Cultural Thrift

by Ashley Reaks and Joe Hakim

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Sven B. Schreiber
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Sven B. Schreiber Oh finally... something I really haven't heard before. This time I can't come up with any artist or band to which Ashley Reaks compares. Not even remotely. His music is just... well... Ashley Reaks' music - no way to put it otherwise. Here it undergoes a magic symbiosis with Joe Hakim's witty poems, and when Maria Jardardottir's scat vocals kick in, the fascination is complete. An unusual, unconventional, unearthly delight. Favorite track: To Let.
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    CD album with lyric booklet and original photographs by Graeme Oxby

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1.
Nature Poem 03:47
It’s the vast stillness of it, the epic rolling green and brown, the speckled rash of birds in the distance and the rushing silence. Here, there is continuity and the brutality of pure air offset with the bitter-clean aroma of fresh manure. Trees are secured in fertile soil, amid furtive teeming multitudes of life that toil invisibly around me. It astounds me. Terrifies me. These lungs are used to sucking on exhaust fumes and cigarettes. The objects of my affections are reflections in metal-shuttered shop-fronts and the glow of battered street-lights caught in shatter-proof glass bus-stops. My dreams are snagged in sagging telephone lines, my memories are red-brick and terraced, as vivid as alleys defaced by neon-coloured spray-paint tags. There, my feet drag me home night after night, manufactured, captured and spent, as they tread on relentlessly devoured ground. I’m surrounded by the mating call of Anlaby Road’s traffic. That’s my natural habitat. I guess I’m just built like that.
2.
Falling off, falling out, within my mind there can be no doubt that everyone is truly alone when surrounded by the clones of all the showbiz phoneys, cartoon henchmen comedy cronies, still clinging on to the faint hope that the world will move towards a clear horizon of understanding, still living in a society that keeps demanding that we highjack a worldwide tragedy in order to catch a glimmer of authenticity – as we make faint hope that the world will move towards a clear horizon of understanding, still living in a society that keeps demanding that we highjack a worldwide tragedy in order to catch a glimmer of authenticity – as we make ill thought-out points about nothing in particular, surrender our vernacular, in a desperate bid to appear spectacular in each other’s eyes, mesmerised by the sky as it grows dark , but the stars of possibility still twinkle incessantly, this light I see travelling across millions of years of space in order to reach me, two galaxies intermingling and giving birth to to renewed stellar activity, as a sensation of inverted gravity tires to pull me up, but I continue to look down at feet still placed firmly on the millions of years of space in order to reach me, two galaxies intermingling and giving birth to to renewed stellar activity, as a sensation of inverted gravity tires to pull me up, but I continue to look down at feet still placed firmly on the ground, beacause there’s plenty to be found in our heads other than the existential dread that waits for us all at the edge of experience – because this might just the beginning: soaking up ideas and words through our skin each moment of the day and night, cogs and gears turning as we prepare to take flight into the firmament, a permanent vacation into the unknown – the collective mind is blown into a million pieces, as all around us time and motion ceases, and all that remains is the fabric of thought as it irons out its creases.  
3.
To Let 04:15
I’ve never really had a home just a series of rooms in which I’ve stayed, rooms in which ideas have played in which dreams have decayed in rooms where the hours have passed where spells have been cast rooms where I’ve lost my mind white rooms black rooms rooms where I’ve been left behind rooms where I’ve toasted the passing of the day where my empty head can lay rooms in which I’ve made love blue rooms green rooms rooms in which bags are shoved rooms with locked doors with dirty floors rooms where spirits have been crushed red rooms dead rooms rooms where limits have been pushed rooms where there’s something missing where there’s no pot to piss in rooms where I’ve shivered in the cold light rooms dark rooms rooms in which my story will be told. We are all as transitory as furniture – gathering dust we just occupy a space until we are replaced by something else; thrown out onto the street, incomplete like a broken table a chair or an empty shelf.  
4.
My spider-sense is tingling, there’s a glitch in the Matrix, a disturbance in the Force, a sickening twist in my gut that says: something is wrong. Suddenly strangers who seemed safe seconds ago shift in their seats and stare.Inconsistencies in conversation insist on being brought up for further discussion, details like: job titles and names of siblings attain importance, all trivia becomes significant. While my mind struggles with great leaps of logic – the weaving of events into a coherent plot – my eyes scan for the tell-tale signs; facial tics, eye movement and sober suggestion. Trust evaporates, and the night descends into a game of poker without the cards; just bluff, double bluff, raise and fold. Convinced, I begin to challenge and probe, searching for the loose brick that will bring the house tumbling down. The same year I discovered power chords, I learnt to surround myself Trust evaporates, and the night descends into a game of poker without the cards; just bluff, double bluff, raise and fold. Convinced, I begin to challenge and probe, searching for the loose brick that will bring the house tumbling down. The same year I discovered power chords, I learnt to surround myself with paranoia, climb into it as though it were a sleeping bag. And even thought there is always the chance I could be wrong, my faith in instinct is so strong I will carry on playing until the game is up. It’s better to be a cautious freak than a pleasant mug.
