A locus for eccentrics (hopefully)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The defining of qualities

Rhombus. Noun. From the top of my head it's got four equal length sides, all parallel to one another. What makes it different from a square? Who the fuck cares.

But if I absolutely had to hazard a guess, it would be that there are no, count 'em ZERO, ninety degree angles up in that piece. Which is a pretty cool thing if you think about it. Oh, and from geometry class in 8th grade something deep in the folds of my ganglia (gangliatic folds?) says that angles on opposite facing corners are equal. Or something like that.

Don't ask me why I wrote that previous synopsis. I'd just been thinking about rhombuses (or rhombi) for a few days and how they are pretty damn cool words to have floating in one's brain. A hell of a lot better than "non-PO voucher" or "triaged" anyway.

But another thing I'd been thinking about is music criticism, especially the online variety. I just made my first ever iTunes purchase, Belle & Sebastian's If you're feeling sinister: live at the Barbican. I guess that album is somehow associated with many memories of yore--a sort of timecapsule of college back in the day. Seeing the positive reviews it had been garnering on many of the MP3 blogs, I figured I'd give it a whirl.

It's a good one, to be sure. But I had to wonder at all the reviews of the record. Time and time again, critics noted that the original If you're feeling sinister was a flawed piece, recorded in haste and without the proper production values that it should have deserved. But, perhaps in the end, this is what endeared the record to its audience: its quirks and "organicness" (organiquismo?) sort of tied the listener to the record itself. The background muted cough on one track; the dropping of some unnamed object on another. Doesn't the transparancy of a recording count for something? It just seems to me that these reviewers were looking for an excuse to capitalize on the fidelity of the new recording rather than to interpret it as a mouthpiece for the band's current fetishes. That being, chiefly, a louder sound, more bombastic and full (as bombastic as B&S will ever get, anyway).

Now I'm not saying this isn't a good record. I really like the fuller, lusher sound. And it's always nice to know that one is listening to a live recording--it just lends itself to the authenticity of it all ("Hey, these guys can actually play their instruments and sing coherently at the same time outside of a studio!"). "Me and the Major," from my limited listening, particularly stands out. The orchestration is more fleshed out than the original and the cicada-like buzzing in the background is no longer present. And though one can't help but compare this one with the original, studio affair, it just seems rather unfair and counterproductive to base the entire critique on a blow-by-blow recap, a quasi he-said she-said analysis.

(I think I should have just stuck with the rhombus subject matter. At least they can be categorized as squares and parallelograms if correctly constructed.)


Blogger steve said...

Well, I for one really don't like the new belle and sebastian with the full lounge band sound... I liked the old stripped down sound. It actually felt genuine where now all their music sounds really "ironic" wink wink nudge nudge type music. Which I hate.

12:38 PM

Blogger Jefe said...

Yep. Seems like lots of people discredit that old sound...guess they are into the whole bigger is better. I just think it's like hearing two different bands between then and now.

12:55 PM

Blogger Josh said...

A rhobus is polygon with four sides of equal length, with opposite sides parallel to each other.

Just keepin it real.

1:05 AM

Blogger Josh said...

also, a square is a special case of a rhombus. Mr. Vittone is spinning in his grave.

3:38 PM

Blogger Jefe said...

Forget Mr. Vittone. Think about how Mrs. Kirsten is feeling! Or maybe it'd only be bad if I started messing up derivitives.

7:51 AM

Anonymous josh said...

Jefe, I've spent too many years thinking about how Mrs. Kirsten is feeling. In retrospect, that time could really have been better spent. Don't make the same mistake I did. By the way, most of the time Mrs. Kirsten is thinking one of these things:
1) I'm hungry
2) It's really hot in here

6:04 PM

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