Sunday, 5 February 2012

Dodecahedron








Serendipity is rare – that’s what makes it special. It’s the moment when you bump into someone you know from a different country - in the middle of London, or find out that a girl from your school knows a blogger friend of yours who lives several hundred miles away. Perhaps serendipity is mostly characterised by place or distance, and the coincidence of personal connections. However, it can also arrive in an email…

This specific email was one from a singer I had taken photos of at the Big Chill in 2010. Her name was Beth Jeans Houghton. I had noticed her glance at me as I raised my camera – standing between two professional, male photographers who were competing with the length of their lenses. The resulting portrait was posted on my blog here (she has knack for always looking extraordinary). I had circled Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny in the festival leaflet as sounding interesting – I knew nothing about their music before I watched the set. It was good though, really good. I was impressed. This was an unexpected highlight that led to downloading of their EP a few days later and I listened to it repeatedly during August and the autumn months. At some point over those summer holidays a rather intriguing message arrived in my inbox.
Are you the girl with the camera in front of the stage during our set at Big Chill?” 
I replied that yes, yes I was! It emerged that a friend of hers had sent her a link to my blog, thinking that she may like it, and Beth then saw my mention of her. We’ve stayed in sporadic contact ever since, ranging across subjects from my surgery and GCSE’s to her tours and various features. It’s the nearest I’ve ever crept to having an occasional pen friend. We’ve never met in person, although I’m just waiting for a tour date to come near enough for that to change.
Somewhere along the way she sent me a demo of her album. The album that comes out tomorrow –  that has been among the most played on my iPod for the last year and a bit. It’s called “Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose” and Beth’s voice simply soars among the tracks. I have already seen favourable reviews in NME and the Guardian, and am certain that a deluge of critical acclaim will follow.

(photo by me)

The first thing that struck me about the album is how cohesive it is. The songs float and fit smoothly together from start to end - even though individually they're very different. They evoke a sense of escapism, like snapshots or a collection of small narratives. I’m not a music journalist (tried and failed to learn four different instruments) – I can’t tell you what musical techniques she and the band are using, or give an entirely critical opinion. Furthermore, sounds, like smells, often evoke specific memories. This means that my experience of listening to the album will be distinctly different to that of someone playing it for the first time. I received the CD, with a lovely little typed note in December 2010 when I was spending the majority of my time lying on our grey sofa in the living room, following spinal surgery. My back was still heavy and stiff; the purple seam of a raw scar newly sewn. It began snowing that first afternoon of listening, and it fitted perfectly – flakes outside; spangly, beautiful music spiraling in the warm. 
Whilst playing it, I was also in the process of reading Owen Sheers’ ‘Resistance’ – a stunning, tangled book about an alternate WWII and the impact on a group of isolated women in the Welsh hills. I am yet to see the film, and I don’t know if it was the influence of the book, or simply Beth’s talent, but the songs on the album appeared to encapsulate a real wildness. They make me want to ride horses and run down hills in the wind. Or at least, take photos of her doing that!
 I think my favourite track might be ‘Barely Skinny Bone Tree’. It is incredibly atmospheric and shivery – a truly haunting song. However, others that induce that sense of exhilaration are Humble Digs, Atlas, Night Swimmer and Veins. You can listen to Lilliput here. They are in turn rousing or dreamy - her voice rising and falling like a skylark, accompanied by a multitude of instruments.

The album glitters – and so as a homage, does the outfit I am wearing here. I wanted to try to capture a little of the theatricality of Beth’s - and The Hooves of Destiny's - music, whilst retaining the more untamed element (easy enough living where I do!) So it was on with a metallic sixties zig-zag robe I bought in a vintage shop a little while ago. I felt that gold hotpants (ranking among the best Christmas present received this year!) were also highly appropriate, especially when paired with a purple silk pyjama top. The belt was my grandma's, the array of rings are vintage (many from family) and the shoes are from Next - the heels were appropriately muddy by the time we finished. 

Although I already own an early copy of the album, I am so much looking forward to buying the vinyl after tomorrow's release.  

33 comments:

Fashionistable said...

I am listening to her as I read your post. She sounds wonderful thank you for the introduction. And your look is a perfect homage to her sound. Look forward to the day we see your images of her running down the hill. Xxxx

AVY said...

Vinyl is heaven. Gorgeous pics.

/ Avy
http://MyMotherFuckedMickJagger.blogspot.com

Rosa Fay said...

Ah, I remember you telling me about this - amazing! Her music really is very beautiful.

The outfit and yourself are stunning!

the nyanzi report said...

I had to first listen to her material before I left a comment and I have to say that she's got herself a new fan in me.

Wonderful review Roz.

Jacqueline M. said...

legs for miles

SymbioticLife said...

I'll definitely be checking her out. It's always fun to find something new to listen to.

Can I just say - you're slightly amazing. Not just because you're beyond lovely, not simply because you have such a magical way with words or a camera, but because you were standing in that frost wearing that outfit and managing not to show even an inch of what the cold had to be making you feel. Your posture is open and fluid, your face is relaxed and pretty. Someone recently took pictures of me in the bitter cold in full sun and I just looked like a very angry person between the frowning/squinting/hunching trying to stay warm. Amazing!

Two Buttons said...

Great review and stunning pictures. I love the long waistcoat thing and your poses are amazing.
Xx
thetaleoftwobuttons.blogspot.com

styleeast said...

What a marvellous pen friend to have! I'm going to have a listen, something I've been meaning to do for ages anyway. You look lovely as always Rosalind, I thought the waistcoat was Missoni at first! x

Rebeccak said...

