Musical Analysis: Is Grime The Next Punk?

To me, punk music is the most influential musical movement of all time. Regardless of the fact that after a decade of its reign, mainstream punk music died, it has reigned over the underground scene for years and to this day, is able to create music that sounds fresh. So what’s ‘grime’ then?

Grime music took influence heavily from the British rave scene in the 1990s and the jungle scene, which occurred in the late 1990s. After Garage music died down in popularity in the early 2000s, producers believed that Garage music needed to be a lot darker, and turned it into what we know today as ‘Dubstep.’ Whilst Dubstep was gaining more popularity, a genre yet again inspired by Jungle and Rave music was developing in London by East London rapper, Wiley, who had been an MC in the Garage and Jungle scene. Wiley , amongst other London rappers formed the biggest Grime group of the early 2000s: Roll Deep, which allowed the genre to storm the UK, particularly in London, due to its ‘in your face’ attitude, unique production style and a strong message about living in a poor economy. Dizzee Rascal was a particular turning point for this genre when he dropped the album Boy In Da Corner (2003) after leaving Roll Deep the year before. Artists such Kano and Tinchy Strider made albums in the early 2000s that were influenced by pop and grime, giving the genre a more accessible sound and allowing it to become more popular in the UK. Grime was constantly expressing the conditions of living in a poor economy with lyrics containing lower class lethargy and because of the poor economy, most music was sold on blank store- bought CDs and spread around the artists’ local community. However, it was in the mid 2000s where Grime made its descent into the underground scene, whilst its sister genre: Dubstep gained more popularity. Since then, artists such as Dizzee Rascal and Tinchy Strider created music that was nothing short of generic and forgettable UK pop. From the 2010s to present, Grime has resurfaced slightly because Dubstep has lost its place in the mainstream. However, with less acclaimed albums and less attention to the message it sent out before, it appears that Grime has become a lesser version of what it was.

Whilst listening through several Grime albums between 2000- 2005, I found it interesting that Grime was doing what a lot of UK music at the time was afraid to do. Whilst Oasis and Blur clung on to an older and more DIY sounding style of production, Grime sounded like the future of electronic music combined with hip- hop, and was doing it in a way that didn’t care about the standards and ideals of mainstream music. This is very similar to the way punk developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The way bands like The Stooges and The Ramones exploded into popularity was because they wanted to express rage and fury through their music, ignoring ideals set by mainstream bands such as The Beatles. In that sort of sense, it’s easy to see how Grime had this ‘in your face’ way of bringing it’s unique style forward to audiences. In a 2005 New Yorker article, Sasha Frere- Jones described Grime as being a ‘fine black mist dissolving the air.’ This quote is probably the most accurate description of Grime because it shows how it has a sense of unease about it yet it becomes familiar to audiences, it allows them to be taken over by something unknown and unforgiving. This reminds me a lot of the way punk took over the hearts of British audiences in the 1970s and 1980s, where it quickly became something infectious and familiar amongst people, yet had a sense of unease about it. The reason this is similar amongst both genres is because both genres don’t care about adhering to musical standards, they simply care about getting their music to people’s ears. Even today artists such as Skepta, JME and Stormzy care mostly about getting their content to people, rather than trying to live up to a certain musical standard and try and crawl into the mainstream. This is what unique genres do and what will keep them way more memorable than any of Adele’s albums. A combination of Grime’s attitude and its recent resurgence makes it likely to take the torch of being the next phase of Punk.

