Typing as I hear it come out the speakers in front of me, a few notes so far repeating, another line repeating, getting louder: what you'd expect if you've ever heard this band. Starts slow and builds, repetitious, churnful, anxious, ultra-humorless music for tundra construction. Cover art shows close-up of tubular bombs falling from jet over farmland. Or engines falling off. But they're bombs: back cover connects dots from four entertainment conglomerates through network of subsidiaries/partners (e.g., Vivendi Universal to This to That to Lockheed-Martin, suppliers of cruise missiles to AOL, manufacturer of army tires & vibration mounts for fighter jets to BMG, developers of head-mounted display systems & combat simulators to Sony): Yanqui U.X.O, the spider in the center . . . Now a softer guitar arpeggio, repeating: everything repeats, & that's what god's pee does best, repetitive cascade-ascension theme & variation music for wipperflapper wingsoaring: revolutions. It stays soft & hits one note, diverting attention from something coming up behind it, repeating, gaining heat, fanning out with distorted orchestration, repeating, louder now with cymbal swooshes, decaying to a single string under bow. Inner flashlight investigatory violin soundsweep, tick-tocking guitar notes & stalactite dripping Black Death cave music: speed of time, history sped up, the plague-constant through atrocious centuries; it's that dramatic: armed forces riding out on ominous percussion, louder chugga-chugga drumming, sonic youth-style casting dank-sweeping nets, drum rolls, full-on percussion for once, a mess of swarming orchestra: the guitars, the violins, the drums; the drums now rampaging tom-tom rolls: there is no way to think of anything other than deployment -- soundtrack for otherworldly fight, not an atari sortie on the TV, not something done with video displays. & then silence, a guitar's clarity, a snare roll, marching taps, more clear sound calling out with strings responding, the apres-battle sweep, the jets asleep, still airborne, beyond the target, already the aftermath. This is war music -- The Carmina Burana (think Conan The Barbarian battle-scene soundtrack) for the No Logo set: a fix-it-all surge of swarthy do-gooders armed with instruments. But then there's another sweep into battle again, sonic moore/renaldo drumsticks on guitar strings, & more orchestration in the foreground, under the skin, where this music asserts itself best, the revolution repetitions wearing away at the skin, inserted beneath the skin, lifting the skin, vertically tearing the skin up and away, then it ends: a guitar's screechy bagpipe, three notes. End of track one.
Track two: underwater ripply sound, radar blips, water caverns, pulsing ahead, cold water, black-blue echoes in northern sea. Everything's always in tune, but a bass note flipped out oddly, physics-effected, dopplered, shifted away from the straightaway togetherness of all this, & it's all still underwater, with violin's stray light through walls of what's down there, every three seconds the next note of the descent, not repeating this time, descending yowls, hushed wraith hawks; no question this is cemeterial (if that's a word), not funereal, since no suggestion of anything but distance, removed, mournful, in-immediate; each note: low mechanical rowing of cinematic submarine, a metal whale, a helicopter shark with noselight focused on something up ahead, repetition, repetition, revolution, and it's over.
Track three starts with simple guitar arpeggio to the left, distorted, minor-keyed, a waltz, vibrato echoes from the side, tiny flicked strings dead center, yawns across the strings sweep through it, all of it repeating low along the ground, sliding, there's rhythm to this one, waltzing, from knee to elbow to chin, crawling movement of electricity ants, violins come in over top approaching the waltzing crawl sliding toward something ahead and there's the target, the drums now, rolling superfast, suddenly full orchestra flanging, sweeps, and wherever the crawling was waltzing to it's getting the shit beat out of it for a minute: the drums poured down, drenched it all, & now here's another clattering bucketful, but more in time with the waltz, in synch, and here's a theramin uprush to ambulance siren, police siren, some sort of siren, the three notes fading as the next comes in, everything's uphill & the sound uses the siren notes for levers to pull itself up & now it's all crush & crush & quick drummer pattern & pressing ahead, no more waltz, or if so it's rolling ahead, fading out & now falling, orchestrated & hornful, a beating drum. Just that, tribal, European old style, the bald giant atop the hill, the ogre, the fe fi fo fum, the four notes on which heads swing, dark-&-ready music to brood about how you no longer, how your hair's fly-eaten, & there's some light, then it's lowered, & lowered again (high horns) then low horns in there too & now it's like the stragglers coming in, wounded, horn lights hit on the most mangled, then slip off to the battered hordes a-coming, & it's aftermath music for the night before the next invasion: the pawn's thoughts while trying to dead-dog sleep on the ground, willing sleep, letting hope flashes & kind faces come through until there's just hope & what'll come. The heart skips & beats, willing & ready, there's no way to see this other than lying on the ground, waiting for the night to end, half-awake and preparing for the next day, the light, & then there's the thoughts that come with expecting: foreseeing the memory of the next day, & the heart skips louder, beating it out like that, steady & louder, as the thoughts stream across everything, guitar & orchestra & horns & everything that could be there the night before the whatever's there in front: it's a silver disc, all these sounds: all asleep, open air, & the dreams coming, & the day coming, & miles off the sound coming, & the way this will come to life in the morning as it does as everyone dreams: night flies, fighter jets, & then everyone wakes, stands, gathers, & they're off: shit -- there must be horses, stallions, burned rune-stamped hides, everyone's off for it, firehands they hold up, running toward the horizonfire, & they run off, swinging chains of hornet stingers, & it subsides just as they reach the darkness, like fireflies on the edge of a field, shimmering quivering metal sticks wind-vibrating & they're hollow (19 minutes into track three) & there's the next movement, maybe the morning, & there's no rushing off, shaking the blades of the night from the eyes of the skull, rubbery legs, & then there's nothing there but the end of it.
