NEW JAH WOBBLE

 PSYCHIC LIFE     by     JAH WOBBLE and JULIE CAMPBELL              Psychic Life is a new collaboration between Jah Wobble and Julie Campbell (aka LoneLady). Former PiL guitarist Keith Levene also appears on the album.  Psychic Life will be released via Cherry Records on 14th November 2011.  Here, Jah Wobble writes about how the collaboration began and how it all came together.     I first made the acquaintance of Julie Campbell via Email on the Eighteenth of February 2011. We arranged a meeting at Manchester’s Deansgate a couple of days later, on a Saturday afternoon. It was a very confused beginning to our collaboration, reminiscent of a Larry David scenario. I thought that her record company (Warp) were interested in me remixing or possibly producing her. She was under the opposite impression and thought that I was looking to find a singer for a band that I was supposed to be forming. I had first heard her voice when Steve Beckett, the boss of Warp Records, played me her the title track of her 2010 album ‘Nerve Up’. Initially, I knew her by her stage name LoneLady.     At first, I assumed that ‘Nerve up’ and the single ‘Intuition’ were cover versions, simply because they immediately sounded familiar to me. It was as if I already knew them. To my ear, they had a dry tautness and a melodic sensibility that strongly suggested Manchester of the late seventies. I assumed they were classics by the Buzzcocks or Joy Division (during their later Martin Hannett period), that had somehow eluded me. The Buzzcocks were the first punk band, other than the Sex Pistols, that I liked. I first saw them at the Vortex in 1977. They were lyrically adept, with a taut, focused sound with just the right amount of irony. I bought their début EP ‘Spiral Scratch’ (great title). I particularly liked ‘Boredom’, especially the one note solo.        However, LoneLady had an edgy aesthetic about her, way beyond any seventies band. She had intelligently paired down and reduced her sound to the bare minimum, thereby making it even more starkly dramatic and effective. She was obviously a smart cookie. I checked out her performances on YouTube and was struck by her commanding presence (and what I felt was a rather haughty demeanour). She had what I would call that 'beautiful androgyny thing' that the British (Bowie et al) tend to do so well. I hoped she wasn't as difficult as some singers tend towards being.     When I sat opposite her, I sipped cappuccino and slurped down snails (enveloped in a rich buttery garlic sauce). Julie drank a Belgian beer. I was relieved to find that she was an intelligent and articulate woman; both down to earth and knowledgeable culturally. She had a background in fine arts. I explained to her how I had a lingering ambition to make an album that was in the (for want of a better term) 'post-punk' tradition. This longing had been exacerbated by the talk of a PiL reunion a couple of years before my meeting with Julie. I had always felt that it was unlikely that I would ever play under the PiL banner again; and predictably, negotiations stalled at a very early stage.     However, that episode further whetted my appetite to make a post-punk album in the original PiL mode (but with a modern sensibility – there's no point in making 'museum music'). The thing that had always thwarted me was the distinct lack of a charismatic (in the right ‘uncharismatic’ way) singer/front person. I had been on the lookout for 'the one', on and off, for twenty odd years. To be honest, I had never even come close. However, not being able to find the right person has never baffled me. It is, after all, a tall order. They would need to be able to deal convincingly with a number of styles of music, whilst always being their own (authentic) idiosyncratic self. (Up to this point, I have never even seen the particular ‘ideal’ that I was looking for contained in any one performer.)     Spoken word needs to be part of the package in a venture like this. For all its darkness and trauma, post-punk is connected (inextricably) to the ideals of late nineteenth century romanticism; especially its poetry, which rails, quite rightly, against the rationalisation of life and nature. Back then, the industrial age was the enemy, whereas now it’s the information-led age, the new Tower of Babble, in its myriad forms, that stands infantile and all-pervasive in opposition to the romantic ideal.     Facebook and the industrial revolution point towards the same thing. Unthinking, unhappy uniformity – well, fuck that. (That’s why post-punk came about; because ‘punk’ became unthinking, unhappy and uniform – and artistically restricting.)     So as I sat there, on a bright fresh early spring afternoon, I had one question on my mind: "is this the one?" The early indications were very positive. Julie was well up to give it a go. All I could promise, at that point, was that it was highly likely that the process would be a lot of fun and that nice dinners would be eaten in nice restaurants. She also told me that she was a serious PiL fan, which delighted me. That meant that we were halfway there already. I suggested that we get Keith Levene to play some guitar for us. Keith had been in contact with me in the months leading up to my meeting with Julie. In fact, I had already had a bash with him at the end of one of my gigs. I knew that he was very aware that he had wasted so many years pursuing the wrong things. It was a good time to be getting him in. We decided that we would cut some basic backing tracks, and if all went well, we would get Levene to play on them. No-one has ever come close to Levene in terms of playing the non-square, non-bourgeoisie, harmonically hip, ‘guitar wash’ a la ‘Poptones’, ‘Theme’, etc.     So a few days later, just to get the ball rolling, we cut three basic rhythm tracks, 'Psychic Life', 'Phantasms' and 'Ruinlust'. Julie put vocals down. I noticed her thick, bound notebook of lyrics. I asked if I could peruse them. I was astounded; there was page after page of typed (as in typed with a typewriter) lyrics. A torrent of dark, haunting and troubled images was conveyed by the words. It was momentarily overwhelming. "Game on!" I thought, "this girl's the real thing. She's a poet!"     I also found that she could really sing. Additionally I discovered that, similar to myself, she was a psychogeographer and long distance urban pedestrian (facts crucial to the creation of this project).     Above all, the post-punk period was about having fun and shedding shackles. That ethos is as strong as it ever was, as far as I’m concerned. It’s about working with a melange of influences, approaches and aesthetics. (It also allows an old bloke like me to travel backwards and forwards in time.) Here is a list of some of the people, places and things that have influenced the making of this album and its accompanying images/artwork:     Georgio Moroder, Biba, Emily Dickinson, Chaka Khan, Ingmar Bergman, Helmut Newton, The Yellow Wallpaper, Karl Lagerfeld, French Film Noir, J.G. Ballard, Disco, Andrei Tarkovsky, Blade Runner, The Robbie Vincent Show.     Jah Wobble, Stockport, August, 2011     PSYCHIC LIFE by JAH WOBBLE and JULIE CAMPBELL  CHERRY RED RECORDS  Release Date:   14TH NOVEMBER 2011 
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