Monday, March 19

I Scream For Crow

After too much basketball (though my craving for hoops is not easily sated, the opening weekend of March Madness can often be like a sugar high; this year was sweeter than expected, in that the lack of upsets in the first round led to a hotly contested second that was as good as any in recent memory), I need a reset. I wrote in December about my first taste of The Goslings, and how that was a cleanser to a cluttered mind. My mind isn't so befuddled as to crave such a Zen-like sense of nothing, but thanks (again) to Ian I can turn to the missing middle album, Between The Dead, and be refreshed versus be remade.

Between The Dead (currently out-of-print, but it will hopefully be saved a la Spaceheater/Perfect Interior) is more than just the missing piece of my Goslings collection; it is the link between the ambient noisescapes of Spaceheater and the aural assault of Grandeur. I think this is most easily understood when one considers the three albums use of space. On the EPs, many of the songs contained open space that was bookended by noise. This space was eliminated with extreme prejudice on Grandeur. On Between The Dead, the places for space are painted and filled with a light wash – a held note, an a capella (though not unprocessed) vocal – that help the songs to differentiate out of noise into discrete entities.

That is not to say Between The Dead is not a noisy, visceral listen; far from it. The guitar tone I expected from hearing Grandeur Of Hair (I would describe it as a thick, smoky burn; not fast like fire but the slow, unstoppable immolation of a blackening magma flow) is in full effect, the rolling cymbals still crash like swords on shields, the voices ring and pierce like oscillating sine waves (though they are more distinct and carry a menacing sneer, as on the opening track, "Crow For Day"). But all these things are easily discernible if not intelligible, and I find I can follow each part of the whole. The effect is not quite so overwhelming, and in some respects may be the better for it. I can do something like write this post and hope to be somewhat coherent, whereas I find I don't really exist think function while listening to Grandeur.

I want to stress it is not a bridge album in the sense that it is merely a path from here to there, a last piece in the puzzle; Between The Dead is a good album all by itself. To revive the My Bloody Valentine comparison I cited in my prior post, Between The Dead reminds me of Isn't Anything. A high-water mark in their comparative careers, the two albums share to me a sense of reaching a creative peak, one in which their prior work only hinted at as a possibility. To make the comparison all the more personally apt, I heard these earlier works only after being "thrown in the deep end", so to speak, with Loveless and Grandeur Of Hair. So though they are both solid works, they are overshadowed to some degree by their denser, noisier, petulant and more frightening younger brothers.

I'm glad I have it now, and I do truly enjoy and recommend it. Having a Goslings album that can fit into a lifestyle is a great and wonderful thing.


Ian said...

It's just "Crow For Day," at least on the back of my CD!

Glad you like it, though, and I think you're right about the relationships here. Although I tend to prefer Isn't Anything and Between the Dead, myself.

Erik said...

Fixed. Not Sure where that "A" came from.

Those two are definitely more approachable than the two later works. I tend to enjoy when bands go past the safety zone into something else, as The Goslings and MBV did on their latest releases.

But then again, I like Sandinista! more than London Calling too - it just pushes the envelope of acceptability, listener be damned.