Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Faeries, History, God

I. Faeries

Writer's block keeps alive the pagan world of nymphs and faeries, of capricious powers beyond human control who can enrich or destroy human lives at a whim, who are immune to compassion yet can be sated somehow by mystical, ever-changing rituals. It–writer's block, I mean–exists alongside infinite other reminders of our world's irrationality and our human frailty. Control is an illusion. Those who think they wield it live in imminent danger of disillusionment, and the inevitable disaster which befalls them serves as a warning to us.

We are pitifully impotent to direct our lives.
It seemed that Ekstein's Rites of Spring needed accompaniment, and so I listened to my favorite three albums from 2008:

Fleet Foxes in Tucson


Sunday, March 6, 2011

At the Temporary Age of 24: A Late-Winter Mix

[Download it here. Some songs may offend those with tender ears. Make sure the playlist is ordered by album, not by artist. See the bottom of this post for a full track list to ensure yours is correctly ordered.]

This mix sprang out of a recently renewed obsession with Destroyer and my dissatisfaction with my 2010 playlist. I should clarify that I am not dissatisfied with the contents of the playlist–there are a handful of songs I've since heard that I would include, but no major revisions. Instead, the playlist failed to satisfy my biannual desire to make and share a mix ordered more meaningfully than by artist name.

I'm vain enough to point out a few of the small details I like about this mix. The Walt Whitman poem about a vigil before burial leads into the opening line of the following track: "It was back amongst the living..." (aside: the track that closes with Whitman opens with a quote by Jefferson Davis, supposedly said or written to his wife after his inauguration). I like, too, the echo of sounds between the end of the Flaming Lips track and the beginning of the Walkmen one, and also how "Paper Lace" and "You're Not in Love" provide the hinge on which the mix swings from clear to somewhat more distorted, slightly more sinister.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

"Beside You," Astral Weeks, Van Morrison

"Beside You" is not the track to pick to introduce anyone to Van Morrison or to Astral Weeks, even though because it captures the album's raw core. It's oddly paced, incomplete, with hitches and starts and sometimes mumbled, often incomprehensible lyrics, and throughout there's this sense that he's got more to put into the song than it can hold.

And right after that collapsing end come the clean, optimistic chords of "Sweet Thing," and that happy bass line, and the--what, chimes?--and then Van Mo sings something about "a merry way" and jumping hedges and drinking "the clear, clean water for to quench my thirst" and then something maybe about getting high.

The album ends in gut-wrenching fashion. "I know you're dyin', baby, and I know you know it too... I know you're dyin', and I know you know it too. Every time I see you, I just don't know what to do," he sings, and that last note and last line are anything but a final note or final line to anything, and you know the song, the album can't be over, because he's just started that damn song, and it's barely gotten off the ground, and he's probably got three more minutes to unpack it.

But then this mess of sounds lunges in, and that's it.