We are hurdling as it were. Merely microcosms, like atoms freely circulating aimlessly within Great Bastian as he seeks Moonchild in the nothingness that we cannot see. For how could we see the everything beyond when we're lost in our own wandering? And what balances us... but some sense of purpose, or some understanding of the divine; however, for me personally, such an existence of supremacy voids my mental capacities and what grounds me in this global cosmic careen is that music which seems to creep thru my ears, my eyes and seep in thru the pores of my skin and ignite in me some solacing sense of solidarity, peace and place in the world; as though it were the counterbalance to the aimless hurdling, itself.
We seem lost in ourselves, I'd say; our aderall-craved, hormone-crazed, hyper-actively detached, ever-searching, never-slaked, hypochondriacal minds that move from relationship to relationship, city to city, job to job, friend to friend, and song to song; never themselves seeming able to pin-down, as the Buddhists would say, 'nirvana'. We create our own playlists, encompassing what illicits the emotion within us, when I say... what about what stimulates the emotion within the very artists we swear by?
Ahhhh... music, the outer-expression of inner-beauty... poetry... prose... lyric... melody... and in some cases (Tom Waits, as one example) complete and utter chaos. But we are merely the receivers, and we'd do well in our revelry if only we could slow our fractured attention to focus our energies on the one truth behind all music: it is meant to be heard. To hear, not listen (Billy Hoyle) what the artist and the producer intended us to hear; to illicit an emotion swelling sonically within our ears and from there, seeding deep within our minds and further blossoming into every dark recess of our souls, regardless of void or perfection, exploding like an atom bomb of direct sunlight moving thru a cavern of crystal speleothem.
And what of it to me...? Four albums, received as intended and consecrating themselves in my head in a most peculiar way (remember, music is the portrayal of another's emotion; most cherished by those who may harbor the capacity to comprehend the same way):
Alice In Chains, MTV Unplugged
Yes... quite simply, yes. You'll notice a trend that three of these albums have coinciding DVD's and perhaps Layne Staley appearing as death's shadow, as if he were a crow in human form; his heroin-drained face more closely resembling the wilted, withered, withdrawn features that more properly inhabit the sunken features of a 70 year old man, has a play into the invocation of this album particularly. However, hearing it devoid of his sickening decomposition still makes me feel the same way and yes, that may be because his voice sounds just as he appears--long since cured of purpose, laughter and life.
The album plays like a moratorium on life and death, transcending realms by stripping an iron man to bare bones. A skeletal heavy metal, if you will... with all the proper darkness deepened by a raw acoustic melody. That Jerry Cantrell, songwriter, guitarist and the "other" singer... should look like a quintessential hippie (complete with on stage joint smoking in the DVD) is awkwardly fitting. That he should sound as if he were a seraphim himself, shining radiance in vocal harmonizing with the shell of soul-deprivation, the only Layne Staley; is contradiction exhibited in the form of musical genius and to acoustacize such heavy songs as 'Sludge Factory' and 'Down In A Hole' was sheer brilliance once realized. However, for true Seattle music fans, this should come as no surprise as the band had, for years prior, saturated their sound with the deepened disparity between light and dark, good and evil, clean and distorted, and life and death; in a harmony of tone that is a musical yin-yang.
Nine Inch Nails, "And All That Could Have Been"
Good. God. Here, my friends, is a symphonic, industrial score of epic collaboration. No complementarity here; this is pure duality. Trent Reznor really hammered the nail hard with this live album(/DVD), which plays more like an operatic score than an industrial-metal effort. It starts with a BANG! And then deepens into a well-developed, highly pensive conglomeration of some of Nine Inch Nails best, little-known songs; which flow, with definitive purpose, from start to "Thank you, Goodnight!"
The real meat of this album is where real meat exists--the middle. Mainly drawing from 'The Fragile' (which, in itself is a great album); Reznor and the Nails string together a collection of highly-harmonic songs that seamlessly and effortlessly flow to create an entire act of brilliant composition. It is this portion of the album (and indeed the entire effort itself) that has led me to surmise that should I ever create my epic, "America will fall" movie; that Trent Reznor will be the composer of my score. Indeed it comes as no surprise to me that NIN's 'Year Zero' album is a veritable re-creation of my own prophecy; because "And All That Could Have Been", as far as I'm concerned, is the album that should've been collaborated with the San Francisco Orchestra, not Metallica's S&M... er go, in my opinion... the best metal album ever. But then that makes me think... would it still be as good? Would it still well-up inside of me the same swelling tide of darkness, despair, destructive-tendency, mayhem and sheer rage that it does when it's just Reznor and his band...? I don't even know that I'd care to risk it. Some times the best things are those on which you stop short.
