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Friday, May 1, 2009

Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down

Oh, well it's hard to look deep into your soul
Not everything you'll find will be perfect gold
There are ghosts and demons that hide in the dark
Oh, they wait till you find love and then they laugh
Oh, they know that my body is no way good enough
Know that my heart is no way strong enough to fare sorrows that love brings
When I recoil in fear, oh, the demons sing

But it's a hollow love for a heart with no blood
In it's veins

It's a hollow love for a heart no blood
In it's veins

Oh, there is no endless devotion
That is free from the force of erosion
Oh, and if you don't believe in God
How can you believe in love
When we're all just matter that will one day scatter
When peaceful the world lays us down

Oh and finding love is a matter of luck
And unsettled lovers move from fuck to fuck
Oh, and compare their achievements like discussing bereavements
And compare their abrasions with romantic quotations
Oh, as peaceful, the world watches down

You were blown out of the water
Oh, and we walk o the feet we have grown
And we were given a heart, of which love is a part
Oh, and we called the thing from which all life will spring
And it gave value to the world that surrounds us

But we consider the world just for a moment
Oh, and it's gone before we even know
Oh, but I'll follow it round, yeah I'll follow it round
Oh, I'll follow it round, yeah I'll follow it round
Till peaceful, the world lays me down

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Clusterfuck to the Poorhouse

I like how my post in February ended with "I'll post my answer tonight." Now it's May. Blog fail, right?

So I've been absent quite a long time and for that, I apologize and feel I owe you an explanation, or at least spew out some excuses to justify my silence in my own mind. First, I lost the Internet or had Internet connectivity issues for about two months. Now that I have stable Internet back, I've been somewhat overwhelmed by my silence here - feel that I owe you something special upon my return. This isn't that - this is just another rambling post written during class.

So here are some brief thoughts as I prepare to ramble on.

1) I have a new album with which I've fallen in love with, Noah and the Whale - Peaceful the World Lays Me Down.
2) The concept of looping as a form of musical composition.
3) The Internet and sensationalism, bubbles of information...I know that doesn't make sense, hopefully I can explain it better later on.
4) Harper's Island

Before heading into the post, however, I would like to discuss participation. Obviously, I'm being somewhat hypocritical here given I haven't posted in three months, but alas - it's my blog, I can do whatever I want. I've been thinking of reformatting this into a forum. I went with a blog format to make it feel more like a single conversation, however, I think it would be easier to organize our thoughts in a forum format. Just a thought - I don't know if or when I'll have time to do this, I have a lot on my plate at the moment, but I figured I throw the idea out there and see what stuck.

I plan on posting, immediately after this, the lyrics to the title track of Noah and Whale's Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down as I think it warrants discussion.  Now from every standpoint - musically, lyrically and contextually (how the album fits into the musical spectrum) - thi s is a terribly insignificant album.  Everything done here has been done elsewhere better.

Musically, the album is indie folk pop 101 - something Belle and Sebastian would have released ten years ago.  There isn't much in terms of innovation here.  The instruments are standard - acoustic guitar, bass...they occassionally throw in some horns, violins, ukeleles, handclaps and whistling.  The melodies are all very simplistic and very few complimentary melodies are thrown in.  That being said, the beauty of the music is it's simplicity as it really puts the focus back on the lyrics.  Then the lyrics also carry a simplistic rhythm to them, simple rhymes from a high schooler's poetry book.  However, it's the lyrics' simplistic nature that make them very relatable and open to intrepretation (as we'll go over in the title track).  Many of the lyrics are vaguely Christian in nature (kind of like reading C.S. Lewis), but it's not overly done.  Most of the lyrics are built on individual lines, tied together by melody...but oh, these lines are philosophical gold and come off so casually, thanks to the laid back nature of the music and delivery, that you almost have to take them as truths because it would take so much effort to make this stuff up.

In terms of context, this album is completely under the radar, essentially a non-being...but this gives it an unassuming and modest feel, which makes it easier to take honestly since there is no pressure for it to succeed or preach a message.  The overall feel of the album is, like I mentioned, indie pop and it's all been done before, and probably better - or at least more impressively - than it is done here.  Sometimes, because of the relgious overtones of the album, the lyrics can be off-putting, but upon further listens as you get deeper into the individual songs versus the overall feel of the album, the listener finds them more open to interpretation.  The humble approach to the music which I've been preaching, kind of turns it into a friendly discussion regarding the heavier topics, instead of coming off combative like one would anticipate given some of the lyrics.

