Monday, July 6, 2009

where is waged the daily strife.

wow, thanks for all those cat name suggestions, gentle blog readers.
I'm being sarcastic. As usual I can only count on Asa for things I ask for on the Internet.
You want to know what i decided to name him? I'll tell you on Friday so you keep reading. HA.

ok. so now i shall commence with the album recommendation project previously scheduled for last week.

The first album of this quintet of recommendations is

John Vanderslice's Cellar Door.

As a *vague airquotes* "film scholar* (and, let me qualify that: by scholar, I mean, master's degree, current PhD student, once had prestigious fellowship to go overseas and do something with film, forthcoming non-blog publications, the kind that smell gloriously of bookbinding glue, the kind you only put on your CV, cuz you sure don't get paid, please, oh please for a moment avert your eyes to the TipJar; by vague I mean: well who cares), I guess I just have an affinity for narrative, cinematic music.


I bought this album after seeing JV open for the Mountain Goats in Florida in 2004. At the time, I was heavily involved in reading apocalyptic things about peak oil, Katherine Harris was my representative, and I watched my country re-elect George W. Bush (Dear America: Why?). The song "Pale Horse" spoke to me in a way that nothing else really had before, and when I voted for the first time, I wrote in John Darnielle and John Vanderslice as president & vice president, respectively; I held my breath and waited for the apocalypse. I moved to Europe a few months later.

I still don't trust Diebold.

Anyway anyway:

What I liked about it (Cellar Door, I mean, wasn't that the subject of this post?) was that it was more than a soundtrack and more than fan fiction. The tracks on "Cellar Door" are translations, transliterations, interpretations and workings-with of filmic texts ("and much, much more!"). Although the best thing about it is that it's elliptical and open-ended, Cellar Door features songs that are loosely about Wild Strawberries, Mulholland Drive, Requiem for a Dream (the book or the movie? I do not know, but I hope it's the movie; I really hated that book), Percy Bysshe Shelley's "The Mask of Anarchy" and others I'm probably too much of a philistine to know. Or others that are more subtle and can refer to any one of several texts.

The result is a hypertextual, nodal album that situates itself within and between all of these texts.

The entire album, as I interpret it, is about the act of translating and working with one text to produce another. As I see it, this is the paradox of creation in the Modern and postmodern ages (I don't know why I capitalize Modern but not postmodern, either). Have we reached a critical mass of creation? Is there nothing left to create but creations about creation (oh god, does that explain fanfiction) ? Is that what all creation is anyway? A spinning off of inspiration, but now we are only inspired by an ever-growing array of other texts?

Anyway. Cellar freaking Door, guys. John Vanderslice really is the friendliest guy in the music industry, not that I know that many guys in the music industry.

Cellar Door!

Plus, it just has some fucking good beats. I Recommend it to you!

1 comment:

  1. ooh, good one. i completely agree with you on this album; i first discovered jv on that very same tour, and cellar door was my first jv album, purchased from the merch table that evening, along with time travel is lonely.

    i have to say that i agree completely with your assessment of the album. in fact, i had once endeavored to figure out what exactly each song was alluding to, beyond the ones that you already listed (i had/have a vague idea that the entire thing is an homage to films, and that even pale horse may have a cinema analog beyond the shelley poem. and yes, that would mean that when it hits my blood is an adaptation of aronofsky's film and not selby's novel). i had some ideas on some of them, but i've since forgotten.

    anyway, well done!


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