Top Ten Albums of 2011

 

This was completed before the NY even arrived. However, I didn’t paste it as it was in the hands of editors of two different journals I actively read. Both wanted to do something with it but I believe the longer they waited the more irrelevant it seemed. After all, it was 2011. Yet I still think there’s merit in the poem aspect and in how we deal with movement and music.

THE TOP TEN albums of 2011, or how I learned to stop hurrying and glove the songs.

I’ve been doing this for a decade now, making lists of the top ten albums of the year, striking adjectives against the formidable platform of the indefinable. Every year I receive this pinch—noxious nectar—in my head and it comes from all the veins and at certain times and months the heart. Music doesn’t change as much as we do. Sure, pop-synth makes sense to us as a genre but the pop has been there, the synth as well. This pinch I receive, this neck muscle that needs to be rubbed back into its groove, arrives not just out of the anxiety of making a list of what is the “best’ or “greatest,” but even more so from how the act of sitting down and listening, really listening, coupled with the reality of having changed (what moves us changes, new voices and sounds find new ranges for us) and therefore having been changed by something larger than ourselves, is an act we cannot sneak untruths into, we cannot begin to describe how this music slays, emboldens, shivers, encapsulates, releases, harnesses, smothers, folds, leavens, prods, pickles, portions, amplifies, bounces, and even breaks us. But it does, it does all of these things; at least, the albums I will write about do all of these things.

 

I just returned from a long run around Weaver Lake, a lake that is close to my childhood home and now even closer to where my parents reside, just outside of the Twin Cities, MN. The sun has been skating across the plains (Tyler, WTF!-this is a top ten list not an attempt at angelically smoldered nonfiction) and its slated streaks made the run, although it was below freezing, a winter joy. At the beginning I thought, let’s hit shuffle and see what songs come on. Then I thought, what have I not listened to completely yet, from this year, that I need one last go at? Then I said fuck it, I want to listen to M83’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming; so I did, and the album took my legs and lungs away. I had absolutely no control over my speed, and by the time I’d gotten halfway through I was miles away and to be honest a little lost. But I finished the album and the run at my parent’s front doorstep. Actually, I collapsed on the lawn and laid there relatively idle. Although this was perhaps my 15th listen to the album it’s all that I wanted to hear.

 

The point of prefacing with this story of going on a run is that music is so much about movement, both of body and emotion (this is known, I know, but bears repeating). I haven’t had to drive a car in years and this has completely changed the way in which I listen to music. I have little access to the radio and since I don’t have a car I no longer listen to The Rapture, Menomena, Neil Young and My Morning Jacket as much, I no longer crank Television knowing that “Marquee Moon” will play all the way from Little Italy to the Ukrainian Village or, jumping cities, from Uptown to Northeast. This is not to say these are all bands whose compositions are relegated to the poles of “car music” either; but, and I think many people can agree, we tend to listen to very distinct music when traversing places; we actively choose songs and even if on shuffle I guarantee we skip certain tracks—they become out of pace, place and space—in exchange for what might drape our landscapes something the better.

 

Although I don’t ride in cars much or drive them anymore I’ve spent a surplus of time on subways, being flung out of tunnels, over bridges and even the twice a month Amtrak train I chug from becomes an amalgamated vision of hearing’s saying, moving’s meant. With subways there’s a syrupy interstice where music grumbles from, a sort of Robitussin scuffling. Perhaps it’s the faces and the grime and the beauty of legs and hair everywhere, covered by fabrics that will be shelved in hutches near Bushwick or Astoria or the Upper West Side, but the subway has a sort of dusted permanence that keeps the logic of certain types of music fully in check. Think of all the Brooklyn bands (The Antlers, MGMT, Grizzly Bear, The Lisps, Dirty Projectors, The National …) and how their sounds round one another out (note: I don’t actually think any of these bands sound close to one another); they aren’t specifically the same sound but they seem to derive elements of sound from the same type of feeling one gets on the subway, a sort of velcroing mid 80’s reverberation, an extension of “upper music for downers.” The point, again, is movement, and it is a “faster” movement that has made this year in music very different than I could have expected, much more charged and forebodingly radial.

