Connan Tant Hosford, otherwise known by the stage-name Connan Mockasin, does not desire to be understood. He wants to be experienced, and he has no use for precise or exacting words or meanings. The title track off Connan’s 2011 album, “Forever Dolphin Love”, is a ripe, poignant example of this mentality.
The first three minutes of the song play out like the beginning of a journey. Dissonant, jambling chords of various key instruments alert you that something important is about to happen. This makes way – or more accurately, is abruptly quashed by – piercing, high-arching synthesizers. The soundscape just barely becomes rounded out as the synths take the background and accept a bass melody and drums into their midst. Harmonicas pelt your ears from the sides and flit around the center – and only after this does Connan’s voice come in.
There are no lyrics yet – simply sighs, an emotional crux as the bass takes back over. The tension is still mounting! But it’s soon released oh so smoothly as the bass is again accompanied by synthesizer, though this time the synth is relaxed and contemplative. Now, we’re treated to words.
“From bleached waves, that never change, from Dalston, forever dolphin love, ah ah ah ah ah
My dull steed, she has no hair, I’ll talk to her, forever dolphin love, ah ah ah ah ah
And Dun’s life, he’s turning heads, he talks to her, forever dolphin love, ah ah ah ah ah ah
From memories that never change, of Dalston, forever dolphin love, ah ah ah ah ah”
All of this makes up a dense, wilting verse given structure only by what may be described as nonsense. This is but a segment of Connan’s emotions. There’s no need for sense, exactly – only the appreciation, if not understanding, of the feeling. The feelings themselves are wrapped up in layers of complexity, which Connan readily engages with. Interfacing with these words – extracting any kind of value from them – requires the listener to let go of their usual methods of judgment. Literally, he’s talking about dolphins. The word is there, there’s “bleached waves” ostensibly coursing some body of water, and – reason be damned – he’s riding the thing! It’s his “dull steed”, but it’s not a horse. It has no hair. And maybe he’ll even talk to it in its dolphin chitter, “ah ah ah ah ah”!
Whoever Dun may be and whatever happened in Dalston are issues all of their own that are never answered. But that’s not the point. These are not words to be scrutinized; rather, they are only meant to be felt as part of the song. While the chorus is more straightforward, the listener’s role is no different:
“Oh Sunter, I loved her, she was to be my wife
Oh Sunter, I loved her, she was to be my wife
My wife, my wife”
Connan opens his heart in this clear fashion only for a few brief, savory moments. The character of Sunter, the object of his affection, reflects the heartbreak and melancholy which the song is centered on. Yet still the listener must extrapolate and connect to the feelings, lest they miss the point. To this end, Connan quickly sways back into the verse, sprinkling new words and new abstractions. Thus the journey dwindles off, and concludes.
The title track that I’ve just described, “Forever Dolphin Love”, is an excellent piece that is worthy of listening and re-listening. It’s ten minutes long and one of those tracks where you’ll find something new every time. Like Connan himself, the entirety of the “Forever Dolphin Love” album is an experience that is worth having. If ever you find yourself not knowing how to describe or what to do with a vague sense of existential feelings, this is certainly a song – and an album – for you.