The Wu Xing. I bet you’ve never heard of it right, but in Chinese astrology it describes the five phases that show how everything here on earth interacts and relates. So you have five elements: wood, fire, earth metal, water. Wood feeds fire, fire creates earth, earth creates metal, metal carries water and water nourishes wood. It’s a paper, scissors, stone kind of thing. But it’s water we are really interested in here. You can build a bridge over, you can lead a horse to it, you can land in hot, steaming buckets of it or you can drown in it. It’s associated with the ebb and flow of things, the salty brine of pain and suffering, spontaneity, fear and the milky white hard stuff we call bones. It’s responsible for some of the most violent of storms and it’s also the source of great calm. Fire is quenched by it and baby’s heads get baptised in it. And this is perhaps why Fyfe’s Scott Hutchinson wades several miles out into the stuff and lets it beat his broken, weary body. And it is only when Scott finds himself submerged that he is able to wrestle each lunging, crippling wave until his body – whipped to within an inch of his life on previous album, ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’ – turns white and the blood comes back to the front of his face again.
Each thundering guitar strike, each punch on the drum and each chiming, screaming anthem pours over the listener in a big, wet dripping wall of sound, from point of entry, ‘Things’ to the unimaginably turbulent ‘Living In Colour’.
Whilst ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’ was the sound of one surly, loathing misanthrope, ‘The Winter of Mixed Drinks’ is by contrast the sound of man leaving his body and ascending into some kind of personal heaven. But as with any birth, it’s not without it’s pain. But it’s not the crude, self-pitying pain of ‘Organ Fight’ it’s more the glorious, heroic type, the type Errol Flynn would be proud of, the type the A team would be proud of, the type that finds its relief not in grief but in the foaming, mighty breath of the brine.
What defines a man, asks Hutchinson on the album’s growling opener. Is it the pointless artefacts, the useless objects we carry around with us like air supply, the suffering we endure, our Sunday Best? Or is he the sum total of what remains when we reject these things or when the cruel hand of separation cuts us off from those we love? It’s only in being told to get lost that we find ourselves again.
The album is a magnet-splitting, skin shedding, ear splitting tale of redemption in which the body is a burden and salvation lies only in a man’s sweaty palm as he grips the neck of his six-string and screams out in a briny wilderness and it’s told in most beautiful cries of drowning. If bloodlettings were all as compelling as this, we’d all be donors.
Everything comes out in the wash. Only the misery remains ..share this: