Sunday, September 13, 2015

Song of the Day #200 - múm - The Land Between Solar Systems

Celebrating 200 Songs of the Day!

Can you believe it's only been 285 days since we hit the big 100? Huh? You can believe it? It's not actually impressive to try to run a daily blog feature and only do it 35% of the time? Hey well okay maybe but honestly I am actually pretty happy with myself for having stuck with it this long. There have been forgotten days and long gaps and phoned in ones, but I still wrote a lot about some of my favorite music and articulated some of the reasons I liked it, and hopefully helped some people find some new stuff that they might like. Song of the Day now regularly gets tens of viewers! Specifically between one and two tens of viewers, but hey! It's very encouraging to see! I have no idea who these people are, maybe they are just bots of some sort. Maybe those bots will now have a greater understanding of Young Thug! You may say that science has yet to build a computer program that can appreciate Young Thug. If that is true then science is indeed cruel to our artificial friends.

Okay but even if it was all bots and literally no one was reading these, I'd still keep doing them. It's very satisfying to see the number keep going up, and the list on the Song of the Day page get longer and longer. That's honestly the main thing. It's like a JRPG sort of appeal. It feels like I'm slowly chipping away at the gigantic ball of stuff in my head that I want to write, a dense mass of opinions that I feel a burning need to share, totally regardless of anyone else's actual caring. But okay actually to make a significant dent I'd have to do way more than one song per day ha ha ha but whatever the important thing is the feeling. Like seriously, it's very motivating. If I'm stuck on some other project, one that's more nebulous or intimidating, I can do Song of the Day and suddenly wow hey I can do stuff, I can write, I'm a writer-man guy, let's get cracking, or whatever. Or uhh if that fails then at least I've done this, which motivates me for tomorrow! I suggest everyone in any sort of creative project try this strategy - look for some easy subset of that project, one that will never be exhausted, and just do that whenever you want a sort of "warmup" or you feel stuck.

Thinking of Song of the Day wholly as some sort of "ez" thing is kinda limiting though. Although I truly love all the songs I've chosen, and have had definite periods of "repeat one" type obsession with them, I often shy away from what I consider my "true favorites" out of some sense that explaining the appeal of those songs will be too much work, that I wouldn't be able to do it justice, that it'd be better to save it for my grand "album reviewing project" (who knows when that'll ever happen lol) where I can explain it better in context.... It's fine, and sometimes I still manage to talk about something really special to me (although usually in a context where I dodge actually talking about it... like I think this one is gonna be lol) but sometimes it's also a bit frustrating.

There's that fear again...

So, in celebration of post 200, here's my actual favorite song at the moment. Like #1 most absolute favoritest. But like... what does that actually mean? This isn't the song I listen to most often, nor is it the one I'd take in some sort of one-song desert island scenario. When I talked to my cousin a long time ago about our favorite movies, this was the sort of reasoning he had behind his pick, it was something he could watch over and over again and not get sick of. I think there's something to that, but it isn't the metric I'd use... cause like... there are no actual desert island scenarios in real life, you actually do get to have a variety of things to enjoy, so why not operate in real world contexts?

Or, if you want an easy to understand unrealistic hypothetical that I'd actually subscribe to... if there was some magic spell that just undid songs from existence, like, they just erased them, and all memories of them, and the sadistic wizard controlling this spell forced me into some Fukumoto-esque gamble to save my library, this is the song I would hold onto last (I have to reasonably assume I'd completely lose this gamble because it's a wizard c'mon).

But the reasons behind that choice lie wholly in real life situations. Like, if I had to make some sort of ultimate mixtape thing (this could actually be a pretty fun project) this would be the closer. Or if there was one song that I'd put at the very core of my personal ur-aesthetic, my most foundational basis for what art and beauty are, it'd be this one. Maybe requiring such a thing isn't really a real life situation, but I think it's somewhat affirming and motivational sometimes, to have something like that.

It's also a very important song in terms of my memories and attachment to it... it's at the end of one of my favorite albums, one that I've listened to during or after many really precious times in my life... and, in a sense, being my favorite and the final song of the album, it collects all the memories and appreciation I have of the rest of the tracks, like, those aspects all "push forward" to the final track. Is that a legitimate reason for liking this song more? I'm reminded of a really old argument I had with a friend about whether or not the rest of a character's moveset should be considered when considering which move is the overall "best". But I think in this case it's all about just liking the song as much as possible. Any positive thing you can attribute to the song, anything that will make it even more important and precious to you, why not do it?

