a man called adam A Man Called Adam duende
"The Duende only appears at moments of truth. It is a gust of air, an irrepressible instant, a ghost that suddenly appears and vanishes. The arrival of the Duende pre-supposes the radical change of old forms. It conveys a sensation of wholly unprecedented freshness. The world is reborn"
Pauline Melville

"Anticipation is so much better" sang the Delta 5 back in the days. Being one of the great lost songs from the punk dance age, I had chosen this as one of the records to play at a friends 30th birthday bash a little while ago, but fate stepped in and put me out of action for a while. So I never got the chance to impress, and ended up flat on my back listening to my carefully edited edition of London Calling, bellowing silently along with Mick Jones, acting out ‘I’m Not Down’ whilst consuming Lawrence Block’s hard boiled genius.

Now I guess a period of incapacity can be good for the soul, but I am not a good patient. One of the few strokes of luck which came my way around that time was the release of two keenly anticipated records by two outfits which had at one time provided very personal epiphanies.

Autechre’s Incunabula came along at a very special time. I had just returned to full time employment, and suddenly finding I had money to buy new records coincided nicely with the ascendancy of Warp Records. A debut LP by a mysterious, enigmatic, adventurous ensemble was perfect timing too, and the debut Autechre LP still seems special. Now, five years on, the fifth LP, an Autechre LP an annual event to look forward to, like The Jam or the Go-Betweens or Felt or someone. I still love Autechre, they have kept the mystery caged and play by their own rules, and spring the odd surprise and I admire their use of beats and melody, darkness and light yet I doubt if their fifth LP will be played as much as their protégés first. The Boards of Canada, that is. Familiarity is fatal.

I’m not sure if Autechre are famous for the Protestant work ethic, but they’ve notched up five LPs in the time since the last A Man Called Adam LP and I’m not sure why. Contractual problems I remember hearing about, the Other label to run, clubs to play at, life, love, music. I know, years roll by before you know where you are. Yet, it really has been a long time since A Man Called Adam released The Apple. I’ve called it, and they’ve quoted me on it, the best LP of the ‘90s so far, and I won’t retract that. so you can imagine how I felt on seeing a new A Man Called Adam LP in the shops. Yeah, "Anticipation is so much better."

Let’s backtrack. ‘Barefoot In The Head’ was a classic single at a time of classic singles: Marina Van Rooy, Unique 3, LFO, Young Disciples, Ragga Twins, Bocca Juniors, Definition of Sound, St Etienne, Nightmares On Wax. Then with the LP The Apple, A Man Called Adam left the pack standing with an astonishing display of pop vision or future soul which I’m sure I said was full of songs, words, melodies of Jim Webb or Abba-esque enormity. Sally Rodgers, I’m sure I said was the best songwriter of her generation, and it all seems so long ago now. I know they have been busy, and a few things have popped up here and there, and mostly I suspect they’ve been heavily involved with the global house underground which, I guess, puts them on a par with Calvin Johnson and K records and the International pop Underground in the ‘80s, which is fair enough.

So, Duende, the new A Man Called Adam LP at last. I confess, I didn’t really know what to think. A few songs hit straight away, a few passed me by. It was less house, more pop than I’d expected, and at times it seemed the fire still burnt fiercely. Weeks later and it already seems like something I can’t do without. Songs like ‘All My Favourite People’, ‘Easter Song’, ‘So You Say’, ‘Bite The Pillow’, ‘Estelle’, all seem so strong, and I’m having problems realising I’m hearing them all the time in my head but not on the radio. What’s happening? These songs have to be as universal as Madonna, M People, Lauryn Hill. Is this what Sally means when she sings "who will immortalise me?" or "who will build a cathedral in my name?" Is she a modern day Laura Nyto? Poor Laura, who could write classic pop hits for Barbara Streisand, the Fifth Dimension etc, but who struggled in her own right, even alienating the hippies with her new soul review at Monterey. I’ve been thinking a lot about Laura lately, and realise now she would be working on some Latin-tinged dub disco jazz house new soul ballads. I’d love to hear Lauryn Hill or Erykah Badu or MC Lyte pick up on one of Sally’s songs. I’d love to hear Sally on the radio, next to Luscious Jackson and Broadcast. I’d love to hear more A Man Called Adam. I’d love to hear what other people have to say about A Man Called Adam. For now, for me, some of Duende will be played a lot, at home, out and about, along with other current classics like the Rhythm and Sound showcase and the awesome God Speed You Black Emperor LP. How it will pass the test of time, I’ll let you know.

©Kevin Pearce. 1998.

"You have to find the right moment for the Duende to slip in. We know when to cause the moment."
Flora Purim