Disclaimer: all of this is just conjecture on my part, a cribbing of and elaborating on other's people's ideas, googling, etc. I have no idea what parts I write are correct, and which are just plain ridiculous. I'm only doing it because I love (yes: lóve, <3, etc) Subtle's For Hero:For Fool, and this is damn fun to do, actually. These posts will be long, rambling, meandering, contradictory, and not always make sense. I write this in f(l)ur(r)ies. Just so you know.
best albums of 2006 list, an album by a band I never heard of, "For Hero: For Fool
" by Subtle
, took the number one spot. I was intrigued enough, and their case was made passionate enough for me to go out and buy the damn thing. (One part of the review, "But For Hero : For Fool isn't a masterpiece for the white middle, and it sure isn't CMG's number one because of guilt. Granted, shit piles on Subtle like sugar in a Dunkin Donuts cup of coffee, and buying the album doesn't divorce the act of purchase from the conceit that, somehow, the band is being given a hand
" probably pushed me over the edge, paradoxically. Like reverse psychology, hah!)
At first, I felt cheated: this dense, oblique, loud, grating obfuscating piece of music was supposed to be the album of the year? I think not! Of course, money spent compels you to repeated listen, and thank god for money spent, because, of course, it grew on me. At first it's mere liking, gradually evolving (after about ten listens) into "God, this is brilliant." My last.fm page belies how much I've listened to it that year, or how much I still do. It's the only album that hasn't left my mp3 player for over a year (my favorite listening medium for this album.) Of course, mp3's don't come with lyrics sheets, and even though I've been singing along to parts of the album for quite some time, I only recently downloaded and read all the lyrics. And goddamn if they're not even better than I thought. Good enough to warrant further analysis.
You might say that if you have to look for the meaning, it's not a successful text, because it doesn't convey its meaning clearly. I disagree though; it's one of those lyrics/texts that are so dense, rich and woven that the more you look into it, the more you get out of it, instead of it ending up disillusioning you - like so many hard-to-understand lyrics that convey all sorts of wonderful ideas in your mind yet end up being rather banal on closer inspection.
So what is it about then? Well, according to CMG (& myself), it's about our predestination to become Middle Class (most people on last.fm are.) We go to college, "where fun goes to die"
, straighten up, get desktop desk jobs, and become part of the status-quo in the face of global inequality & injustice & suffering, destruction of our natural habitat, etcetera. Yeah, yeah, the world isn't ending tomorrow, but we're not exactly living in wonderland, are we? Let's face it, shit piles on a substantial part of our current global citizens. And what will we do? Sit at our desks, nine to five/six, working, to what end? Most of the toil of (y)our hands is irrelevant in the face of our global destiny. You're just an easily replaceable cog. We feel alienated, wasting our lives to a goal not ours, on abstract, irrelevant corporate goals centered around growth, profit, etc. Yet what is the alternative? Communism is dead. Anarchism never really lived. Anti-globalism is just an unfocused motley crew going nowhere quick. There is no viable alternative. The only solutions seems personal choice and responsibility in finding an alternative, which sort of means, yes, sacrifice. You might not make it, you might lose more than you hoped for, but you can only try. Like Jezus or something. Pitchfork media described it (the album, but it's extendable to the whole) as a "make-or-break" moment, and it really is. Both the music and its' meaning.
So the basic structure of the story is probably rooted in judeo-christian mythology. Or Star Wars, if you will. It's all the same mythology anyway, chosen one (Matrix, yeah), blah blah. Because that's just the frame, you can hang anything you want in there. On second thought, that's probably almost completely wrong; it implies there being some sort of chosen one, where that idea is kind of dead, Obama or not. CMG tells it a lot better than I ever could:"In a modern tome where Dreyer’s Ordet and Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Tarkovsky’s Offret are the classic Passions, sacrifice is something both willed and forced, and its transformative power is underlined while its results are made entirely more ambiguous."
Or how Adam "Doseone" Drucker puts in the introduction to the lyrics on his myspace blog
for those of you that are so inclined...
the following is all poem parts and core of
"for hero:for fool" the soon to be released subtle record...
it is nothing short of a dense and many reads...
and yes, it is in some sense....a blog that took three years to write...
it follows the B-movie dreams and midday terrors of a working-class poet, born of raw raps and the somewhat vacuum times of the last quarter century… as he is bent to the tune of the working world and his several selves slung there inside it...
enjoy...yours adam kidd kill
The review and end-of-year blurb on CMG are also required reading, and much more illuminating than whatever I might write here will ever be. so see
Let's start of with admitting that I don't get parts of it, or have the feeling I don't. If anybody knows anything more about these, please let me know.
