Scoville Units Unite

05 May

Aphorisms by Tragical History Tour

Aphorisms is the full LP debut by Derrick Johnston of Make-That-A-Take Records, and countless bands with numerous other releases behind his belt. Ten tracks of heartfelt raw emotion and experience which is undersold by the modest title.

Its a great record, but I’ve delayed being able to write about it and I’m not sure why. Normally when I first hear an album by a band it’s either completely new or there’s a couple of tracks I’ve heard a few times. There are some new tracks on it, but others were on previously released EPs, or had just been being performed solo for so long, and I’ve heard so many times that it causes a jar to hear as a full band recorded. And I know no one reads this blog but I still try and write stuff that’s for people other than me. I don’t know what the experience of someone sitting down and hearing these tracks for the first time will be, but I know that the handful of us who have been to tons of shows in Dundee may have a different experience.

1. Fight For Light

The record opens with Derrick singing acousticly with his distinctive voice. I remember him describing it, but can’t remember the term, maybe polyphonic overtones? I dunno enough about music to know, all I know is his gruff vocals are pretty unmatched.

A wonderful story, presumably about some grandparent or older family friend who was a positive influence on him during a troubled part of his life, and now reminiscing about their loss and the promises made to them.

When I never had a home
You were my place to go.

2. Come On Home, Hero

A song released last year about the Brexit shambles

screaming “we want out!”
without thought or doubt

This is one of those songs I really like, but have heard live solo more than recorded so there’s a nag at the back of my head that is sounds off. But it’s great nonetheless and I can see myself listening to it, certainly of the next year as we raise towards the abyss of ignorance and futility ahead.

3. Old Words

The title track of an EP, it’s yet another great song, and I think the same as the previous recorded version released. Just raw emotion and love poured out into a track, head and shoulders above other similar themes by anyone I can remember hearing in a long time.

4. Three Two

A track I first heard performed by The Uniforms and absolutely loved. The line Tired? I’m exhausted. Sanity?I think we lost it I think we lost it somewhere between California and Colorado Springs. blows my mind every time. The rhyming structure and where the line breaks are, the pause and the tone change are just delightful. It’s surprisingly upbeat for a song about a self-destructive lifestyle trying to cover up internal unhappiness.

5. What Would Vinnie Mac Do?

Another song perfected by a fantastic rhyming structure. This is the kind of track that made it difficult to write about the album. Just listen to it. The contrast of the guitar, the song and the lyrics is just overwhelming and make it difficult to find the words to express the feelings it stirs up.

6. Pink Couch

Another (old to me) tune. I’m assuming a story about visiting some variety of therapist. Maybe because it isn’t new for me I just feel out of sorts not hearing this with a crowd singing along to the chorus. I’ve spoken before of how I don’t listen to music by a new band before I go see them as the live and recorded experience is so different and this is maybe one way I understand it. This song is good to listen to as an MP3 or on a record, but it is amazing to be in a crowd singing along to it. Both are great experiences, but it’s hard to separate the two and for me to love the recorded solo experience as much as the live communal one.

7. It’s Cool, I’ve Got This

The LP has been broken into three parts, the first of the hurt and pain, Pink Couch is acknowledging and trying to deal with it and this track is the start of the turn-around. Getting his life sorted out.

8. My Little Ray Of Sunshine

A great number, and the lyrics can be read as a number of different people in different roles, there’s a bunch of layers there and it will take some more listens to try and zone in on my preferred interpretation.

9. No Advice

Probably the highlight of the entire album. Amazing live, amazing recorded. The chorus of

But if you ask me,
I’ll tell you everything.
I won’t walk away.
You are never alone.

is just beautiful.

10. The Final Intervention

The final and longest track on the album is fantastic. Maybe about the ignorance of climate change? There’s too many things it can be about but it seems to fit best. Ending the track and album with a spoken word monologue of hope and looking to the future. transformation is real.

Overall

I’ve known Derrick for at least 15 years, maybe more and so it’s hard to listen to this album and hear the pain and suffering he has been through poured out into it in such a raw form. The narrative structure of the record helps, by starting in the past, a middle break of an understanding of the pain and then looking to the future, concluding with the positive message at the end.

But having stood watching Derrick and numerous members of the crowd with tears welling up in the corner of their eyes during some of these songs makes it a hard album to listen to. The rollercoaster of emotions you will experience every time mean you have to be in a good mindset to even throw it on or the stories with low points will drag you right down with it. And if the biggest downside of an album is it’s so well written and performed it will have an emotional impact on you, then that’s gotta be worth a listen right?

Parental Advisory: Emotional Trauma and Hearbreak.

You have three options with the record, buy online as a download, or as CD or LP which come with the download code too. The LP also came with a fanzine/interview which was great including some old photos and the like and a pile of other material you can usually find on the Distro stand. Can’t say for sure what you get with the CD though, expect a promise of cool free shit and what more could you ask for?

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