Thursday, October 20, 2011

Standing on the Edge of the World... songs Ad Infinitum

The premise of long songs gets me in a fit most of the time. Bands endlessly plucking away for 20 minutes at an accoustic guitar before the song gets underway is just more of a reason why I love mp3s. Like anything, it can be done well, and on the converse, it can be done poorly. Somewhere, in the middle of all of this, I find songs/albums like Corrupted's "El Mundo Frio." 

Spanning an hour and eleven minutes, the one song album translates to "The Cold World," a fitting title, for such a desolate song. But like I mentioned earlier, this album in particular finds itself in an odd spot as it meanders, gets heavy, meanders, gets heavy, meanders....etc etc. And while I like the song, for the most part, I can't help but wonder what it'd sound like if it dropped some of distant guitar plucking in between the heavy sections, ones that castrate and usurp the power of these landslide like sections. Thankfully, this doesn't happen too much in the realm of faster music, but sometimes it does, and sometimes it works.

One man grindoctopus Parlamentarisk Sodomi put together "Klæbukrønikene (De Anarkistiske An(n)aler)" a Pollock-like ten minute grind marathon which starts with a silly, circus like keyboard section and continues into grind infinity. I don't have a problem with this song except I think it could have done without the keyboards. Also, the fact that it's a grindcore song placing around ten minutes makes it feel like a novelty. I particularly don't like novelty, unless it's something along the lines of Wehrmacht or such (you'd never catch them with a ten minute song!). I hope this doesn't make me sound like some bible thumping old timer whose shut down the town dance, I just get annoyed by joke bands, or serious bands with stupid jokes.

Where long songs are a given to work is obvious. Drone and the slower of spectrum of things almost require you to get in distance contests. For the most part I accept it, but some bands outstay their welcome and seem to repeat the same crap ad nauseum for no other reason than to build the song. Like the idiot kid in your presechool who built the most inane legos/lincoln log contraptions, those drone/doom/whatever bands haven't discovered that it's not always the size that matters. The same could be said about grind bands putting out an album with 150 songs under 30mins (or whatever the specifics are), but i digress.

The Makai are a band that comes to mind when song length is in question. Their Embrace the Shroud of a Blackened Sky which is a one song, crusty-black metal hardcore whatever track that spans two LP sides and is as varied as a ten song album could be. I love this album, I find it flows very well and there is never a moment i pick the needle up to skip ahead. On the converse,many black metal bands will go for a ten minute song or something even longer, when it could be separated and made more digestible (Deathspell Omega I'm looking at you). Whether it be my prejudice, my predispositions, or whatever else, I usually find myself more amenable to black metal dirges that top ten minutes as opposed to stripped down doom/sludge acts, or bands that obviously use place holders like noise and whatever else to bridge together a track that shouldn't be so long.

How do y'all feel about long songs? I put together what I'll deem the Perpetual Strife Marathon; see if you can make it through ( I decided against something like El Mundo Frio because that's just silly, as well as anything 20+mins/ easy options like sludge or whatever).
Like my Paint skills?

1. "Deuteronomy" - The Endless Blockade - The Red List (split w. Man Is the Bastard)
2."Ţesarul De Lumini" - Negură Bunget - Om
3."Fade to Black" - Sludgetallica - Ride the Lightning (45rpm record slowed to 33rpm)
4. "IX : Der Einsiedler" - UrfaustEinsiedler
5. "Klæbukrønikene (De Anarkistiske An(n)aler)" - Parlamentarisk Sodomi De Anarkistiske An(n)aler
6. "Memory Leak" - NadjaTruth Becomes Death
7. "Black Prophecies" - Dark Angel - Darkness Descends 


Andrew Childers said...

i'm always impressed with how well sleep's "jerusalem/dopesmoker" holds up. a 65 minute song with only about three riffs shouldn't be that compelling. i find early sunn O))) and earth stuff to be absolutely riveting too. disfear did a 9 minute d-beat song on their last album that's a goodie too.
it takes a very special kind of focus to pull off a long song. there's lots of ways it can go horribly wrong.

Perpetual Strife said...

Haven't bothered with newer Disfear; heard misanthropic generation and hated the production.

i agree about Sunn though, good stuff.

Andrew Childers said...

live the storm is pretty pristine in that modern metal way. i heard even talarczyk hated the production on misanthropic generation.

this post sent me on a 5ive binge. the hemopheliac dream may be my favorite long form piece of music.

Jreg said...

Song length per se doesn't really mean much to me. Yes some bands take it to ridiculous extremes. But for the most part, a good length is however long it takes to sound right, and many songwriters fail in that they either don't trim the fat or they don't throw in that extra something that ties the piece together. I think, in certain contexts, a 4-minute song can drag on almost as easily as a 20-minute one.

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