Gorillaz, Demon Days
We're going in chronological order here, because this is the order in which I'd heard all these albums and this is by no stretch of the imagination number three on my list... in fact, this is most likely number one.
Oh Damon Albarn, and personally I think 'Blur' sucks sooooo much. Perhaps it's because I'm not British that I don't fully appreciate your earlier efforts, but I'm glad you suffered thru those growing pains because you have given this world perhaps the most globally marketable album of all time, while still remaining purely artistic and true to form. You have a stage-show now named 'Monkey', deriving from the stories cast by 'Demon Days' and I've never thought anyone was more deserving of writing a score. Mainly, because you already had.
Demon Days, too... has a live DVD, it's titled, "Demon Days: Live" and it is a must see, why? Oh, I'm about to tell you...
Damon Albarn (lead-singer, pianist) has this uncanny knack for combining genres and then further transcending them all to create his own fusion of rock, classical, funk, hip-hop, dance and electronic into some Heavenly creation that I refer to as 'God, in music form'. Why? Because it's perfect...
From start to finish this album is perfect, showing a heightened social awareness in touching on every political issue from war, to our killing the Earth, to child soldiers; and as each song is different, and encompasses different aspects of each of the aforementioned genres thru an electronic medium, eclectic story telling and his dazzling piano talents... the album literally breathes as one collective breath. And a fresh breath of air it is in an otherwise polluted market of posers, pussies and grillz.
It is truly seamless; relate-able to white suburban teens and innercity youth alike, as well as anyone of any age who has any appreciation for good musical composition. It's like cosmic soul-surfing without the drugs and the videos which play on the live DVD are visually equitable. BUY THIS ALBUM! WATCH THIS DVD! You will not be disappointed, because whether you like dance, hip-hop or rock... this album is all-encompassing and all-bad ass.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Show Your Bones
This album was released on my birthday. I just discovered this. Awesome.
Oh, Karen O. you sassy lil' NYC diva of the gritty, distorted wave of purely re-invented old school rock 'n' roll... hearing you makes me want to know you well, because chick, you can fucking wail! To hell with these posers in the Killers, pussies in the Strokes and that bad ass mother fucker that is Jack White (a beacon of musical brilliance). Kings of Leon are great, the White Stripes are astounding, but you, my girl... you are something special and you hold it down for the Queens of rock 'n' roll. You are my vote for third generation awesomeness... and just as Janis Joplin did in our parents generation and Shirley Manson did in my older brother's generation... you do for ours and I love you for it. I'm sure I will get so much shit from friends for saying this, and surely my girlfriend will attest some disapproval in my being crass, but I don't care... what you do to me when I hear you sing is what I imagine is the male equivalent of someone getting your lil' pussy wet. You rock that much.
This album is a hardcore, stripped-down pure rock 'n' roll effort that only a girl from New York (or, Jersey) could make. While the album may not be as outstanding a collective effort as the three aforementioned albums, it is nonetheless an extraordinary collaboration of songs that just gets better and better and better as it plays on. Nick Zimmer and Brian Chase are phenomenal musicians who hold the tone of deep, driving rock better than damn near anyone in music and then your voice, from the melodic singing on 'Cheated Hearts' to your punk-fused vocals on 'Phenomena', is very acculturated and diverse, able to soothe and/or disturb at will. You sound like a girl from New York/Jersey should and I thank you for it.
Keep on rockin', sister... do not deprive the world of your talents.
Again, these are the albums that I find myself listening to (or, hearing) quite frequently because these are the counterbalance to my freely careening soul... these are my groundations when I start to float away. I listen to a lot of music and this is not to take away from Dylan, Zeppelin, the Stones or Mad Season's 'Above' (which would be number five, if not only for Mike McCready's guitar work)... but these are the albums I find myself coming back to time-and-time again.
The point is, don't get yourselves bogged down in the superficial trend of cutting, mixing, picking-and-choosing and collaborating playlists for your own personal pleasure... understand that albums are made with purpose, are intentionally arranged and are meant to be heard in their true forms--from front to end. I'm not saying don't hit random on your iPod, variety IS the spice of life and I'd dare not tell you how to listen to your own music (mainly because it'd be hypocritical, because of course I create playlists and hit random, myself); this is merely an imploration, or perhaps, a suggestion that every now and then you lay down on your floor (Weed, or no weed. Friend, or on your own) and take the time to appreciate the world thru the intentions of others, because truly we are never free until we've learned to let others take control.