However, the line pretty much draws at Grime’s attitude and way of creating music. A lot of the time, the content that Grime artists create, especially nowadays, is largely forgettable and will be unlikely to last the test of time. Before people start to get offended, I want to clarify that Grime does have the potential to be one of the most important genres of music to be born in London. However, while albums such as Stormzy’s Gang Signs and Prayer (2017), Wiley’s Godfather (2017) and Skepta’s Konichiwa (2016) and anything by popular group Boy Better Know are lyrically intelligent, perfectly produced and are balanced between accessibility and nuance, it is difficult to see past these leading figure heads of the genre. It’s difficult to compare smaller Grime artists such as Bugzy Malone  because they’ve crossed the line of having an ‘in your face’ attitude and simply sound arrogant at this point. The lyrics to the song Mad(2016) by Bugzy Malone are as such: ‘They wanna drive the cars that I’ve driven, the clothes I get given, there’s way too many and my new walk-in wardrobe can’t fit ’em.’ It’s good to see the guy has a lot of self confidence, but nobody cares how rich one rapper is. When Punk was developing as a genre, it had a message, something it wanted to express and music was simply a medium for that. Founder of Sex Pistols, Malcolm McLaren said that ‘punk was an attitude. It was never about having a Mohican haircut or wearing a ripped T-shirt. It was all about destruction, and the creative potential within that’ and it is evident that Punk had a significant message with a deeper, more philosophical meaning. The song No Future by Sex Pistols subtly expresses ideas about existential nihilism and conspiracy and the idea that England is alienated by those that govern it, which is evident through lines such as ‘God save the Queen, She ain’t no human being. There is no future, In England’s dreaming.’  Despite not commercialising itself and sticking to its roots, the Grime artists seem to be creating music that’s rhythmically interesting and catchy, however they seem to have lost the message that Grime initially set out to portray about living in a low economic lifestyle. In fact, even releasing content that talks about the artist living in excess with no self awareness is almost an insult to the genre itself; it pretty much contrasts entirely with the message it originally set out to express.

An article by Ant Lightfoot on Public Pressure states: ‘Grime is largely associated with violence, however which may be holding it back somewhat. There is a resistance from certain artists to involve themselves in the grime scene for this reason. But does that not enhance their anarchic, punk-ish relevance?’ I completely disagree with this idea. The idea of anarchy that was expressed in Punk music wasn’t about creating violence per say, but it was the idea of having no one else control you. Craig O’ Hara describes it best in his book The Philosophy of Punk (2001) where he states that ‘Anarchy does not simply mean no laws, it means no need for laws. Anarchy requires individuals to behave responsibly. When individuals can live in peace without authorities to compel or punish them, when people have enough courage and sense to speak honestly and equally with each other, then and only then, will anarchy be possible.’ If Grime is supposedly the next Punk then its ideals shouldn’t be to cause violence, but to bring together people that believe in a certain message about the awful societal state. This was evident in early 2000s Grime, however it seems to have faded away amongst artists and remains mainly with current leading figures in the genre such as Skepta, Boy Better Know, Wiley, Kano etc. It’s easy to say that Grime is the new Punk when Skepta wins best male solo artist at the NME awards, but when you truly look into what Grime meant, it appears that it’s only amongst leading figures of the genre that the idea of being the new Punk is relevant.

In many ways it is arguable that Grime does mirror Punk; Grime has an attitude like very few genres in today’s world and has a certain magnetism about it that sources from its unique style of production and appeal to youth culture. However, it’s difficult to agree with a statement like ‘Grime is the new Punk’ because Grime has a tendency to lose sight of itself. The reason Punk music collapsed into the underground by the 1980s was because the ideology behind the genre was commercialised, which was the exact opposite of what the genre set out to be. Punk set out to be an anti- establishment genre that wanted to strip away all ideas of consumerism from people and allow them to be individuals, however, because the genre was commercialised in the 1980s, it was being hypocritical to its own message and eventually people stopped caring about it. It’s evident that Grime is pretty much doing the same thing, despite the leading artists and groups sticking to what the genre was about, it’s smaller artists like Bugzy Malone, J Hus, Yungen and  Devlin that strip away the sense of community that Grime created in previous years. The reason Grime isn’t mirroring Punk is because Punk music actually progressed when it went underground and created sub genres such as Grunge, No Wave, Post Punk etc. I don’t see Grime doing that because so many artists seem to be blinded by their own egos. Don’t get me wrong, I think Grime is probably one of the most unique genres out there, but it’s influence has faded away so much since its resurgence because artists have made it about one- upping other artists and trying to show off the idea of excess rather than sticking to what Grime was truly about.

