Saturday, March 15, 2014
Significant Albums: Apes and Androids - Blood Moon (2008)
I knew this would come up eventually.
I honestly don't think I ever found myself so personalized and attached to a single record. And the truth is, I have not even listened to it all that much the last couple of years, as sort of a pattern I often get. Because I know ("because you know"), I came so close to this record for a large duration of time, it became almost like breathing.
So, that's more than enough of the metaphysical stuff for now.
I probably listened to this record 125 times in the year 2008. It was more or less the soundtrack for my year.
But its story, while it was/is documented on this blog and some message boards, I will attempt to abridge it as best I can. And I'm sure the reader and fan in-me will find it not worthy of what it probably deserves, but it's just for now I guess.
It goes back to a blog called "kokoro" that suggested this among some other good records. And at that point, after the amazing year for new music that was 2007, I was still wondering if I could stumble upon some great unknown music the next year (but doubting I'd find as many just being skeptical).
The description said "psych, electronic" and 1 other genre. The cover looked curious, so I checked it out among many records on that blog.
It was odd. They used humor, almost in a theatrical way. I remember my early impressions were of the voice mail of the woman saying "capitalist mother fuckers, and I hate you, all of you" and also the bit "these are all words that won't help you, but they definitely will make you sound weird."
Some of the music was interesting as well, but it fell victim to time and my job. I seemed to never be able to listen to the whole record in one sitting for like 2 months. So, it got to the point, I may have even skipped lunch to make sure I got to hear it all.
And I probably did that 2 or 3 times one week in April, and I started to enjoy it more and more, but also saw them as being almost subtle humor rock. The humor and sarcastic element stuck out more than the music. But I sort of thought, Apes and Androids may be trying to be funny, but in sort of a clever way. They may be funny, but also brilliant in some ways.
Which that ideal held or still holds true about this album. But, there came to be a ton more than just that part of it.
I eventually came to learn the version that I was listening to, the track order was totally out of order.
This is the track list I was listening to it for probably 2 months:
1 And Now...
2 Bad Kind of Wetness
3 Blood Moon I
4 Golden Prize
5 Hot Kathy
6 Make Forever Last Forever
7 Nights of the Week
9 We Don't Understand You.
10 Blood Moon II
11 Doyle Is Dead
12 Imaginary Friends
13 Johnny and Sarah
14 Locked in a Car
16 Sweetest Secret
18 Will I Live
Here's the real track list:
1 Blood Moon I 1:14
2 Make Forever Last Forever 4:33
3 Golden Prize 3:40
4 Bad Kind of Wetness 1:32
5 Hot Kathy 5:13
6 We Don't Understand You 4:36
7 Radio 4:31
8 And Now.. 1:58
9 Nights of the Week 5:18
10 Sweetest Secret 4:09
11 Johnny and Sarah 4:13
12 Will I Live 3:35
13 Trank 1:54
14 Doyle Is Dead 5:10
15 Imaginary Friends 3:10
16 Locked in a Car 3:02
17 Riverside 5:12
18 Blood Moon II 2:24
Not entirely out of order, but enough so, and especially given the story and narrative of a kind this record presents, the promos were not doing it the full justice it deserved.
However, I was growing so attached to it, at the point I learned of the proper/correct track list when I received my physical copy in the mail, it really didn't matter. And it allowed me to hear it in a new way.
Blood Moon: very cool intro section hearing what sounds like a ship/spaceship land on a/the moon perhaps.
Make Forever Last Forever: great energetic rhythm. The whole "Riders on the Storm" is repeated and I guess I will never not think of The Doors of course with that lyric. But this song also features some wonderful percussion including what sounds like djembe or some kind of hand drums.
But the trademark Apes and Androids vocal layers, which I have no idea how many tracks or layers they used, but I have often thought they sound so multi-layered to try and create an *android* or digital voice of some kind. I think it's Brian Jacobs, although I really am not certain from song to song who sings lead.But from hearing some of Brian's stuff recently, I suspect he sang more of the leads, and David Tobias played more of the guitar leads. But that is just pure guessing on my part.