 

I thought I’d finished this entire list days before the end of the year, before attending a party then ending up in a house I’d never been in before, painting with someone I’d just met until 6 a.m while making them listen to some of this music online. But it still wasn’t 2012 and I knew that I’d have some subway time to hear full albums, which I did. This altered the list a little, making a couple albums jump above others. As per usual there will are light questioning moments of “regret” for not placing or knowing about albums but let’s not believe in regrets. Let us not. What I’m beginning to fully understand is that thinking about why music is great to us, certain music and certain lists of certain music, juts us into the marveling meeting point of introspection and the nervous act and display which is liking something in public. Therefore we share these lists. I’m excited for 2012, even in not knowing what albums are supposed to come out. I honestly think 2011 was an amazing year in music, in a very quiet way, a way where the albums I’ve been hearing about seem to be, for the most part, starting points and peak strides for these artists and, furthermore, signs that more collaborative work is being done that brings all these cats together.

 

Honorable Mention:

 

Father, Son, Holy Ghost Girls: exactly what a heroic escape from the shit Christopher Owens has been through should sound like. But, nothing should “sound like” the past but make a sound for having dealt with it, which is what this album does even more. It is its sound.

 

Passenger Lisa Hannigan: I like the Irish, I like her voice, sometimes this is all one needs

.

In the Mountain in the Clouds Portugal. The Man: I’ve been slowly digging this over the years and had no clue how long they’d been around. I will come back to this as a scooping Spring flushout.

 

Within and WithoutWashed Out: there’s a lot of lust in this venture but this is also a good album to clean one’s house to or to work to if you have a labor job.

 

Let England Shake – PJ Harvey: solid, just solid.

 

ParallaxAtlas Sound: consistent and rejuvenating in a strikingly subtle manner.

 

 

 

 

 

THE TOP TEN

 

In order to understand, for brevity’s sake, what each album was doing for/to me upon relistening, poems snuck out at the end of each description and are included herein, erasures and remainders.

 

 

(10) Destroyed, Moby

 

I think I started to have respect for Moby the second people stopped listening to him (when did this happen by the way, was it after Play, in like 2000?). Destroyed is a frenetic album at times, almost resisting catharsis. Anyone with short sleeping schedules, sleep deprivation, or flat out insomnia will probably connect with this album. Moby wrote and constructed it while doing a lot of traveling and, having insomnia himself, finished a lot of incomplete songs in order to make this come together. He did this almost entirely on the road so the absence of a studio or a consistent studio is an aspect I’m easily drawn toward here, the airport quietude and dealing with an empty midnight. Some people need albums that put them through work or long drives or are a good background while walking—this album has become background for painting, not all the time but a lot of the time, and I like how I forget that music is playing and it takes over, pushes the paint for me a bit then the music sort of appears, peers, or how in undergoing bouts of nonsleep as I seem to have been doing this past year there needs to be a sound to snap that silence out and this is that sound. I also think that despite what seems to be a noticeable hatred for Moby, amongst many critics and oddly enough people who just like to say “I hate Moby,” that he’s doing consistently innovative things and that he’s not going anywhere; he can still punt a killer tune, make cloud sounds, and warble a meaty beat. With much “ambient” or “electronic” music people expect a lot after a splash (Play) but in considering such genres on their own, making a splash is a significant accomplishment in itself, so splashing isn’t exactly a logical continuance for this kind of music; waves, maybe, but splashes no. If anything, listen to “The Broken Places” and if that displeases you then move below to my other favorites, you inconsiderate … and if it pleases you listen to “Lie Down in Darkness” or I can just send you the damn thing.  Or maybe you’ll buy the actual disc because it comes with great additions or, wait, do CD’s exist?

 

Stopped when this

anyone sleep

flat connect doing a lot of

himself finished this together

 

absence is an aspect drawn

airport midnight through

walking this background

forget playing paint

undergoing year needs

 

seems among oddly

like not going

killer cloud beat

expect a splash

genres their own

kind waves

if that displeases

you listen just

maybe the actual

additions wait, exist

 

(9) Give you the Ghost – Polica

 