But beyond memories and established associations, I think this song would blow me away even if I heard it for the first time just now. If there was one song that I could say I was most impressed by, not like in "objective" terms where it'd be in the running with idk symphonies and such, but personally impressed by, like, impressed by how much it included things that I personally like, it'd definitely be this one. It's almost surreal how many of my favorite things about music in general are jammed into this one song, it feels like I'm dreaming a bit whenever I hear it.

What are these things? Well uhhh this is getting pretty long already and we still need to do our...

Pointless Stat Retrospective!!

Hahaha oh wow I love these. Again, it's a JRPG sort of appeal, and if that isn't a meaningful term to you I'm not gonna bother explaining it now. I'll show the 101-200 number first, and then the running total for all 200 in parentheses.

People rapping: 48% (53%)
No rapping, mostly synths: 23% (23%)
No rapping, mostly instruments: 29% (24%)

Wow I had exactly 23 electronica-y songs in both sections. That's a funny coincidence.

Country of Origin
America: 66% (69.5%)
Japan: 12% (12.5%)
United Kingdom: 9% (5.5%)
Canada: 6% (6%)
Iceland: 2% (1.5%)
Korea: 2% (1.5%)
Germany: 1% (1.5%)
Brazil: 1% (0.5%)
France: 1% (0.5%)
Hungary: 0% (0.5%)

Another funny coincidence: I used exactly 6 Canadian songs in both sections. Funny, funny.

Year of Release
2015: 40 (40)
2014: 18 (62)
2013: 4 (17)
2012: 6 (10)
2011: 4 (11)
2010: 4 (9)
2009: 3 (4)
2008: 0 (2)
2007: 1 (3)
2006: 4 (8)
2005: 2 (6)
2004: 1 (4)
2003: 1 (3)
2002: 2 (3)
2001: 1 (1)
2000: 1 (2)
1999: 1 (4)
1996: 1 (3)
1995: 1 (1)
1994: 0 (1)
1985: 1 (1)
1983: 1 (1)
1975: 0 (1)
1974: 1 (1)
1973: 1 (1)
1970: 0 (1)
1900: 1 (1)

Huh wow there was a lot more 2015 music this year than last year...

< 1 min: 0 (1)
1 min - 2 min: 5 (6)
2 min - 3 min: 15 (24)
3 min - 4 min: 31 (57)
4 min - 5 min: 20 (53)
5 min - 6 min: 19 (32)
6 min - 7 min: 5 (11)
7 min - 8 min: 0 (2)
8 min - 9 min: 0 (4)
9 min - 10 min: 1 (1)
11 min - 12 min: 1 (1)
12 min - 13 min: 2 (2)
15 min - 16 min: 1 (1)
> 36 min: 0 (1)

Total length: 7:23:52 (15:22:33)

Average length: 4:26 (4:37)

Artists featured more than once (full list here)

Young Thug - 10 (22)
Dr. Dre - 4 (4)
Shlohmo - 3 (5)
iLoveMakonnen - 3 (3)
Kendrick Lamar - 3 (4)
Mac DeMarco - 3 (3)
Marsha Ambrosius - 3 (3)
Kanye West - 2 (8)
Gucci Mane - 2 (4)
T.I. - 2 (4)
Waka Flocka Flame - 1 (4)
Drake - 2 (3)
Sufjan Stevens - 2 (3)
mum - 2 (3)
A$AP Rocky - 2 (3)
Joanna Newsom - 2 (3)
Heems - 2 (2)
Snoop Dogg - 2 (2)
matryoshka - 2 (2)
Father - 2 (2)
King Mez - 2 (2)
Four Tet - 2 (2)

Days since post #100: 285
% of days that I did Song of the Day during this time: 35.09%
Days since Song of the Day started: 503
% of days that I did Song of the Day total: 39.76%

Total length of all posts: 46928 words (69459 words)
Average length: 469.28 words (347.29 words)

Coolguy chart I made of how much effort I put in over time

Alright now time for AWARDS:

Longest Song: A Silver Mt. Zion - There Is A Light
This is a song that really functions through its length... when Efrim starts screaming out the title, you've already had 12+ minutes to contemplate the dark.

Shortest Song: matryoshka - Etude For Twelve Fingers
And this one functions through its shortness - when it's over, you're left with that all-too-brief "post dream" sensation, where you know something wonderful has transpired, but your memories only add up to a brief fragment.

