Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I seem doomed to have epically shitty nights, as far as sleep goes, on the occasions where I close one night and open the next morning. Last night this was not down to Frailty-inspired insomnia like last time, but rather one of my girlfriend's cats decided that he should pee on my side of the bed. I'd think he doesn't like me, but he's done it when I'm not sleeping there before (or so I hear).

The segue from "Sunflower" into Whitetail used to be pretty seamless on my old Discman, although some of the programs I've used since have insisted on sticking a one second pause in there. Right now, listening to it looped, there's a surprisingly natural rhythm to the way Mimi's brushed cymbal clatter subsides and arises again when the song starts over. That constant susurrus of cymbal is the most striking thing about "Whitetail," and one that most closely corresponds to the state of my head after not quite getting enough sleep (although a good breakfast helped). The incredibly patient, carefully placed bass notes and Alan's increasingly strident guitar strum help the song get more intense, but really in my memory the thing is just one hissing, darkly foreboding mess of cooed "closer, closer"s. Even though they only occur twice:

Stay out
All night
Waste time
Waste light
Closer, closer
Ever closer

You win
you fail
Closer, closer
Never closer

So again we have that many words for a five minute song; this only amplifies the hypnotic, brain-numbing effect of all that cymbal. I always thought this song was about staying up too late, not exactly a stunningly original take. But something about "You win / You fail" perfectly captures how it feels to hit 5 am without any real reason for being up, the kind of long, music-and-Freecell fuelled nights I had in second year. That was, naturally enough, when I started listening to Low via this album, and so "Whitetail" is evocative both of the general feeling (of both fatigue via being up too late and the shattered remnant that is your body and mind the next morning) and of a specific time and place for me. There's something almost nightmarish about it, something redolent not just of staying up but of being forced to; it could perfectly soundtrack some sort of hellishly surreal short film about sleep deprivation torture. Don't get me wrong, I like the song, and when I'm fully rested it even feels kind of soothing (especially as just one song on an album, between "Sunflower" and the mighty "Dinosaur Act"), but in this state or for this duration there is something very, very intimidating about "Whitetail" indeed.

Oh, and all Alan had to say about this one was "lyrics were inspired by zak 'comic books' sally. whitetail is a type of deer." I have no idea what "Whitetail" might have to do with comic books, either the superhero type or the type Zak makes.

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