Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Writing sounds

Ok I don't usually do this except for in my head. Do what? Narrativise, describe, word-ise songs. But my friend Tim gave me a mix-CD recently, entitled Welcome to the Pleasuredome, and I want to do that thing with some of the tracks which is always fraught - talk about them.

Ada - Eve

A ritualistic wrestling match between sternness and an improper sensuality, woven from distinct parts which don't ever really relinquish their separation.

The vocal injunction is strident - a leering chipmunk command: "Close your eyes and wet your lips! Close your eyes and wet your lips!" There is an emphasis on 'wet' which makes the line seem particularly lewd.

So, the track is on hand a luring-in, a seduction. The repetitive, tearing sound with which it opens is like decimating raindrops falling into a liquified brain, upsetting its calm surface. It is the musical equivalent of a 'flashback' effect in cinema - the shot of the present dissolving, rippling before the scenes from the past are played.

So, it is obviously also a very queasy feeling. The listener is being summoned to a domain of sensuality, but there is something bilious and uncertain about it all.

There is a workman-like beeping sound that starts playing over the top of this. It moves between two notes, runs a disinterested pattern, the very essence of 'running through the motions'. It returns a few times, simultaneously blank and anthemic.

But counterposed to this sensuality is a organ/woodwind two-chord loop that is reminiscent of a funeral procession.

It doesn't seem part of the lugubriousness of the track's opening, but appears in its absence. What they have in common, which allows them to rub up against one another, is an obsessive, incantatory compulsion. One is the repetition of ceremony, the other is the iteration of a nauseating pleasure principle.

And then finally, there is a stern robot-flamenco guitar that dissolved into bubbling, restless hyperactivity.

Altogether, a hypnotic meditation on pleasure, on headiness, on repetition.

You can listen to the track here:

I'll post soon about some of the other tracks on the mix - particularly the Aeroplane mix of Friendly Fires' "Paris".

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