‘Even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day, and for once I’m inclined to believe Withnail is right. We are indeed drifting into the arena of the unwell. Making enemies of our own futures.’ “Marwood” – Withnail & I

Time is the one thing we all have in common. We are all subject to its unavoidable march forward and we all have a limited amount of it whilst we qualify for the classification of the living. This year has perhaps made many of us examine our relationship with time a little more closely. I for one feel like the time has accelerated. The year is rushing through like a urgent bowel movement. No sooner have I awoken and started working, is it time to think about dinner and sleep. One day its June the 8th the following day seemingly is August 3rd. I’m fairly convinced the monotony of repetitive behaviour is to blame.

Time for humans is after all very much bound to the way in which our brains allow us to perceive it. We invent a lot of language to describe these perceptions. Having a long day, time flying by, hours dragging. Time stopping. Of course, none of that is true in the physical world. Unless we have the opportunity to accelerate up to speeds approaching that of light, we don’t have a lot of hope of bending time to our will. In reality of course this capability doesn’t even exist. The twin paradox becomes negligible when one sibling has a slightly faster car than the other.

But it is exactly our perception of time that allows us some manipulation of this “truth”. Professor Adrian Bejan from Duke University in North Carolina recently presented a hypothesis that our perception of time is linked to the rate at which we process information. As we age, that processing rate decays and therefore we tend to perceive time as moving faster.

This makes some practical sense when applied to our current situation. There isn’t a lot of new information for the brain to process. We inhabit the same small space for a long period of time and follow very similar routines, the brain has less to do and potentially spends more time neglecting to tabulate the minutiae of our day, or deduplicating the similar memories in the hope that we might soon do something extraordinary and worthy of documenting.

The fascinating thing about our translation of the real world, our perception, is that we create it as individuals. There is no consensus of consciousness to normalise our view of the physical world. We experience it in our own way, but we regularly check in with our fellow humans to make sure that what we are experiencing, is at least similar.

Through tweaking our senses or temporarily rewiring them through mental exercises or through chemical or physical intervention, we can change the physical world to our want. We can make lemons taste sweet, we can closely examine distant objects, we can hear colours and we amplify and distort sounds. We can also move backwards in time, speed it up and slow it down, through memory and cognitive processing rates. Pretty impressive. And all of that after only eating a chicken sandwich that was past its best.

Mostly we want to experience the world around us in a close approximation to the people we share our lives with. We need the reassurance that we are seeing the same colour and tasting the same flavour, although often this can vary wildly between individuals. We want to feel grounded and normal so and we submit to our biological defaults. But for those who want to step bravely outside of this comfort zone the options are abundant, if not always orthodox.

Time is a prominent subject of art, music and literature. Especially when we consider a point in time or a moment in time. With risk of stating the bleeding obvious, music is all about timing. But not only in the technical sense of minims and quavers. From the timely meeting of minds to being in the right place at the right time to touring for the first time and the the final time and having a timely reprise. “Tick”, and as you so rightly may respond, “Tock”.

The first tune in the opening seconds is Time of The Season by British rock band The Zombies. Released as a single from the 1968 album Odessey and Oracle but only almost as an after thought at the urging of their A&R rep. This song went big in the U.S. and has ever since been used in various films and TV programs as the background theme to the sixties. Ron Argent’s keyboard wizardry is sublime.

Next up was a tough call. Not to include Pink Floyd’s “Time” in all its glory, complete with Alan Parsons’ quadrophonicly rendered ticking clocks, might be considered remiss. So indeed it is here but not quite as you might remember. From the brilliantly re-imagined Dub Side of the Moon, The Easy Star All Stars present their cover of Time. The album has remained on the Billboard Reggae Charts since its release in 2003 and is complemented by the amongst others, the brilliant Radiodread – a cover of Radiohead’s album OK Computer. Hear me now.

Third in this timely line up we have Time is Now by the divinely unusual Moloko. My first experience of Moloko was the 1995 record Do you like my tight sweater, Apparently the chat up line used by vocalist Róisín Murphy when she approached producer Mark Brydon at a party in ‘94. Spend 163 seconds of your life listening to Dirty Monkey & Killa Bunnies from that album. Completely bonkers. Time is Now was a track from the 3rd album released in 2000 and became one of the most popular tracks to date. Additional fact I learned today: The name Moloko comes from the narcotic-filled milk drink, Moloko Plus, in the Anthony Burgess novel A Clockwork Orange, based on the Russian for milk, “молоко”

Finally, a bit of classic Supergrass with Time from the debut album I Should Coco. Fond memories of this record which was almost continuously wedged into the tape deck of a certain brown Austin Metro in the summer of ’95. Hard to believe that was a quarter of a century ago. Funny old thing time.

You will notice that this post is part one. The fact is that as I was researching this collection looking for appropriate tunes to fill the four, I found the bounty to be almost overwhelming. For once (gasp) four tunes are too few. Part two will follow, but not necessarily directly.