This track also includes a voice that I can never make out quite what it's saying. But some part of it talks about a city, and looking back and wondering "if someone is looking back at me." And the voice is almost muffled to the point it creates the sound of a storm trooper or an android/computer.
Bad Kind of Wetness: This is a cool almost backwards synthy segue Did you talk to Betty, did Betty to talk
Golden Prize: This track introduces
"I'm looking at you and you've not got that look in your eyes"
then some peculiar snapping, puckering sounds
"Oh never stay at home and stay"
"I've got a sponsorship by the case load"
La La La La La La La
gawd I LOVE the way the vocals and synths go back and forth. I just fucking love it. Even the way they use like a Fat Albert-like moaning in the background
"the girls' got lots of money, but she still wants her money. In the mood for something tasty. I think you know what I mean"
It's genius. I swear, I just adore how they segued and transitioned the vocals and synths.Such an, escape, the feeling of being taken away on a trip to the moon or some scifi story or movie from the 1980's, that I can totally get sucked in for nostalgia and desire to dream to go somewhere else. I swear the narrative and imagination that I receive when hearing this album is like The Wizard of fucking Oz brilliance. It's like The Martian Chronicles or Night of the Comet or John Carter of Mars or Dune or I dunno, you name any romantic, nostalgic, creative story in fiction or myth, and this in the same ideal and reaction.
"She's standing on the platform holding bags with a glass flower in her soft hands, hands
"I'm melting in the wood waiting for the train holding with a dollar that a peasant couldn't save
"Breath blowing from a saint in a cave like he's sending her a message like he needs to be saved."
"Hot Kathy Hot Kathy ...choppers."
"She's looking straight ahead..
There's a magic wand
Look at her bags, look at her neck Am I this lonely, this lonely, this lonely...woooooo..wooo woo woo woo"
this is another favorite that I'll fully admit, I don't know all the lyrics because they were not included in the cd nor online I don't recall.
The Queen -like falsetto vocal lines again totally stand out and sound wonderful hear. I often would mention Apes and Androids name to people and have to bring up of Montreal, but I would say, one of the differences with AandA and of Montreal is, Apes and Androids can really sing.
I also love the synths in this song to bits, including the solo towards the end.
We Don't Understand You: This song is incredibly catchy and energetic. Some have said it sounds like an anti-drug song with the chanting chorus "Put Your Hands Up" and some vocal effects after.
"You can go to bed"
"Everyone you're gonna get fucked up"
I think how hard the words they are singing are to understand is intentional per the title of the song, lol And even the story and characters perhaps. An android or species not understanding another? And the puzzle or mystery is I suppose to try and understand some of them beyond the "Put Your Hands Up"
The crying out vocal refrain in the middle is dreamy as hell. Another point the music creates a mood and illustrates and story or character even. Nice brief guitar solo, which then leads to repeating the chorus and adding tracks of more vocals and synths. I always love how it creates this theme for the song with the repeated chorus.
I always thought it could have been on the radio if not for the profanity. It's just so catchy and almost dance-able.
Radio: This song features a great what sounds like lead bass, or synth bass.
The gradual build with the fuzzy synths and basslines and vocal chanting just creates such a great mood for this song.
"Lay me down with the radio and I'll tell you more if you wanted to know, what you wanted to know"
And Now...: Jermaine Dupree and the DJ bit. Which then they bring in the slowed voiced part about "these are all words that won't help you, bu will definitely make you sound weird" which is preceded by something about ejaculating I believe. I sometimes think of those sexual instruction recordings, sort of like the parody in Kentucky Fried Movie. This bit is almost like Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy meets the thing in KFM, lol. And it provides nice comic relief.
Nights of the Week: If "We Don't Understand You" didn't make the radio, this song I found also could.
So bloody catchy
"There's a night in the week, where the freaks all meet
and the girls get into flashy clothes
you got a drink in your hand you're looking to party
but you feel that nobody knows
this temporary meaning doesn't reach an end until you find the special one
the drama's the same, the bills are insane, and the irony burns your tongue
These are the Nights of the Week when you force yourself out of bed.
