This isn’t really the kind of album you play for your
friends. It is, however, the kind where
you give it to them and, the next day when you see them and ask how they liked
it, they’ll give you a real serious look and not say anything. It’s an album which, for lack of better
clichés, is experienced rather than heard. Don’t read the Pitchfork review, it’s trash – the reviewer is on some
tip about Eternal Sunshine and the Spotless Mind and is making a terrible case
to connect them, and says something about this being purely emotional
music. That’s retarded. Don’t listen to him. Listen to me: this is a fantastic, beautiful,
epic album that must be listened to with few or no distractions, in
headphones. Maybe even lights off.
The disc has eight songs, the titles of which form the sentence: “Sorry that I’ve become this monster, I love you a lot.” The music itself follows two major arcs, one ending and the other beginning in “This.” I’m going to describe them minutely because I can and because it gives me so much pleasure to talk about this album. The first arc is sheer spacey ecstasy. “Sorry” kicks it off in a minor key, with a delicate guitar being picked and echoed on a simple melody while an eerie keyboard gives it an icy backup from the right channel. Soon a kind of violin starts in, soon compounded by a vibrating harmonies from another, unidentifiable instrument. It leads directly into “That I’ve” with the violin, which soon fades out into some soft electronic noises, and sighing, cut up strings whispering through the left channel. Then some kind of horn and a Windy and Carl-esque space guitar float in and suddenly you are buoyed up on an incredibly dense mattress of sound. It intensifies itself over the tracks’ length before descending into buzzing distortion, the lead-in to “Become.” Static crackles around your head as a beautifully plucked and endlessly echoed guitar comes to the fore. It moves from mysterious aquatic sparkle to shimmering electric fantasy over the next couple of minutes, fading out eventually to the light, metallic keyboard beat. A growl of white noise heralds the beginning of the central track, “This.”
In whole-album (as opposed to single-song) terms, “This” is staggering. Almost unnoticeable electronic noodlings underlie a girl’s voice on an answering machine – she is sobbing and hoping you’re having a good night, apologizing for making you feel so bad, and yes, eventually, “Sorry that I’ve become this monster……..I love you a lot.” This particular phrase starts to repeat. It begins to distort itself, static added slowly to her voice, a wave of low-frequency noise washes up slowly. You think it’s getting loud, then it just gets louder, and louder, and more chaotic, a tornado of ear-piercing noise in which her voice is just barely discernable. It continues to grow in ferocity for 4 minutes until it drops out all at once onto soothing chords and a final “I love you a lot.” It’s a difficult, harrowing, and painful thing to listen to, but really, that’s the whole point. Pitchfork got one thing right, it’s a breakup album – the girl is the guy who made this’ ex-girlfriend. I don’t want to get all pretentious and try to tell you that this is some kind of transmutation of experience into sound but that’s kind of the only way to put it. Not only that, but it’s part of the Album. Every time I listen to this album, I think, oh god, “This” is coming up, better turn the volume down. But I don’t, because it has an actual emotional effect on me which I don’t know how else to get. I suggest you do not skip this track, nor turn it down – at least the first time through.
Since I’ve already written 600 words on the first half of the album, I’ll stop here. Sufficed to say, this is a fantastic, unique, and beautiful album that everyone who likes music even remotely like this should hear. It’s an occasion every time I put this on for itself, and I hope it will be for you too.