Friday, June 17, 2005

The Arcade Fire

There's a band from Montreal called The Arcade Fire. They're a good band, and they've released a good debut album called Funeral. But I find unending humor in the rapturous Internet discussions that often center on this band. The following is an actual exchange from a music discussion board called Arts and Faith. The first two postings are from other folks; the third is from me.

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My favorite lyric:

OOOOHHHHHHHH OOOOOOOHHHHHHH

from Track 7. Spelled out like that, it's surprising, but it just doesn't have the same power.

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Hmmm. I'm not convinced that it's a straightforward 'OHHHH', I think it may be more of a hybrid of your garden variety 'OHHHHH' and the slightly more sensual, open-ended 'AHHHH!'. I think it ends up as on 'Oh' but starts as an 'Ah'. I'm not really sure what the correct spelling would be though. To be honest, the more I think about it I'm not sure that they're all pronouncing it the same - some of them may be going for a simple 'Ohhhhh', but others coming out with the hybird affair just outlined above. I wish now I'd payed more attention to the individual performances of the 'Ohhh'/'Ahhh' when I saw them live - I wonder whether the nuance came primarily from the violin player and drummer, who had perhaps decided what the song needed was a step away from the relative closure of the 'Ohhhh', and felt that introducing the merest hint of an 'Ahhh' would be just enough to add an air of indeterminancy to the whole proceeding - causing the listener to be caught up in the play between the two. In fact one, can trace a progression of this play as the song unfolds. If you listen carefully, by the time we come to the end section with the accordian, the balance has tipped in favour of the 'Ahh', the relative certainity of the 'Ohhh' has been almost entirely replaced by the questioning of the 'Ahhh' - the vowel remains at the back of the throat, the lips remain open as if now signifying a question rather than the closed, raging angst the 'Ohhh'.

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I hear all that, as well as intimations of an "au" sound (as in the German frau; perhaps a subliminal commentary on Hitler and fascism?), and, near the end of the song, faints hints of "Ewwww" (a closing of the lips, perhaps a squinting of the eyes), a great existential cry of despair that encapsulates in that one brief, primal moment the writings of Sartre and Camus, the paintings of Munch, etc.

There is some evidence, in fact, that there is just a hint of an "mmmm" sound in this last occurence, which would of course render the entire phrase as "Ohhhhm" (or, alternatively "Ahhhhm"). If it's the former, as I think it is, then it is of course a reference to Sivananda Yoga, and represents the universal longing for union between body, mind, and spirit.

The album gets even deeper and wiser when the band sings in English or French.

2 comments:

Jeff Cannell said...

Dude- that is the conert opener. I actually have a cloch-radio with a cd player and I use that song as a "wake-up" call.

Please Call me on my cel
or e-mail at jcannell(at)mac(daht)com

megan, former blogger, now in hiding said...

This made me laugh outloud at my cubicle at work.