•November 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

James Ensor. The Intrigue (1890)

•November 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

In 1512 on this day, the first opportunity for public viewing of the Sistine Chapel was made. In 1949, Chim Seymour would record a very different public under the same ceiling.

•October 30, 2011 • Leave a Comment

•October 29, 2011 • Leave a Comment

http://vimeo.com/31133188

1. One of the biggest reasons why this is so weird (and this is only partially maintained in just linking it- in a vacuum, outside of it’s context in the record) is that it exists differently within that record, and that we have in listening a pre-established sense of what a musical album should be. In short, we’re not exactly expecting a little girl to come and talk to us about frogs in the middle of our epicly-celestial synth-pop record. Especially in the iTunes era, the idea of a record as a concept or a holistic journey is largely dead- this song would not stand alone as a single for instance. But within the larger understanding of the record (something Anthony Gonzalez is very concerned about..), the elative pressure points of Midnight City, etc, it’s seen as a rather oddly unique reprieve in a way that is startling to me in a myriad of ways. I think that doubtlessly, we as the listener are largely at first unsure of what to do with this. I argue that this something completely intentional and is a part of something much more.

2. “Raconte-moi une historie” translates from the French to roughly, “Tell me a story,” something that’s been uttered by children to parents for eons on a nightly basis. Here, the title of the song suggests that we the listener, are soliciting from the little girl a story instead, to which she obliges. This suggests immediately that there is a role reversal in terms of hierarchy from the traditionally patronizing parent to child relationship, and that instead we have something to learn from her. This is indicative of perhaps an index for Gonzalez’s entire paradigm in creating music. In the same interview above, he makes this penchant for the fantastic explicit in saying:

“.. [In working on the record] I had these weird memories about being a child. It made me melancholic, ..thinking about something I’ll never be able to redo. For me, this album is a tribute to those years of innocence where everything was perfect. I had the perfect childhood.”

As part of the record then, the song becomes an effort to take us back, to try and remember what it was that made us feel like the world was boundless, like everything was perfect.

3. If the audience for this record is probably consistent of his peers of 18-30 years, this would likely be written for a demographic that perhaps just as he, has similarly lost their innocence, that have fallen from the enchantment of the world, or the belief in fantasy held as a child. This is made fairly obvious (by extension) in his saying:

“For me, the imaginary world is so much more powerful than real life, and I don’t really want to be bothered by real life. I would rather live in an imaginary world forever.

The entire creation of this song I believe, stems from a confidence on the part of Gonzalez of the knowledge that this child knows something that we don’t or that we’ve lost as adults. Something that we could learn and something that he wants to reconstruct for us.

4. And what exactly is that? The song would suggest that it is a frog, an apparently elusive catalyst for a physical transformation of ourselves as humans into frogs if we are able to touch it. Our perception of the world changes (Red becomes blue and blue becomes red, etc.) and we become a part of a larger community of those like us, the world over, “The biggest group of friends the world has ever seen.”

I’ve understandably heard this compared to a psychedelic experience, but the more that I think about it, the more I find it a superficial reading of the song. On hearing it over three or four times, I could only first wonder if that wasn’t exactly what we all want- To merely touch something and have our world change for the better indefinitely. Every iPhone ever sold for instance, is in some way built on this I believe. As unrealistic as it seems though, I think there’s larger, similar desire on the part of us as humans to just touch something, to push a button that will change the world for the better, for all of humanity, universally. It’s utopian, and it’s exactly what the child believes exists. They are told of it’s reality by Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, and Mom and Dad.

We as adults find this “trippy” because of our accumulated cynicism about the world and the nature of reality as we know it. It is incongruous with the world that we know exists, and think therefore that the only way for this to be achieved is through a certain drug use. I found myself wondering on several occasions however, if a child would find anything out of the ordinary in listening to a story like this, or if his innate sense of wonder (still unmarred in his innocence) would make it seem perfectly natural to him for something like this to occur. It may not be infront of him, but it stands as firm somewhere in reality as fairy tales do, or as Santa Claus does.

5.As the story fades into a build, it is almost understood that Gonzalez’ brand of celestially crafted sonic “thrust” is the right entity to take over. Jumping fresh from our comprehension of the collective societal bliss just illustrated, the song weaves an ever-growing, swirling tapestry of synth and strings that serve as the auditory manifestation of the idea of what the world sounds like or feels like through our new, glassy eyes.

And so, in four minutes we as adults are presented with a question of “why”. I think that the song asks us to embark on a personal journey backward to determine when and for what reason we one day came to own the idea that the world was circumscribed and that not everything was possible. It takes us on an experiential field trip through memory into the world of children’s fantasy, the world that we likely knew as children ourselves. We do this perhaps because the song is crafted to reinvigorate a universal human desire as adults to return to the life of the child, and to re-enchant the world that we live in now.  I am of the belief that this is done within the song by showing us aurally exactly the opposite of the circumscribed, anemic reality that we have succumbed to since. Every societal revolution is based to some degree upon equality, coalescence, even friendship. Just as the utopian dream painted for us here longs for a harmonious revolution of the world literally transformed, the song shows us a door now to a personal one, one based on much the same to reverse the anemic venom of accumulated adulthood, harshness of life, and the reality that Gonzalez rejects.

•October 25, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I think to dance is a inherent human impulse. Maybe one unhealthy to deny.

•October 25, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Recently I’ve been fixated, consumed with the life after this year. The fact that I truly cannot envision what this looks like with any certainty makes it feel like I’m being pushed steadily, at a constant rate toward a cliff or a vast abyss containing what feels like either the most exhilarating or the most incredibly lonely, desolate period of my life.

 

How do I paralyze fear rather than it, me?

•October 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Charles Guthrie http://charlesguthrie.net/