A couple of years ago the Juno Tour of Canadian Art series asked several musicians to highlight a piece at the Art Gallery of Ontario and talk about what it meant to them. Referring to the painting entitled “The Tiff” by Florence Carlyle, Rich Terfry (aka the legendary Buck 65) enthusiastically imagined what the significance of the moment between the couple portrayed might be, saying “When I saw this painting immediately music came to my mind.”
Bike for Three is comprised of Buck 65 and a brilliant artist from Brussells, Joëlle Lê (aka Greetings from Tuskan): So Much Forever is their second collaboration (their first, More Heart Than Brains, tops my “most-played” list). When I heard So Much Forever I was immediately and fully engaged: it is literary, visual, metaphoric, heart-rending, haunting, complex, beautiful.
The music and lyrics are not easy-listening, and the record is challenging and at times uncomfortable. “Heart as Hell” exemplifies how wonderfully these two artists complement each other. The horror-movie soundtrack piano and thundering tidal beat, the softness of Joëlle’s sibilant French, Buck 65’s driving alliteration; all combine to capture a moment as vivid as any painting, as emotionally subversive as a moonlit film noir.
Listening to this record is akin to reading a Philip K. Dick novel. I was actually thinking of one of my favourites, Flow My Tears the Policeman Said, when I heard the lyric “tears flowing in vain” (from “The Last Romance”) – as with PKD, there is a sense of disconnection in the face of technology, the urge to escape but at the same time experience real emotion, even when it’s painful. Beyond the pain is what’s meaningful, and ultimately worthwhile.
I find it impossible to describe how much this music affects me without being hyperbolic, but so be it. I will keep listening, I will pay more attention to the person sitting next to me on my next plane trip (listen to “Ethereal Love” and you’ll understand why), I will be braver about expressing my feelings, and I will marvel at the beauty that surrounds us.
Moments as vivid as any painting, as emotionally subversive as a moonlit film noir.