Sunday, February 4, 2007

i'm dressed in white noise, you know just what i want so please...

i would like to start our by apologizing for my absence.

this almost killed me. there was barely time to sleep, much less focus my attention and write something meaningful.
prior to our winter break, i had written a post about my next record. i wanted to just pull it up and post it during my frantic editing, but i think i accidentally lost that flash drive somewhere. it breaks my heart, because i felt like it was worded just so. but regardless, maybe some time has offered greater insight to my next pick...or maybe it wont do the record justice and just suck horribly.


i am a baritone. i'll admit that. but in the summer of 1996, i was a crooner. my soaring falsetto rose above the buzz and hum and grumble and feedback, and note for note i sung along. it feels like that time of my life was filled with the excitement of new music. every album in my cd collection was a gem, this perfect piece of wonderment. maybe its because that time of your life is where youre most impressionable, and where you form your music taste...or maybe its because they just dont make them like they used to.

as already mentioned by papa shoegaze and lucky strikes, the prayer chain's "mercury" is quite an achievement of modern christian rock. i'll admit that too. but something odd happens when you dont grow with a band, when you are introduced to them in the peak of their existence; anything following will never live up, and none of their prior work ever quite has that same magic. when you arent there to connect the dots with them, you can never fully appreciate the leaps they took to get there. you only hear it for what it is. if you dont grow with a band, they dont grow with you. and it's in this way that it's so easy to take an album for granted.

i took "mercury" for granted.

soon after, the prayer chain disbanded and, sadly, i didnt feel much. where papa and lucky might have felt sorrow for their break-up, their absence never did strike the same droning, reverbed, indian-influenced chord with me. curiously, out of huntington beach, came a blazing record by a california-cool duo with some familiar faces. this band is everything i loved. it's like the two members put "shutdown, vol. 2" in a blender with "nowhere" and "pychocandy" and pureed to perfection. reverb and falsetto. shakers and feedback. layers of guitars and noise and dirt and rattle. the grooviest beats and the most laid back lyrics about serfs and queens. i was not going to make the same mistake with this as i had with "mercury." i would not take this record for granted. this album WAS and IS a gem.

or maybe they just dont make 'em like they used to.

"thank you! the lassie foundation"


RELEASE DATE: ??/??/96

LABEL: velvet
blue music

*NOTE: usually i link to the amazon page where one might purchase the record in discussion. but this record is out of print. thusly, i have included a link to a lassie foundation retrospective collection which contains, among other things, the
"california" record in it's entirety.


i had just moved out of the dorms. this was an exciting time in my life. the year i moved into my first apartment, the year i first had a thanksgiving party and attended my first wine and cheese snob-fest, i purchased more records than any other point in my existence. i am, to this day, still finding records--good or bad--acquired during this time, shoved anywhere one can cram cd's; lunchboxes, giant rubbermaid bins, old book bags. hell, if i hadnt wrecked my first explorer, i'd still be pulling jewel cases out of the seats.

when someone you care about introduces you to a new artist or record, you cannot listen to a lyric or hear that bassline without being warmed by the memory of them. the melody summons some ghost from the past, and you thank it, and kindly ask it to not disturb your listen with the rattle of it's chains.

but what do you do when an artist you love was introduced to you by someone you hate?

ponder that for a moment.

for the same reasons that ran through your head, i did not want to like this artist. 'she sounds too portishead' i would say. or thoughts like 'why cant they decide which they want to rip off; 60s pop, haunting folk, sultry cabaret, or electronic-tinged orchestral dance?' then i realized i loved this band for all of these reasons.

to understand a band, one must look no further than the people who make up its pulse. its soul. the voice of this duo is a classically trained siren, who lent her vocal talents to tricky, orbital and add n to x before meeting with her partner in crime to develop this group (which borrows her last name). her cohort is a classic synth-nerd, with too much time on his hands and too many synths to fill them.

if there is one thing that fascinates me more than duo's, it's a group that hasnt played their first live show before their record has elevated them to international celebrities. their live debut was at the Somerset House; a swanky, high-brow opera house in which audiences were treated to the eclectic stylings of this twosome and their backing band; a 20-piece orchestra made up of 3 percussionists, 4 synth players, a bassist, and a string section. the visual makes the aural make sense, and only adds to my whims that this is classical music for kraftwerk or depeche mode.

try as i might, i wanted to hate them. but i couldnt. the drums were blippy. pads and orchestral strings shared sonic space with a bass that sounds as if it were being thumped by carol kaye. at any given point, you cant tell if you're listening to a symphony in a great church or two people locked in a closet whispering to not wake the neighbors.

but, oddly enough. this post isnt about this bands first record. it's about their follow-up.

if their freshman effort was the groups red-carpet, smile-at-the-camera-and-wave, media-friendly interview, then their sophomore release was their grainy, nightvision-colored sex tape.

a dirty, sweaty, heavy-breathing-in-the-corner-of-some-dive sex tape.

and they made no appearance on oprah to apologize. turns out, thats who they are; thumping basses. fuzzy, squealing synth-leads. whispered vocals that turn into operatic orgasms in crecsendo. the soundtrack to your wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-sweating dreams. it's amazing when you find yourself blushing, time and again, after you finally realize what you've been singing along to driving down the highway in the middle of the night.

"before you go and leave this town / i want to see you one more time / put your dirty angel face / between my legs and knicker lace"

still present are the harpsichords and pads. the soft-spoken honesty and the over-the-top, other-worldly trance it draws you into. but gone is "utopia." unless, of course, your idea of utopia is a dominatrix in a top hat. if nina persson is an angel, allison goldfrapp isnt afraid to use her pitchfork.


GOLDFRAPP-black cherry

RELEASE DATE: May 6, 2003
LABEL: mute


Big Cougar said...

Well, I guess I'll have to give Goldfrapp another listen.

Also, the part where you hula the Superman rings is absolute genius.

Lucky Strikes said...

It's is so nice to see that Lassie disc up on this list...what a fantastic E.P. that is...before we even know what "E.P." was, too. Might be my favorite pick so far...I'm going to go give California a listen today...