music

In the woods

“Meet Me in the Woods” by Lord Huron is like a musical work of speculative fiction. It evokes images of cosmic horror, but could just as easily be describing the real-world struggles of someone dealing with the transformative power of trauma.

I took a little journey to the unknown
And I come back changed, I can feel it in my bones.
I fucked with the forces that our eyes can't see
Now the darkness got a hold on me …

How long, baby, have I been away?
Oh, it feels like ages though you say it's only days.
There ain't language for the things I've seen…
And the truth is stranger than my own worst dreams.

Story in the song

Many songs contain a narrative, like a piece of flash fiction set to music. Lola was a showgirl at the Copacabana. She and the bartender, Tony, were in love. But one day, a new dude came into the club, and when he went a little too far, Tony came across the bar at him. Shots rang out. Years later, she's still hanging out at the club, but drinking herself blind, washed up and still mourning Tony. Copacabana is a much-mocked bit of disco frippery, but it's actually a frightfully depressing story when you pay attention.

That's how most stories unfold: a thing happens, and that leads to another thing happening, and just when you think this final thing will happen, another - more elegant - thing happens, and it completes a pathway that in retrospect feels perfect for the characters you've discovered through the passage of actions. [Note: this is a terribly way to describe the basic characteristics of a story, but I'm not going back.] 

At Clarion West, it became sort of a joke to describe something as "not a story," because some of the best stories in speculative fiction are not, by any classical description, stories. For just one example, read the devastating If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love by Rachel Swirsky. 

OK, all of this is to ask you to listen to this song in its entirety. It constructs a narrative out of the addition of more harmonic voices, which also function as a metaphor for people finding common ground. It's not a classic narrative, but it develops an idea in a logical fashion, and the last verse pays off the earlier ones so beautifully that it "reads" as well as any literary piece. I don't say this often, but I think this song is a legit work of genius. I wish I could write a story in which the ending so perfectly resolves the ideas sown in the beginning. 

Map the music

If you were looking for a visual representation of all music on a Cartesian plane, with clickable examples of each genre, or even if you weren't, check out Every Noise.

The calibration is fuzzy, but in general down is more organic, up is more mechanical and electric; left is denser and more atmospheric, right is spikier and bouncier.

I don't know if I would chose the fundamental axes of organicness and density to organize musical genres, but I didn't make the thing, and it's pretty cool regardless.

Let's learn about: gated reverb and the drum sounds of the 80s (and today)

In times like these, I feel silly posting snippets about 80s music and the resurgence of its innovative drum sounds. There's such a need to stay in touch with shit that affects the material lives of so many people, but damnit, I learned some cool stuff from this video - stuff I'd been listening to for a long time without ever hearing - and maybe you will, too. 

The audition

We all have something we find gut-wrenchingly hilarious, so inarguably funny that we're compelled to share it with with others. Often, we found ourselves terribly disappointed when reminded of the subjectivity of humor. So you'll forgive me if I tell you that this video, ostensibly an audition tape for the band M83, still reduces me to tears over five years and many replays since I first saw it. 

Warning: If you're a fan of M83 (as I am) and like the song "Midnight City," (as I did) this video will utterly and irrevocably damage your ability to take this song seriously.