Night. SEB WOOd wanders alone in the street, guided by street shadows. He just
passes by, chasing away another insomnia. As he walks looking at his feet, a
door opens and a couple of delicate piano notes break out. A middle-aged woman
comes out and wantonly insults a ghost which supposedly stands in front of her.
The door opens again and throws away a few more piano notes accompanied by what
seems to be a touching female voice. A man noisily comes out of the piano bar,
throwing a brown fur to the woman who is still arguing with the ghost. The man
is drunk, stumbles, tries hard to cling to the woman’s hips but pitifully
lands on the pavement next to dog shit.
WOOd ignores him and heads towards the entrance. The bouncer derogatorily looks
at his slacker sneakers, wonders if he’s letting him go inside or not, throws
a glance inside and lets him in.
Dark Piano Bar.
atmosphere is smoky. There are more people than the bouncer’s attitude made
him guess. Everyone is quiet and peacefully looking at the band who settles
comfortably. SEB WOOd sits at the bar, orders a white Russian and nonchalantly
leans upon the bar. A woman who looks younger than she should comes around and
builds a charming smile on her non-made up lips and talks to him with what seems
to be at first sight her regular voice:
‘Excuse-me do you have a match please ?’
‘Sorry, I don’t smoke’.
(surprised): ‘What ? Are you kidding me ? Have you seen your face ? And you
dare say you don’t smoke!’
‘That’s the truth.’
woman leaves with a sarcastic grin. SWd would have liked to shout her that he
doesn’t need to smoke to look cool. But he doesn’t, he just watches her go,
kissing his scorn to calm down. Then, the music starts.
first song doesn’t last a full minute. ‘It works like a charm…’ sings
the girl accompanying herself with sparse piano notes. It’s called an
introduction thinks SEB, swallowing his third white Russian. There’s a shift
to Fender Rhodes. ‘Misery Loves Company’ now utters the girl while SWd opens
an eye and sees nothing but a blur of dismal forms. The poster says ‘slow
moving picture’ while the music is slow-moving, making the girl velvet voice
come to the fore. The singer is dark-haired, which seems normal in a smoky piano
bar. Her voice is somehow softly raspy and reminds him of Kristin Hersch from
time to time but it truly reaches an eerie dimension when it shifts from doleful
quietness to tense delivery, and back again. A 60’s distorted guitar appears
in a Velvet Underground kind of way in an amazing Jane’s Addiction cover
(‘Summertime Rolls’). The rhythmic section is really tied together, be it in
ethereal slow-moving songs (‘silent moving picture’) in-between waters songs
alternating sparse moments with tense ones à la Suzanne Vega way (‘Down like
that again’ and ‘Already Gone’ whose ending is almost catchy) or in
mid-tempo sort of 60’s ‘rhythm’n’bluesy’ organic songs in which the
singer’s varied diction conveys enraptured mood swings (the wonderful
‘steady’). Near the end, the piano comes again to underline a delicate song
called ‘Crossing Lines’. The album ends on ‘Mississipiland’, a quiet
track in-between Suzanne Vega and traditional American blues songs.
WOOd is in a daze now. When he came back to his apartment, he surely was drunk
but in an automatic kind of way he programmed his cd-player to wake him up
early. He forgot which cd was in. It was Ursa Minor’s debut release and I
guess it perfectly fit in his mess point mood…
/may 1st 2003/