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vendredi, novembre 18, 2005

danger, stranger

i like slightly embarassing artists

i saw architecture in helsinki play live yesterday evening, ten or eleven people constantly prancing here and about the stage, shouting in unison, gyrating and rotating in front of the mics, most of them not your regular overlooked musicians with the regular fringy haircut, either too chubby or trembling on their feet and emanating a lovely odor of uncertainty and freedom, and i just loved them for this (and their great, great songs, but that' s another story, and i'm weighing up you have all the wonderful in case we die in your record collection, and if you don't, now you know you should), or, did i? i mean, they do look like a high school big band playing at the end of the year's party, they do cover wilson pickett and the zit remedy (i don't want to embarass you, reader, but it indeed comes from this canadian tv show), and they really are embarassing at moments. there's some weird sense of affection, tenderness invoked, and it's really weird to feel that way at a rock concert. is it part of the show or have our artcore indie minds mutated in such a way that we love to see people that exactly look like our best friends prancing onstage like they are having fun at a party?

the thing with architecture in helsinki's weird attitude is that their music itself is not particularly sweet; it is fast, shattered, dense, witty, demanding at time, interspersing bursts of weirdness inside cheerful tunes. yet all the danger's gone when they play live, and you end up wondering if your own cheer wasn't just communicated by that cheerful fatty whirling around like a stumbling star who acted like it was her first time on a stage. the gap between the music and the people playing it is really huge. there is absolutely none of the intense sense of awe, admiration, grandeur involved when you're witnessing a concert or listening to music by great self-controlled artists, Smog, Stephin Merritt, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, you name them.
reading edith frost's enormous blog, i feel a similar tension, a similar schizophrenia at work. frost is a rather embarassing person (she describes herself as "rollerskating enthusiast" and she's a webdesigner, for god's sake), she like to take pictures of herself with her friends. yet her records, her songs, are extremely precious to me. i've been listening to her music constantly for five years. she's definitely one of my favorite songwriter and performer of all time. and her new album, "it's a game", on first listen and for the first time, really looks like how she likes to show herself on this damn blog (i wrote a lengthy review in the new issue of chronicart, in case you're interested), i.e., fragile, insecure, imposing, loathsome at times. is it a big let-down? the thing is, it's not, at all. i love all the songs. more than that: i cherish every single one of them, with some curious sense of embarassment and affection added. frost desecrates herself all along, playing the part of the fooled lover with the acid liver, and displaying all the flaws of her voice with no prudishness. she is embarassing. she is amazing. she's all too amazing because she is embarassing. where is the danger in that, you should ask. what is that kind of art, that involves our selves in such a way that it asks for our softness and leniency, our attachment, and in the end, our friendship, asking us to shout along instead of our admiration?

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