Sunday, 22 June 2014

Branding the Serocell...

Good evening, my comrades in art. Russell Brand here. You may remember me from such television programmes as Big Brother or that one where I rambled on about stuff to the lowest audiences that can be measured by E4. Most recently, I performed a free gig outside of the BBC HQ, in front of a large crowd who thought that they were protesting austerity. Turns out that even that can't get me back on the old google box.

You might notice a few things about this article. First of all, it has proper punctuation. When The Guardian gets me to write a piece for them, they are so pleased to have something on their site that might be interesting, they don't bother to edit my words. This time, however, I am being impersonated by a bitter Scottish critic, and he knows the difference between 'who' and 'whom.' So this is less a stream of old Russ' consciousness than usual.

The reason for this little interlude is both to make a few satirical points about the celebrity version of politics and suggest a relationship between the statement 'all art is political' and a rather splendid release by serocell. While I often make trenchant remarks on the corruption of the British democratic system - and even more pertinent insights on the role of the state in continuing the absurd war on drugs - my status as a very rich comedian and self-righteous clown tends to cloud the issue.

And so - yes, my anarchism is all well and good, but lets not forget that austerity for me merely means one less All You Can Eat buffet at the China King, not a trip down to the Gurdwara for a free curry. And I might note that for all of my support for absenteeism, I have really worked out how that is going to make anyone notice the protest.

This leads us nicely to Trim, the first track on serocell's Fourth Estate EP.

Here's the thing. Political art - you know, like that poem Alan Bissett wrote, is all well and good. But it is usually as good as the audience's commitment to the cause it espouses. The wonderful music writer Simon Reynolds would often ponder The Redskins during the 1980s. He could not understand why a band schooled in music he liked (black American soul) and the politics he, at least, respected (Marxism through British socialism) were so bloody dreadful. The answer is, of course, that the accepted modes of popular music become fundamentally conservative as soon as they are defined.

In other words, it is no good having a radical agenda if you are aping the moves of earlier talents.

Now, I love me some James Brown and I love me some LFO. But I know how their beats are going to sound, and so my thought patterns are consoled, not challenged.

Check out the beat on Trim. That ought to freshen up those bio-rhythms.

The varying tempos on Trim break down both the traditional four to the floor and needlessly complex signature shifts, replacing them with a stuttering yet fluid propulsion. Towards the end, a melody sneaks in, underneath the beat, but suggestive and eloquent.

I am not saying it is a template for a new society, but this experimentation with form manages to replace the hierarchical structures of rock without sounding like a jazz band falling down the stairs.

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