- bread ends: okay, so these are the crust ends of a bread. Does it have another meaning/connotation?
- Albert Brown seats: there are several Albert Brown. Is this an expression? 'cause Google isn't helping here. One of them was a Confederate senator, who's seat in the US senate remained empty for nice years due to Mississippi secceding. Though it wouldn't surprise me if this is another football reference.
- the manned gates of fair Switserland's brink: I have no idea what this means.
- dark eared: the expression turns up twice on the album. All google tells me about is animals (both real and stuffed.) A google image search
on "dark ears" is quite fun to see though.
- the blown-up head flesh of two big business men: sounds to me like an advertisement panel, I could be wrong of course.
There's a lot I'm missing or fail to mention, though we'll come to that during the individual song reviews.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -A Tale of Apes I
There's a carrot and ape…
both on stage : both dangling
The ape's lucky leather jacket has turned up missing
and he's shouting out something about stretching his threat,
to drop a stainless steel egg, onto a poor defenseless hand mirror
Hence the intergalactic presses have been halted accordingly.
their consummate plug – been kicked from the outer-space wall
and then alone does the nightclub's only spotlight get to stuttering.
and the air this here ape's in charge of, has now grown doubly thick,
So it unzips its 20odd year old skin to reveal a classic tattoo style anchor,
strung up on a pair of ugly and classic roller skates.
and the crowd goes wild…
and then needs a line to repeat,
you try to think why? and…
"everything is empty and it runneth over"…
cuts clean across your clenched teeth.
letting off the small fear fire
set tall inside your just beyond merch booth bound chest.
Okay, so a rap song about rapping on stage. Whatever. The album's protagonist, Hour Hero Yes, is a rapper, just like Doseone. Yet like I said, Doseone raps about what he knows. At the same time, Hour Hero Yes is a "you", the listener is involved, has an active interest in our Hero's fate. Points for relateability. It is about you. This is your daily toil. Yet no matter how glamorous your job might be at times, at the end of the day you're still stuck in a booth, selling merch
. How fitting. You're nothing but a carrot, nothing but an instrument for attracting audiences and thus, for making money. Even musicians aren't and never will be saints or saviors of the planet (yes, I'm looking at you, Bono
.) They're just the carrot
dangled in front of the audience of donkeys.
At the same time, the song is - and sóunds like - a celebration of how fucking awesome a gig can be. Intergalactic presses have their plugs kicked out, the air doubles in density (anyone who's been to a gig knows thát feeling.) It's loud, intense, captivating, huge.Now, the whole part about tattoos and roller skates I don't get (if yóu do, please comment.)
The audience goes wild, and chants the part I've been chanting along for about a year as well: "everything is empty!" On the actual song, the "...and it runneth over" part is inaudible (still haven't found it.) So anyway, that's Paradox, I guess ("That's Numberwang!
".) I didn't study literature at college (or high school, for that matter) so again I'm at a loss. Our hero as well, apparently, who's wondering Why?
I could go on forever about the "small fear fire." (Quite impressive how many ideas or images can be conjured by putting together a mere three words.) Pentecost, existential dread, primordial blah blah, etc.
The title of the track is significant as well (how could I forget.) Darwin looms large over this album (he's even mentioned directly in "Nomanisisland".) More on that in part five of this ongoing series, which will be about aforementioned song.
None of this conveys how fucking awesome this album sounds, of course. For that, you're gonna have to buy this album. Really, you should; it sounds more like the Future than Fear Factory
or Amon Tobin
ever have or will. Sure, you'll feel cheated on first listen. Play it five, ten times, and it'll come. Sure, there's rapping, more than hip-hop-haters would care for, but there's also singing, chanting, background harmonizing. There's guitars, drums, drum machines, beatboxing, IDM-beats and sounds, there's a full-time cellist in there somewhere in between the keyboards and pianos. The poetry/lyrics/raps are just as rich and evocative as Joanna Newsom
's or Bob Dylan
's. And as far as rapping goes, the stories are wholly next-level compared to many tired old rap(per)s out there. Why listen to tired old and/or nonsensical indie-rock crap (Destroyer
, The Killers
, anyone?) when you can listen to thís? So buy!
P.S. part 2 is probably going to take me another month to write... Because I'm slow - and lazy. Small, funny anecdote: I always though La-Z-Boy
was pronounced "La Zeee-Boy." Until next month!