Track four: a key hit, single note swoops, gamelan tinks, tones, regular than irregular, & that's all so far (minute twenty into it): tones, tinks, monasterial haunt sound, electric quiver chime taps, guitar delay cracked clap, pressing on pressing off pressing on pressing off the guitar strings, tapping titters pops then there's much more disco drumbeat, hi-hatting, orchestrating heartlines, here comes everybody, quietly, calexican reverb from the sides & disappearing, hi-hat quizzlering, steps up, here's everyone, drumstriking the strings, bolting, & there's the western reverberation again, drying out the wasteland, the orchestral chase, the churn and crank of driving music extraordinary, the peaks and acceleration, the step step step step shuffle and step step step step shuffle, burning fields streaking siderail honks, & there's that passing beneath, no more tip tap, now violin lines almost too clean & we know we're going there (up) & it's always there, & there it goes, music for inclining, walls of distortion wake on either side, the drums beating, headless tracers ahead, then it's all together & everyone going for it: crunching, with each crunch there's a backslap, slight, every note slipping back on itself as it decays, & now it's straight, delayed guitar jingle-binking, jet exhalations, & (finally) clarity, jumped the orchestral walls, clear lines of guitar & bass tangling, joyful & primaveral, but with enough wounds to not quite make it out from under the fade out, tape noise feedback with heavy reverb underwater chinkle guitar: this is music for heavy ether, jets not propulsed but hanging models suspended from a teenager's ceiling, plastic to metal and sparkfire alive in bellies, the decals transforming to chipped paint, pilotless, & there's no pilot to any of this godspeed, no one to point to but now the engines gurgle, the model spins, the clear wire tacked to the ceiling, the strings dissolve & menacing but in a teenager's miracle, & the plane just floats there: all metal & paint & fires from the back and spins, bedroom directionless, its dark & its december & there must be the modelmaker in the bed, watching the plane spin, lit, shuddering, waiting for the door to open or a window to break & it waits like a satellite dish spinning, looking for an open transmission, & the form in the bed rises & stands beneath the spinning model, & it's a halo, sending down a curtain of some glowbound electrochemical sheen around: the model will lower itself through the skin, tingle through the modelmaker's ear & eyes & nostrils & modelmaker sits and plane still a foot off the ceiling, ropes of light spinning down encircling modelmaker on the rug below, three tones, & there's the two feet to consider & the nose just in sight and it looks like nothing's happening until it starts, & it's human & humane & present & warm & it's ok, there are electroradiosquaks & tortoise chords, distorted blips, & all this has a chance now: there's clarity to the air, the streetlights have come on & are making it through the drapes.
Track five starts with a mirage, humidity music, ice on the horizon, frozen desert, freezer burn, rust on hinges, low distant wall of sound, closer opening and closing, swinging in the space between things, & then bass notes, three bass guitars, cymbal splashes pushing & pulling between it all with hard drummering flutter & wahhed-out shimmerripping guitar, all of it coming to a kind of chant, that's undercut, stomach punched & smoothly convulsive, starting at the center then feathering peripherally where it's picked up & pulled taut & metallic, all smeared out & once it's flat it's peppered apart, & there's chant & opening scars & track meet & popping thrust sprinting vapor trailing windshafts & racing & then there's the after-speed, the off-ground step, the quieter leap, & then it hits land again & running faster, whirling ahead, teeth spark, eyes, scalp torn off, engine dissolves heart into veins into sea, sliding across belly all the way out past the edge ice & into the no-splash below; a corkscrew fall, crystallized, ffaahhwwhhip into nothing: that's it.
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horrors of war by neal pollack