Monday, November 5, 2007


Aaaaaand we're back. Sorry about that; a heavy grad school/TAing/day job load, the death of Stylus, the trip to NYC to celebrate the death of Stylus - it's been a long month or so for me too, believe me. But I certainly didn't forget TMW,TMW (my thoughts on it ranged consistently from "fuck, I wish I had time to do an update on _____ tonight" to "oh god, I can't bring myself to work on anything right now... I'll do a post tomorrow, yeah, that's it!") during that span, and now that my responsibilities are less I should be able to get on with the project. I don't mean that in some kind of faux-tired "let's get this shit over with" kind of way; I'm still excited about it. Especially after running into what I think may be a deliberate shout out to one of Low's old songs.

I few weeks ago I caught up with the first third of the new season of Dexter, the improbably great show about a serial killer. I'll leave details about it on wikipedia for people who haven't watched (don't be scared off by the book descriptions if you read them, the show is different and much, much better). The last episode was called "See-Through."

Now, it says a lot more about me than Dexter that my thought when that title appeared on screen was "hmm, there's a Low song called that." I don't think you need to point out when you do one of these that you're a bit of an obsessive. But it's not a phrase you see in isolation that much, and usually when I've seen it, it's been without the dash. And while nothing in the actual episode suggests the song, it's certainly evocative of Dexter's path through much of the first season:

You were discovered
Over the dead

Only to find out
You were not
Even in the room

See-through but solid
Holy but complete
All will be followed
Seen to
Tended, none the least

Again, that's the whole song; only the middle of the 4:26 is taken up with Mimi's customarily luminous vocals, the rest being introduced by a slow bass pulse (apparently written by John Nichols before he left the band) and climaxing with Alan's increasingly forcefully pealing guitar part when Mimi sings the last line. I imagine I might be making it sound pretty standard, but to tell the truth I was pretty enraptured by this today; it's not exactly a stand-out track on the excellent Long Division (it comes after my beloved "Swingin'," for one thing), but in isolation it finally gets the chance to shine.

Admittedly a good deal of my current affection for "See-Through" stems from the Dexter connection, and the way that last verse manages to add some completely implicit menace to the proceedings (I, of course, am a huge fan of completely implicit menace). If she is singing to someone like Dexter, I doubt they'd be happy at being "followed, seen to, tended" after sort of getting away with it.... so maybe the second season is a better place to put "See-Through" after all.

The most cryptic part of Alan's comments about this song is one he echoes in a few other places: "we were listening to a lot of wire at the time." I love Wire as I love few other bands, and I really like Low's cover of their great "Mercy," but I'm not sure I hear any Wire influence on this one at all (and not just because Colin Newman and Mimi Parker are awfully far apart as singers). I'm generally a fan of finding out when musicians think a song sounds like a band or culture or anything like that when to me it patently does not; it reveals a little bit about our multiplicity when it comes to hearing, and it gives you a little insight. Sometimes this happens through titles (could "John Prine" be an example?), sometimes through comments. But in this case, it definitely has me listening to "See-Through" until I can spot the bit that sounds kind of like 154 - unless, of course, it's the mere fact that they may have unknowingly anticipated the likes of Dexter Morgan with this one. And if you don't think that's Wire-esque, I'd direct you to "The Other Window," just for starters.

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