Overall, it is possible for Grime to be the most influential genre in the world, it’s also possible for it to bomb completely. But Grime appears to have lost the same type of familiarity it had in the early 2000s. Grime has made a comeback, that’s for sure, but it feels like a part of it died in 2005. The idea of being ‘punk’ isn’t to create something that is commercial and will be played on the radio, the idea of Punk is to send out a strong message by using music as a medium for it, Grime had that, and part of it still does, but a lot of the genre feels like it’s just there to give you an Instagram caption when you’re feeling particularly egotistical one day. I’m not going to decide the fate of music or how influential a genre will be, but the lack of a strong message and a simple rise in popularity doesn’t mean Grime has become the successor to Punk, or that it will in the future.

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Track Reviews- 16/01/17

These are the reviews of any tracks that I missed out on reviewing since I started my blog, mainly from last week. Enjoy my children.

The Chainsmokers- Paris 4/10 

The Chainsmokers are perhaps one of the blandest electronic music artists out there. If you want to listen to music you’d normally hear at a Forever 21 or Topshop, then Paris is the track for you. With generic lyrics, annoyingly repetitive vocal melodies and monotonous production, this song will be a forgettable track in 2017. Let’s just say The Chainsmokers are the Jennifer Lawrence’s of electronic and pop music. Believe it or not, this song is an improvement on their previous work.

Frank Carter And The Rattlesnakes- Modern Ruin 7.5/10

If you want to listen to some aggressive punk music, then this track is perfect for you. Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes have been seriously blowing up in the punk music scene. Their debut album Blossom and their insanely aggressive concerts make them a punk band of true punk fashion. There are some clear metal influences in this track as well as punk, especially listening to Frank’s vocals and the immense breakdown three quarters of the way through the song. The guitar tones and riffs are one to listen out for, not just in this track, but in their debut album as well. Definitely worth a listen.

Temples- Strange Or Be Forgotten 7/10 

Temples are influenced heavily by psychedelic pop in this new track. Although some of the vocals in this track are slightly too repetitive and are drowned out by the synth melody, this song is still incredibly atmospheric. The chorus is insanely catchy (despite some of the lyrical content not making much cohesive sense) and has an excellent synth melody over the top. The vocalist appears to be heavily be inspired by Tame Impala and The Beatles adding to the psychedelic aspect of the track. The synth part in this track is also highly reminiscent of some new wave music like Roxy Music and The Jam. This track is very much a progression from the band’s first album and has influence from a series of genres making it sound a lot more original than their earlier work. This single isn’t as good as Certainty from 2016, but it’s still really nice to listen to.

Creeper- Hiding With The Boys 6.5/10

Creeper are perhaps one of the most original bands in the alternative music scene, with their EP’s being heavily influenced by AFI in their music and My Chemical Romance in terms of their band aesthetic. The band offers original punk rock music with powerful vocals by frontman Will Gould. With all of that I must say I was slightly disappointed with this track as it doesn’t have the same amount of energy as previous single Suzanne and doesn’t really sound like it has any meaning to it. However, the instrumental and vocal performances still remain solid and there are still some very catchy melodies, especially in the chorus.

Halsey- Not Afraid Anymore 1/10

nope.

The Flaming Lips- There Should Be Unicorns 3/10 

I don’t really know what The Flaming Lips are trying to do anymore. In their earlier work they have established themselves as an indie band, yet in their new singles I haven’t heard any indie influences whatsoever. This new track goes for an ambient feel but there’s simply no sense of atmosphere created due to the already monotonous production. I’m not looking forward to their new album at all, especially seeing as they’ve been working with Miley Cyrus quite a lot and I don’t want to live through that PTSD.

