Five Songs, 6/30/2017
Five Songs

Five Songs, 6/30/2017

Hooray, I made it the whole month without missing a day! Another meaningless milestone! Music!

Conlon Nancarrow, "Study No. 45a"

This is a pretty jaunty piece that still manages to sound really otherworldly, thanks to the alien nature of the playing. In some ways, Nancarrow presaged electronic composition, of using a tool to create music that otherwise couldn't exist if it had to be created by human hands.

The VSS, "Effigy"

This was from a blind grab bag from Hydra Head records, and I'll be honest, I think this is the first time I'm hearing this. Well, snap impression: in some ways, it goes pretty well with the Nancarrow piece above. Maybe I'll listen to the rest after these five songs are over.

Metallica, "Whiplash"

Metallica took heavy metal and married it to hardcore punk, giving us thrash metal. Essentially, this album (Kill 'Em All) is the genre's founding document, and many bands spent a lot of time trying to recreate the aggression and speed shown here. Metallica themselves would move past it pretty quickly with much more complex songs on the next couple albums, but that didn't really stop bands from still trying to copy this album. It's one of the most influential metal albums ever made.

The Microphones, "My Warm Blood"

Nine minute songs are usually either great or terrible. You don't usually get an OK nine minute song. This, of course, isn't actually a nine minute song. It's a two minute song followed by seven minutes of barely anything. That puts this song firmly in the "terrible" camp, unless you skip the track after those two minutes. As this was the end of the album, I would just stop playing it once I hit that point.

The Ocean, "Abyssopelagic II: Signals of Anxiety (Instrumental Version)"

Speaking of long songs...

The Ocean are a prog metal band trying to answer the question "how pretentious of a concept can we use to make an album while still making a decent album". For Pelagial, the answer is "pretty damn pretentious." The concept here is that the pieces on the album are supposed to reflect the layers of the ocean itself, so it gets darker as you go through them. Here, we're in the abyssopelagic zone, which is pretty deep, so we're pretty far into doom metal territory here. This is the instrumental version, because of course they included a second disc with just the instrumentals.

Before we leave here, can I just say that I think they goofed up the layers? Five of them are subdivisions of the pelagic zone (which is the part of the ocean that's neither near the bottom nor the shore), but the other two layers, placed below the hadopelagic zone on the album, aren't necessarily deeper than the hadopelagic zone, at least from what I can tell from a few minutes of prodding at Wikipedia. It looks like they just mean "stuff near the bottom", but that could refer to a relatively shallow bottom.

I suppose the concept for the record could be concerning itself primarily with exploring a single deep trench in the ocean, in which case...why am I thinking about this?

Joshua Buergel
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