Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ian Anderson (disambiguation)

For several decades it has been confusing enough that one musn't let the prominence of Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson overshadow the fine contributions of Ian A. Anderson to the musical world (his circle of association is too big to summarize here but if you are not familiar with Wizz Jones, Mike Cooper and Maggie Holland, you have many happy hours ahead of you).

More recently, it has become necessary to distinguish a third Ian Anderson, though he conveniently operates under the pseudonym Pip Dylan. Ian is the brother of Kenny Anderson (aka King Creosote) and Gordon Anderson (best-known of the lot as a founder of the Beta Band, currently doing business as Lone Pigeon and as part of The Aliens). Based in the Kingdom of Fife, the three are just the tip of the Fence Collective iceberg.

Pip's adopted surname is no accident as there is a strong early Bob Dylan feel on his CD Of All The Things I Can Eat I'm Always Pleased With A Piece Of Cheese. Considering also Zach Cale's Illuminations (whose very fine new record See-Saw you should hear), it seems the New Dylans of the new century aim to evoke the feel and atmosphere of 60s Dylan without the lyrical specificity.

(Dylan himself, rapidly tiring of being "voice of the generation" found even his most throwaway surrealist lyrics subject to the same earnest exegesis as his earlier work. Unlike logocentric music critics (with their degrees in literature and history, scarcely able to distinguish minor from major chords), I frequently don't concern myself with lyrics as long as they are not so bad as to be distracting - the expressive qualities of the singing style, vocal timbre and melody suffice. Perhaps I should trot this explanation out for my Swedish connections who often ask how I can enjoy the many excellent releases on their Silence record label without understanding the "texts").

So long-winded aside aside, I can't quite tell you what Pip Dylan's songs are "about" but that doesn't detract from my pleasure or, I wouldn't be surprised, yours either. His use of nylon-string guitar instead of steel-string is also a bit of a departure from the Dylan mold - Leonard Cohen is the next easiest comparison in the 60s canon and there are similarities of mood on certain songs. Being a modern release (and a homemade one), there are fragments of drum machine sounds and various tumultuous sonic experiments which entirely displace the singer-songwriter model by the end of the record. These proved to be the perfect soundtrack for my stroll througn an exhibition of the rivetingly beautiful-ugly paintings of Marlene Dumas. My follow-up selection of the Sic Alps' U.S. Ez proved to be equally compelling in context - they are exonerated for not living up to the burden I unfairly placed on them of being the next Times New Viking.

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