QUIET IN THE BACKGROUND
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.

 

The Underpainting - "The Underpainting".

First let us talk of "underpaintings".

An underpainting is a painting that lies hidden beneath another, on the same canvas.

If we add capital letters & definite articles to the above, we can get metaphysical: The Underpainting is the painting that lies hidden beneath The Painting, on the same canvas.

Or in other words, The Underpainting is the meaning of life.

The Underpainting is also the name under which Brian Michael Roff now records. Furthermore, The Underpainting is his new album, due soon (with artwork by Matthew Feyld). And "The Underpainting" is the title track.

So. Is "The Underpainting" the underpainting of The Underpainting's The Underpainting?

Yes.

But listen, before I get too lost in my own silly circles, let's pay attention to the song. It's a gentle, thoughtful work, perhaps the best track Roff has ever composed. "Hey there Bobby Kennedy," he begins, "I wrote a song for you." It's a song, he explains, about "the long winter, small spring, and the persistent incumbent summer". And there it is: so much of my own work, encapsulated. Grappling with the long winter, small spring, and the persistent incumbent summer.

In a great run-on sentence, Roff then sings the "contour figure", the body of the song, the image that distracts us from the small secret of that opening. And a saw sings, and a piano plays, and an electric guitar makes things so simple - a man's hands singing all the loose parts together, whole.

[more information]

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Groom - "Waking Up Before Her". "The Underpainting" is a song of great maturity. It says nothing foolish. Whereas the appeal of "Waking Up Before Her" is entirely in its foolishness. It's childish, playful, not-at-all wise. A guitar waggles through a barnyard, handclaps join shakers, someone ye-hoo-hoo-oos like it's his birthday every day of the year. And here's the dumbest, falsest, most naive line (and they make it the centrepiece of the song!): "I'm in love with you, and that's really all that matters!" By the end of the track, Groom have almost realised the lie - but still they're yelling it, all together, like fools, like fools, like lovesick fools.

[buy]

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Elsewhere:

  • J D Salinger's "Uncollected Writings" - namely the many out-of-print short stories and some things that are in print, too. Salinger has intentionally kept most of these works off the market (and we could be here all night arguing why), so it's important to note the following: this webpage not only infringes on Salinger's copyrights, it makes certain material available against Salinger's will. And yet... !!!!!!!!! Many of these are fucking marvelous.

  • I've not managed to download it, but someone's mp3-ified the cassette version of Little Wings' Light Green Leaves. Light Green Leaves is a funny, gentle folk record, and Kyle made three slightly different versions (for CD, vinyl and cassette). I've never heard the cassette renditions. Maybe you haven't either. (And maybe someone who successfully downloads could send them to me?) Yay for the internet!

  • Shearwater's magnificent 2006 album, Palo Santo, is now for sale for a ridiculous $4.00. Apparently they've now signed to Matador and will be releasing a "deluxe" version, but the original was one of the finest albums of last year and well worth four bucks!

    Posted by Sean at February 23, 2007 8:23 AM
  • Comments

    $4.00 (or €3.22)? How can I say no! Thanks for the heads-up.

    Posted by Robert P at February 23, 2007 12:23 PM

    Thanks for the Salinger.

    Posted by Tim at February 23, 2007 5:02 PM

    This is a wonderful post. I'm in love with The Underpainting and I've always loved that Salinger link.

    Posted by Alicia at February 25, 2007 4:00 PM

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