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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Jónsi and Alex
Riceboy Sleeps
XL

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


August 5, 2009
I've decided to change the way that I cover ambient music, as I think breaking down this genre through technical dimensions or merits is somewhat antiquated and invalid for the listener. Ambient can and must be enjoyed in a variety of settings, and it is this aspect that's so appealing, from film directors seeking inspiration to the man on the subway entranced and staring blankly at the hair of the woman in front of him. The pleasantry of the music in any given situation, binds experiences to our hearts.

Most ambient music is so abstract that the listener must be open and willing to correlating the sounds with their daily lives. Some of the music resonates better than others, and can even appear to enhance whatever is happening while one listens, almost like a drug. Therefore, I present to you my micro-stories involving the experience of Riceboy Sleeps, the debut album of Sigur Rós front man Jónsi, and his partner Alex Somers:

Headphones on, I dip into a book by the fabulous Czech writer Milan Kundera, which examines the undeniable quench we have for love, yet also the miserable lengths we tolerate to attain this lifelong fulfillment. Riding the metro is always a chore, and love is perhaps the last thing on my mind. As the soft piano notes of "Indian Summer" begin, I spot an attractive, professional woman, who looks my age, entering the carriage, and who sits down directly in front of me. Perfect positioning, I thought, as I always sit in the most destitute seats possible, hoping for a situation exactly like this. She reaches into her bag, and I see a book exhumed. As the strings from "Indian Summer" initiate, but I quickly realize that many, albeit fewer, people in the world still read books. Somehow the young woman and I happen to catch each other's eye, and a sincere smile from one another ensues…a bond between readers, I surmise. Two readers, attempting to pretend the other isn't there, absorbed in our novels yet cognizant of one another. The train shutters to a stop and I see her jostle, the book closes. Her back and legs arch up, and I keep my head down while she exits. As the train starts moving again I open my eyes and peer out the window. She's there, staring back into the carriage at me as the introductory notes of "Stokkseyri" begin. Kundera himself could have found no love finer than this.

Walking down the streets of Glasgow always makes me feel alive and at home. The diversity of people, the sights and smells, and the incessant energy of the city I treasure. I get the sense that most people here are who they want to be. Absorbed in "All the Big Trees" and meandering down Sauchiehall Street, I stop to take everything in, even though I've been here hundreds of times. I get a sudden urge to remember scenes, and I make a concerted effort to take in as much as I can when this feeling engulfs me. Light raindrops hit my forehead as I look around, and I peer up to the cloudy sky. As if on cue "Daniell and the Sea" commences, and subtle waves of ambient gauze start crashing over my landscape. The rain grows heavier, and people start reaching for umbrellas. Parents zip up the stroller covers for their children in a timely manner, an elderly couple walks comfortably underneath an immense umbrella, and others venture into shops and purchase items they normally wouldn't. It's not a particularly hot day, but the rain is refreshing and soothing as it falls on me. My hair, face, and clothes are quite damp by this point, and each subsequent raindrop I absorb reminds me of nature's beauty. After a few minutes, the majestic animal sounds of "Howl" slowly subside with the short shower.

The first time I listened to Riceboy Sleeps, I was alone in my room with the lights off and my bed staring at me, calling for sleep. 'Just a few more minutes' I told it, in the mood to sip a glass of wine and look at some art after a relatively stressful day. I pulled up some Jonathan Levy on the laptop, and started searching through Act 1. A minute or two after the violins on "Happiness" kicked in, I was consumed in a painting called 'Tree Set'. The tree in the painting looks like a smaller version of a tree that I had in my front yard as a child. This particular tree was a sibling favourite, and any opportunity to climb it was certainly taken advantage of. My brothers and I spent many summers racing each other up and down it, getting stuck on various branches, losing ourselves amongst its many levels. My little brother, not as limber as me or my older brother, decided to climb by himself one day, and ultimately put himself in quite a precarious position near the top. An hour or so later we ventured outside to hear some faint sobbing, came to his rescue, and carefully led him down the tree and into a friendly game of wiffle ball with the neighborhood kids. The melody and structure of "Happiness" so perfectly accompanied that memory that I played the song (and recollection) a few more times before I went to bed. Each time, the scene was more vivid, as if I was watching it on a crackly old VHS recording at my mother's house. An hour or so later I finally succumbed to my bed, content. I can only imagine Riceboy does so in kind.


Reviewed by Brian Christopher Jones
A student living in Scotland and working toward a PhD in law.

See other reviews by Brian Christopher Jones

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