J. Cole- High For Hours 7/10

I’ve expressed in the past how J. Cole’s combination of monotonous production, meaningless songs and overexposure makes him a lot worse than he intends to be. However, this new track actually lives up to the hype that J. Cole’s fanbase give him. There’s a really great groove on this track and for once the production doesn’t sound bland; the instrumentals actually have some life put into them whilst J. Cole gives some solid verses about the world’s political state. Although sometimes when J. Cole does talk politically, he doesn’t do it with much sense of passion… he kind of just says things that are relevant and topical making him seem like he’s this leading political figure, when in actuality he’s doing it without any amount of meaning, unlike Kendrick who raps with so much passion and it resonates incredibly well with fans. High For Hours completely disproves that. There’s an almost definite passion in what J. Cole is rapping out and it’s something that comes across as incredibly self aware. After a disappointing LP, it feels like J. Cole is finally learning from past mistakes, making me even more excited for his project with Kendrick.

Rock Music: A Political Movement

Before I begin with this ‘article’ of sorts I would just like to point out that this was initially written as an assignment for my uni, but I just found the topic to be so interesting that I felt I had to share it (I’ve deleted the references though). Enjoy my children.

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Rock music can be attributed as being a political movement. The impact this genre has had, particularly on the youth culture, has been prominent through the change in attitude in an otherwise mundane society. According to Zhang, ‘Rock and Roll includes not only music itself, but also the associated social environment, what it reflects is the state of various aspects of the social environment in which it exists.’ Since the 1950s, this genre has questioned the norms of an alienated society, and created a medium of expression that has had far reaching political consequence. Rock is a musical movement that has influenced society through inspiring the youth to challenge those that oppress and govern them to prevent estrangement.

Rock music inspired a cultural revolution to a youth generation that was otherwise cautious and alienated by the US government in the 1950s. According to a 1990 Rolling Stone article, ‘you could say that rock & roll set something loose in the 1950s— a spirit of cultural abandon — that could not be stopped or refused.’ The loud and rebellious birth of rock and roll had a remarkable impact on the youth culture, inspiring a more rebellious outlook on life. The explosive sound of rock music made it ideal for making the youth aware of the discrimination around them. ‘Hound Dog’ was a political parody of the original song, turning what was an otherwise romantic song into a representation of 1950s America. Author Ken Emerson stated that ‘Presley packed innocence, outrage, and apocalyptic urgency into Hound Dog’ , which is an example of the rebellious attitude that rock music brought forward, constantly bringing the societal state into question and placing the youth culture at the epicentre of society, putting them in complete control of it.

The subcultures that rock inspired allowed further expression of it’s anti- establishment attitude. In the 1950s it commenced with the Teddy Boys who, in protest to the economic conditions after the war, wore Edwardian style clothing. After the release of the rock influenced film: Blackboard Jungle (1955), Teddy Boys began listening to rock n’ roll artists such as Bill Haley, Elvis Presley and Eddie Cochran. Their natural successors, ‘The Rockers’ were the start of motorbike culture, and were the initial influence for later motorbike gangs such as the Hell’s Angels. The idea of gang culture is truly rock inspired, as it complies with its primary message, which is to challenge the people that govern and lead to avoid alienation. Teddy Boys and Rockers are a great example of how rock music put the youth as the focal point of society, no matter who was leading them, the voice of the youth remained powerful due to the sheer impact rock music had on them.

Not only did rock have an influence on the youth, but it also had a political consequence; the youth was less alienated by society and continued to challenge those who victimised them. A small scale example of this is the attire of rock musicians. The Beatles were known for their extravagance in 1960s society due to their hair length and fancy dress. Because of the already rebellious influence of rock music, and the non conformist style of attire of The Beatles, the youth began to change their style of dress as a symbol of their rebellious attitude and to challenge those that govern them (i.e. Their school teachers and parents); ‘This fully embodied the strong desire of the youth who wanted to abandon the traditional conformist life and move towards a freer living space.’ (Zhang). This is a perfect portrayal of the political consequence rock music had on society, as it shows how the youth culture was pushed to the centre of society to create a place less alienated by those in charge.

