Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Jon Tells You What To Think, Part 5

Hey what do you know, it actually did take me another six months to write another entry in this series.

(see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

5: Pink Floyd - The Wall

It's long, it's pretentious and it's real fucking depressing, but for some reason even twenty years after it was released people are still listening to it. To be honest I don't listen to this album as a whole very often nowadays, and that's possibly because it has such a strong narrative so it's almost like reading a book. Nevertheless when I first bought it back when I fist left home it had quite a profound effect on me.

Even though the concept behind it is very indulgent and is based heavily on Roger Waters' private demons, it's themes of loneliness and alienation struck a collective chord with people all over the world, making this the favourite album to cry yourself to sleep to for depressed teenagers everywhere. Plus it has 'Comfortably Numb', rock on!

4: Coil - Amethyst Deceivers

In 1998 Coil released a series of four EPs, each related to a season and named for the equinox or solstice of that season. Summer Solstice and Spring Equinox weren't that great and Winter Solstice is pretty good but Autumn Equinox, a.k.a Amethyst Deceivers, is their most brilliant release.

It begins with 'Regel', a menacing, noisy invocation of Satan; what better way could there be to start off an album? The next track 'Rosa Decidua' is a slow, sadly beautiful string backed dialogue between the late Jhon Balance and Rose McDowell. This is followed by 'Switches', an ambient amusical series of clicks and whirs. The fourth track is one of my all time favourite songs, 'The Auto-Asphyxiating Heirophant'. Over an arhythmic binary drum beat (evoking the heart beat of a dying man) Balance grimly (but with a hint of mania) intones the story of a mystic who has reached enlightenment by reaching (or crossing) the border of death. “Is this the threshold? ... I stagger through the streets...” The title track ends the album with another gentle (but sinister) song, this time backed by an acoustic guitar playing in a very weird time signature.

This EP is short and sweet compared to their usual output, but it still manages to capture their many different styles at their best.

3: Radiohead - Kid A

Radiohead had already proven that they were one of the best bands on the planet when they released OK Computer, but they really peaked with their next album, Kid A. A lot of people who were fond of the more or less standard alt-rock of their earlier albums were unimpressed by the avant-garde and electronic flavour of this album, but anyone who appreciates, or at least tolerates, that kind of thing recognises this for the absolutely brilliant album it is.

The obvious highlight track is the relatively straight forward rock song 'How to Disappear Completely', which is in the running for the 'Most Gutwrenchingly Melancholy Song Ever Written Award', but absolutely every song from the abstract and difficult title track to the more accessible ones like 'Optimistic' and 'Morning Bell' is a masterpiece. Except of course for 'Treefingers' (too boring...) and 'Idioteque', although I appear to be the only Radiohead fan in the world who dislikes the latter.

After OK Computer Radiohead were set to be the Coldplay of seven years ago, the biggest band in the world except for U fucking 2, but instead of capitalising on that and writing accomplished but unadventurous pop music for the masses to keep them in fur coats until the end of their days they took a total left turn into a far less popular style and created what is easily one of the best albums of all time.

2: Tool - Lateralus

How could Tool possibly top Aenima? Before Lateralus was released I thought they must have perfected their style of dark, arty metal, and for a week or so after I bought it I continued to think so. Lateralus doesn't have the immediately engaging hooks of it's predecessor, and they've fully indulged their tendency toward long, elaborate songs. However this album is the very definition of a grower, and a lack of hooks is more likely an indication of a stoned songwriter than a bad song (for the very definition of this see the Deftones self titled album). Even five years on this album gets better and better with each listen.

The album's climax is the three song set 'Disposition', 'Reflection' and 'Triad', which build from a peaceful, almost ambient beginning in 'Disposition' to the hypnotic, dark and spacey ten minute epic 'Reflection', before finally erupting into a full on metal instrumental release for 'Triad'. Honestly, it'll melt your face.

They've lightened up a little since Aenima, Maynard's lyrics have had the anger toned down and the mysticism toned up. The music is a little less metal, and a little more prog rock. Tool's music was always technical and remote, and this album goes the furthest in that direction. With a lack of anger the music has moved from being riff based to involving more development of musical ideas, and the long songs lend themselves to emotional development as well, almost telling a story at times. The overall result is dark and epic, portraying the mystery and darkness of the human mind.

Tune in tomorrow to find out what the number one album of all time is....


Jungle Rhino said...

I bet it's not by Madonna!!

andrew brown said...

it had better not be kevin federlines "playin with fire"

Jon said...

Madonna and K-Fed are both good guesses but you'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out.

fairy princess said...

Was it "pet sounds" by the beach boys :)

andrew brown said...

is it the soundtrack to "gay niggers from outer space"?