School of Language makes music matter again

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Over the last two years, I have been increasingly disappointed at the lack of political interest among modern musicians. There is a big 60s revival going on since forever, but what most of those revivalist seem to totally miss out on is that music was political back then. Music was not only fun, it changed the world.

That belief in the political power continued in the 70s with both the progressive and punk movements, and stretched towards the 80s with RIO.

But then something happened and music turned into a product. It hasn’t recovered, and the fact that there inexplicably has not been an avalanche of albums protesting the return of the nationalists and conservatives on a global scale just goes to prove that point.

Enter David Brewis and his School of Language with a new concept album about the 45th president of the Untidy State of America.

The album is simply called ’45’ and it takes us through a laundry list of heinous and misogynist behaviour from lies to lies and over more lies to building walls to being declared mentally unfit to paying off whores to racism to grabbing pussies, to letting down Puerto Rico and to colluding with the Russians. Among other things.

By compressing all that stupidity into just a few songs, it becomes clear how normality has totally been set aside and democracy has been lost. If that wasn’t clear enough already…

Allegedly, the album went from a list of prospective song titles to a mixed and mastered record in around seven weeks. And the digital version has now been rush released way ahead of physical formats because… well because getting stuff like this out there now is important.

Musically, this is a treat of angular funk. David himself says it is a love letter to pioneers of black American music of the 60s and 70s, to artists like James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, The Meters and The Isley Brothers. Simultaneously, it is very understated and, to be honest, a bit constipated in a very charming way.

The album starts off with very dry and sparsely instrumented songs, that are based on repetitive rhythms and ironic lyrics with stellar passages such as “Nobody’s more conservative / And no one respects like women I do”.

You can laugh or you can cry, but it is difficult not to sing along. This stuff is hypnotic, and incredibly catchy despite its rather non-sweaty stiffness.

As the album progresses, songs become a bit more complex, more instruments are used and different vocals come into play. But the basic, raw and very political funk is never abandoned. And the music keeps on playing with your sense of rhythm. There are many stops and surprising starts that keep you on your toes. On your toes, dancing along, that is. Because while the lyrics may be aimed at moving your mind, the music on this record certainly moves your body, albeit in spurts.

It is great to hear music that is willing to make a stand like this. David has has always been the more angry and the more politically inclined of the Brewis brothers, also on the Field Music albums. And luckily, he hasn’t mellowed with age and fatherhood. Instead here he finds focus and purpose. I can see why this was made in such a rush; it is an inspired record, and above all it is not a product. Instead it is a call for action to the listener.

And, of course there is a limited edition in orange vinyl. Obviously.

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