There's a place up town where the spirits are down but nobody admits a thing
A toned down place ..Where Happiness is king, but tragedy has a better ring
There's the boy you kiss and the girl you sexed
I wonder if they know you're there..
Just drink 12 shots and forget-me-nots and nobody really cares
so get my coat little darling, I think that it's time to go
let's sneak out through the back door because nobody can know
I wanna be in the bedroom where the time never seems to pass
I want to lay down in my bathroom and feel okay at last.
Oh Oh Oh Oh...these are the nights of the week
that verse or line where they talk about laying down in the bathroom (or bathtub) I always get goosebumps. It goes back to feeling nostalgia and sad or sad/scared/depressed or needing an escape.
On this track, I also love the vocoder build at the end and the guitar solo just works on so many levels. Brian May and David Gimour. David and Brian were big fans of Floyd and Queen and it seems to show up in such great ways throughout this record. Lyrically, I almost am reminded of Floyd's The Wall..the whole laying down, needing to relax and not think about stressful things.
It's sort of fetal-position like. I also seem to picture a movie or story about someone in trouble, but they hide out in this party and then seek the comfort of relaxation and safety of being in a bathtub. Or just someone whose feeling sick, injured or something and that escape is like their therapy of their mind and body.
Sweetest Thing: This was one of the songs I liked but not at the same level as many of the others. This record starts out with track-after-track that are outstanding. Great energy, synths, lyrics, guitar, percussion, and "Sweetest Thing" kind of halted that momentum, I felt initially. But I eventually grew to love it and see it more or less on par with so many of these other incredible songs. The epic nature of it really with the repeated line "all of thahhhhhhhhhhhhht tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime gone toooo waste"..and the chanting and percussion. It was sort of depressing but maybe in a sympathetic way.
"Climb through the hole in the fence and that's when Momma said..all of that time, gone to waist"
"take my hand Brian take my hand Brian do you have a sell
"and she dug her little fingers into his neck until he choked. You could tell what was happening because his finger tips were growing white....
he looked so bright."
All of that tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime, gone to wayyyyyyyyyyyste. All of that time, gone to waste"
I have often wondered if "Brian" was referring to Brian Jacobs in some metaphor or based on a real experience. I mean I don't question the lyrics, what I can make out of them, are still within the concept/story.
The outro has some really tight drum work. I forget, but it may have been played by Matt Mahaffey aka sElf. I know he played on a couple of tracks and did some mixing on this record, which the mix is absolutely pristine.
Johnny and Sarah:
I absolutely LOVE this song. It may be my favorite on this record.
Great post-punk opening riff
Johnny was a thorough chap
He worse shirt tucked into his slacks
He wore his name nailed onto his back
Sarah was a lovely lass
with charm working to pass
well Johnny asked her out one day after class
now her boyfriend wants to kick his ass
Johnny's anger started to bubble
it's gonna get him in a lot of trouble
desperate souls with nothing to lose A story of trouble and a path we choose
Oh shit that's right.
Johnny had to think of a plan
So his plan really began
He knew he couldn't fight
He spent the night
figuring it out on his own
And he died and he cried?
woo hoo hoo!
Love the synth part that follows which then leads to one of the greatest guitar solos ever coming in. It totally fits the energy and tone of this song. Sort of brooding and dark but with the right amount of extension or kind of climax.
Lyrically, I always think of this song as being like Bonnie and Clyde. A couple traveling through towns and either robbing people or just getting away from the law or trouble. In the story perhaps the Androids are enforcing the law, and Johnny and Sarah are with a resistance or just defying and dodging the law.
edit: well in seeing more of the lyrics per an online lyric site, perhaps the Bonnie and Clyde comparison might have been off. But I suppose that kind of thing might happen to them eventually, if Johnny doesn't die.
The pounding intro and main riff just owns so much. It's so tight and so ballsy.I don't think I could ever get sick of this song.
Will I Live:
She had a (bustle?) on her dress...makeup on her face... dressed up like a raccoon...
