Dec 29th 2014:
“…a concept album about a dimension traveller, part-man part-bird, shot through time via an irreality lacuna centred over Manhattan at the turn of the millenium.”
So writes former COQ agent Brody via the (COQnCO affiliated) online ’zine Too Many Bands. If he then mocks that byline, contrasting COQ’s posthumous debut LP – the work of 10+ years – unfavourably with a bootlegged tape of rap songs cooked up by COQ and producer Ben W on a forgotten weekend, why argue? A “flimsy concept… buoyed up to a degree by the abstracts of ‘(I’m) The New’ and the title track” Tightrope Walker may be, but the sonic burst of math-rock futurism that is “Breakin’ Rocks”, even in unfinished instrumental form, leaves no doubt: COQ was rocker first, rapper second.
With a view to sensationalism Brody goes on: COQ, he says, “believed himself” the protagonist of his own story. Pursued by “post-human fembots”, imprisoned “for stud… in undersea vaults”, victim of a “Stockholm Syndrome” that kept him in thrall to these sirens as he fought to escape them, Brody’s version of COQ is colourful but misleading, and conveniently ignores other – in Brody’s case less flattering – aspects of COQ’s fantasy. (“A double agent nearly robbed me blind / Made me the patsy in the perfect crime,” raps COQ on the bootleg. And this “double agent”? See Ben W: Who is W. COQ, the tell-all suite of poems cum COQ biography for a clue.)
The problem, as always, with Brody’s view is its insistence on COQ as lone genius.* Expert on COQ’s prose work though he may be, he’s missed the pile of lyrics once secreted with W’s production notes, not to mention the alternate vocal takes left off previous rough mixes. True, COQ’s album was left unfinished, but just as Brody proposes an “imaginitive reconstruction” of COQworks #2: Breaking Glass (see “Alternate Versions”, Sept 26th 2014), the same feat is possible with Tightrope Walker. Already training for a COQ impersonation, W is committed to realising COQ’s vision. The story will be told! Whether it’s true or not, ask Brody. W’s too busy making it flow to check the facts.
* Not strictly true: Brody, a Menu fan, names his ’zine after a line in Menu’s “Kill Rock ’n’ Roll” from Menu ’02/’03, due 2015.