I’m not done with music that propels you into a shady, psychological tunnel where you search all night for who it is that is directing this episode of your CSI night. Granted this album just came out last week I knew that I couldn’t make my list until it did, as having heard “Dark Star” and “Lay Your Cards Out” jolted me. The rest of the album doesn’t let down. If I look at what has moved me the most this year it’s no surprise that this ends up on the list. There’s a scratching hope adrift in these tracks that also masquerades as insouciance—”yes, here I am but there are many things I don’t give a fuck about”—that sort of thing, an edgy carefreeness, a needing and not needing thing (the sort of blasting aggravation that comes along with liking someone who needs your presence as something but not the presence of what your liking has made them a possible presence of …).  I’ve also been feeling guilty for taking Mazzy Star, Cat Power and Massive Attack off my ipod, which isn’t to say that Channy sounds like any of them; but Polica, as a crew, stretches the lineage of bass-heavy backroom-scolding croon into a new moment of contemporary occupation, which from the lexical arsenal of musical criticism might be bulleted as post-post-Massive Attack. People will probably soon talk about how these are dark make out songs but the sensuality of a song should not be strictly held to the existence of another person for whom you want to touch/press/become; the sensuality of these songs comes in how they romanticize nostalgia; we become giddy because of what didn’t become and the memories that it could have become, a dangerous field to splinter but a field that Give You the Ghost knows and planes down well, makes sense of the sensing. I think this album will return to me in the sort of fashion The National does, those gloaming moments of tried stride reenlivened by the gusts of punctual slowscream, the attempts at understanding, even as I’m attempting now, to get at something, to get it.

 

Done into a shady

directing granted out

week my dark lay

jolted down what has

most scratching hope

tracks many give

fuck edgy needing

blasting your presence

 

what liking possible

taking cat attack

sound stretches lineage

backroom moment occupation

 

bulleted post-probably

these the sensuality

held press become

 

how they romanticize

what didn’t become

 

field and planes

 

return fashion gloaming

 

stride gusts understanding

 

get at something

 

 

(8) Rip Tide – Beirut 

 

“Now, as the air grows cold, the trees unfold

And I am lost and not found

 

And who’d know?”

 

There is simply very little this band could do to disappoint me. The album’s brevity, albeit something that steered me away from a real listen to this for many months, makes a lot of sense and lights me up in short paths and stinging cross streets. If I cook these days I usually cook to this album, troublesome kale and overgarlicky rotisseries. It builds, via their usual swagger, in a staccato stampede, a kind of dragging-along—listen to “Santa Fe” and picture you’ve been pulled by a rope on a horse carriage and have suddenly come off the ground and are running alongside the carriage and you have a lasso and the sun dances your hat off and someone gives you a gun and you graze the silver bronco on your belt buckle and the clouds fall down and the … and then there’s just how lightly foreign it always sounds, a gifting away. This band is in the top five “we’re having a light dinner party what should we put on in the background” bands, which means that people will be able to zone it out but will always, at times, hear a bit and be satisfied or bend toward wanting to know more, saying “what’s this” and “this guy is a magician.”

 

Simply disappoint me

that me for many

paths stinging usually

troublesome usual swagger

stampede of picture

horse suddenly alongside

lasso the someone gun

the silver buckle

foreign gifting band

zone always wanting

more what’s this

 

(7) Undun – The Roots

 

“Yo, we did this in remembrance of

Faces from the past we no longer have an image of”

 

I’m kind of tired of hearing how this is a concept album and that perhaps we should be listening to the story get told. Yes, concept albums are great but The Roots always tell a story, just think of their name. What hits on this album are the bloodrawn flats of chaos planked by Quest Love’s hard docility on “Make My” and the ultra sick and perhaps hottest track of the year “The Other Side” (the performance of TOS on the Jimmy Kimmel show [http://thouart.tumblr.com/post/13882923912/the-roots-bilal-jimmy-fallon-hip-hop-live] is the greatest talk show performance I’ve ever seen, ever!). For a while I thought that the brevity—like Beirut—wouldn’t make this album a part of the top ten, yet Undun feels like a true gift, like you’ve walked into the best sound-check possible only to find out there’s a full band having a good time  behind the scenes and a good time in the dark corridors of lyrical dreams. Yes, it’s short, but it carries its bones and blood steadfast and on the surface, and when it bursts it’s the hottest sound around.

 

Kind tried concept

story the story

name the blood flats

docility and ultra

 

show talk ever seen

part feels true

 

walked having good

bones and blood

surface bursts it’s

hottest sound around

 

 

(6) Hysterical – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

 

“Now driving drunk in Daddy’s car

Honey, I won’t spoil the ending

But see that bend up in the road

Didn’t it seem that the night was little too quiet?”

