Friday, 16 October 2015

loving the fields...

Today for the gratitude project I'm talking about music I love.

I've decided to focus on one particular band which had a massive impact on my life. The Fields of the Nephilim.

Who's that? If you want to find out about the band, their rather gorgeous website is here. Suffice to say that it's a Goth band from the 80s/90s, and one with a particular post apocalyptical pagan style, which involved flour.

I had a bit of a moment as a teenager. I wouldn't want to call it a breakdown, as it seems melodramatic, but then again I was quite melodramatic. I was suicidal, obsessed about what was wrong with how I looked, and felt cast out. I stopped eating and covered all my mirrors.

Fields of the Nephilim. Picture from here
I started to dye things black. I loved doing that. I wanted to be skinny and angular and swathed in black. I found an article in a magazine about the Goth scene. They were talking about several bands, but I was intrigued with what they said about the band Fields of the Nephilim. They looked way more interesting than any of the other bands, and they were talking about magick.

My Dad offered to buy me a record, and I asked for Fields of the Nephilim. Having never heard them. Dad insisted I should listen before I buy. He took me to Crash Records in Leeds, with my newly black hair and clothes, and he asked the young man behind the counter to put on some Fields of the Nephilim. I was mortified. I would have said I loved them even if they'd sounded like Napalm Death, but they didn't. They sounded magical and mystical, and incredibly sexy. Also, my Dad wasn't keen.

Sold to the teenager in the black.

That first record I got was Dawnrazor (released 1987) - Horror movie Goth with a heady dose of Ennio Morricone. I listened to it constantly. I wrote out the lyrics. I fell asleep to it. I taped it, and listened to it on my enormous Sony Walkman.

I saved up any money that came my way, and bought anything else I could find, including a video which I cherished. I cut out any articles I could find, and started rubbing flour (and patchouli) into my newly black garments.

That summer I went / was dragged on a family holiday to the Isle of Man where I met a man who wore patchouli oil and rubbed flour into his clothes (although not into his leather trousers). He soon learned about my utter obsession with the Neph, and modelled himself on Carl McCoy - that was a surefire way to woo me, and one that he would revert to whenever we quarelled. It's probably for the best that I no longer have anyone in my life that will dress up as Carl McCoy (although it would probably still work). Now I find that my characters have a tendency to dress like him. Much better than real life.

I still wear patchouli oil when I feel I can get away with it (and when I can remember where I've put it), but it is YEARS since I've gone out with flour on, which is a shame, because it's an awesome way to get ready for a night out, and really you don't need to be pernickity about stains when you're covered in flour.

But it's not just the great music, flour as fashion, and the lovely Carl McCoy that I am grateful for. I've already mentioned magick. Carl always talked a lot about religion, particularly non-Christian world views. I was interested in that stuff anyway, but Carl, and Storm Constantine, led me to investigate further, and challenged notions of what was scary and wrong. They encouraged me to question the stories that were told. To look at the fairy tale from the point of view of the wicked witch. It's rather wonderful.

I found the Nephilim's imagery and the textures of sound they created to be inspiring. I still do. Celebrate is my favourite song for that. This is a great live version. 

In the early 90s New Model Army went on tour with Fields of the Nephilim supporting. Despite NMA being my other favourite band I managed to miss every single gig. I wish that those two would pair up again. The Neph split in the 90s, and I remember sobbing down the 'phone to my friend Ben, who told me that they would move on to other interesting things. They did move on, but I wasn't interested. Now they're back (playing in Whitby next week). Pleeeeeeeease come to Glasgow.

So, what music are you grateful for? And is it as good as the Neph? ;-)