Connan Mockasin - Please Turn Me Into The Snat
Forget the preamble, let’s just cut to it: Quite the strangest record I have heard in my entire life. Clearly that’s a bit sweeping, and potentially lacking foundation, so a bit of qualifying won’t hurt. Mmm. All I can offer is that, yes, I have listened at some length to Captain Beefheart (the dear Captain, of course, being the official SI unit of Musical Weirdness.) Please Turn Me Into the Snat makes ‘Trout Mask Replica’ sound like Simply Red’s ‘Stars’. It is, make no bones, a phenomenally challenging, difficult, unsettling, globe-spinning experience. Connan Mockasin, a young New Zealander, now settled in the UK, is not just from the other side of the world. Based on this, his debut album, he’s operating from another dimension.
There is no denying ithe playful vigour and its nursery crime stimulus. It puts me in mind of all manner of unhinged art – the wafting psychedelia of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Bagpuss, Emo Phillips, the Metz ‘Judderman’ TV ads, Jean Debuffet. Reference points probably far too personal to mean much to others but PTMITS is so out there, it’s hard to find much use for traditional signposts. It doesn’t take me long to alight on an interview with Mockasin saying he knows his music isn’t “meh” and that he suspects it’s either love or hate. I suspect he suspects right. Seriously, I don’t know a single person who would respond vaguely positively to this album. (And trust me, I know some ‘characters’.) Later this month, our man supports Crowded House on tour. Listen out for jewellery rattling. That’s be the sound, not of approval, but of fear.
And the rub? Well, I think I kinda like it. I like how it sneaks up on you like a possessed child in a rambling country house; how its opening songs (‘Megumi the Milyway Above’ and ‘It’s Choade My Dear’ – it’s all in the titles) are, yes, clearly not for Ken Bruce, but not that peculiar. But then from that point onwards, we really are on a cuckoo marshmallow to la-la land. Musically, it’s all feathery guitar, hushed percussion, a blast of horn here and there. Mockasin’s voice is nothing much more than a bloodless squeak, filtered through god knows what just to make it even more disquieting. And still, it compels rather than repels. Once or twice, something approaching a ’beat’ appears but don’t get carried away. Minus a lyric sheet, it’s hard to see exactly what thrums beneath the surface and maybe that’s a good thing. All I do know is that this far from ordinary album closes with its baffling title track, a thing of illegible beauty, where Mockasin sings, with some conviction, “Please turn me into the snat / Please turn me into the snat again …” I think, in the darkest depths of my imagination, it’s the “again” that chills me. Seek this one out, people. Be brave.