Minor Pieces – The Heavy Steps of Dreaming (FatCat, 2019)

I didn’t learn to drive until I was 21; I know that’s pretty late in some places but here it’s not such a big deal, though I suppose I was a little behind the curve. At the time though I knew when I started that, for whatever reason, I couldn’t have done it when I was younger. It was just a sense I had, that my disposition as a teenager wouldn’t have leant itself to the process: I think I would have struggled, been overwhelmed by it.

I also had (have) a similar difficulty with women I suppose, or perhaps it would be better to say embracing committed relationships with them. When I was a teenager, the prospect of having a full-time girlfriend seemed like an alien prospect, I didn’t feel like I was ready for something like that. It seemed entirely too mature, and entirely too much like hard work. Intimate relations are one thing, and I don’t have much difficulty separating sex from the serious stuff, but a long term romantic situation is something else entirely. On the one hand I desire it greatly, but on the other it was like the driving, and I’m not sure I have the disposition for it.

I feel like I’m trapped in this paradox, this introvert’s nightmare, and worst of all it’s damaging others not just myself. This shying away from commitment, of opening up, has hurt a few hearts when I look back guiltily, rebuffing those attempts to take things further for fear of letting someone get too deep. To spare myself from the heartache, I cut myself off, and cut them too.

Couldn’t love with no opposite

What I’ve always loved about Ian’s music is the space that isn’t there. We’ve had some noisy moments in his tracks over the years, and THSoD has a few of its own in beautiful “Rothko”, humming “Tender Fire”, and slow burn juggernaut finale “Shipbreaking”, but there’s always the juxtaposition with the unspoken “other”. Even in its swooping textural overload, “Rothko” still has Ian singing of opposites and the voids to be filled. “For the brand new words that have yet to be, against this crisis of linearity” he croons amongst mammoth warbling synth walls. Professions of something in the plainness of being, possible divergences from the status quo on the unwavering road of single existence.

There is regret, there is guilt, but there is also hope. A glimmer of love and light and life that burns with a passion from both within and without. There’s a force that moves inside ourselves as a result of external manifestations, driving us towards action and change and giving us purpose. There she is, this beacon of possibility, some magnetic attractor to pull us out of our flat trajectory.

And those difficulties run both ways to be sure, the same awkwardness and insecurity we harbour inside ourselves is something to be recognised in the other party as well. Both afraid of motion, both exploring the envelope of the comfort zone. One particular line in “The Way We Are In Song” hits badly close to home at the moment:

Oh we really aren’t lying when we can say this can work

But my friend you have to understand the nature of this curse

We believe so much that we hurt and we hurt

Despite the desire of both parties, I had to say no, I had to make it a matter of the head and not the heart, and it hurt. Yet again I couldn’t commit, I couldn’t let myself do it. “The nature of this curse” indeed. I wanted to say I’m sorry, I said I was sorry, and it made sense and we both knew it and I hated it.

Just listen to this fucking record and validate the state of my terrible romantic life, I promise you won’t regret it.