Monday, November 22, 2010

My avowed distrust of the internet feels perennial, but likely its roots extend only five years ago. Special ire has been saved for its impact on music, which in hindsight should have been balanced more with discussion of the positives it has had. Anyhow, the topic today is distraction. Even a proto-Luddite as yours truly has problems maintaining focus when browsing. Every article, every website is merely an obstacle that prevents me from reading the next thing on my queue. It speaks in part to the banality of most of it - were it really deep and serious, I'd like to think I'd zone in and concentrate on it. But there are several instances when the material is, in objective terms, interesting, and yet is still met with apathy after a few minutes. I remember reading an article on the subject that mentioned the perennial sense of something better being around the corner. Why waste time reading/watching this nonsense when I'm missing out on what I really want to be doing? Of course it ultimately amounts to nought, and one feels permanently dissatisfied. I find this distraction most prominent in my morning news scan - I think the feeling is that there are so many things I want to read, and I need to cram them all into a half hour. On days like this, it feels horrible having gone through six or seven sites but having spent maybe a couple of minutes on each. Lack of time is cited as a common problem, but a better solution must be devoting time to what makes one really truly tick. A mild retraining of the brain is probably what is needed, but that's no easy feat. I would venture to suggest that another strategy, unpopular though it may be, is finding other ways of occupying time. As always, the intent is there, but the action is as ever solely missing.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Whatever meaning her face once carried, it has long since disintegrated over days & nights in the tropics. It once served as testament to a genuine feeling of affection, which sadly grew stronger as it became clearer that it would remain unrequited. Now when I am greeted by her vision, it is little more than a sad trick I attempt to pull on the cosmos, some confused attempt to convince it that I have not been left out of the art of love. Behold my heart!, I say: I too have known these feelings! But it is of course a lie. This image I conjure at my fancy is just an empty phantom, one desperate to unbind itself from my spell of summon. I hope that one day its wish is granted, for both of our sake's; but I first need to come to grips with the reasons for this malady. Among other things, I need to accept that my actions sometimes work as they are intended to, as with my strategy of isolationism.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Unsurprisingly for a band whose lead songwriter can safely claim spiritual lineage from the Dylan/Cohen family, for every of the Triffids' moments of obvious brilliance (see my previous song list) there is a often a late bloomer. I hadn't seriously pondered on any of these tracks, and one by one they revealed themselves in a moment of complete surprise. A pleasant experience: it's so easy to forget a crucial lyric that's just over the horizon, and when it arrives, the reaction is purely visceral. It's like the first listen all over again!

As for their whitewash of the last two couple of lists, the phenomenon is akin to what I experienced with the Doors, all those years ago. There's a superficial similarity in the singers' tenor, of course, and you might say in their general lyrical style. But there is something else that causes its complete domination of my musical landscape, and the thrilling feeling that this is the only music I ever want to listen to. (Time was that I couldn't imagine another band having as cohesive a catalogue as the Doors.) I suspect it's the songwriter's belief in the music, of every song feeling like another piece towards understanding a certain philosophy. And quite simply, some philosophies are more exciting than others. Not more valid, or honest, or mature. Just exciting. McComb isn't nearly as seriously infused with Byronic fury (a wonderful Xgau phrase) as Morrison, and comes across as less of a mystic and more a poetically inclined soul trying to balance the pain with pleasure. Ok, so maybe some philosophies are more personally incisive than others.

1) The Triffids, "Stolen Property". The most stylish send-off of its kind, but who is it really directed towards? Himself? If so, by implication others like him, leading one to conclude that this is really an accusatory song for the right kind of listener.

2) The Triffids, "A Trick of the Light". I don't doubt that there's a prurient undertone to the lyrics, but speculating on this is rather tiresome. My initial reading, which is the one I'm sticking by, is far more powerful anyhow. I imagine the middle-eight as being an accurate depiction of the mental anguish the recipient of the song must feel, her image being summoned so many times to fulfill some moment of shared affection that has long passed.

3) The Triffids, "Save What You Can". I think it's pragmatic rather than mournful that good times have passed. It's also quintessentially McComb in its combination of tired defeat and resolute faith. There's the right amount of pain to convince us he knows what he's talking about, and yet enough hope to convince us he knows the limits of what pain can teach you.