Tag Archives: the eternal feminine

Subrosa – No Help For The Mighty One

In a conversation with a friend this weekend we agreed that “amazing” and “wonderful” and other superlatives need to dropped from our vocabularies. Even “great” is just too overused; if everything is a high, how do you mark the middles? Does it simply serve to make the good incomprehensible and everything else from ok on down drift into hateful? Is that why everything must either “rule” or “suck” these days?

It’s kinda fucking with our ability to talk about cultural objects, be they cupcakes or codpieces.

Then this shit comes along and, well, it’s great. It’s great as in I’ve been listening to it nonstop since I got the album from Profound Lore this weekend; I picked it up based solely on the strength of “The Inheritance”

There’s only a few small moments which run against the otherwise smooth sixty minutes of No Help for the Mighty One – a few growls and barks on “Beneath the Crown” mar Subrosa‘s  70s permastoned gloss. This short run into more stereotypical trappings is brief and not particularly debilitating. And though at first listen the a capella sea shanty “House Carpenter” is kind of confusing, that feeling passes. Melancholic stoner doom pop held together with extremely strong vocal harmonies should be confident enough to give the geetars a rest for a minute.

Subrosa has produced an exciting album that showcases the best that cultural hybridity offers us; post-rock builds and low end grind, offset by strong songwriting, memorable melodies and an overwhelming sadness. Sounds terrible on paper, but paper ain’t sound.

Special mention should be made of the album art – expanded upon in this Invisible Oranges post.

I will now shut the fuck up about how I don’t seem to enjoy female-lead “heavy music”. Here’s to how wrong I was.

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2009 Was The Sort of Year That Passed In One Month Increments

Music For Infants: My preliminary field notes indicate that babies, by and large, don’t give a shit about music. However, there are two exceptions in Vashti Bunyan and David Tibet, particularly Sleep Has His House. Weirds me the hell out, it does. Not because Sleep is a bad album, or because it is rightfully considered one of Current 93‘s finest works and this indicates supernatural prescience, but because it’s about a dead father, sung by his living son.

But it soothes the savage beast, and so I worry not.

This past year was one of preparation and rediscovery. Health and Death and yet another triumphant Boredoms experience. Throbbing Gristle, set in motion during my own infancy, played “Discipline” in an old Masonic Temple and drew a circle around what I imagined my youth to be. Will Oldham demonstrated extreme American exceptionalism while millions inexplicably mourned a dead pedophile; Antony showed an overwhelming capacity for international superstardom, hemmed in only by being a beautiful woman who doesn’t look like one. Continue reading

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Bardo Pond – Dilate

bardo2001 was a year that could be described as psychomimetic, if not genuinely psychedelic*; at the very least it was a psychoactive hallucinogenic launchpad for all sorts of horrendous bullshit.

I don’t belive I listened to this album that year; I was neck deep in NYC’s tiny IDM scene and related hijinks, like watching people I care about slowly go insane. I do know I had heard Dilate by the time On The Eclipse came out, but like most of their work nothing has really stuck as truly and as well as Dilate. Continue reading

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Antony & The Johnsons – The Crying Light

the-crying-lightAntony has a tear-strained voice that will forever overwhelm anything the rest of his ensemble may do. That’s the nature of vocal-driven music. Even the minor instrumental patters here and there on The Crying Light never actually go beyond setting the stage for the next reappearance of his pained, absurdist melodrama.

Some might complain this is smoother and far more poppy than I Am A Bird Now, but isn’t that the point of personality-driven cabaret music? It’s about setting the scene for a voice and for words, so people can make their own private movies in their heads and be subsumed by that collaborative narrative.

I hope one day they’re really huge, like Leonard Cohen huge. Mr. Cohen is a neat vocalist (with terrible taste in arrangements) but $250 tickets is absolutely absurd. That kind of absurd success would be a tidy ironic fit for this increasingly pop, gender-falutin’ post-cabaret conspiracy.

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Bonnie “Prince” Billy – Lie Down in the Light

For the longest time I’ve described Will Oldham’s music as the sound of a bewildered encounter with the eternal feminine. I don’t know if that fully stands anymore, but it does accurately describe obvious classics like I See a Darkness.

But Lie Down in the Light is far more celebratory than baffled, which is a nice change of pace. I fully agree that women are a deeply confusing species, but the duets with Ashley Webber are a nice way to move past that heavy feeling of being sledgehammered by life and love. Continue reading

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