JACOB GOLDEN: THROUGH THE INFINITE VOID
In November 2015, after a eight-year absence (not including his Little Foxes and White Canary diversions) Jacob Golden released a new record. But I’m not going to review it. It’s not possible for me to be objective, and if I can’t do that then there’s no point. I am going to bring it in, though, so if you think that counts and you still want to stick around, it’d be good to have you here.
In 2003, I was at Lincoln University and sitting in my housemate’s room, smoking away a hangover while waiting for some sort of takeaway to arrive. Probably pizza. There was always music on in the house, wholly thanks us spending everything we had at Sonic Sounds (RIP). My friend had bought Faultline’s Your Love Means Everything, which he thought I’d really like.
I was enjoying it a great deal, the inherently melancholy nature of the hangover rendering me pretty susceptible to its charms. It was nice to hear Coldplay’s Chris Martin put his name to something I enjoyed. However, what stood out to me was the voice which rose above ‘Bitter Kiss,’ pleading among the betrayal. Who’s that singing? I asked. Since it was a David Kosten record, I thought it might have been Ben Christophers (note to Ben Christophers: make more music). No idea, came the reply as he passed me the album case, I’ve never heard of him.
The back of the album sleeve told me it was Jacob Golden, but I wasn’t any wiser. Amazon told me he had a record out on Rough Trade called Hallelujah World, which I bought as soon as I next went into town. That album saw me through the rest of my final year in education: it poured into my ears via MiniDisc on the walk to campus every day, amplifying my bewilderment and hope in equal measure as I prepared to enter The Real World. Songs like ‘Dirty Snow’ and ‘Jesus Angelina’ trawled through oily murk just to find something worth bringing back. I kept it close, alongside Figure 8 and No More Shall We Part whenever I had to undertake any sort of journey that would require multiple records.
I couldn’t wait for his next LP – I’d periodically search the internet for news of what was coming next, but I never found anything and eventually stopped looking. When I saw Revenge Songs reviewed in 2007, I hadn’t listened to Hallelujah World in at least a year.
I could write so much about Revenge Songs: about how it arrived just at the right time for me, how it enabled me to identify with the four years of nonsense to which I’d just subjected myself and how it somehow told me that all of it was okay. None of it would be interesting, though, and I’m stretching the definition of that word as it is. Suffice to say that I was, and still am, incredibly grateful that it exists. I watched him on Jools Holland in 2008 and was rooting for him all the goddamn way. I’d encourage you to seek out that performance every once in a while to remind yourself that one person and a guitar isn’t the vehicle for mediocre outbursts of bullshit juvenilia that it is today.
Then Golden once again invoked the Fifth and buggered off, this time seemingly for good. Those Little Foxes and White Canary projects spluttered into not-quite-life and then dropped out of view. The music industry has neither patience nor kindness, so I don’t blame anyone for walking away. There’s absolutely no shame in it (in some cases I’d actively encourage it, but that’s just me being cynical and old).
What has become very clear, however, is that as long as we have the internet, we don’t actually need the music industry at all. Want to release a record? Go ahead and do it. Acquire some way of recording your sounds and then just let go of them before you get too scared.
It’s at this point where we can welcome back Jacob Golden and his new album, The Invisible Record. He’s referred to it as something of a Hail Mary and it’s easy to see why. There’s a lot in here that you wouldn’t speak out loud in a normal conversation, even among people you trust. If it turned out that no one was listening, it’d be such a shame, especially since the whole thing is streaming on his website and available to everyone.
The best thing about Golden’s songs is that you can almost hear them breathing as they make their way out into the world – there’s a naturalness to them that isn’t possible to fake, and is completely compelling. As a musician, you either believe in what you’re saying or you don’t, but don’t insult us by thinking that we can’t tell. As soon as ‘Wild Faye’ begins, anyone who’s ever enjoyed Golden’s output will remember how much they missed him when he wasn’t here. I can’t really think of a better compliment to pay an artist - except thank you.