I suppose it's just another song about a foool
la la la la la la la la la la la la lahhhhhhhhh
lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie
die die die die die die
Very odd piece, but a grower like many of the last 1/3 of this record. It continues to add imagination of the story or plot.
I always wonder what the solo string part playing towards the end is. A violin or cello? It's a very calming movement.
This is an ambient, soothing mellow synth solo piece, which often sounds like the sound of something moving in slow-motion; the tempo is so much slower than most of Blood Moon. And it transitions really well into "Doyle is Dead"
Doyle is Dead: (The Untimely Death of Dr. Richard Lancelyn Green)
The thick, slow, dark synths in this song do make me think of the movie Night of the Comet. the mysterious element that something will be revealed rather soon.
Can anybody save anybody save anybody?
Can anybody save anybody save anybody?
So my husband found the way in the biblioteque?
Little pieces had....
I can see your silhoutte on my basement stickers?
I hear your thoughts dancing in my head, quickening my pain
And as the footsteps get louder
I can feel your shoestring caressing my neck
I'm ready to untie this knot in my neck, I'm ready I'm ready I'm ready I'm Ready I'm Ready I'm Ready
Can anybody save anybody save anybody?
Can anybody save anybody save anybody?
The extended title refers Dr. Richard Lancelyn Green:
Dr.Richard Lancelyn Green was a British man who was fascinated by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle I guess, and died in the early 2000's. The mystery of his death involved his opposition to an auction of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle papers. per Wikipedia
Lancelyn Green suspected that the Conan Doyle papers being auctioned at Christie's were part of a collection that Dame Jean Conan Doyle, the author's daughter, actually wanted the British Library to have. He attempted to stop the auction, but was unsuccessful.
In the weeks before his death, he told friends and journalists that an unidentified American was following him, and that he feared his opposition to the auction could endanger his life. His behaviour became increasingly erratic, and once he insisted on speaking to a visitor in the garden because he said his apartment was bugged.
During the night of his death, his sister, Priscilla West, telephoned his apartment, obtaining only his answering machine, which had a new message with an American voice (this was found later to be the standard message tape supplied with the machine). Her worries about this resulted in the discovery of Lancelyn Green's body, face down on his bed, garrotted with a shoelace that had been tightened with the handle of a wooden spoon.
Murder was suspected, and there was some newspaper gossip. Because the CID was not called at the start, any evidence that might have been useful for a murder enquiry had been disturbed or removed during the course of dealing with the body. The Coroner returned an open verdict. Many of Richard Lancelyn Green's best friends thought it was not in his nature to commit suicide. However, some thought the death to have been an elaborate suicide, intended to seem like murder, in order to cast suspicion upon one of his rivals. This replicates the plot of one of the last Sherlock Holmes mysteries, The Problem of Thor Bridge, in which a woman commits suicide in a manner meant to implicate the woman with whom her husband had been flirting.
This is a track I think has revealed maybe more than many others on this record. The reference to this guy Dr. Richard Lancelyn Green and his connection to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The lyrics may be just what the Apes and Androids guys speculated how he died, the thoughts running through this Doctor's head at the time. Perhaps based on some news stories. It really is rather fascinating.
Musically, it is another appealing side to this record that while is still a contrast to many of the energetic tracks on the 1st 2 acts per say, I think it complements them and the concept incredibly well. A slower, darker, ballad of sorts shows another great side to the Apes and Androids sound and songwriting approach.
Even the vocal harmony chants on the outro add something.
Imaginary Friends: Another stripped down, acoustic piece which is sort of singer/songwriter sounding for the 1st minute. But then we get more slight Brian May-like guitar refrains for a bit.
We're skipping stones again.
Yaye Yaye Yaye Yaye now....woo woo woooooo
Oh My Friends, we've reached the end?
We will never meet again
I'll cover my hands.
Lyrics on this song is kind of telling the story is close to ending. Rather sad, but still about the right time. Within the story? I sort of picture humans or Apes thinking this about the Moon or something. Whether the Moon or the planet they are on will blow up, or something more along the lines of thinking it's the end of the human race, being wiped out by technology.
