quinta-feira, 10 de julho de 2014

Count my stars, let them shine

 I have been through many phases in which I become obsessed with a specific band/group or an album, or even an EP. Lately, I've been swinging between shoegaze and post-punk, but mostly shoegaze, as it is always.
Although the following band doesn't quite fit either the label of shoegaze or dream pop, this being because they have their own special, unique environment, they are often put in the "shoegaze/dream pop" group. This specific band is Mazzy Star, one that I've been familiar with for a few years now, listening to their three albums occasionally, from now and then, yet they became one of my most appreciated band that I listen to often now.
Why, you might ask (not really, I imagine)? I cannot tell you. Maybe I randomly chose them as a soundtrack to my study sessions in the last few months, since I have had exams until late June, and I rediscovered their own value and the little, precious treasure that is Hope Sandoval's voice. They are rarely pointed out as one person's favourite top bands, they are most likely that one really good band that doesn't leave that status, I guess.
Since I cannot really decide whether I should approach "She Hangs Brightly", "So Tonight I Might See" or "Among My Swan", I think I should make an essay on their sound and vibe, although it might be a much too vague "review", that is, if you can still call it a review.
Their debut album, released in 1990, probably the very beggining of shoegaze, takes a shape more raw, with Hope almost assuming a femme fatale role in her vocals, and the guitars, well, balancing and struggling between delicate and fierce sounds, having yet a tendency to weigh more on the wild, fierce side. I think Mazzy Star has mantained a sonority that swings from shyness and delicacy to sensuality and intensity. In this album they still adopt a very timid "behaviour". Still, the last songs from the album had a "darker" side to it, such as "Taste of Blood" or "That Highway".
And then, the 1993 album, "So Tonight I Might See" opens up with the ultimate enigmatic love song "Fade Into You". And I didn't choose enigmatic randomly, because this is the keyword to the rest of the album, in which you notice a withdrawn attitude, and by this I mean, a more impersonal type of sound, maybe taking the album to a higher level. I find this album a little bit more ethereal and abstract compared to "She Hangs Brightly" because they group had matured by then. They were seeking, probably, a deeper type of sonority, perhaps focusing really in music and not so much on expressing yourself directly and in a sort of "hot-headed" way.
Lastly, "Among My Swan" is probably my favourite album, and since it is my favourite album it is the most difficult one to talk about, to fully express my feelings and thoughts towards it, although I love them all, but it has the right amount of shyness and sensuality that I have mentioned earlier. Hope Sandoval and David Roback know exactly what they are doing. The mixture of folk, dream pop and those noisy yet seductive shoegaze guitars is genius and really well put together. Everything is exactly as it should be. Keeping always a very melancholic atmosphere, yet going from narratives to first person lyrics, the kind of music you'd love to listen to on a rainy day, yet it would also fit in a summer sunny day. As I said before, it is the most difficult album for me to talk about because it is heavy with meaning to me and I feel like it is very very similar to "So Tonight I Might See", yet it takes a much more brooding character to it.

sexta-feira, 14 de março de 2014

Secrets of the Beehive

     This album has been introduced to me a few months ago yet I  only got interested enough to listen to it a month ago or so. I remember perfectly it was an afternoon in which, for some reason, David Sylvian came up to my mind and so I decided I should give a chance to his 1987 album, one that many consider his masterpiece.

     After listening to the first time, I immediately fell in love. I found September a very soothing song, that recalled to me my very own relationship with my former boyfriend: two people sitting in a café sipping their own drinks in a very melancholic and romantic environment, envolved and protected from the outside world by their own bubble of love. It is a shame that it's such a small track, yet very powerful too. The first piano notes slide into your ears and you cannot press "pause" or "stop". I'm forced to confess I shed a few tears as I listened to "September". Anyway, it is the introduction to a very simple, modest, beautiful, soulful album yet ambitious in its own way.
    The following track is "The Boy With The Gun" that tells the story of young man that makes justice by his own hands, along with some beautiful melodies and that wonderful mellow David Sylvian voice. Although it is not the most dramatic song in the album, it has a lot of drama in the lyrics and the story behind it. Telling a moving story of a young boy damaged by his own childhood, it is one of the highlights of the album.
   In a spiritual ambient, either religious, pagan or merely existential, Sylvian gathers songs such as "Maria",  having a tense yet numb atmosphere created by the instruments, evoking a mysterious world, along with The Devil's Own, a song describing a tempestuous night time, the midnight hour in which many spells are cast and the despair of heartbreak inbetween sheets and blank nights."Orpheus", taking profit of the mythological poet that lost his love and his reason of being in a much more existential and philosophical way, struggling against dilemmas and life's adversities, yet keeping always resilient towards loss and grief.
    Both When Poets Dreamed of Angels and Waterfront are similar to Orpheus because of the sense of tormented souls present in both lyrics and melodies, one mentioning violence against women, other mentioning young lost boys among the vast challenges of life and its difficulties.
   David Sylvian always takes benefit on stories that he begins to write down on his own lyrics and adds his own personal life shaping, approaching subjects such as grief, uncertainty in life while making decisions, heartache, and the angst of thinking too much. The standard, yet beautiful, angst and unrest of a poet's mind, or at least a sensitive reader. That is exactly what I love about Sylvian, and you can tell especially on this album, where you have this whole world of dreams and stories of other people you can get lost in and feel their ache, their sorrow, their worries, yet you awaken to your own life and conscienceness and there you are again, confronting your personal issues, which happens all the time with me.
 Sylvian's mind is full of beautiful imagery and thoughts, and I can tell by his music, because he was very different with Japan, and I guess being solo gave him the space he needed to be himself, to be mature in terms of sonority and lyrics.
   The tranquility I feel while listening to "Let The Happiness In" is incredible. It's a song that really is the opposite of all of the other ones. It's about being carefree and not letting yourself be attached to obstacles that won't let you be truly happy or at least, in peace. The tuba in it gives it a very soothing and calm touch, and when I think about the lyrics themselves, the message that is clarified is to let go of all that hurts you or stops you from being at peace.
  The last track, which is definitely one of my favourite ones, is Promise (The Cult of Eurydice). I must say I love the fact that David Sylvian mentions greek mythology, one of my favourite subjects, in this album. Eurydice was the loved one of Orpheus, that died and so the "promise" would be the return of Orpheus to get her back from the shadows. Yet they are apart forever, since she has perished and he didn't manage to fulfill Hades' agreement of not looking behind to check if she was there, so she stays all alone for the rest of his life. The guitar is hauntingly beautiful, as well as Sylvian's deep and plangent voice that fits in perfectly. The scenery of a rosary in her hands as she kneels down in the rain, her tears camouflaged by the rain, praying fervently for his return in the midnight hour, as she fears her loneliness.