mercoledì 28 ottobre 2009

American giants

by Adam Potkay

(...) In the summer of 1980 a specter was haunting America, the specter of Young Marble Giants. I remember reading a Village Voice article which reported that "downtown trendies are already talking about Young Marble Giants as the Next Big Thing." This may seem unbelievable to you, but only because hindsight is 20/20. On the face of things, YMG put out ore record Colossal Youth and broke up. (Coincidentally, the Feelies --a kind of American YMG -- put out Crazy Rhythms in the same year.) But ironically, the ace Voice reporter was right. YMG were, in spirit if not in fact, the NEXT BIG THING. Their sensibility, if not their songs, ruled the 1980s. The ironically-titled Young Marble Giants (one can hardly imagine a less gigantic-sounding band) represented something totally new: a celebration of totally private experience. Lead singer Alison Statton possessed a quaint sense, from the start, that "we live as we dream, alone," only she wasn't complaining. She took this as a creative premise. In contrast to the GOF, YMG sung about applying for bank loans, eating noddemix, thinking about old boyfriends. In contrast to the GOF's shout and call, Alison Statton just kinda mumbles. She doesn't sing to you. Listening to her sing is like overhearing your sister singing in the shower when she thinks no one is home. Like the early Feelies, YMG have undramatic lyrics (which obliquely reflect their quiet lives), delivered in a talky, uninspired voice, self-effacingly buried in a mix dominated by "quirky" and soulless rhythm. Which isn't to imply that either band is dumb about what they're up to: both the Feelies and YMG carried their alienated premises to high art through sheer nervous sensibility and a deadpan sense of humor.But unfortunately, it's hard to create compelling music from a glorification of tedium -- hence, the YMG spinoff groups, the Gist and Weekend, are more often than not just plain tedious. Though they're never as boring as nine-tenths of all the pop bands who have, wittingly or unwittingly, adhered to the YMG aesthetic (and believe me, Hoboken and Athens alone have produced quite a number of them).In the dawn of the 1980s, Young Marble Giants were, indeed, in ways unforeseeable to them or that Village Voice reviewer, the Next Big Thing. And their disbanded lives are only a logical extension of the choices they made early on: working in small woolen shops or whatever in Wales, unable to believe they once made a record that changed at least a few lives. It was so long ago, and such a private thing. (...) Please listen to their Keystone show, it was only 30 years ago...

2 commenti:

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