Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Night Local: Chris Knox, 'My Dumb Luck'

Now, there have been a few upsets to a rough schedule in this Friday Night Music column, and today's entry is yet another. I didnd't intend to return to Chris Knox's music so soon after posting the Tall Dwarfs video a fortnight ago, and yet I didn't intend to go all J-Pop lat week either. This week was to have been either another female or all-female act, or a non-Flying Nun band from yesteryear, but instead I'm putting up another favourite video from one of Invercargill's finest former inhabitants.

My Dumb Luck is from Knox's 1988 solo sophomore effort Seizure, and is a typical track from the record (albeit a favourite song as well). I love the animation - it's simple, witty and creative, which are three things I also admire about Knox's compositions, as well as video and song here sharing a cyclical pattern. To this day I'm torn between appreciating Knox as a solo artist and for his collaborations, particularly with Alec Bathgate as the 'Dwarfs. By 1988 Knox's style was working its way into something of a groove, with buzzing guitars and looped percussion that wasn't a million miles from some Dwarfs songs (say, Crush), while the Dwarfs tracks remained more eclectic, sometimes more inventive and less direct, sometimes less accessible. I still like them both, although at the time I recall swinging fro Knox quickly and back to the duo just as soon. Was it the emergence of Knox's most famous solo song Not Given Lightly - a rueful, slightly cynical pitch at mainstream success (which did come after some time)? Perhaps. I never bought another Knox album after Seizure, with the exception of a cassette of Polyphoto Duck-Shaped Pain and Gum (whose stand-out track Inside Story was nearly a candidate for inclusion here - it's just not as fun as Luck) and the tribute album Stroke, featuring Knox's past work solo, as half of Tall Dwarfs or as frontman for The Enemy and Toy Love interpreted by his friends, colleagues and devotees. It's an impressive set of songs, and a testament to a creative spark whose work in music, film, animation, writing and cartooning seems to have been all but curtailed by a series of strokes five years ago. And I'm only just now thinking about how much Knox has inspired me in nearly all of these areas since I discovered him in my teens.

I'm posting this because there is a crowdfunding campaign underway to collect Knox's visual works in book form, Grafix Knox, next year - it's a great idea and deserves a wider platform, and you can find out more here!

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