McGarrett50

McGarrett50
Birthday
July 05
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I'm nobody important and there's nothing uniquely interesting about me. My blog is intended as planting a free market, conservative flag on Salon Island. I want to be a bit provocative and will attempt to present a counter-counter-culture view. The blog name is based on the idea that the 1960's should not be viewed as only a time when the young pushed change against conservative norms. The 60's were as much represented by law and order shows such as Hawaii Five O. Conservative waves continued through the 80's and into this day. Salon tends to represent the desire to overcome the conservative waves. I will playfully join the debate here to see whether I hit the beach or hit the rocks.

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FEBRUARY 22, 2010 7:43AM

Music Monday: Do You Want To Be Synergized?

Rate: 1 Flag

Jimmy Hendrix once asked, “Are you Experienced?”  Coming forward in time 40+ years, we can now ask “Are you Synergized?”

Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker, USS for short, is a two man band performing grungy, drum and bass dance music.  I don’t normally like electronic dance music because much of it is minimalist both in terms of chord structures and melody, offering only a basic rhythm with minor variations provided.  My take is it is primarily intended to achieve an ambient sensory overload rather than an emotional, intellectual experience.  When dance tracks do breakthrough to broader popularity it is more often than not because the music is a well-written song first with the dance elements being the chosen medium for the song.  Lady Gaga is a current example.

Every now and then, artists try to fuse rock elements with dance.  A current attempt is USS, made up of Ash Buchholz and Jason Parsons.  Per Wikipedia:

"We like to call what we do 'the campfire after-party,' " Buchholz says. "It's like you're at Nirvana Unplugged but there's a drum and bass party and glow sticks all around you."

I first heard this band on XM radio 87 (The Verge) where the song “Hollow Point Sniper Hyperbole” gets a reasonable amount of airplay.  The song was released in 2008 as part of USS’s debut five song EP. 


 



The Music

Hollow Point starts as more reggae grunge before the drum machine starts with what no one would suggest is a reggae drum track.  The song has a very simple minor key structure based around the chords G#minor, E, B, and F#.  What makes the music seem more diverse is that synthesizer parts get layered in creating a building complexity.  It is also filled with breaks in the rhythm that get filled with sound effects and create a herky-jerky sense of motion.

The song has no chorus.  It consists of three verses and then two bridge-like elements although, again, the chord pattern never deviates from the G#minor, E, B, F# structure.  So, is there really a bridge if it’s the same basic pattern?  Who cares.

The Lyrics

The first verse describes a person seeming to struggle with memories of traumatic events.  He doesn’t know how face them.  He both wonders what it will take to bring the truth out of himself and whether the truth might not be exaggerated.


Thoughts seem to stumble out of my mouth
I can't seem to stop and talk to them
Fear tries, to pierce the armor of truth
Hollow point sniper hyperbole

 

The second verse describes what appear to be failed attempts at relief through hypnosis, drugs, and therapy, leaving the person trapped (oubliette is a dungeon) with little hope for escape.


I can't seem to follow a pendulum
And there must be organic cures for me
Report to base, instrumental case
Here's the map to my oubliette

 

The third verse was baffling to me but some internet research shows that it is about a trip to Bonavista Island in Newfoundland.  The remaining references to moose meat, beans and screech would describe a meal that visitors would have.  “Screech me” is likely a reference to wanting to get drunk, presumably to cover over the feelings of trauma.


Once more, I'm flying with Brian my friend
Hold me, Bonavista baby
Moose meat, neighbored a medley of beans
Screech me (screech me) (screech me)

 

We then come to what I am calling the first bridge where the lyrics are a twist on a Newfoundland folk song.  The word “b’y” is the local pronunciation of “boy.”  USS’s version is darker in that the boy’s ship sinks but he is saved.  It’s not clear whether others may have drowned in the event. 


I's the b’y that built the boat
I's the b’y that sailed her
I's the b’y that sunk the ship
You're the one that saved me
I's the b’y that built the boat
I's the b’y that sailed her
I's the b’y that sunk the ship
You're the one that saved me…
With…
Love…

 

My intuition is that the rescuer did in fact drown and that is the act of love that the now very layered, powerful music is expressing… and the feelings that the narrator struggles to deal with.  I really like the guitar part during this section.  It’s a minimalist lead but it has a lost, meandering quality to it that really contrasts against the loud, speeding, layered music.

The second bridge sung over increasingly layer synthesizer melodies seems to describe the narrator trying to maintain some connection to his lost rescuer.


You make me flow
You help me to grow
You make me glow
You help me to know

 

But, the music then falls apart and the opening verse is repeated, now sung over a jarring, struggling rhythm.


Thoughts seem to stumble out of my mouth
I can't seem to stop and talk to them
Fear tries, to pierce the armor of truth
Hollow point sniper hyperbole

 

We are left with someone who has not yet reconciled himself to what happened.

The Video

If you assume that my interpretation is valid, then the video director really missed the target on this.  There is only one section (the close-up during the “I’s the b’y” section) that seems to capture a sense of the emotional content underlying all this energy.  Even though it is very fast, this doesn’t strike me something that would cause one to dance with exuberance as the band members are doing.

I think the video would have been more effective to have had the performers almost subdued with all the motion being imagery in the background so that we get a sense of someone walking through normal life filled with chaos and pain in their heads.  To have a sparse background with the performers jumping around seems contradictory to what is happening in the song.

Bonus Song Throw-In

As I mentioned, different bands have tried before to combine dance and hard rock/grunge/punk.  While writing this, my subconscious reminded me of 1996’s “Ready to Go” by Republica.  This song is one that seems much more fun-oriented and the video captures that well.  So, I’s the b’y that posts another song.

 

 

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Comments

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Most enjoyable. Rated.
Cool stuff. I'll have to download Hollowpoint Sniper.
Gordon, I never thought you read these music post. Glad you liked it.

Jim, I downloaded their 2008 EP and 2009 CD. I'd say about half their stuff is good. As with most bands, they have some filler including a 20 minute song in which 17 minutes of if is ambient noodling.