From The Desk Of Gang Of Four: The Music Of Erik Satie

Andy Gill has a relatively simple work ethic that’s guided him for years, ever since his legendary post-punk outfit Gang Of Four burst onto the staid scene with its jagged, jarring Entertainment! debut in 1979. “There are loads of bands that can chuck out the same album, year after year,” he says. “But that model is just not for me.” The group’s quantum leap forward to 1982’s more danceable third album, Songs Of The Free, might have clarified that tenet already. If not, the latest Gang Of Four record surely will—the aptly dubbed What Happens Next, Gill’s first after the departure of longtime vocalist Jon King. Gill will be guest editing all week. Read our new feature on the band.


Gill: Erik Satie was a quixotic man, of Scottish/French parentage. He was brilliantly eccentric—when he died, they found 20 identical grey velvet suits in his wardrobe along with 20 grey velvet umbrellas. He loved to drink absinthe. Back then in Paris, there were marks down the side of the bottle to guide the bartender as to how much he poured in your shot. Satie was convinced that the last measure was bigger than the others, and, to the irritation of the barman, would always demand to be served the last measure.

Space here is too limited to highlight all his incredible achievements, the ballet scores he wrote (for which Picasso did the backdrops) for example, but his music stands apart from all the other impressionist composers. It is profoundly modern in its sensibility, and yet it seems to resonate with something medieval. As you listen, you are not sure when or where you are anymore—it’s as Arabian as it is European. It feels like you are dealing with absolutes; space itself is being measured. His influence shaped the course of 20th century music probably more than any other composer.

Video after the jump.