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A Silver Mt. Zion – The Triumph of Our Tired Eyes Lyrics 10 years ago
Don't forget the very end, where a child (maybe the same one from "Built Then Burnt") offers this parting shot:

When we finally cross the barricades with the angels on our side
When we finally deny all the popular lies
When we finally let doubt and worry die
How will it feel?

Also, a recommendation: if anyone here hasn't read Victor Hugo's "Les Misérables" (or seen the musical adaptation), please check it out! Not only is it a great read, but when you hear the tale of French students manning the barricades in Paris, you'll already have the perfect soundtrack handy.

Portishead – The Rip Lyrics 10 years ago
Some comments:

1) "Wild Horses" is a nice catch! There's definitely a lot of resonance between it and "The Rip". However, while they share a melancholic mood, the Stones song emphasizes perseverance: the hope (if not the certainty) that you can ride out the storm when faced with life's trials. Here, Beth seems to have a gloomier attitude. Instead of toughing out the bad times, she turns instead to the white horses that promise escape. The question is whether this escape is illusory. The mere fact of having to ask "Will I follow?" leads me to believe she's not out of the woods yet. Perhaps she's worried she may wind up following the "dark" again that's only been brushed "underneath" the carpet.

2) I like the heroin reference. Quite a tantalizing possibility. I take most Portishead songs to be about relationship ills and societal malaise, but if "The Rip" concerns a struggle with drugs, I wonder how pervasive that theme might be in the rest of their work. After all, this is the same woman who sang, "Take a ride, take a shot now," back during her sour times. It doesn't look like those times are over yet, so it wouldn't surprise me if she's tempted by old coping mechanisms.

Anyway, just to clarify, I wasn't trying to make it sound like Beth was in some kind of doomed sapphic romance. Just idle speculation on my part. Feel free to disagree even if you haven't "been there." (Being a guy, I certainly haven't.)

Portishead – Threads Lyrics 10 years ago
I like the comment about over-analysis. Francisco Goya once made a print saying that "The sleep of reason produces monsters". Perhaps the lyrics in this song reflect the opposite kind of hell: one person's restless, insomniac quest to find a guilty party, or to ferret out an answer to life's problems. You can dig for answers, but if you overdo it, you may end up digging your own grave.

Portishead – Deep Water Lyrics 10 years ago
Seems like Portishead are fans of Steve Martin's 1979 movie, "The Jerk". In it, Martin and Bernadette Peters sing a rendition of "Tonight You Belong to Me" that features a ukulele arrangement. Check it out -- the resemblance to "Deep Waters" is pretty easy to see.

Somehow, though, I imagine the Portishead crew would just give you a sly wink if you asked them about it.

Einstürzende Neubauten – Sabrina Lyrics 10 years ago

The music video is fascinating. Notice how certain themes are subtly revealed: being the goat and wearing horns, the horror of self-reflection, the uselessness of make-up and jewelery, and the washing of hands. The setting is a dingy restroom, an underworld where dirty things are meant to be flushed away and forgotten. There's a lot of water, too, which to me is suggestive of the River Styx.

Why do I mention this? Because I think it it ties in strongly with the lyrics, where the flag interpretation is probably correct. The song is many things: a critique of, a lament for, and a dialogue with, modern day Germany. The name Sabrina could be a personification of the country as a motherland. Perhaps the singer (Blixa Bargeld) is treating the nation as his lover, and is describing the qualities which he feels she lacks and should strive for.

Consider all the positive things which the colors of the German flag are said NOT to stand for:
- the beauty of a sunset
- sexual consummation and procreation (i.e. stained sheets, and Zeus' descent as a shower of gold to be with Danae)
- vital fluid, both literal (blood) and symbolic (red wine)
- golden memories and golden ages
- actual valuable gold, which would quickly be snatched if left in the open

Germany's blackness dominates and muddies all the other colors. Malevich's Black Square, for example, is an interesting reference. That painting is usually associated with the new order that was about to be established in the Russian Revolution of 1917. Lenin's utopia, however, never came to be. The fact that the revolution didn't live up to its promise might be tied to the lyric about "a high pitch on a future scale".

