Tuesday, October 24, 2006

"The Stars are Projectors": A Modest Appreciation of Modest Mouse



I haven't exactly figured what it is about Modest Mouse that has kept them playing on my stereo lately. First off they have these meaningless/meaningful lyrics. Example the first song on the CD Moon and Antartica is "3rd Planet":


Everything that keeps me together is falling apart/Ive got
This thing that I consider my only art of fucking people over.
My boss just quit the job says hes goin out to find blind
Spots and hell do it.
The 3rd planet is sure that theyre being watched by an
Eye in the sky that cant be stopped.
When you get to the promise land your gonna shake that
Eyes hand.
Your heart felt good it was drippin pitch and made of wood.
And your hands and knees felt cold and wet on the grass to me.
Outside naked, shiverin looking blue, from the cold
Sunlight thats reflected off the moon.
Baby cum angels fly around you reminding you we used
To be three and not just two.
And thats how the world began.
And thats how the world will end.
A 3rd had just been made and we were swimming in the
Water, didnt know then was it a son was it a daughter.
When it occurred to me that the animals are swimming
Around in the water in the oceans in our bodies and
Another had been found another ocean on the planet
Given that our blood is just like the atlantic.
And how.
The universe is shaped exactly like the earth if you go
Straight long enough youll end up where you were.
Your heart felt good it was drippin pitch and made of wood.
And your hands and knees felt cold and wet on the grass to me.
Outside naked, shiverin looking blue, from the cold
Sunlight thats reflected off the moon.
Baby cum angels fly around you reminding you we used
To be three and not just two.
And thats how the world began.
And thats how the world will end.


The lyrics are meaningless in that they don't really make any real sense if you read them out loud as plain text, but when sung by Isaac Brock with the music (Brock, Eric Judy and Jeremiah Green) that hits my soul in the empty places, it shoots sparks through my brain causing me to reflect on the fractured landscapes (cultural, political and geographical) of my (our?) world. It speaks to my spiritual melancholy, provoking me to wonder at the awe of life and the pain of experience--back and forth, inside and outside. Did I mention the music? Achingly, aurally alluring, it allows me to reach some inner spaces and sends me aloft seeking some sense (sanity?). It speaks of despair, it speaks of hope, it speaks of rage, and it speaks of absurdity-this is the soundtrack of the wandering souls of our lost nation. Not those that have hopelessly lost their way and lost their reason, rather, those that are wandering around asking questions and teasing out traces of meanings.

Once again listening to this CD. A vision of apocalypse, indeed, but not the reactionary, conservative apocalypticism that fearfully pulls inward, building defenses against the other(s); instead, this is the outward recognition of personal and social devastation as happening, and in that moment of pain, the opportunity arises as a moment of becoming/transformation.

I came as ice, I came as a whore
I came as advice that came too short
I came as gold, I came as crap
I came clean and I came as a Rat


There is an ugliness and arrogance to some of the lyrics that can jar the careful listener that delves below the angular melodies, but its not a pointless, self-serving monologue, it seems directed, once again, outward in the hope of sparking a response and dialogue (even when Brock sings "I don't give a damn about you or this town"). This could be the plastic bag floating down the street in American Beauty telling us that there is more than meets the eye and that we should "look closer"... it could be the surreal, flickering light that speaks to you as you walk home alone from a nightclub, telling you that the comfort of the warm night is not a loss... it could be the haunting sounds you hear as you traipse through the woods while you wonder "how the world began"... it could be the ecstasy of being purely in the moment with your tribe, groovin and grinding... it could be the stranger that you want to approach and talk to in the desire to create a meaningful connection... it could be a lonely voice in the universe speaking questions to whatever may be out there.

"Does anybody know a way that a body could get away?"

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

The things you say about the moon/antartic are good things i look up on the internet is others opinions on modest mouse and ugly cassanova lyricly and the meanings every one seems to think a littel differnt but it seems to have given a good point to them i enjoyed reading

-leonard-

Thivai Abhor said...

Thanks Leonard

normantribbett said...

I asked a friend, Phil Y. Riesen, "Should we end our friendship over this Yoko thing?' Yoko, the girlfriend. A friendship of 24 years. His reply -- the words from 3rd Planet, Moon and Antartica. How does one reply????

Thivai Abhor said...

Perhaps your friend is reflecting on the absurdity (insanity) of human relationships, especially when they evolve (devolve) into conflict between multiple partners (friends or lovers) forcing one to choose (or one being told they must choose)... leaving that person to just scream out inane sayings and responses as a method of coping with unreasonable circumstances.

If you love someone (friend or lover) you sometimes have to have the strength and consideration to give them some time to figure things out...

but then you haven't given me much details on why your friendship must end...