 

I haven’t heard one good thing about this album and I simply don’t care. Alec Ounsworth is blisteringly compelling, and when you find a band that makes you dance the way that you always should have or can or feel that you should have or can then that band is never really lost on you, you must embrace them. After a sophomore album that people loved bashing (almost out of boredom, it seems) it’s no surprise that Hysterical, CYHSY’s third album, did not receive much play. Yet again, I don’t listen to the radio much so I wouldn’t know. What I want to say is that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah will always be approached from a critical lens that doesn’t know how to handle them and this is simply because of the way that they arrived on the scene. This is a group of guys whose first album (an album I cited last year as my favorite of the last decade) was something they made possible without really caring about whether or not it got picked up. Then, as it soared into the cyber ears of all of us indie-snuggers it became a recognizably catchy and moving debut; then, expectations rose well above a decent meter by the time Some Loud Thunder (a fantastic album by its own right, a knowledgeably self-aware strut) hit the stores and then the band’s existence sort of petered out.

 

Between Some Loud Thunder and Hysterical Ounsworth recorded Mo Beauty, an album that I somehow missed and I’m guessing many others did too because he really doesn’t care to promote it in the fashionable way—an idiomatic culprit of the often inane and often ironic critical misapprehensions that stir from attempts at talking about CYHSY. When I finally listened to Mo Beauty it blew me away (this was at 9:47 p.m., 9/14/2011). There are three tracks on there (“What Fun,” “Obscene Queen Bee #2,” and “When You’ve No Eyes”) that have singlehandedly defined many months of my life in New York City. But none of this really has to do with Hysterical, even though I believe in prefaces today, I do. Hysterical does what the previous two albums don’t and that’s starting out in a simpler, calmer hallway (upon first listen one might not think so; after all, “Same Mistake” is a very hyper field scoot) before whisking the accoutrements into portlier sounds. Yes, the word melody streams into mind here, as does the word self-awareness, of and by the band, but this is a positive attribute—an aware band is also aware of how it must break its awareness and borders and crackle and crank on and this is CYHSY.

 

Hysterical has some moments that seem a bit jostled and reluctant but this is part of the CYHSY makeup and I feel like even “better production” or “patience” wouldn’t do anything to change this. As is, many moments redeem the fleeting ones and the fleeting ones seem much more necessary in the album as whole. I was fortunate enough to see them jam out a couple weeks back and they’d made films for all of their songs, which may have detracted from anything that didn’t sound grand, but it all sounded grand anyway. They’re a live show not to be missed but I will also shake their trophy offstage because they’re original in a jarring way, a broken shotgun sounding way, and as mentioned above I think I learned how to dance (what probably doesn’t look like but certainly feels like dancing) from them and to this I owe. Nevertheless (do we use this expression still?) I will return to Hysterical quite happily and I hope some of you too.

 

Simply don’t care

makes you dance

lost, you must embrace people boredom

receive play again

radio much hands                    lens that handles

way on the scene

decade was made

possible without caring

 

ears moving then

rose meter thunder

hit then sort

between hysterical somehow

and miss others

 

culprit of the often

stir, talking finally

on their obscene eyes many months

 

New York City

prefaces previous starting hallway upon mistake hyper melody

streams awareness positive

breaks borders

cranks on and this is

reluctant but part

makeup patience anything

 

redeem the fleeting

fortunate enough they’d

detracted anything grand

live misses shake

offstage jarring shotgun

 

mentioned to dance

like dancing expression

quite happily you.

(5) On the Water – Future Islands

 

Four years ago I went to see Dan Deacon play a midnight warehouse party in South Chicago. The event was packed with Baltimore bands, all of whom seriously rocked everyone’s tops off that night. Deacon was off the hook but then there were four other bands, all thrashing about (Ed Schrader was one and Teeth Mountain another). Halfway through one show I asked the guy next to me, “who is this!?” and he said “Future Islands man, get with it!” There’s a harpooning confidence in Samuel T. Herring’s voice, a sort of hurt beast appeal, and it prowls like a Buick. In what seems to be a peak period for synthpop, these guys have long been a large part of making it a strong appeal as a “genre,” for the moody weekend splashing of sweat and angst and stress and hard-flopping scat. There’s not a lot of online presence or shakedown for Future Islands but I can assure you that their oeuvre is like a streamlined net, cast out in the same invisible creek only they hold canoes for.  All the albums roll together and are extensions of one another in a changing yet changeless way; the stories and arc change but the sound, being very much its own canoe-creek thing, as undutifully noted above, remains original, its own. This album has quickly become my best subway-riding fix and I’d like to see them live again perhaps more than anyone other band on this list.