5.
S’only about one-sixty a tin, so it’s a bargin by any fucker’s reckoning. It’s a day spent on the street, sitting on my seat, asking, chasing, scoring, snoring, here and there I pick up a couple of quid and everything’s sweet for a bit. Don’t think about eating or living or being anywhere else but here, in the sun or in the rain – when the evening escapes me and the morning runs and everything’s sweet for a bit. Don’t think about eating or living or being anywhere else but here, in the sun or in the rain – when the evening escapes me and the morning runs away. Perfect product for a perfect consumer – cheap as chips and with a couple of wobbly-eggs washed down it even beats smack. So FUCK all you who sup bottles of Bud in shitty nightclubs at three quid a go, buying into a dream of a self-image that melts like snow and soaks into the dirt and the mud. Like a down payment on a car a flat and the words you utter; a job, a life, a reason, has no true meaning when you see the way in which everything disintegrates like empty pizza boxes in the gutter. I’m content with making it through the day until the night collapses covered in puke and piss mewling like a cat in an alleyway, everything will be OK so long as I believe that one of you lot out there is gonna buy the next tin for me.   Cheers!
6.
Bleating like sheep, repeating the same old tired shit over and over again. Like a washed up nightclub singer gone insane from repeatedly doing the same requests, beating on your chests in a rhythm I’ve heard a thousand times before; and it was boring the first time I heard it, and it’s still boring now, watching as you plough the same patch of barren earth, a dearth of new ideas as your fears become a reality, as you kiss goodbye to any hope of originality in your desperate scramble for notoriety. Thinking you’re some kind of aristocracy, sycophantic royalty, your piety sickens me – every time you open your mouth it’s like a school kid reading out an essay on Marxist theory. I respond with ferocity; it might not be pretty but at least it’s from the gut – I’m put my money where my mouth is, the words burning as they pour out like a toxic waste spill that kills the local wildlife. So stick another knife in my back, continue your journey down a well-beaten track – the easiest one you can find. I’m sure in your own minds you’re up there with someone like Joe Strummer or John Cooper Clarke, but in reality you’re just stumbling around in the dark trying to put parts together that just don’t fit, your democracy is actually a dictatorship, an opportunity to roll out your ‘greatest hits’, over-inflated past glories, incoherent politics and stories designed to make you appear unique, raise you to the status of legend within your own little clique – the same people you hang out with, the ones who are always there when you speak. So I’m leaving you to it; your lame quest to turn literary rags into riches, a bunch of snivelling snitches so far up each other’s arse you’re practically prison bitches.
7.
Everyday 04:10
I'm sat on a bench in the park. The previous night's excitement has turned into granules of sand in my nostrils. My sweat tells me that I dropped a logo, sometime around 3. On my lap sits a list of all the people I haven't pissed off yet - places to shit, shower, shave, brush my teeth and maybe have a coffee and catch an hour of Jeremy Kyle if I'm lucky. I haven't paid a bill in months and many, many sofas bear the imprint of my arse. But today, the sun is out and I’ve got Szechuan flavour Sensations and half a bottle of Shiraz for my lunch. And to be honest, it'll do  
8.
Scraping by on the minimum wage, my life on a stage, counting down the days until I next get paid, watch the money come in, watch it roll out again straight away, got to believe that everything will be ok or I'll go crazy: whether I’m working my arse off in a factory or serving beers and coffees to people younger than me who spend money like it grows on trees, it's all a joke; haven't bought a decent TV in years, spend what little I have when it appears on booze and smokes to help me cope as the desperation grows, round and round the jobs I go, where I stop nobody knows. Thinking: I'm better than this; even when I’m pissing away my potential like it doesn't exist, my mind is a clenched fist, punching the wall after crawling out of my pit because I've got to go out and earn it - the right to live, a chance to survive and keep my dreams alive for another week - because I'm up the fucking creek with the bills again so I smash my brains, flush them down the drain, just get fuckin' wrecked, come out with stupid comments like: at least they can't tax drugs and sex. Wish I didn't have to think and watch myself as I sink deeper into doubt and debt, got nothing to look forward to except going to bed at the end of a shift, praying before I go to sleep that something will come along and lift me out of the shit and make all the struggling worth it, while at the same time I have to try and accept that this is just the way it is.