As a parallel to Russia, Germany also derailed itself through the rise of Nazi ideals and the "cold furnace" of the Holocaust. Certainly, it's no fun to carry an albatross around your neck into the post-WW2 world. How does a nation collectively atone for such a thing? Is it even possible? How can one move on with dignity rather than forgetfulness?

Those are big question with no easy answers. However, the *desire* to look for answers is important, which a song like "Sabrina" beautifully captures. When Bargeld sings "I wish this would be your color", I like to think he's dedicating it to Germany, with "this" referring to the song itself. Perhaps one day, the country's colors will boldly stand for the right things.

If someone were to ask me if this is a love song, I would say yes. It's about tough love.

Bob Marley and the Wailers – Punky Reggae Party Lyrics 10 years ago
Your wish is my command :)

Yeah, the song's about a party, but not just any old party. Marley is celebrating the solidarity between Jamaica's dub and reggae scene with the UK punk and new wave scene of the late 70s. They didn't have to be related by sound just to share a worldview, but sometimes they did anyway. Check out a group like The Slits, or The Clash's cover of Junior Murvin's "Police and Thieves".

Basically, he's saying that since we're all on the same page, why not dance the night away together?

"Rejected by society
Mistreated with impunity
Protected by my dignity
I search for reality"

To me, any one of the punk outfits of the time could have said something like that. You don't have to be black to know (and be appalled) that anyone can be treated like niggers.

Front Line Assembly – Providence Lyrics 10 years ago
B-side from the "Everything Must Perish" single. If that song was the bitter pill of mortality, here you are assuaged by the voice of angels.

One of FLA's finest works, in my book. A great groove, satisfying length, and operatic vocals by Jennifer McLaren... what's not to like? Yeah, it does sound like something from Delerium. But compared to that group's latest dance-pop meanderings, this is actually some good shit.

Saul Williams – List of Demands (Reparations) Lyrics 10 years ago
Well, I guess everyone's said their piece about the whole Nike ad thing. I'll just add that freedom of opinion is ALWAYS better than the lack of it. The collision of art and commerce is a huge issue and should be openly discussed. I hope the discussion here at least gets people thinking seriously about artistic responsibility, corporate America, and how messages can be (mis)appropriated in our media-saturated culture.

As for the lyrics themselves, keep in mind that the song carries the parenthetical title of "Reparations". It probably refers to literal reparations for black slavery, but don't count out metaphorical reparations for the human spirit.

If you live under a system (let's say, pathological capitalism) that strips you of human dignity, then you don't need to actually write anything on your palm. Check out Saul's music video; he deliberately shows us his empty palms. Why? I think he's telling us that your very skin marks your suffering. *You* are the living embodiment of a list of demands.

Society's ills are outlined in every verse. They include poverty ("living hand to mouth"), violence ("protect ya neck"), collective guilt ("we aim to remember what we choose to forget"), disempowerment ("drowning in your fat"), political myopia ("you cower in your tower praying that I'll disappear"), and authoritarianism ("Call the police!", "Call on the law!"). Across the nation, we medicate ourselves ("bufferin", etc.) into a stupor as a coping mechanism. "God's just a baby" because false prophets are everywhere, claiming that infantile religiosity is the way to salvation.

In short: the country is fucked up, the American dream is a joke, and complacency is oh so comfortable.

Notice, however, that while Saul seems to advocate violent rebellion, he manages to squeak in a "Call up a truce!" in the final verse. Just barely, but it's there.

Maybe it's because he knows that once you actually start rioting, that photo taped to your heart is liable to fall off and be lost.

Throbbing Gristle – Discipline (Berlin) Lyrics 10 years ago
This live, semi-improvised piece would turn out to be a go-to song for TG during later concerts. It's definitely "Industrial Music for Industrial People"--the motto of the record label that TG founded.

The physical packaging for the "Discipline" single adds a bit of context to the noise symphony heard on the record:

"Center labels are cream with black printing. Glossy picture sleeve of TG group stood outside ex-Nazi Ministry of Propaganda in Berlin on front and Val Denham holding Hitler Youth dagger centre back. The words 'Techno Primitive' scratched on side A and 'Psykick Youth Squad' on side B. Both tracks were later released on the CD version of 20 Jazz Funk Greats."

