Music A Very Brief History of Clearings
posted by April 17 at 13:59 PMon
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.