Nosound’s Teide 2390: Profoundly Delicate

nosound teide
Nosound.  Kscope, 2015.

Of all the bands I love and review, the hardest to review—without question—is Nosound.  At least for me.

This post is a perfect example to illustrate my failings.  I’ve had a copy of Nosound’s 2015 live album, TEIDE 2390, for nearly a year, and I’ve still not written a review.  And, if you know me, you know I’m obsessed with writing, and I’m especially obsessed with writing about what I love.

I was recently told as a criticism: in my writing, I “fling superlatives.”  My response to this is: “why, yes, I absolutely and most certainly love to fling superlatives.”  It’s true.  Just imagine what I’m like when I’m lecturing to forty 19-year olds.

With Nosound, however, it’s really, really (sometimes outrageously!) hard to fling superlatives.  Why?  Because everything glorious about Nosound is understated, tasteful, and minimalist.  As a 48-year old Kansan, I just don’t do minimalist well.  At least when it comes to writing.  Yet, I know and appreciate minimalism—especially when it comes to the computers and gadgets designed by Steve Jobs (rest in peace) or the music so lovingly crafted by Mark Hollis or Arvo Part.

Enter Giancarlo Erra.  His Nosound is profoundly delicate.  Not effete.  By not means, effete.  Never.  But, certainly delicate.

As I’ve written before, Erra is a genius, plain and simple.  This is as clear in his photography as it is in his music and his lyrics.  Again, far from effete, he approaches art and the world of art and creativity with an extreme sensitivity.  His creativity in his photography is as much about what is not there as it as about what is there.

The same is even more true of his music.  Nosound is as much about silence as it about notes.

Throw in Erra’s somewhat mystical lyrics and dream-like vocals and you find yourself—as a listener—fully immersed in his world, drifting along some radically natural psychedelic dream state.

His lyrics deal with frustration, loss, desire, hope, depression, joy, and everything that matters in this world and, perhaps, in the next.

A little over seventy-five minutes in length and recorded in September, 2014, on a Spanish island, TEIDE 2390 demonstrates that Erra’s genius is not merely in the studio.  As he’s demonstrated before—his live version of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” is possibly better than the original version from the early 1970s (heresy, I know!)—he knows exactly how to create a full minimalist sound, even on stage and away from the hyper-controlled environment of a professional studio.  This is no small achievement, as the music demands the full attention of an audience that probably would not mind head banging.  No one head bangs to Nosound.  Instead, one swirls, and rides, and flies, and soars, and dips, and drifts.

I think it’s probably fair to state that many proggers like their music heavy and fast.  Erra reminds us so importantly that we need to breathe as well.

U2 and Apple: An Editorial of Gratitude

Joshua Tree era U2.  Young, angry Irishman in the New World.
Joshua Tree era U2. Young, angry Irishman in the New World.

As is more than well known, U2’s latest album showed up in every single person’s iTunes library, wanted or not. A cursory google search reveals how angry this gratuity made a whole lot of folks out in the world. The complaints run as follows: if rock is free, it’s not rock; pulling out guys in their fifties to celebrate the latest piece of technology is just tacky; the music is terrible., etc., etc., etc.

My reaction to these reactions is so strong, my head (and maybe my soul) really really really want to explode. Really.

Admittedly, I’ve not kept up with U2 as well as I once did.

For what it’s worth, I was rather obsessed with them from 1982 to 1987. My love of U2 never came close to equaling my love of Rush, Talk Talk, Yes, or even Thomas Dolby at the same time, but I still knew about everything there was to know about the four guys from Ireland.

To this day (September 12, 2014), I think October and The Joshua Tree are two of the greatest rock albums ever made, “New Year’s Day” a contender for the greatest rock song ever written, and “Under a Blood Red Sky” second only “Exit Stage Left” as the greatest live album of all time.

I still can’t listen either to October or The Joshua Tree (the latter especially) without becoming emotional. The first time I listened to The Joshua Tree, I cried and cried. Perhaps not very manly, but certainly very human. Bono’s voice and lyrics spoke to my lifelong desire for social justice.

As strange or paradoxical as it is seems to me now, I can state with some certainty that while Neil Peart’s lyrics taught me to love myself, Bono’s lyrics taught me to love that which is not myself.

I thought Rattle and Hum a great rockumentary, and I continued to defend—sometimes vehemently—U2’s music post “Rattle and Hum.” I couldn’t do that now. While I think post-Rattle and Hum U2 is very, very good, it’s not excellent. U2 enjoyed a streak of genius from Boy to The Joshua Tree. After 1987, though, it did great things but not brilliant ones. The song with Johnny Cash on Zooropa and Fez from No Line on the Horizon still show that old brilliance, but the glimpses of genius have become rarer as U2 has aged.

I’m sure there are reasons for this, though I’m not sure I could identify them easily. I do think that U2’s social justice made much more sense in the Cold War than it does in the post Cold War period. By this, I don’t mean that Social Justice is less important than it was in the 1980s. It’s ALWAYS important. It’s just that the social justice U2 espoused was anti-Cold War, a focus on problems that did not fit into the Cold War scheme of things. With the Cold War over, U2’s position seems less full, somehow watered down. In hindsight, I think their positions were necessarily anti-Cold War as opposed to a-Cold War. The troubles of early 1980’s Ireland or South Africa just don’t hold the kind of gravitas they once did.

Tim Cook and three members of U2, September 9, 2014.

This is all a very long way of saying to U2 and to Apple, thank you. When I look back at my 1980s, Steve Jobs stands next to Bono as heroes. Both spoke for excellence in the human condition. I have no problems with the two being connected, in my memory or in the actual present. Do the guys of U2 looks like they’re in their fifties. Three of the four do. The Edge still looks young. But, hey, who cares? Age is utterly and completely relative. Do I at 47 act like I did at 22? Thank God, NO! Wouldn’t it be much worse if U2 spent their money on plastic surgery rather than advocating aid for the poor in Africa?

And, I really, really like the new album. Is it The Joshua Tree. No. Is it even Actung, Baby? No. Is it good? Yes. Bono’s voice still sounds excellent, the lyrics are quite strong, and, perhaps most importantly, the music is completely earnest. No gimmicks, no fads, no tricks—just four older guys making music.

Thank you, Tim Cook. Thank you, four guys from Ireland.


[P.S.  This is my 500th post at progarchy.  Tempus fugit.]