Monday, January 26, 2009

You Took

by fandorin

You Took



At the end of the crusade, we will have to fight a monstrosity unseen before. There it is. You Took. Song title quite heavy on the “o”’s and on duration. The final battle of the epic The Blurred Crusade. Oh wait, did I say “epic”? The word “epic” when applied to pop music, usually sucks. It’s a knee jerk reaction to anything over 6:59, when you’re too lazy to actually think about that huge chunk of music. Magician among the spirits has nothing epic at all, it’s long and sprawling, but in the end, things are the same. It’s composed silence and static, it’s more architecture than journey. “Epic” is stuck to anything long and sprawling. In this case, though, it’s a nice description, because there so much to tell.

I very much believe there are hidden concepts behind some Church albums, maybe in that random blurred realm of unconsciousness. Maybe the concepts emanate from the strength and stubborn individuality of the song material, like connecting dots, maybe everyone sees a different beast in the music. That’s what I love about The Church – Starfish’s veiled, blurred travel theme, Priest’s surreal historical scapes between modern angst and Antikythera, and earlier, The Blurred Crusade’s telling of, yes, an epic, without a hero, without the invocation of the muse, but with a subliminal storyline, from the microcosmic miniatures to the vast musical battle of You Took. There are vague heroic deeds, travels, quests, but you can never really grab it. It renews the cheesy genre of concept album by hiding the concept box in a deep forest and throwing away the keys. But in fact - like in a big-picture classical work, there are a lot of cross connections going on while on the Crusade. Certain guitar figurations and rhythmizations from An Interlude return in You Took.

Man, they’ve must have been proud when they finally had hammered You Took on tape. Where does it all come from? It is all so uneighties. That wonderful, organic, clean-not-sterile sound. The spot-on drum crashes. The mechanical exactness and the restrained guitar orgies. lI can’t but summon again the german deities of Neu! here. Go and buy Neu! ’75 if you can, give it a listen an compare You Took and Seeland. Or listen to Seeland here...and you know where certain elements of Is This Where You Live and You Took come from, right, made in Germany... – Seeland - Isi

However, the clockticking reason of Neu! is expanded with huge guitar sounds, heavier drumming and the first twin guitar battles hinting at the dissolution of the lead/rhythm concept. The rhythm is the lead, and the lead is the rhythm. Everything is just – music, metrum, beat and melody, timbre, shades. I always thought Heyday was a huge leap in sound and production, but it was just a return to where they had stopped on The Blurred Crusade.

The floating bass harmonics (isn’t that a gorgeous bass sound?) of the beginning, the mighty drum sounds, the beginning octave riff, the two simple chords...there’s a song slowly forming from fragments and motifs, the particles are forming atoms, the atoms forming molecules, and we almost don’t realize we’re already in medias res when Peter’s first solo melody cuts the air. The genius plot twist of the “evil” Gilmour-meets-Morricone guitar melody, the vast build-up and – stumble – the song comes to a halt, with the menacing bass throb hovering in the air. “You took a piece of my heart, and I don’t know why” – This sounds so trivial, but still powerful and earnest. I won’t describe the rest, how they build guitar towers, the peal of bells in the “duelling guitars” section, as if two belfries are fighting each other on a desert plain, the distorted singing in the end, how that simple la la melody from the beginning grows tentacles and claws, until we all fall through a black hole and roam the land like disoriented knights after the battle...I love that aural illusion of speed changes, but the whole song has the same speed, it's just getting denser and denser, an illusionary tempo change.

Formally, it follows quite exactly the baroque form of a rondo, with a principal theme alternating with several contrasting themes and couplets, sometimes freely, sometimes related to the principal exposition.

The percussion complexity and the perseverating open-string dissonant, "impressionist" seventh chord drone instead of an affirmative return to the main key shows something they will try ten years later, on Priest=Aura. Listen to the outro, almost disappearing in silence, but there is still so much going on. It's very very uncommon in rock music to end your song on an "open" chord like that, crying for a harmonic solution that never arrives, like a little machine spinning on madly forever until we get a faux-happy end with Don't Look Back.

All in all, You Took is a fucking awesome song. Yes, it's an epic. The Blurred Crusade is the Beowulf of Australian Psychedelic Rock. And Kilbey wrote it almost on his own (though Koppes explained he did a lot of arrangement work in the early days, it's him on the beautiful glassy piano and glockenspiel interludes). Someone explain the video to me.


chrome3d said...

I try to analyze that video but all I can think of is how brilliant that song actually is! I mean all of the songs I see that have videos are so simple and lame but this is like all out bliss from start to finish. How many songs would just build for 2 minutes before singing starts? There are no videos like that. Too bad that the budget didn´t quite match the proportions of the song.

What is also a good point is that Heyday is not a quantum leap forward. They started right from the top with OSAH and TBC. It´s that simple.

Anonymous said...

just noticed those tree stumps for sticks that Ploog is using. What was up with that?

Leïlah said...

"crying for a harmonic solution that never arrives, like a little machine spinning on madly forever until we get a faux-happy end with Don't Look Back".

Uh. Oh yes, yes.

I swear I can explain the also epic videography of b.C but, oh my.