Posted by LS
05. Aug, 2011
I was starting to get the winters. If there was a gig or a party, I’d just use the excuse that I was sick, which has so much mileage at the moment. But even moving around the house, doing the dishes, watching TV, I was getting real sick, or more precisely, embittered.
Now we’ve had a couple of warm days I’m a little more pumped. The air smells a bit different and I can feel some part of me unfurling like a David Attenborough flower. “Destination Unknown” by Super Melody is the perfect soundtrack to that unraveling.
Opening with the same tribal simplicity as “Sympathy for the Devil”, with high-hats snapping and bongos noodling over a Bootsy Collins bass-line, the song builds and glides through space so serenely, its 7 minutes flying by as if you’re flying with them.
From the first line it’s like Right Said Fred just stepped off the ocean-liner or concord in a freshly-pressed off-white handmade Italian-silk safari suit, soon to be embroiled in an exotic mystery.
“I was terribly delayed while on my way to work today/ Distraction is the terror of my trade/ But it also leads to inspiration/ I leave my destination up to destiny” James Cecil sings in a breathy baritone like Gainsbourg with jungle fever. He’s out on an adventure, but instead of the Jewel of the Nile, he’s after some Chinese tea and a good time.
Still, every hero needs a counter-point. Indiana Jones was never far from adventure, but he was always even closer to a lady. Jojo Petrina (of Magic Silver White) gives the song that femme fatale edge. “Away we go, destination unknown,” she sings in a vaguely European accent, without any sense of trepidation, like a beautiful and seasoned traveller or an air-hostess.
And with every good adventure there’s a subtle MacGuffin. It’s the string arrangement, written and played by Biddy Connor (Sailor Days) that holds together “Destination Unknown”. It swells along, enriching everything beneath it without overwhelming the driving force of the lyrics and the characters. Connor’s violas put the song in the air. They are the epitome of sweeping, like the best string arrangements of Tropicalia, played by the Leyland Brothers.
While the chord progression is fairly classic rock, it’s the clever lyrics, the exciting harmonies, the amazing string parts and the unexpected structure of the song that really follows suit and gets lost in the labyrinth.
For some reason I’ll mention I’ve written most of this in my head in Sunshine where I work as a mail sorter for Australia Post. At the bottom of my chute full of parcels, surrounded by steel crates with postcodes above them, it feels like there are no unknown destinations left. Every corner known, named and numbered, this song is like an artifact from a time when the world still held wonders, before I looked on Google Earth almost 10 years ago and felt I’d seen everything because I had the pyramids and Area 51 up on the monitor at the same time.
The closest thing we’ve got to an unknown destination in the Melbourne Parcel Facility is the Dead Letter Office, where letters to Santa (North Pole, postcode 9999) will one day soon be gathered and incinerated.
Anyway, soak up the sun. Christmas is around the corner. Enjoy your LIFE!
Super Melody play tonight, Friday 5 August at
RAOB GAB Buffalo Club, 22 Sutherland St, Melbourne
From 9pm, before jet-setting to the USA for a tour in September.
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