Thursday, April 26, 2007


My last book read was David Mitchell's Black Swan Green, which I completed whilst the Gadflies were on vacation a few weeks ago. Mitchell comes highly recommended from mtg these days, and BSG is certainly one of the best books I've read in quite a while. mtg, as everyone now knows, is a teacher and scholar of English, and her recommendation of this book came with a heavy emphasis on the brilliance of the author's use of language, which she mentioned roughly every other second while she was reading it.

I read the entire book and it did not once strike me that the language was beautiful. What struck me was that the book was awesome. All I noticed about the language it was written in was that it matched the narrator (who is a 13-year-old boy growing up in England in the early 80's). Anyway, I wasn't reading the language, I was reading the book.

These days I'm listening to the Shins' new album. It's brilliant--but much the way mtg reads a book through the language, I'm not really listening to the songs. I'm listening to the instrumentation: Fender panned right doubled with a synthesized marimba playing a simple scale, the bleed of the snare across drum mics, vocals with a vocoder effect, Leslie wheel and heavy compression on another guitar (Gibson?) doing arpeggios panned left, etc. In the same way that one can't look at a printed word without, microseconds later, reading it, and microseconds after that having Wernicke's Area translate it into meaning, I can't just hear a song as a song anymore. I miss this sometimes.

I've started going back and remixing the album I did in the month of February, and the first track appears at the top of the list to the left. For the n of you who end up hearing both versions (where n is an integer approximately equal to 4), you'll probably notice that the crunchy guitar sound has been replaced by a sort of dry echoy guitar, kind of an old-timey sound (it's spring reverb for those of you...uh...never mind. It's spring reverb, Sam), and that you can hear the vocals better. To me it sounds like a completely different song, except that to me it didn't really ever sound like a song at all, just a collection of instruments playing. I kind of have to take it on faith that there's a song in there.

Next: More "songs"!

1 comment:

Lilita said...

I just have to say that this sentence: "Anyway, I wasn't reading the language, I was reading the book," absolutely convulsed me with laughter. There were tears.