Not only was rock music the inspiration for soft rebellion such as changes in attire, but this genre had a part to play in revolutionary acts of protest such as the civil rights movement in the 1960s. ‘Blowin’ in the wind’ (Bob Dylan, 1963) was an incredibly influential folk rock song in the civil rights movement, with lyrics such as ‘how many years can some people exist, before they’re allowed to be free’, which is an ironic line which depicts America as hypocritical for allowing discrimination when it describes itself as ‘free.’ The fact that Bob Dylan is stating that one must be ‘allowed to be free’, shows how America is not a free country at all, due to the massive divide in society between races. By speaking out about this sense of hypocrisy, Bob Dylan was taking the principle of rock music to invoke a rebellious reaction, further creating political consequence.

The Vietnam War was one of the greatest influences on rock music’s lyrical content, as it made the youth culture more aware of the deteriorating society around them. Songs such as ‘Fortunate Son’ (Creedence Clearwater Revival, 1969) was one of the many protest songs written in light of the Vietnam War about how richer people wouldn’t have to serve in the war, leaving the bloodshed to those less fortunate. This haunting song was one of many to inspire the youth culture to invoke more rebellious reaction, leading to one of the key moments of rock history that gave it the label of a political genre: the Woodstock festival in the August of 1969. This festival was a free music festival where young people saw acclaimed rock bands for free whilst expressing their disgust at the Vietnam War. Not only was Woodstock a perfect example of the youth culture rebelling against an awful society, but it also showed how rock music has created a sense of community amongst the youth and that this genre has become a political movement rather than just a category of music.

By the 1970s rock music had reached at such a high point of its explosive sound and revolutionary attitude, that it progressed into what we know today as punk rock. Punk music was perhaps the most influential musical movement in rock history and inspired an attitude that invoked more complex ideas of rebellion such as nihilism and existentialism. The ideas punk music proposed about rebellion was a development on what had inspired the youth culture thus far; there were more philosophical questions proposed such as the idea of existentialism and nihilism and whether human beings really are significant in the universe and whether there is any true meaning to living an idealistic life when life itself may be meaningless. Songs such as ‘Blank Generation’ (Richard Hell and The Voidoids, 1977) discuss this idea of nihilism and take the pre existing sense of rebellion to a new level. Sinker describes punk rock as ‘saying ‘fuck you’ to the backwards ideals and attitudes that hold us back’, referring to the idea that the government has been alienating society and needs to be challenged in order to not be consumed and oppressed by those who are supposed to be leaders.

The complex idea of rebellion introduced by punk music has been inspiration for rock musicians to this day. The whole idea of punk culture and anti- establishment attitude was made more accessible to the mainstream through sub- genres such as gothic rock, where bands would express the same message in a more mainstream way; having cleaner guitar riffs and synths in their music. Songs such as ‘I Know It’s Over’ (The Smiths, 1986) is an example of the balance between accessibility to the mainstream and spreading a message that will unite the world against oppression and discrimination. This is perhaps the best thing about rock music, that the message it sends is not about tearing people apart, but creating a sense of community and taking down those that abuse their power. Rock music takes the idea of rebellion and turns it into something that’s a vitality as opposed to the idea that it is an act of unnecessary aggression.

Overall, rock music’s influence of politics is what allows it to bring people together, from Elvis Presley to The Foo Fighters, rock music has ignited an undying flame of an anti- establishment attitude that has thus far created revolutionary political consequence and will continue to do so for generations to come. French journalist and philosopher Albert Camus (1999) states that ‘human rebellion ends in metaphysical revolution. It progresses from appearances to acts, from the dandy to the revolutionary.’ Rock music has progressed in this way, from changing appearances inspired by The Beatles, to becoming a community that will stop at nothing to create a world that has come together to bring down those that create a divide between people. It is this idea of unity and a sense of togetherness that makes rock music one of the most influential musical movements of all time.

