Expressing the inexpressable

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

Music. It calls to me. There’s something visceral about it. It grabs me and twists my gut, weaving its way into my subconscious. Songs stick in my mind, they refuse to leave, perfect ear worms. The above song, “Speedway” by Morrissey is one of these songs (I can’t help it. I move to the UK and I develop a love of the Smiths and Morrissey’s solo stuff). I listen to his stuff while working; I find it to be just the sort of thing I need to get focused.

But enough on Morrissey (for this post).

Music in itself. I find myself drawn to it, perhaps more than any other art form (strange, for a writer/painter/graphic designer). I’m stopped by its sheer incredibility. The range of emotions, the sense of calm, fear, love evoked by notes expresses the human condition more than words or paintings ever could.

To quote Aldous Huxley, “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”

The past few months have been difficult ones for me. The coursework has been particularly strenuous in a different way from last term. My health hasn’t been the best (nothing serious, just atrocious colds and uncomfortable back injuries). Things haven’t been going as I had hoped–not poorly, but not as well as my internal narrative wanted.

The other day, I went into St Giles Cathedral to look around. A string quartet practiced for the evening performance. As the violin sang out, the cello setting a steady pace, my heart soared, leaped, fell, felt, repeated. The starting and stopping as the musicians ran through their piece struck me. It was, in its imperfection, exactly as I felt. There was joy, frustration, repetition.

Words failed me. Visual arts failed me. Yet music fit where no other expression would. It was fleeting, yet permanent, the memory to be one of the strongest I have.

My strongest memories are tied around music. The two best concerts I’ve been to have had moments of transcendence–from the Who, when Roger Daltrey sang portions of Tommy, a medley that meant so much to me, given that I had listened to that album ad nauseum the summer before. The second was the Swell Season, when Glen Hansard got the audience to join in on the chorus of ‘Back Broke.’ The effect was haunting, uniting, beautiful. For moments at both of these gigs, the music transcended. That’s all that mattered.

What’s on the Turntable? Vol. II

What's On the Turntable?

The other day I went on a trip to my local record shops, which was a welcome journey. While there, I picked up a new CD! Hurray! I’ve been dying for new music.
The CD I got is Burn the Maps by The Frames. It’s a strange, unpredictable little album by the Irish rockers. The album opens with “Happy,” a mostly instrumental tune with the vocals mixed to the background. Burn the Maps definitely takes at least two listens to get used to, but I’ve noticed that a lot of really good albums do (Tommy, Arthur, etc).

“Fake” is a poppy little number, perhaps disposable but its the most readily accessible to the usual pop fan.

There’s plenty to like about the album–soaring violins, Glen Hansard’s rough vocals, and the ability of the album to transport you to a completely different place.

The album is not one that I would recommend starting out with if you’ve never listened to The Frames before. Try Set List first.

A good, live version of their song “Keepsake.”