The greatest flaw of the album is the strength I've been talking the most about, it's laid back approach and sound.  Most of the songs on the album sound very similar - light, acoustic first verse, add some intruments and backing vocals, have a repeating refrain for your bridge and then go about with a cresendo.  This means that for the first few listens, all the songs kind of blend together and sound like a single, long and rambling post (kind of like me)...but upon the more time given to the album, say ten listens or so, the songs really start to individualize themselves and this gives them a deeper personality because you get a feeling for the contours of the song in the album, like a hill in a green pasture - you can't see it from a distance, but you respect it's existence when you get to it.  The exception to this is the stand-out single "Five Years Time" which breaks the album perfectly in the middle, somewhat seperating the album into two individual stories.  Each listen allows the songs to blossom more and more individually and I highly recommend giving it a listen, or two...or ten.

Next, I'd like to talk about looping.  Here is a brief definition from wikipedia on the matter - Modern Looping.  So basically, my question is - how do you feel regarding music constructed through a process of looping versus traditional composition?  Because a song constructed on loops are indeed constructed, not composed.  Do you feel this is more of a gimmick that will fade out or is it a new burgeoning genre?  Looping has been around for awhile - the Beatles used it, it was popular on a lot of psychedelia albums, then hip-hop brought it to the mainstream by using it as a backing melody under their raps.  Electronica is somewhat based on the principles of looping, but it still got there through a traditional approach.  So how does a looping artist differ?  Because it gives a new approach to the musical design...constructing it from a foundation loop and adding on layers to give the song depth and growth.  It would be like building a house versus designing a house...if that makes sense.  Anyways I try to explain it, what do you think?

So it could be me and my choice of lifestyle, but it seems to me that the world is becoming driven by a lot more sensationalism than before.  The main drive behind this change is the Internet.  Things like Twitter make the news almost obsolete, because everyone is 'twittering' all the time (I myself am not twittering, nor am I following anyone on twitter...facebook is enough for me).  But because everything is overly promoted to be as interactive and user-inclusive as possible, it all becomes so much more you're missing out on an experience if you don't partake in every single possible method of enjoyment.  In the future, will we be expected to sit at all times with a laptop on our laps, watching the TV?  Will that be how we live our lives?  That's besides the point.  I think the direction my mind is heading with this is that because of the individualized ability of the Internet, this allows us all to live in little bubbles where we only hear about what we care about directly.  I'm not saying that's a bad thing - I love hearing exclusively about music, sports and things going on in Kalamazoo...but is this really a good thing?  Living in these seems to me that even though we are getting more and more 'connected' through the Internet, we are disconnecting more and more from people as...people.  It's great that we can all meet up with anonymous Internet users who have similar interests, but at the same time, shouldn't we be integrating ourselves with real people who we have nothing in common with?  We are distancing ourselves from each other under the guise of being social...of being connected.  Maybe I'm just putting this mask on the human race because it's convenient for this argument and excuses my own behaviour online, but I'm just putting it out there.  Thoughts?

Finally I'd like to talk about CBS's new show, Harper's Island.  Now the premise is that over the course of one season, and one season only (although if it's a success...I wouldn't be surprised to see a second season) the premise is during this one season, we have a murder mystery where in each episode (13 episodes) at least one character will be killed (thus far we've had 2, 3 and 1 murder for the first three episodes).  They are trying to tie in elements of classic slasher movies, suspense or thriller series and make it as engaging as possible (you can go to the website and discuss on the forum who you think is going to die next, you the killer might be, etc...)  I like the concept, I'll be honest, but I think it's somewhat hurt by it's TV home - because of the nature of the deaths they are going for (elaborate death scenes), they are hurt by the censors as I've seen more blood on CSI (apparently, blood around dead bodies is okay...but not during scenes when someone is dying).  The plot is pretty cliche...there was a serial killer on the island seven years ago, now Abby (main character) comes home for a wedding and people start dying.  They've established a few people with movie (the black sheep, the father of the bride who wants to ruin the wedding, the local nut with a history of violence)...but they all seem very, obvious and therefore unlikely because it's obvious the producers are going for that twist ending we've come to expect in our slasher films.  At the moment, my money is on Chloe (the flirt) to be the killer.  All those good things being said, I have some serious beefs with the show...first and foremost, the method of characterization was to put everyone into stereotypes (making it easy to forget names and just remember characteristics).  This was done, I suspect, because they found it too hard to remember individual names as they stuffed too many characters into an hour long show with the hopes that they'd increase the number of possible victims and/or killers.  The result, however, is that the characters are just's obvious that the early victims are going to be the lesser characters and one of the characters with more screen time is the killer.  Almost every main character has a quirk that would make them a good killer and have usually been given amble opportunity to do so for most of the deaths...Chloe would have an alibi issue with the reverend, because she would have been with her scavenger hunt team at the time, but I'm guessing there's going to be some continuity issues regardless of who the killer turns out to be.  My next beef is that no one seems to care or notice that people are missing.  Only one body has been found thus far, and it was set up to look like a suicide.  They determined it was a murder, but that's one of six in the first three episodes where we actually are noticing people are coming up missing.  Let's review the deaths and the reactions of the rest of the island's cast...

