Everything with me must be grave, emotionally burdensome, cathartic, immobilizing. I’m a serious guy. Always have been, to a fault. Levity is not my strength. If I attempt it, my act crumbles. In my mind, all art forms must be disconcerting and mortifying if I am to respect them. This is the reason I dislike most bubble gum pop crap. Music must rattle me. It must strike a chord deep in my soul. If music is insincere or formulaic, I want nothing to do with it. I will not waste my time on music like this. This essentially covers most modern pop music. Music is not a form of enjoyment. Not for me. Music must devour me from the inside out. Music must have something to say and say it well. I don’t care about the message per se, but I do care about the motives the artist had for recording the song. I believe there are some great love songs because the artists sing about love from a pit of perception that the typical crappy American Idolized puppet rehashing the same old song over and over can never relate to. I respect music that comes from the heart, music that is flagrantly unconcerned with profit or market share. I don’t like music that says nothing. I want music to be a grueling experience. Or why even bother listening?
Even if a song’s lyrics suck, the song can redeem itself musically if it ventures boldly into technique and mechanics that are groundbreaking and wildly unique. So while I may prefer a song’s lyrics to be poetic and insightful, it’s not necessary if the musicianship dares to make a statement by virtue of its form alone.
A song that can make me cry!
I live for this. I live for musical torment. What purpose is an experience that leaves you unblemished? Life is too short to spend it dwelling in the vacuous Billboard top 40. We must experience harshness and welcome the distaste. We must weep. Music should accompany us on this mortal journey of gloom. Otherwise it does me no good.
Moby has always been one of my favorite musicians. I’m not such a fanboy of electronica or techno that I detest his legacy as some seem to do. I like his music. I enjoy his melodramatic mixes and the way he lapses into occasional profuse waves of high-energy sampled insanity. And many of his lyrics are bitingly sweet. A few years ago he teamed up with alternative vocalist, Kelli Scarr, to record his album, “Wait For Me.”
The 10th track is called “jltf.” Moby’s doomed instrumentals coalesce after the song begins into a morose procession of apprehension. The music marches toward an impending finale that Scarr’s unapproachable vocal laments narrate for us. Her voice’s timber is ensconced firmly on the frequency wavelength that directly disrupts and upsets the foolishness of your placid heart. As with all thoughtful lyricism, “jltf” has two meanings. The superficial story of junkies counting out their remaining days. There is another level to be discovered to those earnest enough to spend mental energies scrutinizing the lyrics, as I am fond of doing. A deeper, oblique symbolism can be teased out if you allow yourself to delve more deeply than is healthy. Scarr’s voice is angelic, darkly angelic. She is the siren but she is bringing the doom to you. Stand clear but listen hard.