Friday, June 16: King Diamond, “The Invisible Guests”
It wasn’t quite as strong as the career-defining Abigail, but “Them” was King Diamond’s best-selling album, as well as the one
that truly separated King’s solo band discography from his epochal work with
Mercyful Fate. With former Fate
colleagues and original King Diamond lineup stalwarts Michael Denner and Timi
Hansen departed and replaced by Pete Blakk and Hal Patino, Andy LaRocque took
the reins as King’s primary musical foil and crystalized the band’s shredding
goth metal approach. Indeed, it was the
combination of King’s multi-faceted vocals and LaRocque’s warp-speed riffing
that made stormers like “The Invisible Guests” first-rate Euro metal
barnburners. Of course, as was often the
case with King Diamond’s first few records, Mikkey Dee’s frantic drumming was a
vital secret weapon, giving the song its unrelenting momentum and helping to
place it among “The Family Ghost” and “A Mansion in Darkness” as King Diamond’s
finest ragers. In essence, “The
Invisible Guests” captured King Diamond in its prime, distilling the horror,
technicality and primal force into a cohesive and lethal whole.
“I’m a star.. ‘cause I slay, I slay, I slay all day”, Beyoncé proclaims in her highly anticipated sixth record, Lemonade. And it’s true that Beyoncé makes the world stop when she steps her foot forward into the music scene. Lemonade like self-titled demonstrates Beyoncé taking creative risks and tiptoeing on the rougher borders of pop music.
What makes Lemonade magnificent and one of a kind is the visual movie that accompanies the album. Beyoncé has set a high standard in the industry with self-titled because every song was accompanied by a music video. With Lemonade, Beyoncé lands on new ground when she premieres the hour-length movie on HBO to accompany this visual album. A wise decision especially the fact the movie perfectly presented the different stages of grief, which is the central theme of this deeply personal and audacious record.
In 2004, chagrin was a probable symptom of being an Animal Collective fan, but it was a justified feeling, since AnCo shows were mostly comprised of material that was then-unknown to the public. Back in October last year, in honor of the tenth anniversary of their album Feels, the group uploaded a live recording of theirs at the legendary Chapel Hill venue Cat’s Cradle; from 11/18/04, the setlist was based on performing Feels material, even though the album’s release wasn’t due for another year. The recording is fraught with warped vocals, drones, and obfuscated samples – rendering these kinds of motifs tends to be the job of Geologist, and he was presumably responsible for them here – which are live psychedelic enhancements to music that was becoming more familiar with each subsequent show.
By Feels’ official debut, on 10/18/05, Geologist and Deakin had rejoined Animal Collective. The two had briefly left after 2003’s Here Comes The Indian, stranding Avey Tare and Panda Bear as a duo on 2004’s Sung Tongs, the duo’s effort that immediately precedes Feels chronologically, in terms of full-lengths. Tongs’ rampant, manic acoustic aerobics integrated AnCo into the “freak folk” movement, which features peers such as Akron/Family and Vashti Bunyan – the latter of whom they collaborated with on the 2005 EP Prospect Hummer, just months before Feels’ release.
[Chapel Hill live recording]
With Avey and Panda itching to expand above and beyond their freaky, minimalist folk on Sung Tongs, Feels was like their ecstasy: mists of reverb are ubiquitous, the scales and notes of riffs hum interminably, tempos drift along however they please. It’s not a complete departure, though, sounding just as freakish and bipolar as Sung Tongs. Throughout Feels, Avey shifts between soft baritone and cavalcades of shrills in a flash, reaching the apex of a crescendo just milliseconds after he was at the nadir, and the overall instrumentation swerves between jangling noise and spacious euphony. But at its core, amidst all of its eccentricity, Feels is a love story. Avey Tare, as insane of a singer as he sounds, is capable of loving – and, according to his tropes, is capable of overcoming breakup. The album title is accurate: this is an installation of Avey’s “feels”.
When Avey sings of a romantic downfall, he paints a surreal, yet allegorical tale: “Look we’ve had similar stitches / Look we have similar frowns / Do the elderly couples still kiss and hug and grab their big wrinkly skin?” (from “Did You See The Words”). How long does love last? Obviously not too long for Avey, but then how do grandparents and other elders manage to maintain a bond? Does their love ever die out? From “Did You See The Words” on up to “The Purple Bottle,” Avey is at his most neurotic, and that’s encapsulated via the ebullient manicness of the music. His romantic neuroses and desperation are most frank on “The Purple Bottle”: “Can I call you just to hear you? / Would you care?”