Longest writeup (not including this one): Radiohead - The Bends
Okay this a kinda a cheater one where I wasn't really sure what to say about this classic song (it is kinda intimidating to approach such a thing, y'know) and I had just written this insane rambling argument for modern art to my friend so I figure okay whatever I'll just put this.

Shortest writeup: Lil B - I'm God
The other strat for approaching a certifiable classic masterpiece with a lot of emotional baggage etc etc is just to say basically nothing due to other commitments/overwhelming hype about something tangentially related.

Funny Coincidence Awards
Hey wow I wrote 437 words about Wolf Like Me and it's 4:37 long! And wowow guess how many words I wrote about Fetty Wap's 679? Like actually seriously 679 and I swear I didn't plan that. By the laws of Jungian synchronicity I think this means I get to win a lottery or something, or maybe all the privilege I already lucked into was actually just to facilitate these coincidences.

Most popular writeup: Heems - Patriot Act
This isn't a surprise cause this was the only one I promoted at all... I posted it to /r/hiphopheads, where it got uhh a lukewarm response. Well, whatever, I was pretty happy with it. Probably one of the Song of the Day posts I'm proudest of, one of the ones where I think I actually said something substantial, or at least tried to. The professor I mentioned emailed me back, by the way. She said she was very happy that I sent it in, and that she'd definitely try to include it next time she taught the course! Hooray!

Best intro: Joanna Newsom - Emily
This and Salad Days, probably the 2nd place, get my attention for the same reason: there's an immediacy to them that suggests a total disregard to traditional songwriting structure, and gives you a little glimpse of all the possibilities that could bring. She just lists three birds! What the hell is going on??

Best single noise: @1:28 in Burial & Four Tet - Nova
Something about the way it "warms" and "glows" through some sonic dimension beyond the comprehension of religion or science, but hopefully not unknown to you after you hear this song. It helps that it leads into what would win the award for "best single rhythm".

Best verse: Takeoff on Migos - Cross the Country
This one was super contentious but I gotta give it to Takeoff going like unreasonably hard for 2 minutes, an absolute triumph of everything I love in every trend in hip hop in this era. Plus, it has the best line winner in it: "I used to smoke Swishers, like a regular nigga/Now I'm a Backwoods type of nigga", which I will go well out of my way to mention any chance I can.

Best beat: Clams Casino on Lil B - I'm God
I sorta wanted to give it to Gone but c'mon really. While Dre managed to recreate his former glory, Clams basically created, defined, and perfected an entire genre here. Never again would the clouds open up like this.

Best title: matryoshka - Evening Gleam Between Clouds
On one level, it's sort of corny and obvious, like the sort of observation a beginning poet might make, but that's part of the appeal, maybe. Like it's something so beautiful that you can't help put want to put it in words. It also really helps that it so perfectly describes the wonderful music that follows, and they're such a good match, that the simple image is instantly imprinted onto you. Actually it would also pretty accurately describe "I'm God" but whatever.

Best ad-libs: iLoveMakonnen - Look At Wrist (ft. Father and Key!)
Man I was pretty sure that this would go to some Young Thug song, as he's still the undisputed master, but holy crap these "wrist"s and "look at God"s are just way too addictive.

Best new genre: denpabrostep: かめりあ feat. ななひら - ベィスドロップ・フリークス
There were a few contenders here: poemcoredancehallpussystrollerwavemakonnenism... but I gotta hand it to whatever geniuses at Konami heard a Skrillex song and were told "this is what kids like" and thought "why isn't it cute?".

Best lyrics: Sun Kil Moon - With a Sort of Grace I Walked to the Bathroom to Cry
They aren't the most subtle things, but that's what makes them so real. When you actually talk to the older generation they aren't gonna start waxing on like Yeats or Dylan about the sublime decaying light or whatever. They're gonna talk about moments in their life that they've remembered, and you're gonna hear right in their voice all the poetry you could ever want, and it's gonna be real as hell, and you aren't gonna be ready for it unless you practice up on songs like this.

Best transition: Joanna Newsom - Sapokanikan
To be real with you here, even though I'm like a tier-one Joanna Newsom fanboy, I wasn't really super feeling this song until it hit the halfway point and went from a sorta rambling wandering structure into an singular arc of subtle power that I don't think many could touch. It was like... when you're having a really good day, but you feel a little restless, because you know there's something that could happen at the end of it that would just make it perfect, and you don't know what it is, not a clue, and then it happens. Look and despair at this incredibly vague description.

