Tea Time

mint tea

There are some funny names out there. In my Release Radar playlist this week there was a single called Screen Shot 2017-08-26 at 11.46.22 by a band called Screen Shot 2017-08-26 at 10.41.48. I did listen to it and it’s OK but not up to Crotchety blogging standard. (For the incurably curious it’s on Spotify here.)

Curiosity then seized the helm of the mental ship and took me on a quest for a translation of those names or some snippet of information about the track or the band. But the mission foundered. I haven’t even been able to identify the script. It resembles the cursive writings from the Indian subcontinent (the electronic oracle suggests Tamil) but some of those symbols look suspiciously like glyphs that only electronic brains would recognise. And it’s not Tamil – I checked.

Fearing that mistress Curiosity was taking us to the sea of Shameless Publicity Stunt I wrested the wheel from her and set a course back to our home port. I could see we had ventured far into strange waters and the long voyage had made many of the crew weary. Then, just a few nautical miles homeward, another place to delight the flighty fancy of Miss Curiosity showed up on the radar screen. A thin band of land the inhabitants called FORQ and a sheltered bay named Thrēq offered the prospect of rest, recuperation and fresh supplies.

I remembered that another crew had encountered the natives of FORQ on an earlier expedition and by all accounts they were a friendly people. As we dropped the anchor in the calm water of the bay the late afternoon sun warmed our backs and as we lowered the dinghies to go ashore we could see about a dozen natives moving leisurely to and fro along the beach.

When we pulled the boats onto the sand the FORQers greeted us with warm smiles and beckoned us to join them. “Come”, said the chief, “It’s Tea Time and we have enough scones, jam, cream and delicious China tea for everyone”. “Of course, if you prefer Indian tea”, said the native girl coyly smoothing her pretty white waitress’s apron, “we have that, too”.

As we chatted over our tea and scones Big Chief Boiling Water told me that the country they ruled had allowed its name to be used by a four-piece band from New York City. The band was formed by Henry Hey (keyboards) and Michael League (bass guitar), subsequently adding Chris McQueen (guitars) and Jason “JT” Thomas (drums). All four have played with some fairly big names in the past: Hey with David Bowie, League and McQueen with Snarky Puppy and JT with D’Angelo. That’s an unlikely mix of influences resulting in one of those fuzzy, hard-to-define areas in the patchwork quilt of musical styles somewhere to the east of jazz fusion but not that far from soul and R&B. FORQ themselves describe their music as jazz/groove.

Our waitress turned out to be the chief’s eldest daughter, Sweet Sugar Lump, and she informed us that FORQ‘s latest album takes its title from the bay where the ship’s crew were enjoying the hospitality provided by the local inhabitants. One of the tracks on that album even celebrates the traditional pastime of taking afternoon tea under the shade of the beach umbrellas. It’s a relaxing holiday groove that brings to mind the genteel gatherings in nineteenth century English country gardens when polite conversation rarely strayed beyond the topics of the weather, the roses or the antics of Mrs. Slocum’s pussycat. It was a time of tranquility and innocence, when an unintended double entendre might be erased with a hasty, “More tea, vicar?”.

Sitting there in the glow of the sun a cup of Jasmine tea had the invigorating effect of an exotic cocktail. Or perhaps it was the musical accompaniment that soothed the brow and restored our vigour. Or was there something in the water? Whatever it was the ship’s crew slept soundly on the soft sand that night.

the band

FORQ – June 2015

In the morning the beach was deserted. The tables and chairs, the umbrellas and all the paraphernalia of the previous day’s tea party were gone. There was not so much as a footprint in the sand to show that yesterday’s festivities had been more than mere illusion. But real it must have been. Because everything we had of value had also vanished. Our plundering hosts had even taken our boats. No wonder that accursed tribe are called the FORQers.

Footnotes

  1. FORQ‘s third album, Thrēq, was released on 4th August 2017.
  2. The band has just finished a tour of North America. A European tour is scheduled to start in the autumn; the only confirmed date so far is Dublin, 17th October 2017.

7 thoughts on “Tea Time

  1. Postscript: I just found this verse among the miscellaneous jottings that constitute my collection of notable writings. I have absolutely no idea where it came from but it seems obtusely relevant to this post.

    Just a wish on your birthday today:
    May a fusion bomb blow you away!
    May your death come by vast
    Thermonuclear blast
    In a tritium fast-fueled display.

    Just a wish while you doze in our bed:
    May a H-bomb make soup of your head!
    May your nagging be cowed
    By a mushroom-shaped cloud —
    You’ve kept carping so loud since we wed.

    Just a wish, you despicable crone:
    May hot megatons melt every bone!
    Thanks to fusion, you see,
    I’d be finally free!
    Happy birthday, dear. Tea and a scone?

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  2. Interesting. I listened to my own Release Radar the other day almost all the way through. (For the first time I might add.) The first thing to note is that even though supposedly it tries to learn and mirror my tastes, that was highly questionable. There were way more singer/songwriters with acoustic guitars than I ever listen to. The second thing to note is that my RR also included a tune by FORQ. So, coincidence because we at least have some overlapping tastes? Or – and I think this is far more likely based on what I’ve read – publicists and bands jockeying to get onto Spotify playlists. Regardless, I dug the tune and band and made note of both in order to post. May not do that now since you’ve gotten to them. But I wonder about all that.

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    • Well, I wouldn’t expect a computer algorithm to understand anybody’s tastes particularly well. And I don’t know how many plays it needs to tune in to a particular individual. It will be interesting to see if your Radar improves over time.

      As for FORQ, my own suspicion is that they simply have recent material for Spotify to promote – the Radar is for new releases, after all – but I certainly wouldn’t rule out some jockeying for position. Not sure how that would work, though.

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      • But that’s exactly what I do expect and what they tout. I actually recall maybe 20 or so years ago when MIT started playing with this technology. One would hope they’d perfect it by now. But I see your point. Computers are greatly touted for this, that and the other thing, often fall short. As to the jockeying, boy I know I read an article about how publicists are desperate to get their artists on playlists. Just last week, too. If I find it I’ll post it, Interesting read.

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    • Yes, an amusing title and another nice track. I’m not familiar with The Faust Tapes; the only snippet on Spotify is The Faust Tapes: Untitled #16 & #17 which is just under three minutes of fairly random electronic sounds. If that’s typical of the album I’ll stick with FORQ. (Melt from the Threq album is probably closest to the Faust material.)

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      • Fairly random electronic sounds … actually, not a bad description of TFT, though some tracks achieve a groove and some humour. It was my first contact with that kind of thing – aged around 20 – so there is a sentimental attachment to it.

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