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Monday, May 19

Aural Beauty

I've had the most boring day ever, apart from listening to the Matrix Reloaded Soundtrack CD over and over again, so I thought I'd post this, which I wrote a couple of days ago instead of doing some revision...

Two songs popped up on my mp3 playlist just now, and it amazed me how I hadn't heard either of them for so long, and just how good the songs were. They were Salva Mea by Faithless, and For My Fallen Angel by My Dying Bride. For those of you who don't know the bands, Faithless are a dance group from the UK, who are one of the best in the genre. They generally release as singles their big, thumping, trancey-house tracks, whereas the albums are slightly more eclectic and laid back. Salva Mea is taken from their first album, Reverence, which was released in 1996. My Dying Bride are an American Doom Metal band. This basically means that their songs are all about 10 minutes long, mostly slow, but with some heavy, chugging riffs thrown in every so often. For My Fallen Angel is taken from Like Gods of The Sun, which was recently re-released, along with the entire My Dying Bride back catalogue.

Salva Mea starts with a haunting (I am going to use this word a lot, bear with me) violin chord, which is eventually joined by a deeper, but still slow-paced chord from a synth. Dido, who was then just Rollo's (the main guy behind Faithless) sister, begins the vocal aspect with her distinctive voice. It's still very slow-paced, with no beat yet accompanying the burgeoning melody. I really like the lyrics that she sings, so here they are:
How can i change
The world,
If i can't
Even change

How can i change
The way
I am?

I don't know
I don't know

After this, there begins a keyboard melody, supplied by Sister Bliss, which builds for a minute or so along with the violins to a crescendo, upon which the beat kicks in. This is a dance tune, and when the beat is there it's fairly uptempo. When the beat drops, however, the song becomes mellow, soulful and haunting.

Maxi Jazz then supplies his vocal parts, after the violins and keyboard have faded out, leaving just the beat. Maxi is a rapper, but he has a very soft voice, and his flow is quite downbeat, allowing the listener to pick up all of the lyrics. These lyrics are also wicked, judge for yourself:
I want to take a look at the world behind these eyes
Every nook, every cranny, reorganise, realise
My face don't fit the way i feel
What's real?
I need a mirror to check my face is in place
In case of upheaval
Fundamental movement below
What's really going on, I want to know
But yo, it don't show on the outside
So slide

Just below my skin
I'm screaming

I need a mirror for my spirit
Yeah, can you hear it
When I get deep I want to hear my soul speak
Not drowning
Tumbling around and around
In the voices
Like a crowd in my head
So loud
I wonder what it's like to be dead
I hope it's quiet
Noises in my head
Like a riot
Any remedy you have for me
I'll try it

Just below my skin
I'm screaming

He does another verse a little later, but the lyrical content isn't quite as good. After this the violins kick in again, as does the keyboard melody. There is another vocal hook, a strained voice saying "Brother! Sister! Help me!" but it's fairly contorted. This occurs throughout, and I think it is the basis for the name of the song. Salva mea means save / help me in Spanish. Eventually the beat drops, to leave the final minute with just the slow violin and low strings chords. The fade-out is done to perfection, and it leaves you feeling as if you've experienced something special. Not a single second of its 10 minutes and 47 seconds length is wasted.

For My Fallen Angel is a very, very slow track. It also uses lots of string chords, but they are generally from the lower end of the scale. I thought of calling them tumbling, but that implies some sort of pace in them. A better descriptive word is flowing, because they rise and fall in volume throughout, but very slowly. The vocals are spoken, not sung, and the speaker has a voice which is particularly easy on the ear. It is a very deep voice, and displays some emotion, if not an extreme amount.

As you can probably guess by the title of the song, it is a song about a dead loved one. The verses are intermittent, with gaps between them often coming in at over a minute. There is no chorus, just 3 or 4 verses. To me, the lyrics seem slightly over-thought out. They are good lyrics, but they just seem slightly artificial and unemotional. This may have been the intention, but who knows? These are two seperate verses, spread out across the track; take a look:
As I draw up my breath
And silver fills my eyes
I kiss you still
For she will never rise

Like a thief in the night
The wind blows so light
It wars with my tears
That won't dry for many years

The slight artificiality of the lyrics doesn't detract from the song much though. Try listening to it just as a piece of music, and you'll be amazed at how haunting and beautiful it is. It's slightly macabre, because there are very few, if any, sounds towards the high end of the scale. It's very dark and could be regarded as depressing, but I just find it beautiful.

Go get hold of these songs as soon as possible, and just switch off when you listen to them. Close your eyes and concentrate on nothing but the music. I find this the best way to listen to this kind of music. Let me know how you got on with them.


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