The Patch

March 30, 2007

Friday 30th March – When Records Matter

Filed under: Music & Film — Free Edinburgh Podcast @ 12:08 am

“QUICK, GET THE GUNS!!!” screamed Hawthorn.

Jake heard the command, but he did not seem to take it in.  His head was a mess, his eyes a blur.  What was going on?

‘”Sorry sir, what did you say?”

“I said get the fucking guns you waste of God given space!!  What is wrong with you soldier?”

Jake understood this time.  It was time to kill.

I’ve just spent the last hour browsing entries in my My Space deciding what article to pick for today’s Patch entry.  I settle on what you see below.  I wrote it in October 2006.  It was all very melodramatic.  It still is.  A lot has changed since then though.  I now can’t bear to listen to a note of this record.  It is also the 3rd greatest record I have ever been lucky enough to listen to.

“Great music can sometimes have that transcedent effect of crossing over merely something enjoyable to listen to, to becoming something more human, both guiding and helping the listener, eventually achieving an essential status in their lives.  These records are thier friends, their mentors, that helping hand through a troubled time, that instruction manual on how to get through life.  Whether this may be through powerful lyrics, the emotional inspiration of the music, or it just being in the right place at the right time is all subjective to each record and situation.  And some people say music doesn’t matter – tossers.

Neutral Milk Hotel – In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

First listened to – March 2006
Realisation of importance – Aug/Sep 2006

At first I did not understand the high regard this record was held in.  10/10 from Pitchfork, the Sgt Pepper’s of her generation according to Amanada Palmer, numerous plaudits from the indie elite and a top 30 placing in Rate Your Music all boded extremely well.  But there was a lucklustre feeling in my heart after I first heard Mangum’s opus.  Iffy production, impenetrable lyrics and a personaly desire for something more epic and orchestral in my life at that time meant this record was not touched for some time.

Until I got sent a lovely little mix tape from the equally lovely Nadia on which were two songs by Neutral Milk Hotel – the eponymous delight that is ‘In The Aeroplane Over The Sea’ and ‘Holland 1945’.  The latter’s bombastic pop reawakened a desire to see what I was missing from the album itself.

This co-incided with quite possibly the most wretched few weeks of my existence.  A time when I realised just how selfish, despicable and grotesque some humans can be, their thoughts containing only motives to fulfill their own desires and whims.  I would expand, but I don’t want to as this is all still painfully fresh in the memory and I fear I may break down and would no longer be able to form words. And wouldn’t that just be a travesty for us all?  Bleh.

Anyway, this time also saw the emergence in my mind of the realisation that everything in my life was not going according to plan.  My job was accursed and unwanted – yet was the only one I could possibly hope to aspire to; my potentially pleasant living plans were dashed, forcing my life to be put on holf for another year; I was losing what little friends I had left; my ambitions were flawed and unattainable.  And what’s more, I discovered that in all reality I could only live my life as I would undoubtedly die.  My body would remain untouched, my mind unfulfilled and my flesh undesired as my ineptitude and ugliness became only too apparent.  Any possible feelings resembling any such disastrous business of love became hopelessly redundant.

And whether by all this darkness or a more general maturity in thought, I came to constantly play (and subsequently adore) this record, letting Mangum’s dark fairytales wash over my wounds and letting their beautifully sorrowful meanings seep in and reveal their secrets.  There was a connection with the awkward ‘Two Headed Boy‘, the pent up desire and frustration of ‘Oh Comely’, the harsh family times and escape into fantasy of ‘The King of Carrot Flowers’ and the spectacular imagery of ‘Communist Daughter’.  And all backed with music so simple and captivating, I found myself astonished by just how personal and affecting it all was.  This album expressed so much of what I was feeling at the time,and still does, and listening to it felt like it was me living that life and telling that magnificent story.

This really could have been one of the most important records in my life if it even just contained the last line of the closing song.



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