01 March 2013

Music Day

Well, since I was talking about Daniel Amos earlier this week, why not talk about them some more? (However, if the iTunes Store would acquire some Prodigal, I would have featured that instead because I just bought their Just Like Real Life album and HOLY CRAP it's freaking amazing. If you ever see it anywhere, buy it quick. You won't regret it.)

This was the first Daniel Amos song I remember hearing. I use the word 'remember' because my dad owns their self-titled debut on CD and I know I must have heard it a few times when I was younger, but I don't remember any of the material on it, only the cover art. I do seem to recall that it was country. But aside from that, I'd never heard Daniel Amos until this past week. (EDIT: Hold on, I just remembered that's not true... I have heard Shotgun Angel on classicchristian247.com a couple times. However, it's country so I repressed the memory.)

Anyway, I was reading the write-up on the Doppelganger album on the 500 Best Christian Albums blog and was intrigued. Haunting? Creepy? Eerie?

This might be worth looking into.

(You might as well know that I'm the kind of person who will willingly stay up till 4.30 in the morning reading books covering things like human sacrifice, demon possession, mental disorders, and biological warfare on a worldwide scale; then go to bed and sleep deep, long and peacefully. The author's name is Ted Dekker (and he draws a lot of Biblical parallels) if you enjoy that sort of thing.)

So I looked up the album on iTunes and, picking the song that sounded most interesting from the blog post, found myself previewing the following:

Title: Hollow Man
Artist: Daniel Amos
Album: Doppelganger
Year: 1983
Label: Alarma Records & Tapes
iTunes here; YouTube here.

Haunting? Definitely. Creepy? Well, what the song may have lacked, the cover art more than makes up for it. (Something about that wide plastic smile with the hollow pleasant 9-to-5-job eyes and the arm frozen in mid-movement still freaks me out.) Eerie? Spine-chillingly, wonderfully so.

Apparently the musical accompaniment is actually a song (Ghost Of The Heart) from the band's previous record played backwards. I bought that song too, for comparison, and it sounds about right. As odd as the backward drum sounds, it's the backwards bass line that's the most creepy. It growls, but it's an otherworldly growling, and it seems to have a slightly metallic quality to the sound. Of course it's one of my favourite parts of the song.

And the vocals on this song are amazing. They too are beautifully otherworldly as they loop around themselves, swirling, mingling with the indecipherable backward vocals of the other song, a chilling juxtaposition of flowing vocals against the slightly jarring staccato nest of the backward song. The first few times I listened to it (before I cheated and looked up the lyrics), I really kind of enjoyed listening and not quite being able to tell exactly which lyrics were forward and which were backward. The layers and repeats swirling around, plus the reversed vocals (and the fact that the song's actual lyrics tend to match the cadence and pitch of the backward vocals) makes the actual forward-playing English vocals hard to pick out and for some reason I really liked that (though it's worth noting that had this been a secular band, I probably would have had some serious reservations about it prior to Googling the lyrics to check exactly what I was listening to).

What I wouldn't give to see more of this creativity... anywhere. I only wish I had even the tiniest spark of musical understanding that I could attempt to nurture into something remotely close. Alas, all I can do is rely on the distant hope that there is a creative/musical genius out there who will get studio time and exposure without being forced by the CCM machine to kill all his God-given creativity and destroy the remains. (Either that or that the already-existing geniuses will stop believing the lie that they're too old and irrelevant to keep creating great art. As long as there's breath in your lungs, you're not too old to create. Just saying.)

In light of that last paragraph, it's worth noting that this band (unlike certain others *cough* White Heart) is in the process of recording another album -- you can find information on that here.

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