Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Nyam Nyam - Hope Of Heaven

Nyam Nyam
Hope Of Heaven


Released 1985 on Situation Two
Reviewed by Lawrence, 12/07/2005ce


This is an album I was lucky to pick up when it was still in print, as this has never been reissued to this very day, sadly enough. A group that could've been around a bit longer but wasn't, although leader and main songwriter Paul Trynka would later be editor for Mojo magazine.

Of course you have to remember the time when this album came out, which would probably explain this band's brief existance. Around 1984 and 85 there seemed to be (in Europe anyways) a move away from rock towards dance music, with New Order, the Cure, and even SPK and the remnants of TG already trying to grab onto Chic's coat-tales. And of course there was the New Romantics movement, going against the grain of punk and post-punk towards fashion and style or whatever. And also Goth, aiming for Hammer-horror-for-laughs or else alot of art-school references mostly stolen from whatever book the singer was reading that week...

Nyam Nyam were more similar to groups like the Stockholm Monsters (for example) in that Trynka's lyrics were more about personal situations that didn't seem to be based on a typical Bowie-style detached view. Of course NN were alot more varied in sound -- melodic pop-rock one moment, near-unlistenably experimental the next... Hope Of Heaven came out on Beggars Banquet subsidary Situation Two when they were shooting for 4AD. Although the cover art is designed by 23Envelope, it's a bit more restrained and plaintive with merely a mundane "mother-and-child" family snapshot on the front.

First track on side one is called "The Illuminated Ones", of which the subject matter is given away by the title. Well actually Freemasons and the fear they inspire in people is only a small part of what the song is about really. It's just about the awe that arcane monuments and beliefs can bring in people, and it also suggests that it's best to face your own fears head-on as well as to bring yourself to understand them. This has a shrill free-jazz saxaphone solo that appears to be used as a metaphor for the madness suggested here...

"Fate" is a reworking of the Fate/Hate 12" on Factory Benelux, but I like this version better only because it has guitar on it. Trynka has a clever use of word-play to configure a scathing attack on self-deceit and it's consequences. This (like the original version) is their attempt at a dance song. "The Meeting" is one of a number of moments on this album where there's merely a stark arrangement of piano and bass. The lyrics sound rather confessional -- lines like "I catalog tapes for the BBC, it's boring but it pays pretty well" and "that business with the soldiers" (referencing the Falklands War?) "This Is The Place" could've been a hit if the band thought to put it on a 45 -- a beautiful melodic pop-song very much inspired by Modern English, although a quite sad break-up song with wistful lyrics such as "all the places we knew have now disappeared, and the faces we've seen are no longer here..." And some good singing by Trynka as well, who usually has more of a gruff, gravel-voiced style similar to Richard Butler of the Psychedelic Furs... "You Need More" is Nyam Nyam's 'punk' song, with Sex Pistols riffs and the return of the sax skronk, with the theme being heroin and self-destruction (as far as I can figure out...)

Side two opens with "The House", which I haven't figured out what it's about really. It could be some sort of ghost-story for all I know. And after that is the title-track which seems to be the whole theme of the album. About clinging to hope when it seems non-existant. Another stark arrangement with just piano and bass, and it gets even starker and more melancholy with the next track "And To Hold". Yet another break-up song only this time a marriage break-up with the wife leaving the protagonist's family whilst the children are sleeping. Probably the most moving moment here where the lyrics waver from bitterness to passive acceptance at the drop of the hat.

The closing song was not written by Trynka (credited for all the other songs except "You Need More" written by the whole band) but (I think) the bassist. A rather restrained and avant-folksy closer with some vague and poetic lyrics. Aptly titled "The Resolution"...


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