 

Written By Manav Kher

Ed Sheeran- Castle On The Hill and Shape Of You Track Reviews

After the chart topping album that was x, our favourite ginger person is back with two new tracks and an album title; ÷. Before I get into the tracks themselves, I’m gonna give some context about the singer songwriter from England that is: Ed Sheeran.

Sheeran has been a pretty significant part of urban and folk inspired pop music in the last 5 or 6 odd years. Before his rise to fame in 2010, he released several EPs such as Want Some? in 2007 and You Need Me in 2009. After opening for British rapper: Example and appearing on Jamie Foxx’s Sirius radio show, Ed Sheeran began his journey to becoming a sensation.

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His first album +, a personal favourite of mine, was an emotive and heavily folk inspired acoustic album which included gems such as ‘Lego House’ and ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You.’ Some of the guitar melodies in ‘ You Need Me I Don’t Need You’ in particular sound like they have a lot of minimalist influence, where most of the melodies are repeated and built up until there’s this massive wall of sound on top of which Ed Sheeran is giving a solid vocal performance. This album had a sense of uniqueness to it and felt like Sheeran was coming through with some real meaning behind his lyrics whilst effectively using an acoustic guitar with a looper pedal to have a repetitive, riff based acoustic sound.

Sheeran’s second album was another chart topping album that made him even more of a sensation. However, I personally felt that this album was slightly overexposed and lacked the passion that was prevalent in its predecessor. Rather than creating another urban, meaningful album telling stories of Sheeran’s past and his journey to fame, it appeared that there was too much focus on fan service and sticking to making slightly more generic  sounding pop songs. Don’t get me wrong, the melodies and riffs on this album were incredibly catchy, however some songs such as ‘Photograph’ and ‘I’m A Mess’ felt a bit too formulaic as songs and didn’t have the same unique quality to them as the songs ondid.

So that brings us to the 6th of January 2017, where Ed Sheeran has dropped two brand new and completely different tracks. Castle On The Hill to me sounds like one of those songs that plays in the climax of a romantic comedy where the protagonist is running through the rain to rescue his lover. There are some clearly indie influences in this song, however it just sounds so generic and has some lyrics that sound really recycled like ‘I’m on my way driving at 90’ and ‘I can’t wait to go home.’ Some of the vocal melodies in this song are kind of catchy, but then it gets to a part where Ed Sheeran goes full on falsetto and I can appreciate his vocal range and all, like it’s cool, but it sounds like Sheeran is trying to do too much here, it would’ve sounded better if the falsetto vocals were used more subtly. I feel like this track is going to be repeated a lot in the coming year and though people may not agree with me right now, it’s gonna get annoying after a while. This song sounds like Ed Sheeran if someone sucked the life out of his music. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great either.

However, Shape Of You is a different story. This song takes the same urban feel that Ed Sheeran created in his earlier work but incorporates some pop influences and there’s even a salsa vibe that’s evident here. It sounds like a groovy dance track and has some incredibly catchy melodies and Sheeran has managed to create a great balance between the all these different genres. There’s also a great balance between Sheeran’s mid range and falsetto vocals, which have been used more subtly and sound a lot better than Castle On The Hill. The lyrical content is still a bit lads-at-the-club generic pop lyrics, but they can be looked past thanks to the catchy melodies and upbeat groove of what I think is a solid dance track

Overall, Ed Sheeran is definitely back, he sounds completely different, but he is back and I have to say these two tracks have sparked my curiosity about the upcoming album and even a potential tour. What has set Ed Sheeran apart from other pop musicians is his ability to create something that’s unique and a fusion of many genres and Ed Sheeran has done it again with Shape Of You. I am slightly skeptical that the whole album may sound entirely like Castle On The Hill, in which case Sheeran needs to come up with something more original, but we can only hope for the best.

