Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Adam Fieled: Streetlakes (Fieled)

In comparing architecturally grandiose Philadelphia with butt-ugly New York, one notable aspect of life in Philly is how the city looks and feels at night. Neo-Romantic art is sodden with it: a sense of the ghostly, the apparitional, the spectral, and also the gravitas of architectural soundness and solidity. Streetlakes, from Ardent, is an attempt to manifest some of these vistas in rock music, complicated, in this case, by a sense that life in the street, living in an urban fast-lane, has to end at some point if a serious creative path is to be pursued. By throwing in the closing monologue, which attempts to formally address Charles Baudelaire’s prose poem "Crowds" from Paris Spleen, I knew I was risking accusations of preciosity and pretentiousness. If I was willing to risk it, it’s because I had a real point I wanted to make. I was preparing to write entire books, and even as all the PFS and the Highwire Gallery adventures loomed, I knew my life on the street would have to be reined in at some point.

The recording sessions for this at Main Street West were notable for Matt’s improvisations towards making a slide guitar sound unique, involving mike placements and an echo box. Matt also accidentally erased an entire bass track and I had to do it twice. The Streetlakes sessions were all late-at-night ones. We had routines going by this time: I would lay down all necessary tracks, and then lounge around, usually stoned, perusing Matt's ample collection of sci-fi, rock, and comic books while he mixed the track. The studio at Main Street West was a mess, but a minor one, and the books formed a series of piles on the floor near the door, which led directly down a winding staircase to a landing, and Matt's bedroom on the second floor. Carrying amps and other equipment up that winding staircase was no fun, but I liked that, as with Buttons Sound in Manhattan (and unlike the Eris Temple to come) we were high above street level. Eris Temple was more mole-like.   

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Big Star: Kangaroo (Alex Chilton)

One track on “3rd” which brings a surrealistic undercurrent to the surface is “Kangaroo,” which, if it is surrealistic (as well as psychologically and emotionally revealing about the protagonist), can be taken as a series of dreamed visions of Dana in her element (a more active, socialized version of “Dream Lover”). The way Chilton moves into the lyric, beginning with “I first saw you/ you had on blue jeans/ your eyes couldn’t hide/ anything/ I saw you breathing “No,”/ and I saw you staring out in space,” suggests that he is in a kind of visionary trance which might well be taken for a kind of dream state. The sound of the track, unhinged towards a slow-burn lurch of giddy drunkenness (which, as a description, belies the stark simplicity of the melody if I fail to mention it), continues with a series of visions of Dana, all of which are much more evocative, and artfully compressed than Bob Dylan’s “Visions of Johanna”; “I next saw you/ you were at the party/ thought you was a queen/ oh so flirty/ I came against…” Not to belabor things towards the graphic, but the word-play and how it relates to “Kizza Me” is clear; Chilton is able to have full, unimpeded sex with Lesa, while he “(comes) against” Dana. All the same, the verbal Jabberwocky, combined with atmospheric, ambient production and a plot already thickening, leads us to debate whether or not these visions of Chilton’s are real or dreamed.