21 July, 2014
The PIXIES: Return To Greatness – HOT METRO FINDS – Ted Cantu
You know when art has made it to greatness when video documentary producers hire a British guy to narrate it for the audience. This somehow gives it an added sense of importance and makes it official. I have seen this done for Egyptian archeology, UFO documentaries and specials on Leonardo DiVinci. Actually, placing the Pixies right up there with those categories just feels right. The meanings of their complex music catalog calls out to all of those areas and even beyond. I think the true meaning of their songs exists somewhere between the atoms in all forms. Not in the parts where matter comes together but in the space in between where the atoms don’t physically touch. Make no mistake…. Their artistry is important.
I’ve always known this to be true. I remember seeing the Doolittle tour in Detroit at St. Andrews Hall. I was in the front 5 rows and it was in the middle of the song, “Where is My Mind” when something made me turn around and look towards the back of the auditorium. In the ghostly chorus I looked back at the expressionless faces behind me watching this show. My inner voice said, “Remember this moment” and I knew that at that exact moment it would be etched into my heart, brain and psyche forever. Those faces were fixated in awe at the mighty sounds that forever changed conventional rock music. There are not too many memories like that in my concert going experience. Some shows are just for fun, some shows are about rebellion and noise. But the Pixies were forever.
They are back…. from a long hiatus. The whole gang is back minus Kim Deal. And by the whole gang I am referring to legendary graphic designer Vaughn Oliver from the 4AD record label days. It his Oliver’s lush and rough juxtaposition of typography and photography that brought visual life to the Pixies gigantic sound. The symbiotic relationship is self absorbed and co-creative. The album is on the Pixies own label this time around and the sounds are melodic and meaningful and not forced. This sounds like a Pixies record and has the entire signature notes from the, “Trompe Le Monde” and, “Bossonova” days. Is the album enjoyable? Oh yes, “Magdalena” is a hypnotic song based on some sort of obsession that only Black Francis could do. I think that is what he calls himself these days but don’t quote me on it. I liked his other alter ego too as Frank Black. Both personas were unique into their own right.
Both of them had something in common and that was the enjoyment of tap dancing on your raw nerve endings. This is well crafted obsession, dark, obtrusive and brooding. You almost don’t want it to end and once it does it instantly invites another listen. In, “Ring the Bell” Black Francis is addressing a distant memory and a reluctance to go back. He almost feels obligated to go back with someone of importance. It is a cheerful song and is instantly appreciated.
Someone on YouTube commented, “Oh joy, they did a Christmas song….” But the depths of this song go deeper than any kind of frivolous holiday song. There is meaning here and drives into a soul search where Black exclaims, “My heart is empty….” I listen to this and wonder to myself what took them so long to come out with this album. This is atmospheric. There are many emotions here on this release. It also fits into the rest of the catalog and wasn’t just slapped together for convenience. That being said there is plenty of respect given to the fans here and that is extraordinary. I mean, that is big for everybody and also gives the fan base something to latch onto.
The Pixies have given a lot of meaning to the word, “Alternative Music” and in many ways helped shape it and define it into something of an industry. The early 90’s were such a constructive time for music with so many influences rushing the airwaves from The Smashing Pumpkins, Live, They Might Be Giants and so many others. Now as the years settle the critics and music aficionados fondly remember certain favorites. Even David Bowie responds to this rise of the Pixies in a documentary in 2007. These are all fantastic recollections but I could hardly bare to watch them on television or on the web without feeling the yearning for more iconic material. The Pixies new music is something of a celebration and this encourages joy. The heart feels complete and has new reasons for beating.
When you hear Andro Queen everything about the Pixies should become immediate. There is nobody who can really master the sounds and put them together in such an off worldly way. The overall sound is comprehensive and rich and audio accoutrements are intact. This is a band that will give you the sounds of outer space and even the audio verbal nods to barking sea monkeys. What other band is going to give you a complete sound of life and everything in it. There are no unanswered questions in this release and that feels pretty good. #hotmetrofinds #thepixies #blackfrancis #frankblack #4Adrecords