 

Play midnight south

packed everyone’s tops

the hook thrashing

 

teeth another halfway

future there’s harpooning

voice appeal what peak

 

period pop making

moody sweat scat

online shakedown islands

like net invisible creek

 

roll one changeless

arc being very

noted remains riding

like live again

anyone other on

 

(4) Highlighter – People Under the Stairs

 

“..nah sorry, no hitter, shit’s off the hook like scared baby sitter … straight John Ritter, computer my brain’s slippery ..”

 

Double K and Thes One have ended up on my top ten list perhaps more than any other band in the past decade (they may have 4 votes in the last ten years … LCD 3, Bob Dylan … etc.) but these albums are never in the top five for me. Guess what, this one is!

 

PUTS is not a top five hip-hop crew because they are a glorious and unswervingly fresh duo (a different way of saying consistent, I think). Their samples slip from 1971 to 1996 within a few verses  and the verses themselves are never shy of both comedic and spry, quick-lit and side-spat and split up to jangle. It’s appropriately odd that they don’t ever really get reviewed or talked about outside of Los Angeles; their style is that of the old MC’s, a fierce dedication toward getting people to have a good time, to rumble a bit. Over the years I’ve been grateful to see PUTS five times but this is probably over the course of eight years and they haven’t changed—this isn’t a “haven’t changed and are thus now boring” kind of haven’t either (see ZZ Top, Aerosmith, see shoddy analogy) but instead it’s another stitching in their committed and statuesque place as the real shit, as in they always have been and therefore, in having been, cannot not be, as such (see tautology, double negative, Midwestern white kid talking about hip hop). They don’t change in the nice way that Future Islands doesn’t change. Not changing does not = doesn’t get better.

 

I still have a very strong desire to have a PUTS-only house party and I’m convinced it will be the ultimate hype. If every album and E.P. were played the party would last approximately 15.2 hours. Not one beat would be skipped and everyone would be super content. Highlighter is, as sparsely mentioned by the few critics to have even announced its release, a giant combination of all PUTS’s tricks/tracks/trinkets, a sort of New & Selected. It has more edges than the previous three albums and by edges I mean it slinks into very sharp corners of sound with noticeable interchanges then takes a quick step back into the center, where the beat is always controlled. These are controlled beats as well (double-control), they are sustained throughout and even if, as a fan, you cannot remember all the lyrics the beats are unmistakably PUTS. Just last month, after a long day of good times, I went over last minute to see PUTS at the Brooklyn Bowl. I’d spoken with Double K before  (in a child-eyed fan way years ago in L.A. then in MPLS) so I was able to say hello and catch up a bit and this made me feel like a birthday kid. When they came on stage everyone dug in, as old PUTS’ lyrics might say, like a barbecue. The highlight came when they paid homage to Brooklyn, where the birth of hip hop occurred, and then Lil’ Cease (of Notorious B.I.G. protégé fame [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0kJ8GM283Q]) came and threw down a ten-minute freestyle. It’s safe for me to say that these guys, because of our generation, have had the biggest influence on me as a hip hop duo, remaining steadily fly. I will spin this disc at the right times and as always most people will say “who is this” and I’ll get to happily say, “man, this is PUTS!”

 

Ended up perhaps

past votes last

never guess what

top glorious duo

saying I think

split up jangle

Los Angeles fierce

have rumble times

over the course

 

changed now top

the top stitching shit

such double hip hop

 

doesn’t change changing

house party convinced

hype played approximately

 

everyone super sparsely

 

even release combination

trinkets selected edges

 

corners with interchanges

quick center controlled

 

Remember lyrics after

minute I’d spoken

able to hello

feel birthday kid

 

Like barbecue homage

hip hop occurred

and threw down

safe for because

duo fly spin

always people this is.

