Mar. 20th, 2013

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Sweetest Decline
Beth Orton
Central Reservation

Like the yellow, flattened grass that spent the winter months buried under a blanket of snow, I too experience a kind of reemergence in March.  I can almost imagine myself coming out of a dark burrow--rubbing my eyes sleepily with balled-up fists when faced with the light, stumbling over my own two feet, taking in deep lungfuls of air.

I love the sound of winter melting away--water trickling down from the roof to the gravel below; noisy torrents rushing towards open-mouthed sewers.  (Geek alert: this melting always reminds me of a montage in the BBC production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe wherein shots of dripping icicles and bubbling brooks are meant to signify the White Witch's weakening power).

Beth Orton's music characterizes my late teens and early twenties.  I liked the poetry of her songs and remember copying out many of her lyrics into my notebooks.  Her voice has that nasal quality I seem to be drawn to time and again, but with an added filter; or it's that she has a lump of melancholy caught in her throat (that sounds terrible, but I can't think of any other way to describe it at the moment).  "Sweetest Decline" sounds like that sleepy reemergence I mentioned above.  I love its gentleness; the way it sounds like a lazy, sun-dappled afternoon; like sitting on a porch swing, your feet skimming the surface of the floorboards, swaying imperceptibly, in time to the tune that floats at the back of your mind.

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Hello (Band Version)
Hello - Single

: When the snow starts to melt, and I start to itch for warmth and longer days and the smell of my skin changing and that bubbly feeling of waking up to a certain kind of light --
I open the windows and I blast Poe.

Haunted comes as close to a perfect album as is humanly possible, I think. There are times, when I listen to it all the way through, where I'll flat-out sob at the end. The song "Haunted" (which I debated posting) is just...fuck. The entire album is fucking indescribable. I love it so much I can't breathe through half the songs. I have connotations, memories, attached to all of them -- every single song on that album is solidly centered in the most emotional part of how I listen to music. And every single song on that album somehow relates to a very powerful spring memory.

Today was arguably the first real day of spring, when all the Montrealers immediately cheer and head to a terrasse. Spring, oh spring; spring is my favourite season. Things start to stretch, move. There is a positive, beautiful energy that explodes everywhere -- and oh so much moreso in Rigaud. When snow melts in Montreal, the pavement quickly dries and suddenly every single person is out on the street. When the snow melts in Rigaud, you get to experience it dramatically, and you get to experience it alone, and the intensity of watching a forest wake up is absolutely palpable. 
So in some ways, I think today I wanted to imitate that intense solitude. I needed to be alone, I needed to feel spring my way -- and my soundtrack was, of course, Poe.

Though I could talk forever about Haunted's unique magic, I won't, because it speaks for itself -- and as for what else could be said, I don't have the words.
This particular song has some of the veins I love, though, and it's a song I've wanted to share with you for as long as I've known you also liked Poe. I like "Hello" but I like this rock version of it way way more -- it it's been kept locked up in the dark for awhile. Peering out every now and then. Watching its happier counterpart bounce around while it shies from harsh, cold light.

But then something shifts, and out it comes, thrashing, maybe not quite ready, but the snow is melting and here we are, no ignoring the possibility and beauty of spring.

Hello, hello.


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