Unpopular Advent 2019 – Day 6

Rozi Plain – ‘Dark Park’ from ‘What A Boost’ LP

If there has been a theme to the opening five days of this advent series then we would likely identify it as being one that takes in notions of Folk traditions given contemporary spins, often mining the more rustically psychedelic corners of that landscape. Rozi Plain certainly fits with this theme in some ways, yet also crucially acts as a bridge to a land where the threads are perhaps a little more space age and a little less earth-bound and organically rooted. On ‘What A Boost’ it feels as though Rozi Plain is drifting out into a space (inner and/or outer) where space itself is the vital ingredient, a space punctuated by carefully positioned sounds that sequence themselves in gently, bitter-sweetly seductive simplicity. Like Alula Down, it feels as if Rozi Plain is stripping songs down to their barest motifs which she then drips in artfully executed repetitive phrases into our psyches. At times it feels like Stereolab pulled back from their drive into motorik grooves and diverted down a path where those grooves are laid by generations of footsteps mixing with electric pulses from overhead pylons. The invisible is made audible, but barely so. So there is groove to ‘What A Boost’ but it is also the kind of groove laid down by Young Marble Giants all those years ago, which is to say a groove created by void, a groove created as much by what is left out than what is placed on the canvas.

Nowhere is this more clearly heard than on the wonderful ‘Dark Park’ where it sounds as though Rozi Plain is eating noddemix in the long grasses, gazing into a creeping dusk that wraps around us with delicious gloom. It’s been suggested in the past that there was always a distinct connection to be made between Young Marble Giants and the sounds of minimal techno music and this is certainly a thread that seeps through into ‘What A Boost’ and the ‘Dark Park’. Phone signals diminish and dip out of contact, detaching us briefly from our electronic worlds and insisting on a more earth-bound connectivity before slipping back. And forth. And back and forth. And back.

In this ‘Dark Park’ and throughout ‘What A Boost’ Rozi Plain seems to suggest that whilst our contemporary societies seem to be insisting on us taking up distinct, oppositional stances, perhaps the answer to our happiness and prosperity lies more peculiarly balanced within the space between. We can have this and we can have that, but only if we acknowledge and embrace the tensions and contradictions between. It’s a difficult, delicate act to pull off, but as Rozi Plain demonstrates, it’s an act worth striving for that, when it comes off, is compelling and beautiful.

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