I just realized, I've made two CHUD references in two reviews. WTF? I really don't know why. In case anyone is wondering - it's an acronym that stands for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. If I was to guess at the reason for the density of these references, I could trace it as far back as me having an acid trip during which I believed the world had been destroyed in a singularity that brought about nuclear apocalypse. A year or so later, still obsessed with the apocalypse (or any apocalypse), I re-read Stephen King's novel "The Stand", which still had a hook in my subconscious, despite the sorry spectacle of his sell-out cash-in wrap-up to "The Dark Tower". That got me re-evaluating my impressions of Stephen King's other novels, mostly formed while a formative juvenile, which has its pros and cons.
Anyway, The Stand stood the test of time, and so did It, although I confess, I never bothered to re-read that one thousand page Maineviathan, just did a lil skimming, just between you and me. Wouldn't want to make a multi-millionaire cry bitter salty tears, even if they do turn into jellybeans. Anyway, there's a whole chapter in there, I vaguely recollect, called "The Ritual of CHUD". There's also a lot of action that takes place in and under the sewers of Derry, Maine, and a giant spider that eats children and shapeshifts, and, well, various other things. It's a long book. And it's got killer neologisms, like "deadlights", that I came up with independently, I swear! And I guess the sewer dweller of primordial origin that came from some other universe that The Turtle didn't regurgitate has seemed relevant to me lately for some reason, as well as the confluence of other factors that are related to cannibals, humanoids, undergrounds, and/or dwellers. I can see the self-parody concrescing like a chrysanthemum phosphene on steroids.
I probably wouldn’t have listened to the David Bowie / Brain Eno collaboration “Low”, in the first place, if Pitchfork hadn’t called it: THE GREATEST ALBUM OF THE 1970s. Yes, “The”. It’s kind of like those mainstream academic lit snobs pronouncing Ulysses the greatest novel of the 20th century. No one's saying it's not great, but who the hell actually reads that thing?
You know how you like to flip on some music in the car or the living room, something cool, something that says something about you for playing it, and you wait for that golden moment when the people you're with ask what it is, and you tell them, and they say, “Oh, that's cool, I should check them out”, and you say “It's a solo artist actually”, and then you turn them onto this great thing, and feel great about it, and the music is mutually enjoyed? Low is useless for that.
It's not a hang out and play and feel cool album, which is at least one of the criteria necessary for THE "best of the decade" pick. See, you can soak in sonic bliss with “OK Computer”, Pitchfork's ‘90s pick, and you can soak in sonic, uh, youth, with “Daydream Nation”, Pitchfork’s ‘80s pick. But Low? No. Just try it, I dare you.
So, according to my review, it's over-hyped, which is only the fault of the hypers, but is the worst sin, and my raison d’vitriol. I can’t stand over-hyped things, blue skies, lobsters, you know. So Pitchfork hyped it, and killed it for me. I’d probably love Low if I’d “discovered” it on my own, and had some claim to lay. And why does it have to be a “hang out and feel cool” album? Maybe it’s a headphone album, right? Sit down, close your eyes, and listen. Well, I guess I haven't found the right place to sit or the right pair of headphones. But I’ll give it another try.
It starts promising, innovative studio tricks draw my attention on the opener “Speed of Life”. It’s an almost down-to-earth track, it’s cool WITH you, not AT you. Low kind of caresses your face at first, then begins to claw at it like a clingy tweaker. Trademark Bowie/Eno chutzpah to open with an instrumental. Then we’re into standard B-side Bowie happy-go-lucky turgidness, sarcastic and why should I care? It’s very brevity says something, I’m sure. Yeah. It’s surely the sound of... something. Something I’ll never know, so I’ll slag it.
“Be My Wife” is more sound of something with obnoxious hammering piano bass. So maybe it’s supposed to be obnoxious. If I google-imaged the original gate fold, would everything become clear? It’s so sound of something, I’m soaking in it. Something to do with the late ‘70s, proto-‘80s, and Bowie, and hitting an all-time low, and Eno’s new music machines. Another portal to nowhere. Actually it’s more of a porthole, grimy glass in the bowels of a vessel, starship, steamship, who knows and who cares? A good Bowie album is a portal, transportative.
“Always Crashing in the Same Car”. Good titles, anyway. Makes me wanna say, “let the children boogay”. Neato sound effects. They do some cool things with their new machines. The songs are deceptively songlike, drums and bass where they're supposed to be, but ultimately subsumed in conceptual noodling. Very soulful conceptual noodling though. Or perhaps soulless conceptual noodling, same difference?
