I waited until it was dark. I lay on a my bed mantled in darkness, the perfect stage to become acquainted with The XX’s second child, Coexist. The darkness because their music haunts the space of the liminal and the bedroom because they ooze a sultry minimalism, that is fitting for the boudoir. I felt all the familiar pangs of meeting someone after being separated for a while: anxious palms, skipping heart beat, apprehension and questions popping in my head: will we get along as we once did? Are they going to be different? Are we going to be strangers?
The title of their album, Coexist is also a question, a query whispered on the tip of uncertainty, a word projected into a space of unknowing, an echo in a dancehall. Can people – lovers, friends, neighbors, even enemies coexist together in this finite space we call earth. The XX will spend the next 34.79 minutes dancing, bumping, deconstructing, caressing, ditching and rebuilding this idea of coexistence through their splendiferous sense of space. This is my reaction to the album, of course everyones reaction will be different according to their individual socialization.
So I am lying on my bed, waiting to be delivered to that amniotic pool of liminal longing that The XX have transported me to in the past. This is interesting because the cover art and music video to Angels is reminiscent of that primal space of coexistence, the womb – all the fissures, the entrails, the muscular palpitations, the warmth, the fluidity is all frightfully visceral.
The XX were true to form as the ringmasters of space, teasing you with absence and silence, dragging you to the Land of Nod and jolting you with offbeat kicks as they nudge, caress and gyrate through words, music and its aching antithesis. While, The XX could be accused of not progressing enough from their original sound, I am thrilled they have not; for they dwell in a unique oxymoronic space of minimalist complexity. Why dramatically rupture something so uncannily beguiling?
Although my attraction is malleable, these are the two tracks I have since had on repeat.
The jolty friction of the discontinuous drum beat chaffing the melodious synchronicity of Romy and Oliver’s voice, as they gyrate around uncertainty is fuckin brilliant. The song opens with a cymbal crashing, the conflict of coexistence is about to commence. In a series of asides, which momentarily caress before regressing to an individual dialogue, Romy and Oliver question the morose underbelly to coexisting i.e. the suffocation, the loss of self, the chaining, thus poetically burnishing your Average Joe’s concerns. As this track blends into the following track Fiction, the conclusion to Chained is space.
Listen here: Chained
For me its about the monsterisms we create in the space of absence. Like Dr Frankenstein we all fall prey to the seduction of creation by night and wake up only to swallow the undesirable clause. The imagination is indeed seductive, offering co-existence in absence, however is it medicine for melancholy or a pill in the pursuit of happiness. Fiction (to me) is about ebb and flow – of presence/absence, night/day, fiction/reality and the imagination of a lover, oscillating in this / of liminality. I wish Oliver would create monsterisms in my absence, he is so fuckin’ sexy.
Unfortunately, there is only a live recording of it, listen here: Fiction