Pubblicato il Dicembre 22nd, 2021 | by DDG0
STONEAGE DINOSAURS (Cardiacs, 1987)
All we feel is lonely, just like stoneage dinosaurs.
Tim Smith‘s English is difficult to translate, and sometimes difficult to understand: but the end of Stoneage Dinosaurs‘ lyrics leaves no room for interpretation. It’s a poignant song, moving but not consoling: the memory of a childhood afternoon, the TV or radio with his brother Jim (Cardiacs’ bassist), and the thought of how growing up breaks our knife’s edge with his care for the ordinary.
Cardiacs were never ordinary.
I did one of Tim’s songs for this tribute album and it’s one the hardest things I’ve ever had to do and I picked one of the easiest songs I could from his catalogue and I tell you, it was still a brain fry for me because I’m just not used to music that compositionally is so complex . So I think in a way it’s easy to love the music but it’s much harder to imitate and I think that’s why perhaps the legacy of Cardiacs isn’t as strong as it otherwise might be simply because it’s very, very hard to imitate music of such sophistication and complexity. It’s genius.
And even Stoneage dinosaurs, seemingly relaxed and even, hides abysses and irregularities that turn it into something else, a whirlpool, an emotional vortex. The cry of the dying soldier from some script, take me home again, for the last time, the melody that becomes a hymn where so many voices never turn into a proper choir, or the wonderful sax solo by Sarah Cutts (at the time, Smith – Tim’s wife): every element of the composition is strong and intense, much more meaningful, full and designed than it seems at first listening, so much so that even the solo is played on guitar note for note by Jon Poole, in concerts at the end of the 90s.
Steven Wilson, who recorded a respectful version of Stoneage Dinosaurs for the tribute album LEADER OF THE STARRY SKIES (2010), underlined the extent to which the complexity that explodes within the London band’s most frenetic tracks pervades all of Smith’s compositions: he also clarified the kind of bond between fans and Cardiacs. Those who fall in love with Tim’s work naturally try to proselytise, because it’s frustrating to look around and see Cardiacs almost completely ignored, at least by the mainstream media, because of their oscillation between two musical worlds that co-exist with difficulty: those who love progressive music hate the punk aesthetic, and those who love indie rock or alternative punk rock think prog means pretentiousness and pomposity… and Tim fully embraces both worlds.
A strange Middle Earth between genres, where the compositions are able to absorb and transmit deep feelings: like the painful loneliness evoked here since the dark opening chord, so intense to be comparable only to that of an imaginary last dinosaur, arrived who knows how up to the stone age.