“Cliffs of Dover” (Eric Johnson)

The celebration of instrumental technique and the materiality of militaristic force to reinscribe the flexible (chalky, murder outline-like) contours of the nation. Driving backbeat propels dazzling arpeggios, intermittent two-hand tapping and, at end, the soaring higher octave reprise of chorus riff. Patriotism, or the consolidation of enforced populations, is only a byproduct of the seduction of community (through self-generation). D-days, then, are inherently premeditated due to continual need for national unity. Loving nature.


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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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