“You Don’t Know Jesus” (Mogwai)

Eight-minute repetition of same chord progression, but it’s the embellishments that count: chorused-out church bell chimes at end, notes picked behind the guitar’s bridge or nut, weak crescendos that never remain erect. Tornadic phased feedback at middle and end refute all of these sonic gimmicks by noting the effected-ness of the fundamental—the limit of the “What would Jesus do?” question. Quadruple-mediation (voice-text-reading-incorporation) outmoded; the fundamental becomes that which we can know through a profession of incomplete knowing, when the “no” is central to “know.”


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“Voyage” (Family)

Ah, the eternal questions: what is “truth,” “and where do I look for proof?” More specifically, do the phenomena of time and color exist in the world, or only inside of me?  It is my “whereabouts” that are at stake as I sail along on this strange voyage called life. It appears that I cannot find my bearings without another: “who do I ask and what do I say?” But there’s no great guru waiting on a hilltop. Instead, there’s the problem of her truth and his truth and my truth. Listen closely: each time the trax scales up toward “truth” the tape is slowed down, torn, and cut off. We’re on the far side of knowing, it seems, which leaves us in a seesawing, group jam that hints at both a unified cosmos and chaos. But, importantly, neither here nor there.


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“What Does the Fox Say?” (Ylvis)

In 1965, Fisher-Price created See ‘n Say, a pie-shaped toy divided into twelve wedges, and each with an image of an animal. Using the center pointer, you chose your animal, and pulled the string.  You then heard the sound, such as: “The cow says, ‘Moo’.” Choices included sheep, dog, duck, frog, horse, coyote, rooster, pig, cow, bird, cat, and turkey. But no fox. Add just one more pie wedge and Fisher-Price might have included the fox. But if the fox had been included, then we’d all be wondering about the hedgehog, the tapir, and the orangutan. OK, no problem: let’s add three more wedges. Yet the best estimates today are that there are over 1,500,000 animal species on this planet, and no toy company could make the pie big enough or the wedges small enough to account for such diversity. But perhaps we could throw it all onto a computer, giving the child access to every sound of every creature. Now, though, we’ve made it completely useless to a two-year old. Thus, in order for the child to learn to remember a certain number of animal sounds, it has to begin by “forgetting” the rest. We might say that there must always be a “fox,” operating as a black hole and aiding memory. Ylvis isn’t trying to overcome an oversight or omission in the multicultural woods; and that’s why, when the singers claim to speak for this “fox,” they sound just like a Skrillex break.


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