Saturday, May 26, 2007

Native tongue

Image: Naroki

Passage to India - The Museum Pieces

"Passage to India" is a song about tropical climates, dreamt from a cold one. It's hot parts filtered through Forster, mediated by The Year of Living Dangerously and The Sheltering Sky. A well-intentioned Orientalist exercise, assembled from sepia photographs and 19th century travelogues. And yet this thing that's so obviously inauthentic, with its hot-coal organ, its curlicued guitar lines, its swollen piano runs,
is also warm and thick and real. You can run your hands through its muggy middle if you splay your fingers wide and take your very slow time.

I've liked the The Museum Pieces' music for a while, but it wasn't readily available. Now the album
Philadelphia has been added to eMusic and is recommended.

The Museum Pieces' Myspace.

Moon Over Goldsboro - The Mountain Goats

Many of John Darnielle's most famous songs are about Going To some place -- Maryland, Utrecht, Bogota, Reykjavik. They're snapshots, shuffled set pieces, flash fictions. And they have uneasy charm and uncanny magic and some of them are among my favorite songs ever (see: "Going to Georgia" and "Going to Scotland"). But they don't
pretend to explain what's it's like to long-live a place's mundane everyday -- its grid of streets, its lonely shops and service stations, its screaming high school football games and barking dogs, the greeny smell of a river that runs through the night air and how the moon hovers. "Moon Over Goldsboro" from last year's Get Lonely (Amazon, eMusic) isn't about going to but staying put; it's the sound of mellowed habitation in an east-to-central North Carolina town. Darnielle doesn't chip at his guitar, pick-to-block-of-ice style, as he used to. Here, it's all gentle strum and the melancholy drift of strings. But even as he sings "Empty lot the station faces/Will probably be there forever," impermanence is the most salient fact of the song. The sleeping woman in the small house that the narrator returns to at the end of a long walk is now a mirage. These days he always wakes up alone.

The Mountain Goats' website.

And: Emotional Karaoke is a very good, intensely personal new blog devoted to the songs of The Mountain Goats.


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