There’s a change of style and emotion by “Bees” – it’s from that track to “Loch Raven” that Feels is spacious euphony. The chords of koto swipes drag out for long intervals as “Bees” progresses, frosted with subdued moans (that type of sound gets vocalized by Panda Bear), bubbly high-end guitar, and piano cascades. Open-endedness and calm are key: “I’ll take my time / You’ll take your time.” Instead of putting all of his mental energy into his ex – obsessing over what she’s currently up to, who’s her new partner, etc. – Avey’s letting go. Excessive thinking is pointless and unfruitful, it doesn’t rekindle anything, and Avey’s persona realizes this. Personal calamities are inevitable, as noted on “Banshee Beat.” Tying back to the album title: “That either way you look at it you have your fits / I have my fits but feeling is good.”
Feels’ tracklist acts juxtapositionally, with a notable dichotomy between the first four songs and the following four. In this way, it symbolizes relationships: the first suite is a representation of companionship and the second is one of solitude, as in a relationship with oneself. With “Bees,” “Banshee Beat,” “Donald Duck,” and “Loch Raven,” the band is soundest, the result of a lyrical and sonic emphasis on aloneness and seeking comfort within the outdoors. Avey sings of bees, swimming pools, and farms; he even recommends rural living to his ex: “What you need’s a happy farm / With happy goats and sheep” (from “Daffy Duck”). Closer “Turn Into Something” summates both faces of the tracklist: the first part being jamboree and the latter part, which concludes the album, being pristine ambience.
Animal Collective has been a band reliant on nature-themed aesthetics, and they’ve cultivated an idiosyncratic magic because of their taught bond with the organic. Feels is AnCo’s fusion of human grievances and nature’s zen; sometimes neurotic and other times calm. Ten years on, the album sparks a subconscious urge to throw away the smartphone, forget that ephemeral bullshit, and become one with the forest and countryside.
Gear Love: Baths at Converse Rubber Tracks Live Boston
Will Wiesenfeld’s Baths builds intimate sonic ecosystems out of pulsing drum patterns, haunting synth tones, and a precise sense of organic fragility. Live, he performs as a duo with former Azeda Booth member Morgan Greenwood.
Dean girls are dominating! Requested by anon :) As is the usual until I get to reposting my more recent posts, I’ve edited and added on to this imagine in hopes of increasing the quality. As a result, this imagine once deemed lengthy is now lengthier, and it looks a bit longer because of the dialogue. Hope you like it!
You woke to the sound of violent retching coming from within the cupboard of a bathroom that was all your crappy-as-usual motel room had to offer, the walls constantly closing in on you, claustrophobia induced by the cramped corridors. Looking to your left, you saw Sam sleeping, too big for his bed, his feet spilling over the footboard like a waterfall of limbs, his hand dangling close enough to the floor for his fingernails to graze the faux wood. To your right, no Dean nestled within the bedsheets. It didn’t take you long to connect the dots. You groaned, tossing your head back as the haze of slumber deserted your body, joints fizzling as you worked your way from the covers, another heave from the oposite end of the bathroom door confirming your suspicions.
You ran to the bathroom door, palms slapping the thin wood in a panicked form of knocking. Dean and you had been dating for something close a year, and you had yet to see him sick… this was a foreign experience for you, your own discomfort and lack of experience in the field causing your soothing intentions to come off a tad rickety. Something hard hit the door, a boot maybe? The wood shuddered at the contact, vibrations shocking through your palms and into your bones. Wow, he really didn’t want you to see him like this. You slowly found your voice, crackly though it was from lack of use and thick from your ecent awakening.
“Dean? Baby, are you alri-” more horrific gurgles cut your tentative whisper off mid-sentence, followed by a groan. You cleared your throat. Muffled curses came with within. “Babe, open the door. Let me in.” You pressed, your lips against the paneling of the bathroom door.
“Y/n, no. I’m heaving major chunks in here. No way am I letting you in,” he sounded strangled, his illness spiking his vocal chords, creating a warped voice unlike his usual gruff tone. He spat into the toilet, or at least you hope he spat into the toilet, before his boots rested against the door, securing his privacy and locking you out. “Its like a toxic waste zone in here.” He strained.
“Hey Dean? Greasy pork on a dirty ashtray,” Sam said, passing you his lock pick, a smirk tugging his mouth upwards at the corners. More vomitting ensued on Dean’s end of the door as Sam snickered, relishing in sweet revenge. You slapped him in the stomach as he walked away, probably to the kitchen for some celebratory coffee, you hand stinging from the minor attack on Sam’s muscled abdomen. You inserted the lockpick into the door’s keyhole, picking the lock with enviable efficiency and threw your weight into the door, leadin with your shoulder, the bathroom coming into view as you straightened yourself to a standing position. Dean was curled over the toilet, long legs sprawled in what couldn’t be a comfortable position, having been knocked by brute force away from the path of the door’s swing, the stubble pocketing his jawline dark in contrast to his flesh, his face pallid and pale as a sheet… just not the sheets at your motel. No, you lucked out with the mysteriously pigmented stains on your sheets. You’d much rather he resembled those, at least then he’d have some colour about him.