Young Thug Award for Best Young Thug Song Because I Can't Let Young Thug Not Win An Award: Young Thug - OD
If you wondered exactly why I think Lil B's "I'm God" is such a big deal, the fact that this song almost certainly wouldn't exist without it is probably sufficient evidence. If Lil B is God, then Thugger is Jesus. This wins my "worst description" award and my "secretly best description" award.

Best Outro: múm - The Land Between Solar Systems
Okay jk we're gonna talk a bit about why I like this song because I'd feel lame if I didn't try at all. On the most basic level this has everything I like about mum, which are basically my most favorite things in music in general, and elements that form a sort of nameless shifting genre that I reserve for private, special, moments, and is basically sacred in my mind. What are they? Wind sounds! Warm rumbling noise! Soft female vocals! With slight staggered layering! Pianos that seem both creaky and old and physical and close, and also celestial and distant and perfect and incorporeal! The sudden introduction of a tight simple drum beat! That becomes more and more complex throughout! Sad, long, horns! That get solo sections! Non-verbal soft almost moe noises ("badoo, dah...")!  Long arcs of development with some repeating elements that intensify on each iteration! An overall structure of order being built from nothing descending into chaos that builds back into order! That chaos being just the most beautiful rumbling noisy thing you can imagine that seems to connect with something way down in your spinal fluid! Water samples! A "secret" verse later than you would have thought possible! An outro that feels like things both turning off and transcending your understanding! That final noise! Oh my God! How?

And the lyrical message of the song... it's so mysterious, so minimal, and yet something clearly so important is being said, something real and immediate, so that you arrive right at the border of understanding effortlessly, but you can't get any further... You can try, oh man, the number of times I've tried to come up with some story or poem or myth or moral that uses these few simple lyrics, and it never quite suffices... but it isn't frustrating! It doesn't seem impossible! Instead, it's compelling, richly engrossing, the sort of aesthetic that I really want to immerse myself in as fully and completely as possible. The sort of thing that feels like it could sustain anything, that anything could emerge from considering it.

And beyond the music and the lyrics and the interplay of these, there's the contextual meaning of all of this with the rest of the album. I think Finally We Are No One is largely about two conflicting forces: oblivion and closeness. It seems to have a narrative arc of... dissolution of the body, and the comfort that brings, but also the downside of distance... like, if you really let yourself completely fade into static, aren't you then alone? But it isn't Finally I Am No One, it's We. And here, on the last track, after you've wholly dissolved, is your journey through an emptiness far too large to imagine, but eventually you arrive, you arrive at the Other, at the paradisiacal swimmingpool hinted at throughout the album, where the horrors of both distinguishment and loneliness are at rest.

Now, I mean, it isn't just that the album is about that. I might think that it is, but it really doesn't matter. What matters is that the music feels like that. A feeling of dissociation, then distance, then warmness. It's a sleepy sort of feeling; I listen to this album a lot while going to bed. And it's also a coming home sort of feeling; I listen to this album a lot on busrides back from places. I'm not sure which order the causality goes in but it doesn't matter. It also feels like death, but of course I couldn't know. It's what I hope death feels like, at least: a journey into warm shared oblivion.

That'll probably be the best place to end, I guess. I hope you keep supporting my blogging efforts in the future. Please let me know if there's any genres or artists or something you'd like me to cover, I think it would be fun to explore new things or share areas of my own interest that I haven't touched on yet. I can't promise that I won't just ignore it in favor of whatever song has just come out of Atlanta, though. I still feel like I've only written about 1% of all the music I'd like to eventually write about... but, y'know, 1% is a start! It's a lot more than 0%! And all I can do is to keep doing my best and that's exactly what I'll do.


Anonymous said...

I suppose I should comment to let you know that 1) I am not a bot and 2) I love your writing about music and as long as you keep writing, I'll keep reading. As for what I'd like you to write more about - I'd love to hear more from you about the wonderful wizardry of Kool Ad cos it seems like hardly anyone is paying attention to him and cos the stuff you write about him tends to be brilliant. And more full album reviews! And it'd be great if you did more stuff about literature! And like obviously never stuff writing about Young Thug. Anyway congratulations on getting to 200 songs of the day and good luck with future writings :)

Anonymous said...

oops that should be "never stop writing about Young Thug"

Keatsta said...

Thanks so much for your comment! I'm very happy to hear that someone made of flesh and blood is enjoying my content :) Thanks for the suggestions, too! I have a bunch of blog posts about books in progress, hopefully some of them will finish up soon...