• The Passion of the Weiss
  • Gorilla vs. Bear
  • Greencine Daily
  • Music Is Art
  • Shake Your Fist
  • Big Stereo
  • The New Yorker
  • The Torture Garden
  • Ear Farm
  • J'ai la cassette à la maison
  • The Hater
  • The Yellow Stereo
  • Movie City Indie
  • Fader
  • Covert Curiosity
  • Chromewaves
  • Sucka Pants
  • AV Club
  • Tinyways
  • Palms Out
  • Girish Shambu
  • So Much Silence
  • Heart On A Stick
  • Untitled
  • Sixeyes
  • The Documentary Blog
  • Contrast Podcast
  • Fecal Face
  • Quick, Before It Melts
  • Muzzle of Bees
  • La Blogothèque
  • The Rawking Refuses To Stop
  • Music For Kids Who Can't Read Good
  • indieWIRE
  • Gimme Tinnitus
  • Conscientious
  • Toothpaste For Dinner
  • Cable & Tweed
  • Culture Bully
  • Oceans Never Listen
  • Juxtapoz
  • I Am Fuel, You Are Friends
  • Subinev
  • Bookslut
  • Filles Sourires
  • Berkeley Place
  • Get Underground
  • Nah Right
  • Motel de Moka
  • Raven Sings The Blues
  • Fact
  • Missing Toof
  • Badical Beats
  • Clap Cowards
  • Chuckmore
  • Anthem
  • It's the right thing to do
  • Something is wrong here, something is terribly wrong
  • There ain't no life for me on land
  • The greatest #8: The Dreaming
  • Still I walk in darkness
  • Home of the cheesesteak, the beef piled sky high
  • Blogiversary #2
  • Blood rain
  • The best 15 films of 2007
  • The best 30 albums of 2007
  • The best 30 singles of 2007
  • The best 30 songs of 2007
  • The Greatest #6: Veedon Fleece
  • Behind the blog: Blogs Are For Dogs
  • It's winter again and New York's been broken
  • Blogiversary
  • Up high and ugly: Xiu Xiu MP3s
  • The Greatest #2: New Skin For The Old Ceremony
  • Behind the blog: The Passion of the Weiss
  • The best 15 films of 2006
  • Good clean fun: Clean Guns MP3s
  • Behind the blog: Music Is Art
  • United 93
  • The best 30 albums of 2006
  • The best 30 songs of 2006
  • The best 30 singles of 2006
  • The chapter in my life entitled San Francisco
  • The Up Series
  • Review #4: Ys by Joanna Newsom
  • Happy Yom Kippur
  • Rock bottom riser: Smog MP3s
  • Justin Ringle
  • Dan McGee
  • Sebastian Krueger, pt. 2
  • Sebastian Krueger, pt. 1
  • Bry Webb
  • Greg Goldberg, pt. 2
  • Greg Goldberg, pt. 1
  • Benoît Pioulard, pt. 2
  • Benoît Pioulard, pt. 1
  • Kevin O'Connor
  • Conrad Standish
  • Chris Bear
  • Owen Ashworth
  • Andrew Bujalski
  • My Photo
    Location: Brooklyn, NY

    The MP3s available here are for sampling purposes. Please support the artists by buying their albums and going to their shows. If you are the artist or label rep and don't want an MP3 featured, let me know. Links will otherwise stay live for about two weeks before they vanish into the ether.

    If you'd like to send music, art, writing or promo material for consideration, email me at nerdlitter[at]yahoo[dot]com. This site is designed in Firefox and may not look optimal in other browsers. You can get Firefox here.

    Powered by Blogger

    Monday, April 21, 2008

    For I am guilty for the voice that I obey

    Well, here it is, friends, my frontrunner for 2008's single of the year. I hope you can forgive that brief burst of hype, but superlative times like these call for superlative measures. That, and everybody I've played Portishead's "Machine Gun" for has responded strangely indifferently. One friend claimed it sounded like boilerplate industrial music. Another discounted it as repetitive and mopey. A third simply said he's heard better from the band. Meanwhile, this lead single from the forthcoming Third has left me totally floored. I think it's damn near miraculous Portishead can sound so timely after taking an eleven-year hiatus between studio albums.

    First things first, Beth Gibbons still sounds devastating and gorgeous. She invokes the most innocuous lines with deathly urgency. She floats above the chaos beneath like an angel filmed by Wim Wenders. When she sings of "the poison in my heart," there's no doubt some emotional toxin is truly eating away at her. Her lyrics are as bleak and cryptic as ever too, but on "Machine Gun," they seem to allude to our contemporary state. Her mentions of saviors, remedies, and sacrifices could take on geopolitical dimensions if you want them to. Or you can read it as a crisis of faith, religion disseminated at the butt of a gun. Or, and what's probably safest with Portishead, it's a personal condemnation. What's unmistakable though is that even the choices are rigged and that violence has penetrated us all.

    But even more central to this song's ferocity is its defiantly innovative instrumentation. It's great a band so defined by its signatures soundscapes saw fit to shed them entirely. Portishead in 2008 isn't trying to recapture its old glory or merely update successful formulas. They're pushing forward boldly, rewiring their whole musical circuitry. If their presentation of trip-hop was a thrilling synthesis of disparate styles, so too is "Machine Gun." You can hear the genetic strands of industrial music, drum-and-bass, ambient, and experimental electronic in the mix, but this is some recombinant version of those genres, a new animal born to some undefined genus.

    The percussion spikes under Gibbons like a bed of nails--sharp, exact, unyielding. It batters away mechanically, evoking both words of the title separately as well as the weapon they form together. The crossfire of the relentless beats and a reverbed choir of Gibbons sighing is almost unbearable in its tension. But the mood ratchets up regardless, building toward a sadistic last two minutes. With no vocals left, a possessed synthesizer suddenly starts groaning and wailing in the barrage. It reminds me of a helicopter fluttering above a war zone at first, but as it gets more emphatic, I think of someone being tortured. Its harsh squeals and discomfiting jumps in pitch could be a voice escaping a body without any choice. It's a pained, painful protest that sounds almost soulful next to the totalitarian drum machine. It's also a brilliant finale to a brutal song, an absolute stunner that pulls no punches and takes no prisoners.

    * MP3: "Machine Gun" - Portishead from Third [Preorder it]

    Comments on "For I am guilty for the voice that I obey"


    Anonymous Zilla Rocca said ... (10:15 AM) : 

    Fuck, that should've been the cover to the next Clean Guns album.


    Blogger Love Kpop said ... (3:44 AM) : 

    It seems I'm on the right track, I hope I can do well. The result was something I did and was doing to implement it.


    post a comment