Seagull sound effects: 'Big love' Matthew E White (Big Inner, Domino Records, 2012) & 'Next Summer' single (1986) & Ivan Sen's film 'Beneath Clouds (2002)

Live free
Girl, I am a barracuda
I am a hurricane
Live free
I am a barracuda
I am a hurricane
Live free

Apologies to Matthew E. White – hovering somewhere out there like a hologram in my consciousness, whose persona seems rather serious/disapproving despite the levity of his lyrics, if he feels belittled by this pairing … (no disrespect intended). 

Recorded seagull sound effects. 
The signifier of summer. 
Live free. 

Two tracks, from different points, ways of seeing, ways of being returning to the same point of departure, the sound of birds circling in the sky, reminding us of our childhoods (‘next summer I’ll meet a boy/And he’ll like me …')

From the Consequence of Sound review of White's Big Inner record: Big Inner/Beginner ...

Big Love’ acts as the thesis track. Its galloping, road-song tempo meshes with White’s refrain: “Moving on like any other man should, moving on like any other man would.” His words are reinforced by a seven-voice choir and a swelling string section. Musically, Big Inner reflects White’s stint as the band leader of avant-garde jazz group Fight the Big Bull. He cites Randy Newman as a personal hero, an influence that bridges the songwriting here with White’s jazzy background.

From Kitty Empire's review in The Guardian where she refers to the ‘very compressed auditory space’ of White’s music.

The son of missionaries who spent some childhood years in the Philippines, White, 30, is an old spirit who built a studio, Spacebomb, in his attic, looking to the Stax and Motown systems for guidance; he has affiliations with Bon Iver (whose first album about loss Big Inner faintly recalls), Megafaun and the Mountain Goats. He’s a jazzbo who often keeps his horns so low in the mix they are barely brass at all. There’s a choir here, so artfully deployed it seems almost muzzled to modern ears, used to having their ears blown backwards by ululating TV soul divas. Over seven elegant tracks, White and his musicians achieve the kinds of loveliness that Spiritualized, Lambchop, Cat Power and the Beta Band have tilted at, at different times in the past, and quite often missed.

Really like the shy placement of White’s vocals in ‘Big Love’ and his music, in general and that out-of-this-world bassline (providing the mechanics, the construction; from momentum to strength) and the so sharp/so pure sound of the backing singers singing ‘hurricane’. 

Australia, like hip-hop maybe (and then at that moment she coughs) isn’t known for its tradition of love songs, or films tackling the subject of love; I remember reading this comment once with reference to the country’s cinema. All this is true. 

Once when watching this film …. 

the miraculous (be quiet) Beneath Clouds by First Nations director, Ivan Sen – released in 2002 – with a French person I remember him saying that the essence of the film was ‘not much talk’ (this is how I remember the phrase even if it sounds like I’m rendering him inarticulate). And it’s true that this film, as most Australian films that feel real to me, are driven by intense monosyllabic communications strategies, or speechlessness, or silence: the inarticulate nature of a people who feel oppressed by the intensity of their emotions (in an - often - hyper-masculine culture that fights against any semblance, any expression of 'weakness'). 

So, what then is the connection with this ultra-sweet pop-song by an ‘all-girl’ group from the 80s (that almost no-one knows about)?

Well, let’s say the song connects with me so much mainly because of the way the it constantly distances itself from the expression of sentiment by joking around and making it over-the-top, ironic and excessive. This is telling and endearing, I think. (Here are some of the lyrics from my listening, could be wrong)

Next summer
Everything will be plastic
Because the world is a toy
Next summer
It will be fantastic
Cause I’ll meet a boy
And he’ll like me
And never be sarcastic
We’ll be together like elastic bands
And I won’t care about his clammy hands
Or the way he dribbles when he tells me he loves me on the hot sands

(Later it refers to it all being like ‘a Coke ad’).

This song includes one of my favourite ever lines from a pop-song (yes, another favourite: there are plenty):

‘Next summer he will give me a memento/the blood from his hands’. 

Memento to rhyme with Sorrento, a luxe beach-side resort outside of Melbourne, where traditionally the well-heeled Catholic private school people and their families would holiday (the Protestant versions of the same would go to Portsea); ‘hand’ to rhyme with ‘caravan’. 

Nice, funny, ambiguous: is this paramour out hunting wild-game for the object of his affections - in the savage downtown, the mean streets of Sorrento - or is it some kind of teen-blood-devotion ritual; we will never know.