Sort of pre-apocalyptic in a way.
But then again, it also might be just referring to the approaching death of someone.
Or all of that could potentially apply to the Androids as well.
Questions that are I still find worth pondering about it, which is maybe how Blood Moon has so much intrigue. There is a story or 2 or 5 here, and even for the fact the lyrics are not anywhere to be found, the mystery is one part of why I kept going back to this record.
Locked in a Car:
My best friend is locked in a car...
These walls expand on
forever until the room becomes done
I'm still holding awwwwwwwnnnnn
We're still holding onnnnnnnnnnnnnn
The slow guitar bridge is unusual but definitely grew on me. I came to hear it like another featured Brian May refrain(s) or something.
Another slow, sad, stripped down piece that doesn't last too long. But like many of the preceding tracks, is dreamy.
Riverside: In some ways the crowning piece on this record. It starts out with an acoustic guitar intro.
Passing fields in a car
There's a grim walking down by the riverside
And she wore her head up tall, in case the tears fall
bah-ah bah-ah bah-ah bah-ah
Then sometimes she thinks, I had it all, when I was small
Skies getting wide the countryside
Light getting dim from above
I miss the sun
Watching all the trees
Feeling like a bed locks made of bees
An old man and his wife
sitting up reading books through the night
And they know that they know that's something wrong
As they held eachothers hands
the trouble supsides
I am the sun!
Nothing's wrong Nothing's wrong oh no!
Can see me I'm got flowers
Can breathe me I've got power
Got I've Got I've Got!
Syntax from the flood
Extend to the clouds above
All our dreams pulling them up
and their hearing this song!
Skies ride by the countryside
Light shooting down from above
I am the Sun!
Nothing's wrong Nothing's wrong Nothing's wrong oh no
The trumpet and then the happy synth/guitar solo I for some reason think of Muse, although over time, I suppose many other groups have used that tone. I also like how they say "oh yes" right before it hits.
Such an uplifting song. It goes from sad, depressing to uplifting. This song really wraps up what is such imaginary trip or story and exploration in sound and layers. From the vocals, many different layers of keys.
Blood Moon II: And it ends with the ship leaving and the sound of animals (apes or monkeys?) and sounds of nature (crickets?) along with what almost reminds me of a piece of software or device's intro or outro sound.
I may find myself adding more to this, but I just can say for now, this record is as astounded as I may ever get with music. It was likely quite a long, ardous making for many years after Brian and David changed the name from Call Florence Pow. They likely spent 5 or more years making it, and it shows.
Do many of the vocals have lyrics you can't understand? sure, but I don't mind really, as it adds to the mystery, even with the story. It's almost like something Yes does with vocals being a texture or sound rather than words made for singing clearly.
I guess I also have and always will feel a very personal connection with this album, like many of these significant albums, in that I sort of found it 1 day and grew attached to it. And the mainstream never did, nor did many really online. Here and there, but I have only seen a few other folks who revere it like it's the greatest thing ever made. I'm sure the guys from the band don't quite see it that way, but that's natural, as they are artists always trying to improve and create something better than their past work.
I would love to see any of it performed live, but those odds don't seem likely. Brian at least is still making music, whether it be remixes of songs on his tumblr, or some of the original work he's doing. Those 2 demos were terrific a few years ago. David Tobias? a solo album was mentioned many years ago, but who knows if/when that will happen.
And of course trying to find another Apes and Androids, or something close, has been more or less non-existent. There have been some good ones, like NewVillager a few years back, but with each passing year, I wonder. Although the music is still available, even just on Youtube or Vimeo or wherever else online (grooveshark) or even iTunes, Amazon mp3's and once in a blue moon I'm sure copeis of this record show up on Ebay. I personally own 2, but actually would go for picking a few more if given the opportunity.
But for now, this record still is the landmark work that I grew to see (and hear) it as in 2008. When will I become so enamored by another record like it, and for that matter, a case of a group whose it's their only work? it may happen, but I guess I've come to learn or not expect it really, if ever again.