Album release: Erection by Mike Tyler
Release date: 20 August 2012
Label: The Art Can Not Be Damaged
Mike Tyler is a celebrated non-academic, post-beat poet and musician in the American tradition. Erection is his second album, creatively processed more like a novel than a recording. There is an incredible control over the work, with subtle musical innuendos and effects, as well as an incomparable sense of humour throughout. Conversational Spanish has a false ending similar to Bacharach/David's The Look of Love, the song Man Alone is in, of course, mono, and entertainingly facile lyrics like "I'd like to throw a pie in the face of remorseless piety" and "I was standin' by a Wilson Picket fence at 'bout the midnight hour" crop up album wide.
A recurrent theme of this record is a feeling of discovery and understanding, as if it’s laying a sympathetic palm on your shoulder and saying "There there. There there!" There’s something comforting in an understanding that comes across as understanding itself. When he first met his producer Bl’EVE this was exemplified; different backgrounds, different musical tastes, but an incredible feeling of shared understanding.
Erection is a record about the feeling when you are over something that has broken you up. Your heart has healed but it has reformed jaggedly. The sadness of the blues is connected with the success of rock 'n' roll. This sets it apart from ISM (one of Mike’s own idiom creations meaning "Incredibly Sad Music" usually characterised by a back and forth of romantic wailing and a more modernist hard-edged disdain). Felt's Lawrence, a cult hero of jangly "ISM" (bands Girls and Real Estate both refer to him) is a major influence for Mike Tyler. As is the secretive poetic narrative of rock ‘n’ roll. He says:
"From the blues forward it has been as much about words as the music. Even an instrumental guitar track like Wipe Out would be nothing without, well, “ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, wipe out.” It can be a condensed language, it can be cryptic, it can be repetitive and rhythmic, yeah that’s right it’s poetry."
Mike came from the New York City tradition of Lou Reed, mentored in a bar by the American poet Delmore Schwartz (who wanted poets to be as famous as baseball players), Patti Smith (a poet first) and Tom Verlaine of Television. Stand out moments of Mike Tyler’s career were catalysed by his way with words. Banksy stencilled his words “only the ridiculous survive” outside of London’s Paddington Station, while Beck fell under his charismatic spell while honing his songwriting craft. He became known as "The Most Dangerous Poet in America" after breaking his arm during a reading and his poem "The Most Beautiful Word in the American Language" is on people’s Facebook walls, MySpace pages, and blogs, not to mention fridge doors.
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