Friday, November 29, 2013

Throwing Muses - Purgatory/Paradise

Throwing Muses - Purgatory/Paradise


Looking at the running times of each track on Purgatory/Paradise, a third of which hover around the one minute mark, it could be a film score. In a very real way, it's is the soundtrack to the last ten years in the lives of Kristin Hersh, Bernard Georges and Dave Narcizo, the book that comes with it being a treatment for the script.

Throwing Muses have always been an example to other bands; they had a whole scene built around them in the mid 80s, and when they settled into the mid 90s alt-rock scene, a scene they had a big hand in creating, they settled near the top. Another decade after that, Kristin Hersh became a pioneer of crowdfunding for music. The better part of another decade later, Purgatory/Paradise sets an example that not many are likely to follow, albeit the same one being set this year by a number of veterans, including My Bloody Valentine, Richard Thompson and Wire: how to make a great rock album in the early 10s.

 If the film to which Purgatory/Paradise could be a soundtrack existed, it would be a disjointed, meandering narrative, telling the story out of order. Before the 32 song, 67 minute long album can take hold, what does make an impression is the sound. It's not lo-fi, but it's far from slick. It's very real, very human; the drums sound like drums rather than someone bouncing a basketball in an empty church. The album was mastered with an uncommonly light touch, and given the number of soft-loud transitions, it was the only way to do it. If the sound is human, then accordingly the music is direct. Whether it's a quiet, contemplative number or a strident rocker, you can imagine three people in the studio playing those instruments, and if there's any singer who sounds as if she might crawl through the speakers Ring style at any given moment, it's Kristin Hersh. Each of the songs carves out its own space while functioning as part of the album as a whole. Paradoxically for an album with so many songs, Purgatory/Paradise should be able to remind any willing listener of a time before they had thousands of albums and when their relationship with a song was deeper because of it. In 2013, releasing 32 songs that are worth listening to would have been enough, but it wasn't enough for Throwing Muses; these songs demand to be listened to.

Related:

50 Foot Wave - With Love from the Men's Room EP
Flux Capacitor: Throwing Muses - Untitled
My 200 Favourite Albums of All Time

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thanks for the memories, Winamp

Sex, War & Robots