Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Tim Ten Yen - Everything Beautiful Reminds Me Of You

In October 2008 I attended a gig, a Club Fandango three day city festival event in a bar I cannot even recall now, and I saw the most amazing thing that had graced my tiny mind to that date. The event went by the name of Tim Ten Yen, and his method of wonder was a performance of sorts, of his own musical styling. He is in fact a one man band, but the performance is so much a part of his art that it cannot go without being mentioned. Awkward thrusting arms and funky leg-kicks make him seem less than comfortable in the limelight, but his stage presence refuses to let him depart from it. Even on the street, there is a spotlight following this awkward lord of the dance.

I duly bought his album ‘Everything Beautiful Reminds Me Of You’, which came out the following week, and have never looked back. Mr. Ten Yen harnesses a wealth of Divine Comedy style croonings, reggae based 80’s synth pop, the occasional thrum of the steel drum, and the odd stealthy guitar solo to create a heady base of joy, which frolics unchecked with his wonderfully na├»ve and creatively deep lyrics. This album, which slipped by unnoticed in 2008, and indeed latterly, is quite simply a cult classic. Confusing though his style is there are songs like ‘Radio Nowhere’ which forms the perfect basis for an electro re-mix, whilst the acute rhythmic step and subtle production of ‘Move with the Wildpalms’ was made for radio play. A coveted favourite at the minute is ‘Sea Anemone’, which wouldn’t sound out of place in a collection of nursery rhymes, an bears the lyrics ‘the kind of enemy, that gets hold of me, and gently lets me go with an apology’, along with the extremely sage line ‘if I ever had complete control of my life, would I ever keep hold of what I have?’. Pure genius! This is one for you all ladies and gents. Disregard your particular ‘tastes’, because this defies genre, and your expectations.

Designated Graffitti Moan

With the ‘Banksy Years’ well under way, Bristol has had quite some time to bask in the reflective glow of his magic touch. Whilst every cultural outlet indulges in naked profiteering from another’s talent (in the form of Coasters, Card and Canvas bearing their chosen graven image) and stars such as Angie Jolie clamour to collect various pieces, or so I’m told, I can help but feel a little sorry for those little graffiti imps forever in the shadow of the lord of spray-can. Well, with this chosen method of self expression not favoured by the more ‘society conscious’, maybe they are used to it? It may even be preferred. Whilst the art market is now claiming graffiti as one of its own, I am forced to wonder how much the profile of its art has changed. Is it really more acceptable? Or more except-able, failing under the light that only Banksy brand Graf is good. I am using the term ‘good’ loosely to mean ‘worth money’. The gentleman is an exception to the rule.

With almost every surface he touches turning to concrete gold, it seems that he is standing on the shoulders of other artists such as himself, pushing them further underground, where it is much darker and there is no golden ticket. Whilst the savvy among you will know of and appreciate other artists, this IS what they are, those who didn’t know before Banksy, will care less about others as they have their own acceptable form of defacement, which they can display with pride and purchase at great expense, all the while feeling edgy and ‘out there’.

I have nothing against Banksy, he deserves his rewards for being talented and insightful, but the artist hasn’t changed, just the canvas. Whether we like it or not, graffiti hasn’t been lifted higher as an art form, one man has, and the rest have been sentenced to a lifetime in the gloom, unless they copy the golden child, then losing the meaning of what this method of self expression is. Self expression is now just another mode that we use to congratulate or castigate. It seems if it is ‘good’ (worth money) it is art, if it is ‘not good’, it is vandalism. Those who love it, will always appreciate, but for now, I have half a mind to hold an impromptu cocktail party on the streets of Stokes Croft, loudly applauding and discussing other artworks, whilst ignoring those already famed. Maybe even hold mock auctions to buy a piece of the wall, complete with price tag stickers. Graffiti-ing graffiti? How postmodern.