Dark Meal, Tin Larks
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.


Sleeping States - "I Wonder" [Removed at label request]

The Hyperbolic Aphorist: Markland Starkie is a jack of all trades, master of one.
Said the Gramophone: I'm afraid I don't follow.
THA: Shall I ruin the enigma by spelling it out?
StG: Please.
THA: Very well. As you may know, Sleeping States is the bandonym of Markland Starkie, a player of several instruments, all without virtuosity, and a recording engineer with clear limitations...
StG: (interrupting) Well, you're sort of editoriali...
THA: (clears throat) There is no difference between an interruption and a volcano's eruption, except that in the latter case it's burning lava that turns the bystander to ash, as opposed to the scorching proximity to rudeness in the former. If you'll allow me to continue, my point is just that the one area in which Markie is an indubitable master is that of composition.
StG: Well, we agree that Starkie is a master composer. His vocal melodies are as elegant and as easy as Catherine Deneuve in Belle de jour, and his occasional forays into simple dissonant instrumental harmonies are always doled out judiciously and are integral to the song.
THA: Blah, blah, blah.
StG: But I would argue that he's also a master vocalist, rangy and capable of subtly meaningful phrasing, and that though his guitar playing is often simple and imprecise and his drumming tends to be brutally minimalistic, his lyrical noodling on strings and his rhythmic guiding on skins both serve his songs maximally.
THA: God, you talk like a fucking essay. This is why I don't read your site.
StG: Anyway, in that sense he's a master of at least two or three metaphorical trades. Thus, The Hyperbolic Aphorist, I must dismiss your aphorism as hyberbolic.
THA: The only thing more obvious than the Obvious is the Obvious itself.


Sleeping States - "The Next Step"

Whereas "I Wonder" is an active, dreaming sleep taken in a restless prone position, "The Next Step" is a blissful, dreamless sleep slept in a graceful supine. Everything is built around one interval, one glorious step up, one of the shortest choruses you will ever hear. At 1:03, several Starkies sing "Please" in unison and then, begging, they sing, "C'mon, please" - a little bit higher, a little bit longer, a little bit strained. When the Starkies do it again, at the end of the song, they sing it in such an unexpectedly lush harmony that you don't have time to catch your breath before the song ends and another overcast musical reverie begins.

[Buy the album in September from Misra (North America) or Tome (Europe). Highly recommended!]

Posted by Jordan at July 25, 2007 5:52 PM

If only all essayists could capture their subject this well! I'd like to meet The Hyperbolic Aphorist. And, for that matter, Markland Starkie. Are all of his songs so dreamy and sleepy?

Posted by Linka at July 26, 2007 4:16 PM

next step is wonderful! been coming back to it a few times over the past day and a bit... you were right about those harmonies at the end. looking forward to the album.

Posted by danno at July 27, 2007 6:22 PM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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