Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Shadow Cabinet

by fandorin

Off Remote Luxury, Shadow Cabinet has the best, most elegant flow. It is the first song of The Church featuring that rushed, breathless atmosphere of mystery. I always love that slick sense of flying, rushing and soaring through atmo-, strato-, narcospheres... it's almost like a little sub-genre in The Church's catalogue. Myrrh comes to mind. Night Of Light, none on Starfish, the grandiose, slowed-down build-up of Essence, The Time Being... Untoward is a great later example of what i mean. Listening to songs like those makes me lose my sense of gravity.
This is where they take off and fly.

Now, how do they achieve that illusion of rapidly drifting through endless skies? I know it's all in your head and everyone perceives it differently.

(1) Take a quick, but not too fast 4/4 rhythm, make it insistent
(2) Avoid rapid harmonic changes into far-out keys
(3) thoroughly played quavers
(4) add a vocal line, chanting on one note
(5) certain very long held guitar/keyboard notes will add to the aero power
(6) slight exceptions will make it even flightier

All six features are there. So much for nuts and bolts.

A "chiming riff" by MWP, counterpointal notes by PK. Shadow Cabinet has a very eighties polyethylene shine. I always had the idea of Shadow Cabinet in completely different arrangements, from renaissance madrigal to folk ballad to metal thrasher. Slow it down, add huge guitars and let James Hetfield shout the chorus. "Junction fevaaarrr must have closed down the rayyyyyl..ah!!, the gluttonous wind keeps on nibbling the sayyyyylsyeaaaahh, queueing in the ruins in the wake of the gayyyyyle it's, harmony I sayyyeaaaAAAAhh!!" Hetfield!! Speed it up two times, add a screamer and you have a brilliant speed metal song. it would have worked magnificently in Heyday's sound costume as well as an elegic midtempo song on the opiated Priest=Aura. On the one hand, it has that openness, on the other, the sound they chose fits perfectly. It's one of the first signs of what to encounter on Heyday, just that the stark, detached style would morph into something more gentle, warmer.

A climax of the song was always that ultra-artificial solo section of toy keyboard and ebowed guitar dueling. Sounds highly improbable, but definitely works wonder! Lyrically, Shadow Cabinet has one of my favourite lines - "Bliss comes first as a jangling flood". Now that's a fucking tagline for The Church, isn't it?


chrome3d said...

That was an excellent review. Thanks for making it sound so understandable what makes a song to "fly" as that is definitely one of the key elements here.

Toy key/guitar-duel is so great and it´s fun how there is 2 (?) different duels, then verse/chorus and then one duel more all building the song forward. There is a lot crammed in to this song.

Anonymous said...

hey stef nice review my man!