when you hit a diamond
Wednesday, October 19 2005
Shopping! I went shopping today, buying scads more compact fluorescent bulbs and another rubber hose to replace a garden hose I'm still using in the outside part of the solar project. Ultimately these hoses will need insulation and protection from wind-driven snow, though I'm not sure how best to encase them. The best option so far seems to be a section of semi-flexible aluminum dryer vent pipe, perhaps four inches in diameter (to accommodate two insulated hoses and a control wire).
I spent most of the day doing to the northwest pillar what I'd done yesterday to the northeast pillar. Everything was a lot easier because I'd been through it before. I didn't, for example, attempt to modify a joist hanger using my welding kit.
I'd been listening to Indie Pop Rocks on SOMA FM, one of the streaming indie rock stations available through either WinAmp or iTunes. But the music just wasn't doing anything for me. It's been good in the past, but we must be going through a dry spell when it comes to their playlist, which these days is full of formulaic tunes unwilling to take any risks. So I switched to listening to 3WK, which isn't just indie, it's like totally underground. If those troglodytic musicians were to come out of their burrows they'd immediately die of sun poisoning.
Mind you, all of this stuff is far too obscure to be heard on conventional broadcast radio, but there's obscure and then there's utterly unknown. It's not all great, but most of it is perfectly enjoyable. And when you hit a diamond sometimes it sparkles like nothing you've ever heard before. That was the feeling I had when I heard a song called "Riddle" by a band called Lake Trout. It's hard to say what kind of music it is exactly because it's such a well-seasoned mix of things including: Electronica, White Boy Soul, NuMetal, Hip Hop, Classical, Ambient, and World Music. The song starts out with a sample of what sounds like a string section from an early movie, soon joined by an angelic piano and then a killer rhythm and bass section overlain with heavy, crunchy rhythm guitars. Then, 26 seconds into the song comes the singer's voice, white boy funk all the way, but here applied to the song like the plaintive wail of a muezzin, a comparison I can now make with confidence.
Little bits, my fortune's on my lips
Redded bliss you can't argue with this
Enter guy number one follow spies just react(??)
Enter guy number three, I know if I try
That could be me.
It's just that I don't have the time to, see?
After these mysterious lyrical points are made it's time, 1:01.5 into the song, for a very strange interplay of loud but clean guitar chords with slightly quieter, short, simple, distorted guitar solos. Then at 1:17 it's time for some more lyrics:
I've got the gift
If I work hard at it
That's the myth
Am I really cut out for this?
People whisper in my ear
Live fast, it'll make your career
People pointing to the sky
Say, "Don't you wanna live when the others die?"
It's 1:45 into the song and time for that weird clean/distorted guitar interplay, this time joined the second time through by some unintelligible lyrics and then the chorus, which isn't the best:
It's not the game that I thought it would be (three times)
It looks so good and I want it for me.
Now it's 2:12 and time for more low-key movie music strings with stripped-down drumming, suddenly joined at 2:18 by bass as the whole thing takes a turn for the creepily atonal and the singer sings a sort of bridge:
I've heard so many things
The thing to do is not believe.
At 2:33 it becomes somehow more atonal and the bridge is repeated, leading to a song crisis where everything is beaten down to zero, ending with a single lone fuzzy guitar chord at 2:50. Then the song puts itself back together and goes back to the chorus at 3:10, soon joined by atonal elements and a reprise of a few other things we've heard.The song is much more dynamically complicated than this second-by-second account can relate. It's hard to convey how perfectly the samples are switched in and out, sometimes allowed to overlap dissonantly like the sound of two simultaneous radio stations. All sorts of wildly improbably dynamic contrasts are made, sometimes building to unpredictable heights and then deftly reigned in.
After hearing this song, I was curious what other things Lake Trout might be capable of, so I downloaded a bunch of their music from the Gnutella network. Strangely, though, none of their other stuff was anywhere near this interesting, and at first I wondered if perhaps there might be two different bands named Lake Trout. For the most part their songs sounded like those of a talented but unremarkable white boy funk band, only rarely reaching as far as, say, Incubus or the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Still, I'd like to hear more of their stuff. "Riddle" is so exceptional that it gives me the feeling we'll be hearing a lot more good stuff from this band in the future.
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