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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Very Brief History of Clearings

posted by on April 17 at 13:59 PM

This is Mark Hollis:
Let’s begin with the birth of architecture. One old theory goes that architecture was born when a clearing was made for a god to appear. In the 20th century, another theory (this time ontological, rather than architectural) proposed that for being to be disclosed to the self a clearing needed to be made. The clearing at this point of history was for a human being and not a supreme being. But deep in the 20th century, long after the death of god (Schopenhauer) and the death of man (Foucault), the band Talk Talk made a clearing of rock music for a part pagan/part Christian spirit to appear in. The rock song is “I Believe In You,” the outstanding track on The Spirit of Eden (1988).

In “I Believe In You,” the drum beat is wide open, and melodies (from the electric guitar, harmonium, and organ) float in and out of this space. The singer, Hollis, calls out to a spirit, letting it know that a clearing of music has been made for it. And a spirit does appear! In fact it appears twice! The first time, it’s a faint, blue orb of a boy’s voice. Its volume increases a bit…and then it altogether vanishes. By the sound of their instruments, we can tell that the members of Talk Talk are startled by this occurrence, this miniature miracle, but the beat doesn’t stop. A few more measures, a few more melodies, a few more calls from Hollis, and the boy angel returns in full glory. It’s a glowing alto of prepubescent purity, a sky bliss of blue, a heavenly whole mouth open. The spirit is there before the rock stars and it doesn’t vanish until the song ends in peace. The clearing is closed and has remained closed ever since.

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Put the brownies down, Charles.

Talk Talk was never better than on the song "Talk Talk." No blue orbs of spirit, but a good syn-drum heavy song to dance to back in the day.


Posted by pgreyy | April 17, 2007 2:07 PM

God I wish I could smoke dope while I work like some people do.

Posted by Sally Struthers Lawnchair | April 17, 2007 2:21 PM

Come on, Charles. No YouTube link to the video? Jeez.

"I Believe In You"

Posted by DCM | April 17, 2007 2:28 PM

Ignore the haters, Chuck; they couldn't recognize brilliance if it woke them up in the middle of the night, broke their teeth on a prison cell sink, and made aggressive love to their sexy gums.

Posted by jackie treehorn | April 17, 2007 2:44 PM

You are on a roll today, Charles.

Posted by Xilip | April 17, 2007 2:52 PM

Mark Hollis and Talk Talk are one of the most underrated bands of all time. The Colour of Spring was a fantastic album - I wish Hollis would come out with more solo records.

That tart Gwen Stefani had to go ruin It's My Life with her whiny bitchass voice and I am reminded of it every time I go to the gym.


Posted by snacky | April 17, 2007 3:01 PM

#1: You could not possibly be more wrong. Laughing Stock and Spirit of Eden are criminally under-appreciated masterpieces.

Posted by A-Train | April 17, 2007 3:05 PM

Numbers 1 and 2: You are totally wrong as well. Charles is one of the few of us who doesn't have a drug habit.

Posted by Amy Kate Horn | April 17, 2007 3:23 PM

What A-Train said.

Please, #1, go listen to those two records immediately.


Posted by Matthew | April 17, 2007 3:24 PM

That's as good a way to describe it, Charles. I sat around listening to Spirit of Eden in a special head space a million times in a row.

To think that Talk Talk got to that kind of expansiveness from a wee little toe-tappin' "all you do to me is talk talk" is a road richly travelled indeed. Most bands have just enough gumption for a trajectory of flash, crash, resign and burn.

So I guess I'm agreeing with you, that TT's spirit took flight, whereas most bands spirits end up spit out and squelched - a jaded pile of ashes.

Both Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock were pretty amazing acheivements after TT's sitting on the bucking music industry bronco for the three mostly forgettable albums by them prior.

Neither of the latter two were real big impacts at the time, but you can tell that a shitload of the 2000's kids listened to them a bunch. Records that got handed down.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | April 17, 2007 3:36 PM

"prepubescent purity"?? Harmonium?
Well I do not have "prepubescent purity" anymore (don't think I ever did) but I do own a harmonium and I did not hear one in that song. In fact I could hardly understand a word sung.
The song was totally uneventful.

Posted by -B- | April 17, 2007 8:19 PM

Yes, Mark Hollis should make more solo records. The one, it is a masterpiece, one of the best ever made.

Posted by Tom Harpel | April 17, 2007 10:03 PM

Don't get me wrong--I'm not unfamiliar with either "Laughing Stock" or "Spirit of Eden."

I know that we sold a ton of 'em (especially "Laughing Stock") at Orpheum back in the day--and Lloyd's right (#10) when he suggests that their overall impact is stronger than their low sales level might indicate. Much like the classic comment about Velvet Underground ("not many people bought their albums, but everyone did started a band.")

It just didn't speak to me. I already had The Blue Nile.

I've got so many better memories dancing to "Talk Talk" and the admittedly overplayed "It's My Life" and even "Life's What You Make It" my first post in this thread might be an exaggeration for comedic effect, it rings true enough to me.

pg--Of course, I still think the best album by Ministry is "With Sympathy."

Posted by pgreyy | April 18, 2007 3:03 AM

One word describes Mark Hollis: brilliant!

Posted by Daniel K | April 18, 2007 10:25 PM

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