 

 

(3) Year of Hibernation – Youth Lagoon

 

“Yeah I know I’m gettin’ closer

My whole wall is filled with posters”

 

This is one of the quietest albums on my list this year. I feel so slow-motioned while moving through these songs, but in that wiry way, that kind of cinematic-slow-shot way where someone is romantically walking through a hallway that leads from the place they just had their heart broken toward the terrifying presence of an exit; the weight is stifling. In fact, what I like the most about this album is the delicacy of its tinkering upsurges—they release me for a moment but I’m taken quite literally down again soon and thereafter and again and again. Because of the slow motion element, anticipation for speed and alteration builds in the ears and YL (Trevor, mostly) knows how to issue this anticipatory tingle so that the listener is caught between being flat out fucked-up about “life” and antsy about the absence of more action—sound, movement. Yet even after the initial appreciation of delicacy there is loudness in this album unlike anything I’ve ever heard; and by loudness I mean an aching, the publication of privacies. The second the pace nears a kind of soft pummeling of the senses it pulls back, hangs out, spins, and flutters again.

 

I can’t help thinking about these songs as each being trapped in caskets and cages and slowly broken up and let go by some very patient soul, some tender lumberjack, some fort-building eleven year-old. I have, for some relatively unknown reason (for now, that is, “as of late”), tried to avoid the heavy-handed(minded? hearted?)ness that is ushered by so many great bands today into the beginning of tracks, the hook that is steadfast with emotion, but I cannot calm away from Youth Lagoon because there’s a sincerity that is damn near punishing, a straightforwardness that is stripped, bones in the fire. I have a lot of respect for this album yet I am also terrified of what it would do to me if I didn’t have crowded places to quietly scream in. People are crying everywhere because of this. To top it off, the wonderful Matt McGlennen came to NYC recently, taking hundreds of photographs, and if he hadn’t told me about the bonus track to this album, “Bobby,” a song that didn’t come on my purchased LP, then I would not have come so heartily back to this album either. Matt also made a montage of his trip with “Bobby” as the soundtrack; focused editing, I’d say. Watch it for splendor here (http://vimeo.com/32762776).

 

This quietest feel

Through someone kind

Through hallway place

Exit weight release

Soon again motion

For alteration knows

To issue listener

Absence more initial

Delicacay is loudness

Aching privacies pace

The senses hang

Help in cages

Up tender building

I have tried

Ushered many beginning

Tracks steadfast youth

There’s sincerity stripped

Respect also terrified

Crowded people because

Wonderful recently photographs

Then I would heartily

Montage focused say for

Splendor here.

 

 

(2) Kaputt – Destroyer

 

“Fool child, you’re never gonna make it.

New York City just wants to see you naked

(And they will).”

 

I was first drawn to this album because it busted January out of its lifeless hump and into a recognizable plateau for aimless wandering. Things started to come outside of their homes, even if only in a pajama-like-dumping-the-trash-wobbles. I’d like to argue that Kaputt would hold an entirely different place in near everyone’s heads and lists if it had been released in Spring (too much lust to compete with), Summer (absence of pop might detract beach-goers), or Fall (there was a lot of that in order to make this album happen), instead of Winter (here you have to make things happen on your own, even hearing). I missed many stops on the subway because of this album and not because of its vast capability to enclose us but more so because it loses us—note: it doesn’t get lost on us—like a parent sending a child off to (insert war or college or some other disastrous metaphor) a distant and fantastical place. But somehow these songs are still chartered in tactile territory—each song seems to be a room for wandering in, as opposed to exteriors or hard-to-navigate places. I tend to feel like I’ve been told to hang out in some chandelier-happy mansion by myself and drink colorless substances from gold-tinkering fountains and barrels of misunderstood aristocracy and in doing so mix a little ditty with my shins that makes the Bowie of Labyrinth a little less smiley, abounding in grizzled pith—crank “Savage Night at the Opera” and dance, alone, you can’t help it … seriously… do it. This is also to say that you can at times delineate between the music you like by not only how but also where it places you; does this keep you inside or outside, does this take you out there or in that, does this remind you of Wisconsin or the Berkshires, Santa Monica or London, your uncle or your ex? It reminds you of what you do to try and rewind with your own memories, to remember, recall, and when you can’t the song comes out, kaputt.