TG weren't scared of controversy in their heyday, but they also had a playful side. Here, one might think that they're simply taking the piss out of fascist attitudes. Well, they are, but I'm of the mind that TG also had their finger on the pulse of the times. Trouble was brewing. The 70s were no picnic either, but their invocation of Nazism right after détente is no accident.

The Cold War wasn't over yet by 1981, and things would get worse before getting better.

p.s. Transcribing the lyrics for this song was a bitch. Fun, but still a bitch.

Fela Kuti – Water No Get Enemy Lyrics 10 years ago
Water is essential to human life. Only a fool would dare go without it.

Likewise, the people and the body politic are a nation's lifeblood. They populate the land, power the economy, and preserve its culture. Only a foolish government would fight or antagonize its citizens. Trample on your own people, and your nation will die of thirst.

The song was written back in 1975 for Nigeria, but his message is still worth hearing today, no?

The Cinematic Orchestra – Evolution Lyrics 10 years ago
"For someone who was never meant for this world, I must confess I'm suddenly having a hard time leaving it. Of course, they say every atom in our bodies was once part of a star. Maybe I'm not leaving... maybe I'm going home." - Vincent, in the movie Gattaca (1997)

If we're the evolution of stardust, there's no reason why "your love or your life" can't be as fiery, passionate, and enduring as the stars above.

Banco De Gaia – Obsidian Lyrics 10 years ago
The opening monologue (which sounds inspired by The Orb's "Little Fluffy Clouds") reminds me of light playing off rainbow obsidian. Perhaps it represents the alluring but faulty surface of "our reflections of yesterday". Is the past really as good as you remember it?

All too often, people will paint the past as a time when you had endless possibilities and open doors ("Will I be able to fly through the different colours?"). The problem is falling in love with the view from the rainbow's top, only to reach your pot of gold at the end, and... well, not appreciate how good you've got it made now.

From what I've read, Toby Marks (of Banco de Gaia) let all of Folker's chanting after "Yesterday, yesterday, today" be wordless vocalizations, just to keep the rhythm. My favorite interpretation is the Dr. Seuss-ian "Green ham and eggs, with salt and butter, butter, butter", but I'm weird like that. Let your own ears be the judge.

Saul Williams – List of Demands (Reparations) Lyrics 10 years ago
farouhk: "Stuff has been going down lately, it's been mixing around in my head, and through this song, and coded language, and the other research I've been doing Saul just kindly informed me it might be worth it to pay attention and start giving a fuck."

The revolution will not be televised.

Yes, there can be incidental cases where people will "get the message" from an artist who chose to partake in a flawed system only to sow resistance. Subversion from within, in other words. But the system itself is messed up right down to its foundations, and you don't topple it by shaking hands with suits from Nike over a sixty second ad.

Saul's an intelligent guy, and he once declared "not by our hands will we supply weapons and funding for the annihilation of families on foreign soil". But here he is, angling for some market penetration through a company whose overseas exploits (pun intended) are infamous.

Sometimes, compromising can be a good thing. I just don't think Saul picked the right battle this time, though.

Dusted (UK) – If I Had a Child Lyrics 10 years ago
Should children be spoiled silly? The idea that 'love conquers all' is everywhere on the rest of the album "When We Were Young". It seems to have been building up into the parental overindulgence prescribed here. The last line offers an explanation: why not give your kids free reign just as God gave free reign to His first two children in Eden?

However, any doubt over the right course of action is put to rest by the scary, crashing piano in the song's latter half. The singer may very well be in for a rude awakening.

Perhaps this song is the ideal of unconditional love, but as imagined by a child. It's both deeply heartfelt and, unfortunately, deeply immature.

Isaac Hayes – Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic Lyrics 10 years ago
A sweaty funk jam from back when Chef could really throw it down (which was roughly, uh, 1969). Basically, the guy needs to get some (more?), and plays the highbrow angle with fancy words.

The parting shot about slaves on horses and a "racial relationship" might be hinting at anti-miscegenation laws, and keeping blacks within careful boundaries. Is his "emancipator" and "love educator" a white woman?

Perhaps his vocabulary also reflects a desire to fight against the culture of black anti-intellectualism that plagues us still.

