Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Stones, Rain and Rooftops

Midlake (Art-Pop)
iPod Choice: Roscoe (2006)

It’s a short walk from my home to Kyoto's Higashi Honganji temple, headquarters of Buddhism's Pure Land sect. Whenever I pass by I’m intrigued by the huge stone slabs which lead up to the temple and I try to imagine the craftsmen who set them in place long ago.

the rainy season my dog Boo and I sit under the temple’s huge wooden gate, protected from the downpour like the characters in Akira Kurosawa’s classic film Rashomon (there's a lot of rain in Kurosawa's movies). Observing the hurried reflections of passers-by on the wet stones, we muse on the human/canine condition and our place in the flow of history.

You might not think that stones and craftsmen would be suitable subjects for pop music, but
the Texan group Midlake beg to differ. Their cryptic gem Roscoe is a beguiling meditation on permanence and distant past which alludes to stonecutters, rain and rooftops, and Mr. Kurosawa would surely have approved of their observation "when the rain comes we can be thankful".

Roscoe kicks off with an ABBA
S.O.S-type electric piano flourish which then gives way to driving guitars which recall Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac. Lead singer Tim Smith sings this song beautifully, wrenching emotion from each phrase, and virtually every line is doubled with gorgeous harmony vocals. Checked as one of the outstanding tracks of 2006, Roscoe is a divine slice of intelligent pop.

Hear Roscoe at Midlake's MySpace:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wonder if two men could really muse on everlasting history under the eaves of a temple's great gate? They seem to be likely to start talking about current topics! :D But a dog doesn't talk. He allows me a time of reflection. During a walk with my dog, I used to sit on the bank of the river to see the sun set on summer evenings. He quietly sits beside me as if he was also contemplating his life facing a beautiful red-dyed sun. A dog lives a much shorter life than a man. Time around him flows much faster than me since he matures and becomes older more quickly. The same amount of time I share with my dog in the flow of history is not the same length to each life. When I give it a thought, I feel like loving him all the more.

I listened to "Roscoe" reading the lyrics. That's a very beautiul song! I love Tim's voice! I realized listening to the song with the lyrics doubles the attraction of the music. Each word and phrase becomes animated when it is given melody and rhythm. This experience is very emotional! xxxx