A few university parties with patchouli-heavy air and far too much cider listen throughs to Dark Side Of The Moon aside, I have very little experience with prog rock. This is one that has been suggested - though, as it’s music, it feels more like a request at the oddest disco of 2017 - by several of our nearest and dearest. Turns out, I don’t have much time for prog, but this has probably been the most revealing review in terms of understanding my own methodology yet.
First things first, a confession. This week has been pretty intense and I realise I have not felt all that great. Surprise, surprise, to no-one but me. This is the closest to the line I have been for our 10am publishing time but look at the cover of that album. Really look at it. I mean, it’s amazing, as a piece of visceral portraiture but please prepare the pity party for mio here as it looked like the least inviting thing for me to possibly listen to this week. But I have, this morning, and I need to be a Better Music Journalist Than I Am because I am flicking through the thesaurus to find synonyms for ‘shrug’.
Much like my experience with Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention, I found myself wincing with the on-the-noseness of the lyrics. My SO pointed out that that is down to the roots of English folk music showing through but you all know how much I liked Fairport Convention and, pals, let me tell you, this ain’t no Richard Thompson. Instrumentally, it’s undeniable that there’s a lot of skill and effort going on there but something didn’t click for me to turn that into anything beyond simple comprehension. I felt like I was cornered at a university party by a man in his twenties trying to ply me with cider and get me to listen to Dark Side Of The Moon with him in his room. Not my favourite thing to do, as I’m sure you’ve gathered.
So, with time not on my side and a faltering arsenal of writing skills, what do I say beyond this? That I’m disappointed I don’t have more time to grow that nubbin of appreciation that must be there? That I kind of want to see them live as I’m sure that’s an immense experience as gig-goings go? Those are true but really, what I really want to get across beyond my own self-loathing is my huge respect for music journalists. That has definitely grown over this year, if nothing else. To be handed someone else’s output, however you may be feeling, and to really get to grips with what they’re trying to do and have an objective-yet-subjective response to it... I’ve struggled with that this year in a way that I have rarely done with film. Music is so downright emotional. I am similarly downright emotional so sometimes it can all get a bit too much - but then, in that case, the track is probably on the right track.
What I do understand now that I really appreciate dramatic irony in songwriting. The lyrics say one thing written down but the tone of voice in which they’re sung, the accompanying melody, the tension or sadness or joy that can come between those things, that’s amazing. The confidence to let someone fill in the gaps, to give someone a space to put their own feelings, to let others have an interpretation of some thing you pour your heart and soul into, I mean... That’s brave. Despite the scary cover, I didn’t sense courage here. But then, the loudest voices naturally get heard over confidences that are quiet enough to listen. And that’s a shame.