I have to admit, there’s something intriguing about trying to connect these sickly synths with titles like “A New Career in a New Town”. Problem is, I'm not stoned enough to really relish the task. Also, I doubt the comic value of the music is intentional. Sorry guys, I'm from the World of Tomorrow, it's not your fault.
The second “side” (I know, I’m not worthy to review this album), starting with “Warszawa”, is where it really begins to justify my scorn, or better yet, the scorn of a more righteous musical arbiter. Certainly it does its job of, I assume, making me feel like a fluorescent-lit Thatcher-drone with a bad haircut and flickering soul. But c’mon, it's supposed to be the Best Album of the ‘70s. The SEVENTIES!
Oh I get it, it’s a “composition”. Yeah, sorry, you're over-reaching Eno, and Bowie, your uber-ethnic vocalizations are not helping. Aha, but maybe they’re meant to hinder, haha!
“Art Decade”. Goddamn, that’s hilarious. Maybe I'm not crediting this album with the sarcasm it truly wields. That's what I always hear in Bowie, sarcasm and sincerity sinewed together seamlessly where intent is non-existent. Too bad about the music though – I could write a glowing review based on the track titles.
Compositionally, this “song” is pretty good. It sounds like a death march. I’d play it at my funeral, if I didn’t expect any friends or family to survive me. I understand the stylistic need for synthetic brass, but this song might be listenable if that shit wasn’t in the mix. It’s harmonically rising, not up to the light, but to "Weeping Wall", the next track, team Bowie's next sedative kicking in. It’s saw-waves and bell synths and nervy vibrato, and even gooder composition, and ever more sickly sound. You understand why Eno pitched himself in front of a bus: as a suicide note, this album is pitch-perfect. That Pitchfork writer was making a statement, I get it! A misanthropic pick - for being relegated to a picker, a list maker. Now THAT I can respect. And if there’s one thing any self-respecting person wants, it’s my respect.
“Subterraneans”. At this point, we’re deep into the ritual of CHUD. It’s the peak of misery, and goddamnit, it’s the best track yet. I could really like this album if I hadn't seen it at the top of a list, and if I was really depressed. I assume it's got some “Citizen Kane”-like claim to innovations I wouldn't appreciate, lacking scholarly gumption and life before 1981. So it sounds like black and white and men with funny hats talking quickly. So why am I reviewing it, like I have anything to add? Because I’ve already written all these words, that's why.
There follows more morose synthtwining with non-English vocalizations that move like Gregorian lines but fall like bridge-jumpers weighted down with stones and chains into the minor mires - yes, there's more than one mire in this mine. And my canary died a long time ago. So I think I’ll call it a night.
Okay, I'm not really slamming this album, just disliking it while admiring it, and saying it's stupid to call it the "best" anything. Basically, I resent the music not standing alone, which is why I made a point not to research anything, or read lyrics. That and I'm lazy. And I'm not a Bowie scholar and I'm sure there's plenty around who could school me. Didn't you know, one out of every two readers of Optical Delusions would score 80% or better on the average David Bowie trivia quiz, according to a recent Gallup poll?
Well, that was a lot of words for not much insight. Hope you were as bored reading them as I was writing them for this make-work project I felt compelled to finish. Just to prove I'm not using this album or musician as a scapegoat, I'll also attempt to review “Hunky Dory”. I hated that album at first but am coming to love it. Why do I feel out of my depth? I dunno, what do you do with the man who fell to earth?
sometimes a song comes along that describes perfectly the place where i am in life. these songs become anthems for a day or a kalpa. i'm a big sucker for a good hook, one that's easy to sing along with. blue october's picking up the pieces delivers. it's an emo pop masterpiece. there's the emo trademark confessional spill "i really need to talk to you/i keep stepping on the vein/that keeps my lifeline flowing thru" using a universal situation which, if you haven't encountered it yourself- yet-you've known someone who has, observed how the state freezes motion. but before i have time to dwell on that line, justin furstenfield belts out another gasper "i don't feel perfect at all/sad and insecure flaw". ok, fine, the lines are good, for a certain epoch in one's life, but what makes the song a masterpiece? just this: the way the emo lyrics are encased in an ironic musical shell.
