Monday, August 20, 2007

Sound and Sounds

An aberration on Spoon’s “The Ghost of You Lingers” sounds like a nullity of sound, a tear threatening to void the entire song. A closeted piano cycle, with its tight and odd chord progression, is foregrounded by layered vocals of Brit Daniel’s as echo, apparition, and spurned. “If you were here/Would you calm me down/You settled this part” an affectless Daniel’s offers while a spectral Daniel’s croons “All the strangers in town/Would know if you were here”. “The sleep fled from my eyes” he explains, “And I, know that I need some.” Completing the thought: it’s sleep that Daniel’s needs, and likely a lot of it.

“Ghost” is a small song, slight on musical elements (the somewhat sinister eight-note piano cycle; the falsetto as echo) though sonically pregnant in landscape. That the continued piano cycle remains static closes off any possibility for release. The layered vocals give the effect of oppositional selves, the plaints of lost love and the blank immediacies of present self.

Recall is a form of reconstruction here, and Daniel’s “If” is a conditional for a new possibility. He wants to try again, but is clearly in no shape to do so. There is the hint of paranoia, “All the strangers in town/Would know if you were here”, followed by an admission of instability, “Would you ease my mind?” A shouted “Come on!” seems more forceful than entreating.

So it’s likely the lingering ghost that’s threatening to void the song. That aberration appears in the final third of the song, a jarring distortion so outside of structure as to seem otherworldly, which, it should follow, is the point. Its a grinding and warping sound that repeats itself four other times, trailing off with Daniel’s invocation of “lingers”. The ghost is clearly a reconstruction from memory and haunts Daniel’s deteriorating mind.

Though the song creates a universe of Daniel’s mind on the first few listens, particularized and distant, his plaints are universal: that lost love and its remainder, the often deluded phantoms of memory we’re left to communicate with and ultimately exorcise, will rend us before they are dealt with. Or, put another way, must rend us before they are dealt with.

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