Delakota: The Rock
ow many times do you hear a tune on the radio and absolutely lose it? If memory serves, and it doesn’t, I spent 1997 perched by my shitty stereo with a tape at the ready and my finger on the record button, tuned to Radio 1, stealing music the old fashioned way. I lost my shit for “Kowalski”, for “Block Rockin’ Beats”, “Bitter Sweet Symphony”, “Play It Cool”, “My Mate Paul”, “Risingson”. I remember hearing “Blind” on the Mary Anne Hobbs show incredibly late at night, incredibly quiet, half asleep, not knowing who it was and wondering what it could be, whether it was—no, it couldn’t be that. But it was.
I never lost my shit as much as I did in spring 98 when I heard this though. I must have caught it half a dozen times and been frantic on each occasion. So frantic I never managed to catch who it was by. Maybe I was driving, or just stepping out of the door to go to work. Maybe I was delirious? I’d passed the recording-stuff-off-the-radio phase and hence never had a tape to hand in order to catch the bugger, so all I ever got was fleeting glances, tantalising whispers. I set about scouring NME and the internet for reviews of current singles to try and find out what it was. Eventually I concluded that it must be this, but I still wasn’t sure. Sod it. My brother worked at the time as a rep for a record company, so I called him on his mobile, knowing he’d be in and out of record shops all day, and instructed him to buy me a copy. If I was wrong I’d lost £2, if I was right I could play it every damn day for the rest of my life.
I was right.
I don’t quite play it every day. But I would if I remembered. My memory is poor.
So what was it that made me lose my shit? A simple acoustic strum, a shuffling beat, some tactfully placed, ringing piano, bass that you feel rather than hear, some wispy slide guitar, a guy who can’t really sing talking about how “if there’s a boat or plane / out of here / I’ll be leaving” and sitting on a rock in the middle of the night “with a mirror and a flashlight / but nothing came / it’s alright / and I turned the speakers on their side / I pointed the sound right up at the sky…” Which is good, great even, but twirling and dancing out of the right-hand channel all the while was this sound that I can’t explain… The most beautiful sound in all the world… I’ve had people tell me it’s a guitar trill run through an FX unit, a blues scale sped up to triple speed, whatever, whatever, whatever… It’s lazing on a beach. It’s a light breeze across your warm face. It’s palm trees, sand, sunlight and shade. It spirals and spins and sings and soothes and it’s there all the time, through the verses, the chorus, the heady climax when the slide guitar on the opposite side of the world feels like it’s going to make you giddy and sick with delirium, through the fade-to-sunset when the piano rings out over it in perfect concentric circles. Sometimes it falls almost silent in the mix and sometimes it grows and grows and threatens to overwhelm the rest of the song but at all times it’s there and it’s bliss.
The single edit ran for four minutes, straight into it and out of it again. When I finally got hold of the album a couple of months later it was stretched out, beginning with submarine sounds and a dub daze, the strum and the sound dropping in at 38 seconds, the most beautiful sound in all the world and I’d be quite, quite happy if it lasted forever. I’ve mentioned this song twice in other features for Stylus and every time I get emails from people who remember it, people who think it houses the most beautiful sound in the world too. It does. Believe me. Find out.