Your only crime is silence
I’ve always loved the video for Tsunami – it’s actually one of my very favourite videos by them. It’s one of those videos where simplicity is excellently stylish: just a fantastic, black and white performance shot with a poem from ‘The Silent Twins’ – the song’s subject matter, two young girls who held a vow of silence while producing all sorts of literature – interspersed in-between.
Tsunami is musically one of the more straightforward pieces of This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, an obvious single really. Hypnotically driving verse, fantastic soaring chorus, a brilliantly dreamy c-part break. The sound’s more in line with the rest of the album however than e.g. You Stole the Sun because of its heavy emphasis on studio production and deeper soundworld. The electric sitar brings in an Eastern vibe, the guitar strums of the verses are enhanced with a delay pedal which makes a minimal strum ring and vibrate beautifully. The whole song has a wonderfully dreamy atmosphere to it, a wave of soft and encompassing sound that washes over you. It wasn’t originally like that though – one of the famous legendary unreleased Manics pieces is the original demo version of Tsunami that the band (especially James) has talked about several times, which is apparently a far raunchier and rocking take on the song. The live performances of the song give some hint as to what it probably is like but the demo’s never been officially released, sadly. And unless we get a big boxset of Manics rarities one day (which wouldn’t be surprising, considering Wire’s packrat tendencies and his own love for rarity boxsets), we most likely won’t hear it either – the hopes of it being included with the 10th anniversary re-release of This Is My Truth shipwrecked when the plans for the whole re-release hit the iceberg.
Speaking of live, Tsunami disappeared from the band’s live setlists after the big tsunami incident in December 2004. It stayed away for several years but started to make reappearances once again on the brief Journal for Plague Lovers tour. It’s a song that really jumps in quality with each performance – sometimes it ends up sounding very ordinary and the Ruisrock 2003 performance even gave me a slight headache with the insanely high pitched sitar sample from the keyboards, while other performances (like this Later With Jools Holland one) sound fantastic, the studio production replaced with extra beefiness in sound.
From an album full of utterly amazing cuts, Tsunami is one of my favourites.
The Tsunami remixes are pretty groovy. The Stereolab remix is the better one of the two, its colourful and psychedelic organ jingle is so damn joyful you can’t help but love it – especially whenever it completely switches its style in the chorus to some loungy, fingersnapping goodness. The Cornelius remix is similarly busy and hyperactive in sound, but this time in a more ramshackle way as it’s mainly a play between a hyper-strumming acoustic guitar and a fast drum section. Both worth a check at least. Then there’s also this pisstake ‘remix’ by “Cumfiend” (which may or may not be just as pisstakey) that replaces the whole music with a generic funky house background and repeats the “disco dancing with the rapists” line ad infinitum. Of course it’s not certain if it’s jokey but considering the guy’s MySpace and the relatively low profile it’s more than likely, yet it’s surprisingly addicting.
Rather surprisingly, neither of the Tsunami single sleeve quotes come from the Silent Twins. Ted Hughes’ “Before us stands yesterday” graced CD1 and CD2 got “I have to change to stay the same” as said by Willem de Kooning.