrition of logical reasoning and mental safety nets? Or, one day, something snaps inside you, and you go down the bottomless abyss? I’ve seen both the scenarios, both equally believable. Sometimes a mixture of both.

All kinds of people go mad. The reckless, moody, depressive, hyperactive, strange, weird, aloof, loners. Also, worldly wise, sane, ‘normal’, sociable, friendly, successful(in conventional sense of the word), cautious, outwardly sensible. For the first kind of humans, madness is like a back-alley of the mind. Depending on what kind of a person you are, this back-alley can be dark, shady, filled with unknown dangers, or your own dark side which you’re afraid of, or your silent niche to hide from the world, you inner sanctuary, or a place to let go of your uniqueness which the world is not able to recognize and accept. Remember, I have described it from the point of view of the person herself, what it signifies to the rest of the world depends on the person’s resulting actions towards society and people around him.

For the other kind of humans, the second category, it’s very difficult to say anything. You get lost, in a world of masquerades, lies, hidden fears, conflicting emotions, philosophical dilemmas and inner pandemonium. For those who are sane, and consider themselves sane in their honest eyes, madness is the Satanic nightmare, a ride through hell. They deny the existence of a world beyond sanity, but when the forces out of their control devastate and subjugate their will to believe in themselves, they discover the madness in all its horrifying detail. Seriously, kind of like a ride through hell. This madness can either destroy them completely, if they are unable to break from the rigid walls of their mind, or it can liberate them (could be in all kind of ways). Those who look outwardly sane, but inwardly are tortured by the same whirlpool of thoughts as the first category, are aware of the precipice called madness facing them in some distant vague area of their psyche. Their struggle with themselves define the path which will either take them towards the precipice or away from it.

In any case, no one can entirely control whether or not to go down the precipice. Because nobody has complete control over her own thoughts, has answers to all the questions that life poses in front of us.

At one stage in my life, I was badly thrown up in the same whirlpool, and was in the danger of being destroyed by it. At that time madness was a distinct reality for me, lurking close by, waiting to ambush me lest I take one wrong step. Fortunately, I hung on the precipice, no looking down too much, and still not ambushed. But I know, I’m still in the whirlpool, and I’ll never be completely out of it. The precipice is always there.

Not just me. I’ve seen so many people around me, struggling inside them, struggling with their demons, struggling against themselves. One, whom I left long ago, was rushing headlong into his own precipice. Whether he fell or not, I don’t know, and if he fell, it is yet to be seen whether the precipice was a liberation or a downfall. Seen many things in my college life. People giving up on everything for their addictions. People going schizophrenic by intense and prolonged drug abuse, people giving up on their life, oppressed by the environment, people free-falling through life in a nightmarish euphoria of drugs, people shutting themselves closed inside their shell of fear and ignorance, and hatred.

Life has its own way of teaching people. Sometimes Madness has to step in to teach some important lessons.

Love & Sex

Love and Sex….

Everybody thinks they know all about these two things, they claim, they pretend, they boast, they frown…..but these two wily things elude them all, and when the time comes, all their notions, definitions, turn on their heads, and they are left wondered, amazed, hurt, heartbroken, but fools that they are, they never for once understand that it’s not love that was wrong, it is their notion of love that was wrong, and those fools keep on making some other notion of love, and keep suffering for it….

Climbing the mountains

When you stand in front of a mountain, it seems so vast, towering over you, covering your sky. Cold, hard, distant, unreachable. When you start walking towards it, you don’t think much of what will happen. You just go. And keep going, as if to fulfill a promise you made to yourself, a commitment not to be broken. You aren’t worried about the results, you just want to keep the commitment, a promise you owe yourself. And for that promise you go.

But gradually the peak starts to show. And you think to yourself, so the mountain isn’t unreachable after all. And you keep going nearer and nearer to that peak. Soon, the commitment to yourself keeps becoming less and less important, and the desire to reach the peak starts to drive you to climb the mountain. The higher you go, the greater the drive. Now there is no need to push.

And finally you reach to the top. The victory is achieved. And you look down over the world, content, happy.

And then you start climbing down. You can’t live at the peak anyways. So you climb down, still content, still happy. And you come back to the plateau where you started your journey. And you live there.

Years pass, and you keep on living in the plateaus. There is nothing to climb, nothing to suffer. No commitments, no promises, no fears, no desires, no drives. Life is easy. And it goes on, some bumps and some ditches to avoid, that’s all.

One day, the plateau starts getting uneven, this makes you uneasy. The road isn’t smooth at all now, more and bigger bumps, more and deeper ditches. And you see a dark shape emerging on the horizon. It makes you the most uneasy and nervous you’ve ever been. But you keep on going.

Soon, the road is the worst it has ever been, and the dark shape takes form of your worst fears. A mountain has come, and your road disappears.

You’re at the end of the road. At the foot of the mountain. As you look upwards, your uneasiness brings back memories you’d forgotten in the easy days on the road. You recall vaguely, you had done something a long time back, something not normal, but you forgot the feeling. And now it all comes back to you.

Cold, hard, distant, unreachable. Towering above you, covering your sky. And you can’t go back. Time to revive some promises, some commitments, you made to yourself. To shake off the dirt on your shoulders.