Death #1 - some uncle who never showed up on the ferry over (we'll talk about his death later, because I have some serious beef with it)...they talked about where he was and then kind of forgot about it when they got to the island.  I understand this, someone doesn't show up and something may have come up...they try his cell phone and it goes to voicemail.  I'll bite.
Death #2 - uncle Marty...they get a text from his cell phone saying he met a woman and will be at the wedding.  They set up the character to do something like this, so acceptable.
Death #3 - the the wedding party was doing a scavenger hunt and he was killed before anyone got there.  The scavenger hunt was completely abandoned, so it's possible no one ever got to the church for that part...but nobody seems to notice he's missing?  He's kind of an important part to the wedding and usually can be found around the wedding party throughout the week in preperation.
Death #4 - the aforementioned murder to look like a suicide, so this one passes the realism test.
Death #5 - the she falls into a hunter's trap, a hole in the ground, then has something flammable thrown on her and is lite on fire.  That's cool.  So now there's a huge, exposed hole in the ground with a burnt corpse in was night, so the killer could have filled it in without being noticed, but given the location of the hole (middle of a path), what's the liklihood the killer was around when someone randomly fell in and what's the liklihood that person was alone when they did?  Then, nobody seems to notice she is missing.  How narcissistic are these characters?  The answer is very but that's no excuse for not noticing a 'friend' is missing from the wedding party.
Death #6 - this happened at the end of the third episode and he was 'leaving forever' so this one I'll except as well, regardless of how episode #4 goes (it was on last night, but I haven't watched it yet).

My final beef is with the very first death scene.  Now, I get elaborate death sequences...I love them actually.  The stained glass ceiling in Suspiria is my favorite all-time death scene, but it makes sense...or is somewhat believeable (using the premise of witches).  So in this first death scene, one of the bride's uncles...or groom's uncles, I don't know...has been tied on the rotor of the ferry.  He's in civilian clothes and has a scuba tank attached to him so he can breath.  When the ferry launches, obviously he is dismemebered by the propellor and that's the end of him.  Now let's think about how this person was put into this very elaborate death scene.  Step one - the killer would have had to drug the victim.  Step two - the killer would have had to go into the water, of a harbor, with a drugged body and tie the victim to the rotor.  The killer would have to juggle their own scuba gear and the victim's, not to mention the victim himself.  The killer would then have to get out of the harbor unnoticed.  Now it was a privately owned boat (the bride's family is quite well-off), so I'll bite that the killer knew which boat to tie the victim to...however, when was the victim put there?  Scuba gear only lasts a few hours, right?  The boat takes off mid-afternoon.  In addition, it would not be a stretch to think that the boat was not there overnight...the family owns the boat and lives on the island, so they probably took the boat over in the morning in anticipation of the wedding guests coming over that afternoon.  Now the victim was not attached to the boat at any point in time when it was in motion, because as soon as the engine started, the victim was killed.  So the killer did all a broad daylight?  Anyone would notice someone swimming in a harbor, scuba gear or not, because you don't swim in harbors!  Throw in the fact that the killer has a drugged body with them...this is ridiculous!  This is something evil villians do in spy movies.  I get setting up traps in order to kill people as a serial killer, but this wasn't a was an elaborate death sequence for no reason other than to entice the audience to think that this is a dedicated, sick killer.  Most of the other murders have been hunting traps, or other booby traps set up to make the victim defenseless or kill them on the spot.  This first death makes no sense whats so ever given the killer's MO from that point on.  Also, eventually, a little on the spot inginuity would be nice from the killer, but we'll see.  I'll keep you posted on the show.

I hope to post again soon...sooner than three months, I promise you that.  Ta.