I think I've been stalking the wrong person all these years 😕

I owe a certain Ethel Knowles of Furze Avenue, Sutton a big apology
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I've been thinking more about this album, because I actually don't think it's possible to hate it on reasonable grounds.

If nothing else, it's an hour of Van Dyke Parks string arrangements—some of the best orchestration he's ever done, sound of swooping starlings, bikes of bees. Sad and celebratory, epic and tapestry-like. An aliveness, stigmergic and improvisatory, the characteristic chaos and order of a swarm, like nothing else I've ever heard.

Then you throw on top some very capable harp by a very talented, classically trained harpist, a harp line that continually evolves and changes while maintaining a structure, a structure or form around which the strings can fluid stray.

The music, melodies, and arrangements of the tracks are constantly morphing—for eight, ten, twelve, twenty minutes. Echoes and motifs come back on their own accord, repetition and difference, not the copy-paste verse/chorus structure you get everywhere else.

And there's the vocal, which is where she gets divisive. I don't think there are reasonable grounds on which to claim Newsom's not, at the very least, a thoughtful lyricist. We can just pick the first track of Ys—we can pick the first stanzas of Ys—
The meadowlark and the chim-choo-ree and the sparrow
Set to the sky in a flying spree,
for the sport over the pharaoh
A little while later the Pharisees dragged comb through the meadow
It's not just the music that's swarm-like. The whole album is like this lyrically, juxtaposing cosmic scales with the personal, the intimate, the domestic—meteorites crossing the sky for viewers below; mountains born from tectonics and dissolving into dust. The wind that blows the wind chimes, the music it makes. Skipping little stones across the surface of the water. Ripples and ripples, cycles and cycles, the cause and effect of history.

I get that Newsom's voice grates at first listen. Her voice is an acquired taste, and one well-worth the work, because she manages to sound like nobody else has or will, grain and timbre like fingerprints.

I can't imagine that it's the strange vocal timbre that throws people for such a loop, that marshalls hate. I have to think it comes down to... "vibe," persona, aesthetic, whatever you want to call it. Something more identitarian, less like a legitimate aesthetic claim. More a way of preserving self-image. It doesn't have distance, for instance; it's like a Malick movie, it doesn't have a tortoise-shell of detachment; you have to believe in it, and if you do, it leads you to a new world.


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@suspended your parents fucking suck though mate. Mine have no access to American or Caribbean culture whatsoever and even they did a better job at creating a solid musical personality in me.