I genuinely never thought about why they might be called skittles until about a week ago when I was sat in that geographical focal point of my geographically limited adult life, Bus Áras. A corpulent ould fella was sat across from me. He was the sort of man you'd fancy you can smell, even though the scientific implications of his distance from you mean the smell is likely a figment of your mind. He was eating a bag of skittles in an unusual and disgusting way. He'd remove a few sweets from the bag at a time then place them in his mouth. After that, he'd suck very slowly and deliberately on them for a while, stripping them of colour, then spit...no, not spit, slickly eject them from between his lips like little white eggs, and watch with detached eyes as they moved across the tiled floor. The sound the sweets made? It was a skittering sound, of course. Then I thought of the sweets in the bag and how they all move and click together, and it hit me, AHA, so that is why they are called skittles.
Thanks corpulent gross old man with no sense of self-respect, you gave me a little moment of insight. But mostly, thanks poetry, for helping me think about words again.
Stately, plump, Buck Mulligan also enjoyed Arctic dips
Today's music is real asleep on the compost heap stuff, the sort of rich ambient music that used to be the blog's bread and butter (and still is, I guess). It's the first track from Novaya Zemlya which is concept album by Thomas Koner that he based around the physical place of the same name. Novaya Zemlya, the place, is an almost barren archipelago in the Arctic that sounds from descriptions like the place at the end of the world. It was used as a test site by the Soviets, where they detonated the largest nuclear bomb in human history. Additionally, the place lends its name to a strange mirage, the Novaya Zemlya effect, where the sun not only appears to rise before it technically should, but where it is shaped like a rectangle instead of a circle.
Pretty good place on which to base a concept album, no? Koner's drone constructed music clearly imagines the place as a sort of eerie metaphor for post nuclear humanity - the album starts off with sounds which might be construed as underwater explosions. As the work progresses the music moves through compositions that are spacious while not entirely as minimalist as some of his other droning work. There is an aquatic feel to some of the music - everything sounds lurking, submerged or semi-submerged. You might think at times of those spiny naval mines bobbing in an empty sea, or wind blowing over a rusting hull. Human voices enter the stereo field every now and again, but they sound distant and staccatto. I am sure they are military radio transmissions. The drones are constant and truly frigid. There is no warmth to be found here, but the record's stark strangeness is bracing and implies a horrible beauty of sorts. Do listen.
MP3: Thomas Koner-Novaya Zemlya 1