 

I think this is an important thing to consider, the outside and insides of hearing. With the proliferation of better headphones and such there is also a tiny deception in walking or moving with them on, in that an “outside” sounding album can be pressured into “inside” feelings because headphones near completely smother us. This might be why I have a hard time listening to music when I travel on subway and bus and train, because the portals are too fast. Yet again, this is where amazing albums resist place and persist in making their own mark on any kind of outside movement. Kaputt does this from a fragmented reliquary of desire, in the way where we are trying to pass through urge but end up in the stumbling perpetuity of want. It’s also important to note that “kaputt” means “broken” in German and it is also an expression I often hear from two French friends of mine when they speak about how truly exhausted they are after having a “good night.” This is where I start to “get” Kaputt, in that there is the aftermath-of-a-party feel to it; something has happened on a grand scale and someone must atone for it, etc. What flattens me the most is the combination of a “calling” and a “hiding,” that when the beat hits during “Blue Eyes” someone didn’t give up threading themselves toward an understanding. After probably a hundred listens this year (it came out early) I still feel gifted with a fresh way to approach whatever clarity means to me, whatever calling means to me, and why hiding is an active element in the desires and urges of life. Also, my goodness what controlled crescendos!

 

Drawn busted lifeless

 

plateau for homes

 

only wobbles entirely

place everyone’s spring

compete w/absence  to detract

make instead winter

hearing because

because            vast capability lost

 

a parent disaster

fantastical chartering of tactile

seems wandering exteriors    I’ve been chandelier

 

colorless from barrels

doing ditty shins

 

abounding cranks alone

seriously between you

 

Wisconsin or London                          rewind your memories

 

recall when comes

consider and insides

 

headphones     tiny deception

be pressured inside

 

smother might time

travel the portals

resist making mark

 

desire where trying      through stumbling note

means broken French

 

mind speak exhausted

where party feel

grand the scale

 

atones for hiding beat hits

 

give up understanding

feel gifted in approach

or whatever calling is active

 

urges goodness controlled

 

 

(1)  Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming – M83

 

“Oh-oh, twenty millions years from my place

A slide on the starlight

Watch out, a new planet right on my trail

The space, oh, oh, it’s mine, oh, oh …”

 

Concept album or not Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming tells a story and yes, even as the band themselves and reviewers have noted, it’s an epic one. To note, the story isn’t necessarily ensconced in the actual lyrics (though they are giving and replete with details); the story unfolds through the sound, particularly the sincere feeling of undergoing a voyage; specifically, obstacles are in the way and feats will have to be accomplished in order to get out of the reverberating thicket and within the context of this thicket we have frogs and planes and friends and the sea and Steve McQueen—none of these references needs to be specific, Claudia Lewis does not need to be the producer of The Player—and this catalog, this ensemble, makes the whole seem triumvirate—the end of “My Tears are Becoming a Sea” has its own break, some kind of out-of-the-forest or off-the-cliff cry; when “Year One, One UFO” hits we’re in an unknown sequel, and then “Echoes of Mine” is like a memory flush  before the outro. Though I can feel it in threes it still hats-off as one and packages as two.

 

Hurry yes story

Have epic ensconced

Though details sound

Particularly undergoing obstacles

Order of within   and planes none

Specific the producer

Catalog makes end

Break forest year

Unknown memory flush

Outro though hats-off

 

I’ve always been compelled by what it means to “reach” for something, whether this is the physical gesture of retrieving the cumin from the back of the shelf to spangle canned salmon or reaching out to someone with a word or even a thought or gesture that they cannot hear, sear, or see. Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming is continuously reaching and what is most invigorating is that it often grasps what it reaches for then it reaches again, for more, and with almighty confidence. Just now, in writing this, I think about what it would be like to climb one of those netted pyramid ropes at a playground while playing “Claudia Lewis” (my favorite song on the album) on blast through a tunnel slide. That’s just it, this album conjures up a plethora of images and usually ones that aren’t retreating but instead bolting ahead of us and this, perhaps, is the reach. I want to go after the images right as I hear them, and there’s also the release of what feels like a decade’s worth of immense introspection—all that inwardness that must occur for anything outward to hold the sense and strut enough to make clarity for others; but this clarity is not forceful, it’s a clarity that allows listeners to make use of their own imagination (like the failure of any bad story or movie, that whole telling vs. showing thing) and trusting listeners’ imaginations means you should also scaffold the environment they’re given enough to own and instate new sound. I think specifically of the setup on “Reunion,” which has the charming rattle of drums (they sound like honey mugs) and a sort of pleading leap into the pseudo-chorus—the yah ah ah. This is the scaffolding and with the hot pauses and quakes that follow we are left to fill in the gaps or slow howls with our own memory banks; we are left to huff and suffer, borrow and be sorrowful or, for fuck’s sake, just dance.

