Saturday, 23 November 2013

MISS CRYSTAL GRENADE: Kindred Spirits From History

As is usual with the wonderful world of music one is always predisposed to pick a specific favourite album of the year fairly early on, as I did with Martin Bramah’s Factory Star “Enter Castle Perilous” a couple of years back, and Kill Pretty’s “Dark Heart” last year,  because it sort of hits the right zen point in your head and stays with you throughout the summer months into the autumn. This year, up until now, two releases have zapped the proverbial sweet spot in the noggin here at Aural Delights. Dusty Moonan’“Our Name On The Door” and The Dames eponymous debut have both chimed with me as the exemplars of modern music. I was pretty much resigned, despite excellent offerings from other artists, that it would be a two horse race between those artists.
And then Carole Hodge dropped me a line.
I hadn’t seen Carole for a while. We were fleeting nodding acquaintances at Salford City Radio when she and I were both DJs there. Since then she had sent me some tracks, which I had played,  but other than that, and an awareness she was associated with, and indeed had toured with, Steve Ignorant in Crass mode and in later incarnations, her work had got lost in the great pile of music which surrounds me here. However, recently, I was lucky enough to see her band Wrecks at The New Oxford on the last night of Salford Music Festival playing a stunning set. We said our hellos, had a brief chat, she gave me a Wrecks CD and we parted company.
A couple of weeks later she contacted me to say – i’ve got this album under the name Crystal Grenade. I checked on the hard drive, and I found a track from the middle of last year which I had played. I agreed that the album would be sent through from the PR people.
I’m glad I did.
It’s very rare these days, with so much to listen to, that I hear something that makes me immediately press the replay button. “Lo! and Behold” by Crystal Grenade is one of those exceptions to the rule. It is, simply put, a thing of beauty, an aural delight if you would. I took the opportunity to contact Carole and we agreed we would conduct a virtual interview about the release, her work, and what she is up to.
I suppose the first obvious question given the language in the promo for the album – is this a “concept” album or a narrative piece? Have you created a persona to deliver these tunes? The imagery on the CD is that sort of timeless Victorian feel? What’s the thinking behind it?
I’ve always been really drawn to the Victorian era, I think it was a fascinating time in terms of aesthetic and philosophy. When I was at university, I wrote my dissertation about Freak Shows and contemporary disability theatre. This process was very cathartic for me as a I have a congenital hand deformity and it allowed me to investigate the reactions people have had to me all my life. It also allowed me to find kindred spirits from history, the ghosts of the past who have walked in my shoes. Crystal Grenade is one of those ghosts.
Read on...

Lo! And Behold
CD - £9.99

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