Can – Aumgn Lyrics 10 years ago
A bad trip. A nightmare. A horror movie.

I don't know what this song is all about, but if "Halleluwah" was climbing toward heaven, this song seems to be going straight down to hell.

'Om' (or 'Aum') is a sacred Hindu syllable. Maybe if you splice it with 'Amen' and the word 'malign', you get the mutant "Aumgn".

The Velvet Underground – Melody Laughter Lyrics 10 years ago
Great live jam that just keeps going and going and going.

Liner notes from the "Peel Slowly and See" box-set:

"The November '66 mono audience recording of 'Melody Laughter' in this collection (an excerpt from a longer performance recorded at Valleydale Ballroom in Columbus, Ohio and first issued on a bootleg album in 1981) stands as a rare document of the VU's nightly flights of improv-daring, of what they were capable of achieving with just a handful of loosely agreed-on chords. (It is a song of sorts, enough so that the band gave it an actual title.) It is also a startling look at how the supposedly jarring contrasts on 'The Velvet Underground and Nico' were part of a very deliberate whole. You can hear the kind of pneumatic pulse that underscores 'All Tomorrow's Parties,' the come-hither heat cloaked in Nico's frosty, wordless aria, even lick fragments of what would eventually become 'Sister Ray' on 'White Light/White Heat'."

The Shaggs – Philosophy Of The World Lyrics 10 years ago
The grass will always seem greener on the other side.

Sometimes the most simple observations are the most profound. If *these* gals can understand it, anyone can.

Charmingly sung, and accompanied by probably my favourite "chord progressions" and "drum fills" on the album.

John Coltrane – Part 1: Acknowledgement Lyrics 10 years ago
Liner notes excerpt:

"In the suite's most startling moment, Coltrane removes the saxaphone from his lips and leans close to the microphone, intoning the almost doleful signature chant. As an accented piano chord clearly cues the vocal section, one can hear that Coltrane began chanting off-mike; a barely audible 'supreme' makes itself known."

The four-note opening bassline eventually gets taken up by the tenor sax which, in turn, becomes Coltrane own voice chanting the mantra. This piece is sublime, and I'll never tire of it.

"A Love Supreme" is a deeply spiritual and religious album, but I reckon the quartet's musical interplay says as much about life on earth--human striving, community, and devotion--as it does about the divine.

The Wind-up Bird – This Lyrics 10 years ago
Unbelievably gut-wrenching.

This is found sound at its most personal and painful. Apparently, this message was left on the answering machine of Joseph Grimm (the man behind The Wind-Up Bird) by his girlfriend. The individual words of its key phrase, "Sorry that I've become this monster, I love you a lot," became the tracklisting for his album "Whips".

I think finding out what exactly happened between these two people is beside the point. It's enough to know that their relationship really fucking mattered.

The full album is packed with emotion, but this track, which eventually turns into heartbreaking--and earbreaking--white noise, should be enough to slay anyone with a pulse.

Nina Simone – Ne Me Quitte Pas Lyrics 10 years ago
"Don't Leave Me"

Yup, ol' Nina is among the most famous who have covered Jacques Brel's original song. I adore her elegant rendition, but for me, the original remains absolutely devastating.

I guess if anyone wants to discuss this song (or get a translation), it'd be best to walk on over here instead:

Portishead – The Rip Lyrics 10 years ago
Cool, nice to know others who see it too. Both songs (and albums) are tremendous works of art, in my opinion.

I'm increasingly convinced that the woman in the first verse is a romantic interest. Love would flow, but there are a mountain of obstacles in the way, including her own confusion and bitterness, and the riddles and lies that have bled her mind dry. What "riddles" could there be? Well, how about society's homophobic sophistry/rhetoric, for starters.

Furthermore, I see two options for what the "rip" of the title could mean:

1) Perhaps it simply refers to the act of the horses carrying her away from her troubles (i.e. tearing her away from despair). These aren't wild white horses for no reason, after all. White is often associated with goodness and purity; horses typically represent freedom, power, and independence.

2) The rip could also be a figurative fissure or tear: between a hesitating bitterness, and a love that flows; between the glory of life, and the riddles and lies; between the dark underneath, and the tenderness above.

