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Posts Tagged: Music

Waxing Lyrical

Thursday 7th February 2008

One of the things I got for Christmas this year is a DVD. Well, I got a few DVDs actually, but theres one in particular that I really enjoyed. It was the new Sigur Ros film, Heima. To be honest, I hadnt heard much Sigur Ros before I got the DVD. I’d downloaded a couple of albums, and thought they were good, but nothing more. Obviously, I thought they were good enough to point out the DVD to my Mum, but anyway… I watched it about a week after Xmas with one of my brothers, and we were both absolutely bowled over by how good it is.

For anyone not familiar with the concept of the film, this is basically it: in 2006 Sigur Ros returned to Iceland after playing a fairly large world tour and held a series of mostly unannounced gigs all over the island. The film is a record of that tour. They played in some pretty weird places, as well as more traditional ones, and it’s pretty interesting to watch. Theres one where they just played an acoustic set on a hillside, and the thing was recorded with a single mic (iirc…). They played another gig at an old herring factory, and one of the songs they recorded there was played in an old vat or something – a really echoey place, and whenever the lead singer made a noise his voice echoed round really nicely.

One of the things I love most about the DVD though is the insight you get into the whole ethos of the band. Not only staging the concerts for free, but other things. During the songs, quite often the camera cuts away from the band and focuses on the audience. Not just a cursory wide shot either, proper shots of individuals, or groups, reacting to the songs being played in front of them. Its a small touch, but I think it displays a certain lack of arrogance on the band’s part – the film isn’t about them; it’s about the music, and that includes the fans as much as it does the band.

What I’m getting at is that it shows that the band are obviously massive music lovers, and I think that’s why my brother and I like it so much. We’re both massive music fans too, so something like that really resonates.

Now, I don’t like putting music down, and saying that X is better than Y; I know that its largely subjective, and what I hate others may love, and vice versa. But it got me thinking. Surely certain songs, albums or artists just are better than others? I’m not saying “Everything I like is categorically Good, and anyone who disagrees is Wrong”, far from it. But surely anyone who appreciates music will find something to appreciate in Sigur Ros? Surely anyone will agree that Love Sick is a better song than Insania? Isn’t it a Fact that The Earth is Not A Cold Dead Place is a much better album than, say, Vulture Culture*?

The thing I forget, of course, is that people want different things from music. Some people like music because its popular, and it helps them fit in or whatever. Others like things they hear in clubs because it reminds them of the experiences they’ve attached to the music. Or whatever. I like music on it’s own though, music for the sake of it. I like lying in bed at night, closing my eyes and being enveloped by music. Whether it be scratchy blues recordings or well-produced epics (and part 2 – although this ver is poss better if you dont know the song) enveloping me, I enjoy well-made music. Those last 2 clips kinda sum it up actually: two pretty dissimilar songs, but both make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.

That said about people wanting different things from music, it really annoys me when people write off music without listening to it properly. For instance, I once introduced someone to Explosions in the Sky, only for them to say that they “dont like it, no-one’s singing”… Or when someone says they dont like a band cos theyre too old (or too new…). It’s far too narrowminded, and those people are missing out on some fantastic music because of it. Annoying to the Extreme.

This post is probably far too long and incoherent by now, anyway, so I should probably stop writing…

* For the record, I do actually like that album. I don’t like Insania…

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