Friday, October 16, 2009

secret dynamos

Elvis - The Complete '68 Comeback Special (listen) Like I said, I'm not really much of an Elvis person but I got swept up in this version of 'One Night" while walking across an ill-kept parking lot between the bus stop and my house.

The dull-pulse tambourine, the autopilot guitar, the chummy clapping that paints unlikely experience as "yeah, sure, here we are up in here with Elvis" - no one is prepared for when Elvis hyperdrive kicks in. He is a monster possessed by his own song; "Always lived a very quiet life" is ironically juiced by a high-tension power feed from secret dynamos buried deep below the Las Vegas by the architects of the future.

At one point the connection is physically cut - a plug falls out of an amp - and the whole scene is cast into sudden limbo, but this is with humor and professionalism repaired and like the Zarathustra he will soon become, his mountain a mansion and a fistful of pills, Elvis blithely demonstrates the Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence by repeating the chorus, his "very quiet life" getting louder with each cycle until there is no more to repeat.

The Flaming Lips - Embryonic (listen) I am of the opinion that The Soft Bulletin, released in May of 1999 just when lingering fears of "Oh shit, it's really gonna be 2000" lurked in every heart - and I don't mean Y2K because nobody but kooks really thought that was going to be an issue - was a really important record, the last important record of the 1900s perhaps. A line can be stretched from The Soft Bulletin to Kid A and we made our way across it with shivering trepidation to reach a platform at the edge of The Present (the 21st century actually started at the early morning exhale of 01/01/2001) . By looking at 2001 and its ensuing nameless decade, it appears we sucked at The Future; the evolutionary tumult of the previous hundred years was for what? Half-baked disaster movie plots turned horribly real? Bank failures? Facebook?

So yeah, The Soft Bulletin was important, it was a springboard of bravery and doubt and while I like everything the Lips have done since, none of it feels important. Maybe we are post-important? I get the sense that there is something profound at the heart of Embryonic that will reveal itself with time. Maybe what we hear on this record is hum from that grid Elvis into which was jacked; we just are not big farm boys and/or took the wrong kinda pills to channel the current correctly. I get an equal portion of nothing and everything from these first listens to Embryonic and maybe a decade in, that's where we are.

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