Man, this album floors me the more I listen to it. It's like an old flame of mine has come back. I really ought to dive into "Dummy" and "Portishead" again.

Tom Waits – Dog Treat Lyrics 10 years ago
One of the two bonus tracks from Disc 3 of the "Orphans" collection.

Just an example of the raunchy hilarity in Tom's wonderful live shows. I hope the old dog (pun intended!) has many more years ahead of him.

Veloce – Taipei Lyrics 10 years ago
An independent streak run amok. Probably the most resigned and joyless I've ever heard someone say "I'm having the time of my life". Hypnotic, low-key electronica from a local (to me!) band that nobody knows, sadly.

Perfume Tree – Virgin Lyrics 10 years ago
A dreamer awakens, re-acquiring the senses of sight, touch, and hearing. She returns, perhaps reluctantly, from the out-of-body into the physicality of the real world. Dreamers are often isolated--virgins to life, if you will. The rest of the album ("A Lifetime Away") documents the ups and downs of facing human contact.

Fantastic cut from an obscure band that got lost in the shuffle of the 90s trip-hop explosion.

Prefuse 73 – Pase Rock's Preestyle Lyrics 10 years ago
Like a mission statement for the Prefuse 73 project: futurist hip-hop guided by a tremendous respect for the old-school.

Wire – Used To Lyrics 10 years ago
Like Dionne Warwick's "Walk On By" but for the art-punk crowd. I love it.

William Orbit – Water from a Vine Leaf Lyrics 10 years ago
Great song by Orbit in his prime. Having Beth around can't hurt either.

To me, this song is about a woman consumed by worry over a lover who might disappear or abandon her. The first stanza's nightmare might be a case of dream incorporation, involving water from the second stanza.

She's splashed into consciousness by the girls. However, it seems her obsessions will continue to haunt her in the waking hours.

Fela Kuti – Zombie Lyrics 10 years ago
One of Fela's most famous and incendiary songs. Totally kick-ass. My favorite moment just might be the cheeky army reveille tucked into the end.

Here are the liner notes straight from my copy of the album:

Fela in his life time was never "a good bedfellow" of the military institution. As a political activist, he believed the army should operate under the mandate of a civil government. If national interest compels the armed forces to intervene in government, the army is obliged to hand over power to a new civil government elected by the people and enjoying their mandate. To do otherwise is to usurp power particularly since a soldier's duty is not to seek a political mandate. For emphasis in the song, he narrates the military in motion comparing their orientation to the Zombie, without minds of their own. Fela paid a big price for this bold condemnation of the military institution. One thousand members of the Nigerian army attacked and burnt down his house after the release of the record. The tribunal set up to investigate the cause of the attack as a result of the public out-cry against the army, heard, as part of the evidence presented, an example of the Zombie album cover with the military uniform and boots displayed boldly. The army justification of the attack was that Fela treated the military institution with levity.

Portishead – We Carry On Lyrics 10 years ago
If anything, some people have noticed that this song seems to be Portishead's homage to the band Silver Apples.

Check out their song "Oscillations". It's the first one in a mix found here:

DJ Krush – Only the Strong Survive Lyrics 10 years ago
Life in the urban jungle. This is the opening track from Krush's seminal album, "Meiso". Check out this interview excerpt from 1996:

"’Meiso’ means to stray or wander," he explains. "You know, when you don’t know which way to go. In a lot of different ways, I’ve been doing that in my life up until now. I still am. There might be a number of problems stopping you, standing in your way, but at the end of the day, it is up to you to decide which way to go." You can hear that wandering in tracks like "Bypath" and its repeated variations on the album: "Bypath 1," "Bypath 2," "Bypath 3," and "Bypath – Would You Take It?" They are fragments, interludes taking you on a journey despite the fact that Krush refuses to clear the path for his listener.

"I’m trying to let people think there’s a lot of ways to go," he says, "and to stress that when you see a door in front of you, instead of shying away from it, to just try and open it – to see if you can move forward to be positive in whatever you do."

Portishead – Magic Doors Lyrics 10 years ago
Hmm, the more I think about it, the more that seems plausible. And not just for this song, but the whole album. I don't want to sound too presumptuous either, but the album's preoccupation with self-identity, true desires, and guilt makes me wonder if it could all be about a struggle of sexual orientation.

