O Larsen B – British Sea Power

What’s your favourite song about an iceberg?

The ice shelf Larsen A had already been gone for the best part of a decade when Larsen B slipped into the drink in 2002. Many of those in the know, cite this as a turning point. Not me. I’ve only heard of it because of this song by the thinking mans indie weirdos British Sea Power. But you know how it goes when you hear a song you like or see a film about something you are hitherto oblivious of. It starts to pop up in all sorts of places. You can go from school to grown arsed adult and never hear the word “Bunkum” and then suddenly everybody is saying it all the time like it’s as common as Hello.

So this majestic indie swell of a tune commemorates the demise of a huge chunk of Victorian Ice sliding under as the climate shifts around on us. Scholars have supposed this may have been the passing of a PSR for global warming. PSR means Point Of Safe Return to a helicopter pilot. It’s the stage where you’ve used more than half of your existing fuel on a long journey and now you have to commit to going all the way to your final destination because you wouldn’t make it back to where you came from. Even if you wanted to. I’m not a trained helicopter pilot. I only know this because I have a predilection for cheesy monster movies and they explain the term as a gag in Aliens Vs Predator (the Third Best Alien Movie, don’t @Me… OK, I don’t mind really, you can @Me). Scholars suppose a lot though and as they’re always busy scholaring they come up with wildly differing theories. Then they test them and either add to the original idea or debunk it and dismiss it as… er, Bunk I suppose.

I know the word Bunk (and or Bunkum) because I heard a brilliant gobbet of an old story about the origin of the popular usage. A speech was made in US congress in the mid 19th Century in which the Congressman for the principality of Buncombe County in North Carolina threw a mention of the place into his dialogue solely to please the constituents. And it stood out like a sore thumb. Like product placement. I liked the story because it reminded me of rock stars doing their schtick night after night on tour.

“How you doin’ Buncombe County? Lemme see yaw haynds! Man, we have played a lot of places on this tour but let me tell you Buncombe County North Carolina are my favourite crowd in the whole world. Buncombe County we love you!”

Which reminded me of the song O Larsen B by British Sea Power.

“You’re fractured and cold but your heart is unbroken, my favourite foremost coastal Antarctic shelf”

When I asked about your favourite song about an iceberg I wasn’t being entirely serious. According to research carried out by Nokia in 2006 I know the answer is by Girls Aloud anyway. I was in fact referencing the opening line of the song in question today. This sort of learned eccentricity is one of the aspects I love most about this band. They’ve released songs about apologising to insects for the ravaging of their habitat, the problems associated with political activism not being cool, the problems associated with blind patriotism not being cool and the problems associated with ancient ice shelves not being cool enough.

“Oh Larsen B , oh you can fall on me, Oh Larsen B , desalinate the barren sea”

I like this band a lot. I’ve featured them before just once. Considering I have several of their albums and have listened to them a heck of a lot in the last 20 years I figured they deserved another post. Open Season is a terrific album. Full of clever, fun, interesting music and some really rather rocking parts. Funnily enough O Larsen B isn’t their only iceberg related song. There is also the previously alluded to Victorian Ice (key lyric; “Victorian ice and Edwardian snow, you’ll find yourself asking, is there something below?”) not to mention the fact I’ve been pulled up by some Geological types before (or maybe they were just hardcore BSP fans) for referring to it as The Iceberg Song. I know Larsen B was an ice shelf not an iceberg. But the song is commemorating the collapse of the largest mass of ice into the sea as the oceanic temperature rose to its highest point in a millennia. So now! It’s icebergs. Or at that point it was. Who knows if even a cube of Ol’ Larson B remains solid? It could all be liquid now. Or cloud vapor, rain drops or bottled water. It’s not Larsen B you need to worry about. It’ll cope with whatever changes lay in store.

The rest of us though? Time moves on. I was a young man when Open Season was released 15 years ago. I’m pretty sure I’ve passed my PSR at this stage.

“Hey there WordPress! How Y’all doin’? Lemme see yaw haynds!”

Ain’t drownin’, just wavin’!

O Larsen B
Victorian Ice
It Ended On An Oily Stage

6 thoughts on “O Larsen B – British Sea Power

  1. Good description by you on their sound. Anyone singing about important things is ok in my book. They remind a little of Midnight Oil in lyrics and sound, but more of a loving tone rather than urgent tone. Is that top image your dog?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love your posts. Never know what’s coming next! Great to read about British Sea Power.
    Can only think of ‘Sugar Coated Iceberg’ by The Lightning Seeds. Does ‘Iceblink Luck’ count?
    Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

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