The keys are major, and even the violin work by Ryan Delahoussaye has an upbeat tempo, a rising progression into the major tones of the hook. the irony doubles in the hook's lyrics "how long will i picking up pieces/how long will i picking up my heart?" emo rules might expect these words to be tinged with minor keys, solo piano rendered in plaintive tone. but blue october takes this weepy cliche and places it inside an anthem with doubletime, rocky-esque strings and choral arrangements allowing the act of singing to manifest the movement needed to just get the fuck over it. i played this song for my tenant, who said "how long? till the next one comes along" . so true --everyone's "next one" comes along , eventually or sooner. the question is cliche, yet unanswerable. the trick is to keep moving. this song helps me begin, so shortly into the coda , i'm ready for this verse
i'm scared of death
and i'm scared of living
shit i gave up on the past
cuz it's unforgiving
i misplaced my trust
felt my word begin to rust
i'm a balloon about to bust
i need a place for reliving still.
blue october delivers the bust in the final movement, which moves from minors in the chous to the extended majors of the hook, reminding me how love is the bittersweet culmination of living. woah, indeed.
review by hiccup
The key to Aqua Teen's funniness as a series was its don't give a shit attitude. This doesn’t translate as well to the medium of film. We still see objects explode lazily with the same cheap-ass "the Cardassian ship has been destroyed captain" graphic. I cheered when I saw it on the big screen (of my small computer monitor) for the first time. But the marginally improved "film for theatres" graphics and sound imply a little too much giving a shit to please an Aqua Teen fan's palette. Thankfully the souped up 3d graphic segments are vastly outnumbered by the pixellated jerky crap that is our comfort zone. Also, the movie shares the series’ devotion to well-played bad music, badly played good music, and tastelessness in general.
I should say something about the plot, because I'm trying to be a reviewer, and when I read reviews, I want to know what happens, and what it's about, and whether it's any good, not necessarily in that order. Sigh. Okay. Well, it begins in “New York”, where Master Shake (a pistachio-flavoured milkshake), Frylock (a floating box of fries), and Meatwad (a ball of meat), emerge from a tomb to battle a robot dog. Frylock is killed in the course of the battle, but the other two escape with the aid of Time Lincoln (a time-travelling lincoln) and his space-rocket. These events turn out to have occurred solely in the mind of real-life Shake, who is trying to regale his housemates, real-life Frylock and Meatwad, with wild tales. The real beginning begins with Meatwad giving the opening concert of his rock tour, "Girl Quest 07" on the lawn of his house. He’s advertised the event with flyers, all of which cover Carl (their neighbor)'s house... Okay, then we revisit “New York”, where a watermelon spaceship is being co-piloted by a guy drumming on a Neil Pert sized kit. The man’s name is Neil. The pilot of the watermelon spaceship, a slice of watermelon, says something, and then it's back to Shake and Frylock who are... Ah, fuck it.
That was a synopsis, wasn't it? And synopsis... synopsis’s? synopssisses... synopsis'issessachhoooo! Sorry. Synopses, aren't appropriate for reviews, are they? No, people want a capsule, or whatever you call it, and no spoilers. But I’ll tell you one thing, my friend: as with the series, the movie does achieve a certain goodness that I would not even presume to call “delirious”, even though I feel there should be an adjective. Really, it's all about the voice acting and sound design. The way the guy who plays Master Shake inflects to Meatwad: "Congratulations. You have just been laid." (No, I don't know the name of the guy who plays Shake and I don't want to look anything up, imdb.com takes too long to load, and I'm tired from trying to describe the plot). And the way you hear plastic squeaky sounds when Shake is flexing while bragging about how many reps he does. And how the robot from the future that always talks with spring reverb emits erotic sounds that might resemble a CHUD orgy under a sewer grate. A certain goodness, yes.
That being said... most of it's not good. It's like a pretty good episode of the series, inflated to 3x its size. Therefore it’s not mostly good, but 0.3 repeater good. So if any of my readersss...ship is still man enough to take the Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theatres challenge: a word of advice, colin: It helps to watch this movie film for theatres online, in little snippets between other activities. If you try to watch it all in one sitting, you probably won't.
Sorry about not looking up the name of the guy who plays Shake, by the way. It's stupid of me to want to be a reviewer with an audience, but be too lazy to look up basic information. And even stupider to write all these words about it instead of just looking it up, which would be faster. But then I’d have a review filled with trivia, and somehow, that doesn’t feel right. But the credits rolled as I was writing this last paragraph, so it's Dana Snyder.
0.3 repeater good.