Sunday 31 January 2021

Anywhere/ New Musik (1981): Albums of my Life: An A-Z

 ...being young, six or seven maybe, and my parents always played music loud. Mum would play music whilst ironing, or just to let off steam herself-- having two small children around the house and all the chaos we entailed was probably no picnic at times! My mum played New Musik quite a bit and I although at that age it was just backdrop, it was the type of music that made me want to spin around in the middle of the carpet until I was dizzy and had to crash land on the sofa (Lionel Ritchie's 'Dancing on the Ceiling' had, heck, still has, the same effect-- in a good way!) It is music like this that laid dormant in my psyche for years, only for a craving for it to emerge years later as an adult. It's only as time passes that you reflect on the music your parents listened to and how it has impacted your own taste. My parents' choices, that were once, at best, catchy, and at worst, 'annoying', are in hindsight, pretty damn cool. Not least because they span a few genres and niches. I'm grateful for the passion for music they instilled in us by osmosis.

I am a fan of New Musik's first album 'From A to B' too ('Straight Lines' and 'Sanctuary' were faves in our house), but this one might just edge it for me. It has been played in abundance over the last couple of years, especially after acquiring it on second hand vinyl from my local record shop-- kismet really.
'Anywhere' is a synthpop masterpiece in my opinion. From 1979-1982, New Musik, a group of South London school friends, came together to make three albums. This is the second offering and is upbeat, motivating and entrancing. The lead singer, Tony Mansfield's London accent can be heard which, for me, gives this band a homely and comforting feel. Mansfield is a songwriter and producer who has also worked with 80s groups such as a-ha.

The mark of a great album is where you can listen to the whole thing without wanting to flick to another track, and this is an example of one of those. The vocal effects that we seem to be expected to be oblivious to in modern chart music are exploited and experimented with authentically here. They are part and parcel of the genre and feel of the band's music- 'new' Musik for the early 80s.

1. While you Wait- mesmeric: I feel like I'm in some kind of trance when I listen to it.
2. They All Run After the Carving Knife- makes running easier!
3. Churches- nostalgic as hell- my mum played this one a lot!

... when running (it's incredible gym music); when alone in bed trying to forget the world (listen loud on good headphones); or when I'm walking (again, this is an escapist's dream).

'We've come too far. We can't turn back. We must go all the way.' ('While You Wait')

Funnily enough, this is one of the few groups where I don't listen with intensity to the lyrics. Because the composition of the synths, percussion and guitar is so mesmerising, the lyrics are secondary to me. I remember these lyrics because they are so repetitive in 'While You Wait' and so commanding, like an anthem inciting action.

... well the main colour on the album cover is sky blue, but if I was to re-release this on coloured vinyl I would make it a pearlescent amethyst purple to celebrate its whimsy and new-age electronica vibes.

'Acoustic Soul'/ India Arie (2001)
'Any Human Friend' Marika Hackman (2019)

What is your favourite album beginning with A?

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