No one in Germany knows what New Year’s is. They understand the concept, but they call it Sylvester. It’s incredibly confusing. But not for Vivian le Vavasseur who has used the first of January as the starting/end point for his latest EP “Over New Years”.
Viv le Vav draws in circles. The songs were written and recorded in December 2017 and have spent the last year creeping around the corporeal corridors and acoustic avenues of his mind. Each track has something of a mantral quality. Simple guitar riffs accompany recurring choruses. January comes round again, damp smells, cold sensations, tedious tales, inevitably lapsed resolutions. But for Viv le Vav the songs come too.
There is something deeply profound in these lo-fi lamentations, an essential essence extracted from the sap of human experience. The fear of solitude painfully expressed in the opening song is heart wrenching in its desperation and chilling in its call to share misfortune as a way of overcoming it.
But for all of their profundity, the songs are essentially funny. How many times can you think about writing a song? And how many times can you think about thinking about writing a song? Viv le Vav does it 36 times in a single aptly named track thinking about writing a song.
They’re there. Viv le Vav’s inspirations are in the shadow of his guitar. Whether it is the suggestive chime of Yesterday that begins vocational crisis, or the distinctive riff of Blackbird that accompanies all my life i’ve wanted to play the guitar, all four Beatles are there, squatting between the amp and his strumming hand, nodding along in approval. Dylan went electric, Christopher Ricks announced he was a poet, and he won the Nobel prize. Viv le Vav’s got a better voice and he’s just as good at repurposing familiar tunes. But he doesn’t pretend he wrote them.
He’s not massive yet. But he’s going big. This is his (new) year.
vocational crisis by Vivian la Vavasseur
This is it, the end of a year
Forgive me if I don’t dry my tears
This is it – the end of time – except
It’s just a human concept so we’re stuck with it
I remember back in the past
Something that happened to me
And now it’s there in my memory
And you can have it too
If you listen to me
No, I thought that might have been someone on the phone who’s calling right now, but I was wrong
It’s just the buzzing of an old amplifier that’s listening to this song
I was by the Brandenburg Tor when I saw a man in a jacket and a scarf
Well, you saw him too, but you’re not part of this song
‘Cause that was just our date, and it didn’t turn out so well
Anyway, I really connected with his life, this man
Because, you see, he was a poet and a musician
Or really, he was just a man with his guitar
Playing to a national monument at three o’clock on a Wednesday morning
And I thought, well, that’s the job for me
Riches, respect, and luxury
Yes, I thought – there
There’s that’s the job for me
“Oh Jesus what am I doing here
It’s another fucking new year
Screaming to myself
Why didn’t I make more concrete plans
Why am I here by myself
I must really like this vocation of mine
I must really like something about it
Maybe I do
Or maybe there’s nothing else I can see
Beyond these bleeding fingers and this noise coming out of my mouth
Oh, but if you change the rhythm, if you change the rhythm
You can have a really nice time
You can dance and you can sing and you can feel so good
Feel so good, ‘cos that’s what it’s all about
If you feel really good, well that’s what it’s about
If you feel so good
That’s what it’s all about”