Primal Scream – I’m Coming Down. “I’ve been drifting”
I could have taken any track from Screamadelica, it’s one of my favourite records and captures the different moods and feelings from that time at the end of my first degree – after three years of study and having my musical ears opened, it seemed to bring many different genres and favourite artists together in one perfect record.
Seeing them play it live at Glastonbury was good, but didn’t really convey the magic of having the recorded music playing over headphones or from a set of speakers. It really absorbed me and threw me into a world of samples and exotic instruments, unexpected mixes and amazing musical climaxes.
I’m Coming Down had something I never thought I would like – a skronking jazz saxophone solo. But it turned out to be the absolute high point of the whole record, of all 11 songs. That moment at 4:30 when the saxophone peaks is so sublime, I don’t think I will ever hear anything as magical as that. The minute or so leading to that is the anticipation of pleasure, the delayed satisfaction of a moment that is just sliding into position like a well-oiled machine. And then, right at the end, the quote from Nastassja Kinski just seems like the perfect post-orgasmic conclusion to the by now, withered saxophone line.
It’s the track that is most represented by the strung-out sun on the album cover – at once soaring, but also scorched and enervated. Padded out with tinkling, prodded and patted percussion, narrated almost in a whisper by Bobby Gillespie, what sounds like keyboards and a warped synth sound, the sax blows and purrs, gradually finding its meandering way down the riverbed, then speeding up to pour over the cliff and spatter gloriously at the end of the track, reabsorbed into the rest of the mix before a pooling of notes and then the repeated “drifting, drifting” that started the song.
I’ve no idea who the saxophonist on the track is, though I read tonight that the inspiration was Pharaoh Sanders, so that should be a musician I try to listen to in the future,
Following a path set out before me, guided by the next marker on the horizon, drifting seems an unfortunately apt choice of words for me. For good or for ill, save for key pivotal moments and choices, life has been something that happened to me, rather than self-directed. As I left university, I found myself unclear what the future would bring, or where I wanted to be, led forwards by feeling, instinct and opportunities that made themselves known to me.
When I think about it, even the title is oddly appropriate for an end of university song – though I’m Going Down might have been slightly more apt.