Castle On The Hill- 5/10

Shape Of You- 7/10 

Written By Manav Kher

David Bowie- No Plan EP

A year after his tragic passing, David Bowie still speaks to the world through his music as if he were alive today. Marking what would’ve been Bowie’s 70th birthday, we are presented with an EP release, a followup to the heartbreaking and haunting album to book end Bowie’s career: Blackstar.

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Opening the EP is the track ‘Lazarus’ which was previously a single off of Blackstar. This 6 minute track is a slow, dark and haunting track driven by some groovy bass lines and wailing saxophone parts topped with Bowie’s emotive vocal performance. Perhaps the most striking part about this song is its lyrical content. Bowie discusses how he’ll be ‘free just like that Bluebird’ referring to the fact that he’ll be freed from the suffering he was undergoing during the final stage of his life. The part where Bowie mentions New York is particularly terrifying; that was the place of his death and the place where he became a ‘king’, of course referring to his rise in fame. The song as a whole is one of my favourite songs of 2016 and reminds me that Bowie may have died, but his art will live on forever. The title itself refers to Lazarus, who’s story is found in the Gospel of John, and it relates how Jesus brought a man named Lazarus back from the dead, perhaps a metaphor about how Bowie was brought back from the dead through this album and his career despite him losing his life to cancer. The song ends with a series of wailing saxophone melodies and a slow guitar solo which is simply beautiful to the ears.

The second track: No Plan, also being the title of the EP, is another slow track guided by a simple and haunting guitar line. The unique chord progressions provide Bowie with a platform for some his best vocal work on the EP. The vocal melody is wailing and sorrowful and gives of a sense of pain and confusion that Bowie is feeling about the idea of not existing. The final words of the track state that ‘this is no place but here I am, this not quite yet’ which express Bowie’s confusion about his state of mind in the afterlife, how despite not existing, he is still there and that death is a paradox because ‘this is not quite yet’ refers to the idea that there is no such thing as time and space in the afterlife. This is also perhaps a reference to Bowie’s career, where despite him not existing, his music still exists and transcends time, therefore it lives on forever. The synths in this song along with some chimes provide a space like effect, calling back to Bowie’s earlier works, particularly Space Oddity. This is perhaps the most self aware song off the EP and summarises Bowie’s intelligence as a songwriter.

Killing A Little Time is a gritty, guitar driven song that explores Bowie’s frustration about dying and how he won’t be able to write songs anymore and further his art. The second verse ‘I’m fading man. Just killing a little time’ is sung in a fearful and panicked way and perhaps refers to him fearing the death of his art and his relevancy to the world when he’s gone. This is a slightly different angle to the idea of death Bowie has previously mentioned where he’s free to be this omniscient, musical being. This song refers more to the ordinary fears that people have before death, wether they’d be remembered or not, wether they would stay relevant to the world or have ‘no warm embrace.’ This track is a more relatable perspective of death and shows that despite his self awareness, Bowie still shared the same fears and doubts about death as every other human being, to be able to express that into such a gritty and gut wrenching song is some of the best songwriting I’ve ever seen.

The final track of the EP: When I Met You is the more pop orientated song on this EP and is slightly less experimental than the tracks that came before it. The simple chord sequence is overshadowed by another of Bowie’s excelling vocal performances. The repetitive vocal melody is used purposefully to emphasise the conversation Bowie is having with his alter ego: Ziggy Stardust, looking retrospectively at how this character came to exist and discussing all the things he regretted and how his ‘spirit [grew].’ This song is perhaps the most simple song on the album, but it’s simplistic melodies and rhythms are used effectively to express Bowie’s conversation with his younger, less self aware and more naive self, a version of Bowie that didn’t know his own potential and what he would come on to do.

Overall, the No Plan EP is the perfect followup to Backstar. This EP is almost as if Bowie is making music from the afterlife and allowing his art to live on. David Bowie used his death to further his art and end his life in the most brave way possible. No star has ever reached the heights Bowie took music, but his art will continue to inspire people for generations to come. This EP is definitely worth a listen and will have an impact on you which is of philosophical proportion.

9.5/10

Written by Manav Kher