 

When I first heard Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming I knew that I had to stop what I was doing and go to a place where I could listen to the entire thing. Since I didn’t have the time I waited a day then walked around with the album in my e-drums, picking through China Town, Little Italy, and the Lower East Side before ending the album near the East River, shocked and entombed, as jittery as I could be as I didn’t know how to handle walking anymore, I wanted to reach for something and at a faster pace. Thus, this album quickly became an album that I could write to; its build steams a backline palm on the nape and when “Midnight City” rubs into gear it’s as if the whole city of the self shuts its interiors down and bumbles outside, leaping in cabs and streaking slaps across lamps, daggering, just daggering the air.

 

How do we deal with frustrations delicately? How do we reach for something knowing we cannot grasp it … perhaps ever? How do we wait when waiting is against our very own instinct not to wait for anything … at all? The songs on this album are attempts at answering that—perhaps not purposefully, but they seem to be dealing with unanswerable questions—impenetrable, emotional platforms. Gonzalez doesn’t retract for one second on the entirety of this album either, and this is the epic aspect. This album is … (pause like the young Cameron Crowe of Almost Famous) … incendiary.

 

I will close with what just happened to me and makes this all self-prominent. I left work early last night, as everyone did, New Year’s Eve Eve. I went home and put running gear on. I put Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming on and ran down to the Hudson River. The sun that I started with and stared at days ago near Weaver Lake became the sun behind Jersey, a slapped fat pink-bellied salmon sun. I couldn’t stop running; I ended up near Batter Park watching Lady Liberty adjust her night jacket while the frogs became a plausible feature in my head.  I donkeyed and dithered south and felt like high-fiving strangers as “Claudia Lewis” became my new girlfriend. I leapt over benches like a self-congratulatory trophy-mongering athlete. I heard myself reciting “Soon, my Friend” in a phlegmy whisper. I lunged out onto a pier and watched some species of flying objects make a perfect shape and streak into the sun’s dumb reflection during “New Map” and my toes exploded into chalky bolting confidants. I adjusted my headband to collect the sweat near the temples during “Echoes of`Mine” and during “Klaus I love You” I yawped like a forester across an an emptied plaza. Then, I found myself pumping my fists, just pumping them and jowling out some huffed glory of a sound like a fucken champion. And that’s it: this album makes you feel like a fucken champion!

 

 

Reach whether physical

the gesture of shelf & canned

someone with word dreaming

what grasps

then confidence this think

 

about ropes  playing tunnel slide

images retreating

 

ahead & hear and there’s immense

inwardness outward sense

 

failure or movie  means scaffold given enough instate

reunion charming honey leap

 

this hot follow

fill memory suffer

borrow fuck’s dance

 

I heard dreaming knew listening’s entire

 

then around picking town

ending entombed

jittery handle reach faster

 

become backline palm

nape rubs whole interior

 

slaps across daggering

 

how delicately cannot?

 

Perhaps against insistence anything at all?

 

Answering dealing emotional

second this epic is famous

happened makes last

everyone doing home

 

on and river     came behind salmon

 

running battery liberty

 

feature in dithered strangers my girlfriend

 

congratulatory athlete reciting

whisper onto species

 

dumb map toes

bolting headband temples

 

during I love you

pumping my fists

champion

 

 

 

Epilogue:(poem using titles of top ten)

 

Again we give you the ghost, destroyed breath

and making this inside another outside form

of reach, but you were so hysterical on the water,

our year of hibernation, that what was once undone

became the broken folds we’ve been growing old

within. It’s no rip tide wonder to become a highlighter

of past in the future tense. But there’s sense again,

the counterfeit time and seeming again to want to become

a being we’ve seen. Well then, hurry up, we’re dreaming.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s