It Can Stand For Anything
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.


Frankie Sparo - "Back on Speed"

1. If you must know, then yes, I played in a Scrabble tournament this past weekend. So what? Why must you judge me so? In any case, the point is this: it turns out that 'reimbue' isn't a word. Nor is 'heaviosity'. Yet this song exemplifies the quality of heaviosity and could reimbue any lost soul's life with meaning.

2. "Back on Speed" begins with a painfully sparse distorted guitar riff and a shaker on the downbeat. It's a horse's trot in 3/4, a trot into some deeply dangerous territory. Most of Frankie Sparo's second album Welcome Crummy Mystics sounds like slowly dying from a stab wound, so it wouldn't be ridiculous of you to think, for instance, that this intro is the sound of, say, the trotting of the four horses on whom ride the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Not ridiculous, but incorrect.

3. Remember Story Starters? Based on the erroneous idea that children can't come up with their own story ideas, sometimes teachers will, when assigning writing tasks to grade-schoolers, give them Story Starters like "What if Earth were a polygon instead of a sphere?" or "What if 'sphere' were the only word in our language and a perfect polygon the only object in our world, then how could we talk about anything, never mind the only two things that matter: newborns and peppercorns?" etc.

4. Quiet down class. Here's a homework assignment worth 100% of your final grade: take however much of the first thirty seconds of this song and use it as a Song Starter for your own song. Record it and send it to me. I'll judge it, and if I like it, I'll send it around to record labels as my own. Thus is my insouciance in the face of copyright law and the ethical realm. But seriously, I want you to do it, OK?

5. Because none of you, having only heard the first thirty seconds of the song, could expect anything like what follows. The vocals - unlike any elsewhere on the album - have so much fight and life in them. Harmonically, the song moves little: here, as in life, there are small steps up, small steps down, full of effort and tension, but no cadence or resolution. That is, until 2:16, when the choir kicks in and the sparse riff from the beginning reemerges, and now we get our cadence and our resolution, and yes, this is death, but not from a stab wound. This isn't the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the already dead and decayed, this is Ethan Frome and Mattie Silver, or even Thelma and Louise, only now, as they embrace the end, experiencing life fully. [Info]

Posted by Jordan at May 30, 2006 3:46 PM

How'd you do in the tournament?

Posted by Sam at May 30, 2006 7:46 PM

Jesus Christ this is the most insane song I've ever heard!!!! I loved your post. It made me laugh.

Posted by The Speakers at May 31, 2006 12:48 AM

Jesus Christ this is the most insane song I've ever heard in my life!!!!!!

I loved your post. It made me laugh.

Posted by The Speakers at May 31, 2006 12:49 AM

Sam - Well, actually, it was kind of a disaster in that I missed and therefore forfeited two games. I still managed an even record though, and I even won for highest scoring game and highest scoring word. Do you play, Sam?

The Speakers - Thanks, but I think you may have summed it up better than I did.

Posted by Jordan at May 31, 2006 10:17 AM

Sam, if you ever have, it may well be time again.

Posted by Joel Taylor at May 31, 2006 11:02 AM

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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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