about

Cultural thrift. Put your point of view to bed. Cultural thrift. They’ve been lying to us, so we’re lying to you. Cultural thrift. The organ of failure, the phantom limb syndrome of regret. Cultural thrift. Music makes mediocrity sufferable. Cultural thrift. My soul is clenched. Cultural thrift. Poetry makes a mockery of us all, watch quiz shows and play video-games instead. Cultural thrift. No one’s listening. Cultural thrift. You can pay a hundred to get it out today, or pay twenty to leave it until next month. Cultural thrift. The soundtrack of anxiety. Cultural thrift. A pound-shop promise. Cultural thrift. Waves of amnesia. Cultural thrift. The manifestation of will to affect change. Cultural thrift. I hate the sound of lawnmowers. Cultural thrift. Irony is your enemy, sincerity is bleeding out. Cultural thrift. Remember Jesus hates the money-lenders. Cultural thrift. A documentary about Hitler. Cultural thrift. One question away from the star-prize. Cultural thrift. Restricted access. Cultural thrift. Heaps of empty bottles on the pavement. Cultural thrift. Get good at science, struggle at maths. Cultural thrift. They’ve only gone and bloody well done it. Cultural thrift. No margin for error, no room for escape. Cultural thrift. The answer to a question we can’t be bothered to ask. Cultural thrift. Grow your own food. Cultural thrift. The gaps between tracks is where it’s at. Cultural thrift. You can’t teach a dog how to play chess. Cultural thrift. This obesity is infectious. Cultural thrift. It’s one rule for them, two rules for us. Cultural thrift. I haven’t eaten breakfast in over a decade. Cultural thrift. For when your knees hurt and your back aches. Cultural thrift. Look away now. Cultural thrift.

credits

released September 16, 2015

Joe Hakim - Vocals
Ashley Reaks - Bass,Guitars, Keyboards
Maria Jardardottir - Vocals
Dave Kemp - Saxophones, Accordion, Melodica, Voodoo Guitar,
Nick Dunne - Guitar, E-Bow

All lyrics by Joe Hakim
All music by Ashley Reaks

Recorded at Active Audio Studios, Harrogate by Dan Mizen in 2014/15

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Ashley Reaks Harrogate, UK

Genre-hopping musician and collage artist.


"an incomparable talent and a true original, a man who often borders on genius" - Louder Than War (UK)

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