I have never heard her music before! Thanks for the introduction... I always love finding new music - particularly when it is so meaningful to someone.

Closet Fashionista said...

First loooove the outfit! The shorts are awesome!
and second, wow that is definitely serendipity, so funny that she found your blog :D
http://www.closet-fashionista.com/

Jo said...

Oh goodness, her music is wonderful - thank you for the introduction! <3 I love your outfit too - those shorts are a dream!

x
Lost in the Haze: Fashion Blog

Ms Jelena said...

amazing photos and beautifully written post!

xx

http://ms-jelena.blogspot.com

Not Just A Pretty Dress said...

It is such a pleasure to read your posts that I would say that NME should have writers like you to review the albums. I'm not a music expert either and, like other forms of arts, I base my opinions on the emotions and messages that a song, or a painting, communicate to me. And I'm so curious to discover Beth's album...Thank you for the introduction!

Vix said...

Beth Jeans Houghton must have played almost every festival I've been to over the last five years and , to my shame, I still haven't caught her act once.
What a wonderful tale!
Your marvellous zig-zag waistcoat looks amazing on you, worn to perfection. x

LINDA said...

Absolutely Beautiful!

xoxo

Linda from www.moonon.com

adrielleroyale said...

LOVE that first shot! :)

Katrina said...

To be honest I read this not so long after you published this post. Yet I wanted to leave a better comment than I LOVE THIS. Yet I failed in finding better words. I really like this sweet tribute to a very good artist. And you look wonderful as always. I imagine it must have been hard work with all those poses. Beautiful.

>'.'<

Izzy/Bella said...

First...thank you for your lovely, thoughtful comment on my blog. I agree it's hard to make time for the most important things, although afterwards I always feel better when I do, wonder why I didn't do so before...then continue vegetating again :)

Second...I LOVE your hair. Have I mentioned that? Mine's so thick I have to wear it very long as well just to drag it down a bit (I earned the nickname Frizzy Izzy in grade school before I learned this trick alas), but then it doesn't have that lovely wave in it yours does. Once I'm settled in my new home with more space I'm going to experiment with heat curlers more.

And third, I love the photo. You capture a vulnerability and a softness in it. I'll check out the album as well! I always love to discover new beautiful female voices. I've become obsessed with all things Zooey Deschanel, her band She and Him and her adorable blog in which she posts youtube clips of herself singing karaoke. She's hysterical....hmmm. Oh no I'm writing another blog post on your blog as usual. Thanks for another inspiring, sweet, interesting post :)
xx
Izzy
www.misadventuresofme.com

SabinePsynopsis said...

What a great story about serendipity indeed and what a beautiful associative post. It takes me forever to figure out if I like music or not, but I immediately love her voice (and the film is pretty cool, too). xoxo

The Foolish Aesthete said...

Thank you for introducing us to her music. Your description of "glitter" seems apt. There is something silvery about her sounds. I used to listen to so much celtic music sung by women playing harps and such, and the Skinny Bone Tree reminds me so much of them. It's like Faerie voices!

Lovely homage with your shimmering robes. xxx

Fashion Tales.... said...

Lovely post! Well,I love her voice, what a range she has. Loved watching her videos as well. Thanks for the intro. -xo

San said...

Another fantastic post. So fantastic that you have Beth as a penpal.

I've listened to Beths music, since I'm always looking for new music. However I found that this is not the kind of music I'm leaning towards these days. I'm totally smitten with The Goo Goo Dolls and Tom Jones these days. Weird combination I know.

I've tried to photo-illustrate another story. Would love your thoughts on it. (Over the brim of the bucket)

Anyway, I wish you a lovely week. Hopefully it isn't as cold at your place as it is in Leipzig. -14°C just suck.

sacramento said...

I have to listen to her inmediately.
Fabulous attire, my dear Rosalind.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

daisychain said...

Karma at it's best! x

Lydia said...

That's so amazing that she saw your blog and contacted you! What a cool story. I'm not familiar with her music but will def check out. And I LOVE your outfit--- what a great idea putting that long jacket over shorts. I love it.

t said...

Cool look!

http://initialed.blogspot.com

Flis said...

Ah vinyl - I recently inherited a turntable and I just love it so much :) X

http://felicityotoole.blogspot.com/

Jessica said...

Wow! There is so much detail, the shorts are fabulous :)

http://chicgeekblogger.blogspot.com/

Please take a minute to look at my trunkshow;

http://iouproject.com/tsh/jessica-karen/

Tela de Araña said...

...thanks for the suggestion, I´m going to hear it...

Tilda Woods said...

cute photos honey. ;)

please give me a visit :D

http://wildeornes.blogspot.com/

Fashion Limbo said...

Firstly, you look stunning, what an anazing outfit. Secondly, I'm Jess and we have recently been introduced via email through a common friend, so I just wanted to say hi and hopefully see you during LFW if you are going :) Thirdly, I'm always looking for new music to listen to, so I'm adding Beth's music to the list, must check her out.

xxxx

http://fashionlimbo.com

Hazardous Area said...

Wonderful. Pure fantasy. I admire your vision and writing talent.
xo xo
www.thehazardousarea.blogspot.com

Books, fashion, and a dash of fairy dust said...

Hey Roz,

I love your outfit, you look amazing!When I was younger I would always try to pull off this sort of thing but I never knew how exactly. So thank you for the inspiration.

XOXO

http://pastriespocketsandpages.blogspot.com/