Monday, November 9, 2015

Artificial Light

Song: Artifical Light
Album: A Better Version of Me
Artist: Rainer Maria
Genre: Indie Rock, Emo Rock
Released: 2001
Youtubeable ?: Not really. When you check the YouTubes, you get a bunch of poor quality, live recordings. But, here's the official audio:

Karaoke Difficulty: Easy. Just sing loud.
Listenable ?: Depends on your mood and tolerance for harmonic dissonance
Popularity: Considering that the band broke up 9 years ago? Still not popular. But, they did release 5 studio albums.
Notable Song(s) by Artist: Ummm... this one.

This song came to me as a recommendation from a friend and it's one of those songs that comes out from the months or years of forgetting and fits again like welcome friend. It's frenetic and disjointed from beginning to end, while also being mellow. I know the relating of seemingly mutually exclusive attributes sounds like the hollow wordplay of a blogger with sparse readership, but I'll ask you to put that aside and read what comes because I hope to show you with this song always has a place in my playlist. And, my thanks to Mr. P. Teall for introducing me to this music, despite it happening so long ago.

Frenetic and Disjointed...

I think you'll notice, almost immediately that the performance of the song and the production value is loose and borders on sloppy. The musicians do keep the beat, but they don't all hit the beat at the same time - especially the singers. The effect comes across as rough hewn, unrefined and intentionally so, similar to the White Stripes in this manner.
Additionally, the singer's voices don't fix well together (0:34 when the two voices lay over each other). There is no smooth-as-molasses harmonizing. Their timbres get close to pouting. You can hear it at 2:34 when the lead sings "Always." The quality carries through the rest of the song. It's effect, while disjointed, works and I think that's because of the rhythm section, specifically the ride cymbal and guitar.


This is a slow song and somewhat lazy, despite the clear emotional outpouring. Listen to the transition in volume and mood from 0:45 to 1:20. Right around 01:00, it gets mellow and slow. Before this, the song was filled with a guitar repeating a chord progression strummed out over bars and bars of sixteenth notes. The important thing about the guitar, and one reason the song sounds mellow and lazy, is the quality of each note. These are not a series of staccato attacks. Nope. These notes bleed into each other almost slurring from one note to the next, with just enough differentiation to make separate notes semi-intelligible and enough mixing to make the guitar line float away on a cloud, like a smear of time where details gel together. That ride cymbal, supporting the mellow and enchanted feel of the guitar, just glues it all together for me.

A Warm Friend of Dissimilar Temperament...

When the song, and its parts, are all accounted for, this song just comes back to me like a warm friend, someone I'm always happy to reacquaint myself with. This song has such passion even though it feels lazy. The singer clearly has a point to make and a conviction. It's a unique song, with a very strong female lead. It would never occur to me to create this song but I'm so happy someone else has. It's a part of the world that I can appreciate without having to create.

Final Thought...

That drummer is the backbone of this song. You can see him, or her,  jam out in the live performances while keeping tempo and not playing a tired rhythm.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

In My Defence, Who Wants to Live Forever in Barcelona

"I'm just a singer with a song. How can I try to right the wrong? For just a singer with a melody. I'm caught in between with a fading dream."


Song: "In My Defence," "Barcelona" and "Who Wants to Live Forever"
Albums: The Very Best of Freddie Mercury, A Kind of Magic
Artists: Freddie Mercury, Queen
Genre: Rock, Pop Rock, Opera
Released: 2006 & 1986
Recorded: 1973 - 1988
Youtubeable ?: Of course.
Karaoke Difficulty: Are you smoking the Crack Pipe?!?! Oh... you are? Well, have at it!... ... No, second thought. Don't. Just... don't. Even if you're as good as Jewel, singing Jewel songs, at karaoke... don't do it.
Listenable?: Absolutely! Repeatedly
Popularity: I don't know anyone else talking about, or recommending these songs, so as of 2015 I can't say they're popular. Of the three, the most popular is "Who Wants to Live Forever" because it came from the film of the name "Highlander"
Notable Songs: Bohemian Rhapsody, We Are the Champions, Who Wants to Live Forever, Under Pressure

Freddie Mercury proves, like few others ever could, that singing something makes words into something more than just speaking them aloud every could. It's not that the truthfulness of the statement is in anyway enhanced but instead it breaks through personal barriers and opens us up to empathy for others where perhaps we wouldn't have it before. Singing shows us that feeling. We can feel it by hearing it, the roiling heartache or love or pride. Simple language requires so many words to recreate the depths of feelings that a single, great singer infuses into a simple sentence. "I love you." This becomes so much more than the mere three words that deliver the power and emotion of a singer's true intent. This is art, being able to say so much in so little.
These three songs show how brilliant his voice and performances are.

In My Defence

When the song first starts, I keep having to remind myself that I like this song because it starts too slow and dainty for my tastes. It all changes at 38 seconds in when Freddie kicks in with his signature power vocals and is soon backed up by the rock power of Queen. This is definitely a love ballad, but perhaps a ballad about love and faith that's been lost or forgotten. Underlying the strength of Mr. Mercury's vocals, is an acceptance with sadness and without bitterness which creates a powerful contrast.
You know what? Just listen to a great song.


This is the real, hidden gem of the post and is easily a song that I can listen to, on repeat, for hours, or even a whole day of work - and I've done it more than once.The song begins with a power chord, made entirely of Freddie Mercury vocals, which is awesome. At about 50 seconds in, the song picks up its heavy orchestral theme, and it becomes clear that this song is unlike most you've heard... probably.
Just before the two minute mark, the duet begins between Freddie and Montserrat Caballé. From this point on, the duet of two extremely different voices takes the listener to rarely heard, musical moments. Freddie's power vocals and masculine bravado balanced against Ms. Caballé's florid, sweet and rqually strong vocals, creates a unique and wonderful performance.

Who Wants to Live Forever

This song was a last minute addition but it fits perfectly with the theme: Freddie Mercury had amazing vocals and created beautiful songs to showcase his talent.
You may recognize this from the movie Highlander.
It's a rare song that can be so sad and yet so beautiful that I want to listen to it again and again. So much emotion was sewn into the fiber of this performance, these words and orchestration that it will long be a song worth playing, discussing and sharing with friends.