You crouched beside him, flushing the remnants of his last five meals down the toilet, moving to run your hands over his hunched shoulders. You set to helping him slowly to his feet, his body wight leaning into your frame, limbs hanging limply as you hefted him to his feet. His head lolled about like a ragdoll as you slipped his arm over your shoulder, your body prepared to crutch him to his sheet metal mattress. You paused before beginning your journey, pressing the backside of your free hand to his forehead. Hot as a July black-top, he was, and growing warmer with each second you spent in contact with his feverish face.
“It’s not that bad, Dean. You’ve got Fetch,” you said. Dean made a weak sound of confusion. You exhaled sharply, remembering his lack of knowledge on your childhood memories, your father’s term for ‘unidentifiable, unexplained illness’ falling on deaf, unaware ears. “It means you have a little bit of everything bad. But you’ll be fine. I’ve got you.” Dean nodded at your words, his head swaying a bit to the side as he did, his red rimmed eyes closing against the spinning no doubt turning his stationary world turbulent. Sam went out to buy painkillers and cold remedies downtown, a forty minute drive, while you took Dean’s shoes, socks and leather jacket off, laying him against the mattress as you did so, his form hunching over you, his jaw clenching against bursts of nausea. You tucked him into your bed once you had rid him of his daily clothing, leaving him in boxers and a tee shirt, kissed him on the forehead (which easily could have slow-cooked a Thanksgiving turkey in under thirty minutes, it was so hot) and fetched him a bottle of water for when his fever made him thirsty. Needless to say, the water wasn’t about to come from the tap. Not in this dump. Hell, it might even kill him in his condition.
“Y/n, if you’re going to dote on me, which is unnecessary since I can take care of myself,” you scoffed at this as Dean’s eyes blinked out of time with each other, but Dean continued, ”you might as well make some soup or something.” He flashed you a tired grin, his eyes closing partway in a pathetic imitation of his usual smile, breaking your heart into itty-bitty pieces. You were unsure of how much he could stomach, but you popped a can of Campbell’s on the hotplate to humor him, watching the electrical socket with weary hawk eyes when Dean’s focus left you.
While his soup was cooking, you sat beside him with a soggy facecloth to wipe away the beads of sweat that gathered on his forehead. He murmured his thanks, stealing kisses on your wrists and fingers, occasionally reaching up to caress your face with shaking, sweaty palms. When you went to wet the washcloth again, when he thought you weren’t looking, he would grimace and roll his head back on the sweat-drenched pillows, his back arching in agony. He was in serous pain, but he was soldiering through it, just like he always did. Trying to play the tough guy, as per usual. You sat at his bedside and hummed Metallica to keep him calm… and because he asked you to, his voice crackling like a bonfire. He was so vulnerable, you would do anything to distract him from the pain. He hummed along, holding your hand loosely while you rubbed tiny circles into the back of his clammy hands with your thumb.
“How did a guy like me land such a killer girlfriend? No pun intended.” he mumbled, half-asleep. You chuckled, dabbing at his neck, tracing his collarbones with the maroon cloth, your eyes focused on his lips. They moved even when he wasn’t speaking, whispering phantom phrases. They were chapped and swollen, blood drying on his lower lip from where the skin had split.
“Maybe the Universe decided to even out all your cruddy luck,” you whispered. The humming had stopped. Dean’s hand tightened slightly around yours. You could tell was using all of his strength, but it wasn’t much. Your eyes met his soft, emerald ones, his irises shot through with golden shards. With his eyelids nearly closed, he looked half-dead, and it frightened you. With heavy breathing and a quivering bottom lip, Dean managed to hiss you the words “I love you so much,” before drifting off to fever-induced sleep.
You were shocked, crouched by his bed with a cold, wet towel in your hands and five paralyzing words replaying in your mind. The fever made him delirious, you assured yourself. Did he really just say that? The smell of something burning brought you to your senses. You ran to the kitchen, poured the canned chicken and noodles into a bowl, then rushed back to your boyfriend, still asleep. You brushed his mess of brown hair away from his face, moving sweat-slick strands from their places shellacked to his skin, running your fingers down the side of his neck. Not caring that Sam wouldn’t be back for a while, not caring that he had thrown up no more than twenty fie minutes ago, you lowered your lips to his. Even in sleep, your ghost of a kiss made him smile.