Food for thought.

Portishead – Plastic Lyrics 10 years ago
She feels like a Pinocchio in her relationship: a lifeless, plastic marionette on her lover's "stage". Just as Pinocchio prayed to be a real boy, she wants to be treated with equality and respect.

Unfortunately, their relationship is pretty dire. There appears to be no empathy or communication ("I don't know what you see", "Don't know what you hear", "All by yourself", "I am nowhere", "You never noticed").

All she can do is affirm that she is alive, a person with thoughts and feelings, flesh and blood: "Don't you know life turns me, always wants me?"

Portishead – Threads Lyrics 10 years ago
No kidding. This is a dark and lovely closer: the logical conclusion of the rest of the album's bleak lyrics.

Her mind is unraveling into "threads". Apparently, little has changed since "Western Eyes", where she already told us that "Yes I'm breaking at the seams just like you."

Portishead – Hunter Lyrics 10 years ago
Hunting has always been used as a metaphor for courtship.

Perhaps there is something fundamentally flawed about the comparison. It assumes everyone is predator and/or prey, and turns love into a cyclical process (i.e. we consume, then move on to fresh meat, over and over again). Not many prospects for comfort and security in a world of one-night stands.

"I'd ask you for nothing, just to wait for a while."

Portishead – Small Lyrics 10 years ago
Perhaps this is a song about beds: a relationship that starts in one, can only survive in one, and falls apart outside of one... is not much of a relationship at all.

Portishead – Nylon Smile Lyrics 10 years ago
A nylon smile is not an authentic smile; it is a pretense, slipped on like some piece of lingerie designed only to please one's partner.

Portishead – Machine Gun Lyrics 10 years ago
I agree that God is implied (and indicted!) by the lyrics.

This is the message I get out of the song: Be wary of anyone who claims they're the antidote to a "poison" in your heart, because they can deprive you of your agency. That is, they might make it so you think you can't heal yourself without them. Such a "remedy" is disempowering and wouldn't agree with how you truly feel about yourself.

This critique could apply to more than just God. *Any* lover can end up doing you harm if he/she subverts your autonomy and makes you dependent on them for the cure to your woes (e.g. loneliness).

I think the song's called "Machine Gun" not just because of the wicked drums, but because it's a psychological call to arms, and a plea for self-assertion.

Portishead – The Rip Lyrics 10 years ago
The song's name used to be "Mystic", which may tie into the reference to Wiccan Mysteries on "Silence". Not to mention the horse imagery, which might be related to the animist beliefs of some Wiccans.

p.s. Does this sound like the sister song to Radiohead's "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" to anyone else?

Portishead – We Carry On Lyrics 10 years ago
This song was originally called "Peaches", which makes sense, I think. The fruits represent the vital and sensuous "taste of life" that makes a mockery of the daily grind through which we force ourselves to carry on. (e.g. the grind of life in general, or maybe the going-through-the-motions of a romance gone stale and inert.)

In any case, the cost of carrying on may well be self-deception; the heart knows the truth, and bleeds because of it.

Portishead – Magic Doors Lyrics 10 years ago
Be true to yourself!

Or else you'll shamble through life lost, confused, purposeless--like one of the walking dead (hence the deadlined EKG tone we hear at the start).

Portishead – Silence Lyrics 10 years ago
This song's working name was "Wicca". The album it's on is called "Third". If you google the Wiccan Rule of Three, you'll find out the gist of the Portuguese sample:

"Ever mind the Rule of Three,
Three times what thou givest returns to thee,
This lesson well, thou must learn,
Thee only gets what thou dost earn."

Basically a version of moral reciprocity: the Golden Rule, karma, whatever. This suggests that the kind of heartache, frustration, and despair described in the album's lyrics may often have an overlooked source (i.e. take a look in the mirror).

Portishead – Deep Water Lyrics 10 years ago
"I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me." - Psalm 69:2

"Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters." -Psalm 69:14

"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters." -Psalm 23:1-2

Oh, and verily, I say unto thee: the barbershop backup is the shit.

Portishead – Machine Gun Lyrics 10 years ago
The gloriously raucous first single off "Third".

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