“Invisible Sun” (The Police)

Unusually downtempo, with descending melody line threatening to fall into the abyss. It mimics a lyric rich in negative theological implications: absent Sol means that all demands by the dominated are phrased like Bartleby might (“I don’t want….”). Crucially, only a liquidation of man, made in God’s image, will suffice: “they’re only going to change this place/By killing everybody in the human race.”


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“Eruption” (Van Halen)

The solo that launched a thousand (hair) bands, it’s also a mythologized piece used to legitimize rock guitar playing more generally. But even nine-year olds are getting in on the act, and kids can play this trax with startling proficiency. Maybe all of this this is a human version of Moore’s Law dealing with human performance. The trax is mainly about technique, with the whammy-bar dives and two-handed tapping coalescing in what’s supposed to be a new form. We shouldn’t forget Steve Hackett’s tapping from Genesis or Eddie Cochran’s tremolo strategies, though. Discussions of Eddie Van Halen’s early classical training occludes this indebtedness, and popular texts instead redirect toward the trax’s strategic allusions in order to elevate the sonic repurposing. Also important are the effects used, including echo and phaser. Even so, this prosthetic humanness is a helpful lesson. Innovation as a recursive structure, and newness as a function of articulation (not a progressive temporality). All the rest, including Moore’s Law: profit motive.



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