Pantha Du Prince
My lunch was "Tiger Roll" sushi (like regular tuna roll but with something akin to spicy Thousand Island dressing drizzled atop) in the newly re-opened part of the student union of the campus on which I work. The Escher nightmare of stairs and vaulted chambers is being decked out in fresh paneling. The meal, location and accompanying soundtrack of Pantha Du Prince all felt very "airport" to me, and I don't mean that in a wholly disparaging way; I kinda like airports if I divorce myself from the inordinate hassle of actually flying somewhere. I like the exaggerated architecture, the heightened sense of being somewhere tied in with that of going somewhere, the way it inspires you to do things outside of your norm. For instance, should you find yourself in a similarly appointed and laid out mall, you would not necessarily be compelled to buy something to eat (esp something that will likely fail to deliver on a flimsy promise) or purchase upscale magazines through which you normally would never leaf. You are unlikely to purchase on impulse a shirt with the name of the city in which you currently stand emblazoned upon it. I wouldn't, but I feel that pull in an airport. I at least need a Starbucks or something even though I'm already wound up and my hands are uncharacteristically full.
During lunch I checked my Google alerts and mused deleting everyone off my twitter account and only adding people named "Alex Cook." Short circuit the network. Maybe my higher purpose would be revealed. The bottle-clank of "Bohemian Forest" all but nodded in agreement with this scheme.
Before consuming this august feast I responded on the Facebook to a friend singing Black Noise's praises that "I'll have to give it another shot. I like its beatless beats but it didn't really pull me into its cloud like I wanted" and on this second shot, I did feel beclouded by it. I stopped by the library to read an H.P. Lovecraft story - another thing I would normally not do on impulse - only to find that someone had torn a few pages out of "The Call of Cthulhu." Knowing what little I do about the Deep Ones and the cosmic depth of their mercilessness, I'd say that was a foolish move. Pantha Du Prince did see me through it though, "The Splendour" acting as a cheery, succinct airport steward, smiling me to my correct gate, my modest lunch, my little revelations.
At the junction of airy public space and undersea demons does Black Noise sit. The songs are nigh indistinguishable except for the few over-sentimental moments when the humans open their mouths to sing, and just like in the airport or in the Mariana Trench, the singing seems inappropriate here. Black Noise is best viewed as a cycling of permutations, the mysterious machinations of the environment pinking and clacking in the background, loops of activity laying atop previous loops until they coil into vertiginous towers of coiled rope. Were you to unravel these ropes, you might manage an escape outta here, but instead you smile at the neat order of the coils, maybe run a hand furtively against it like one would public art or those cylindrical Tibetan temple bells. Either one feels like touching some sort of infinitude but before Nirvana takes, your lunch hour is over, your flight is called, the plastic tray before you is suddenly empty and in moments it will be like you were never there.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com
March sees a greatly expanded reissue of Elliott Smith's most critically acclaimed album Either/Or