Saturday, October 10, 2015

Final Songs: All the Way...

Album:Witching Hour by Ladytron
...They heard the sound of the snow falling
They left the house, and started running
They ran past the street where they fluffed their lines
Where chemistries slowly redesigned
All the way, the calender froze on even number
Cat caught the tones of the cold corner
All the way, they could see it going
All the way, east temperature, Fahrenheit sanction
A transparent sound, mapping distraction
All the way, it would be forever
All the way

All the way, they heard the sound of the snow falling
They left the house and started running
I will let you know when it's time to be leaving
Don't want the same ghost for company this evening
You come here, and I disappear
Somehow I see something I fear
Maybe we'll make someones souvenir
All the way, they heard the sound of the snow falling...
We are leaving the realm of unambiguous answers here. Just by way of warning.

On one level, what could possibly be wrong with this scenario? There's a "they", who could be either a family or a couple. However many people they are, they hear the sound of snow and are gripped with a childlike exuberance. They run out to frolic.

Isn't snow usually pretty much silent, though? Rain, you can almost certainly hear. Snow, because the structure of the flakes muffles the impact when they land, doesn't make much of a sound.

A calendar freezing, whether it's on an even numbered date or not, signifies time stopping. It's an uncanny event, either magical or dreadful depending on how you see it. Or you could say it's both.

Witching Hour could easily be called "Ladytron Reach Peak Ladytron". If you associate the band with eerie synth music, gently disturbing lyrics, and the vocals of a possessed baby doll (Helen Marnie) and seen-it-all Nico type (Mira Aroyo), this is the purest distillation. Their subsequent works manage to make some changes without feeling compromised, but this is still the essential. If you want one album to represent what they're about, Witching Hour is it.

Located at the end... Well in some editions the real end is about nine minutes of silence. That means something too. But the final song is "All the Way..." The words in the title refer to bringing things to their logical endpoint. The ellipses, which are officially part of the title, imply that even Ladytron don't know what comes after.

The electronic gurgle, the way the volume picks up between verses, all this sounds like a party at a skating rink. Do any listening and you'll find how dark and surreal the good times are. On a very wintry album, the final song can be read as a celebration of winter, albeit perhaps of a nuclear kind. (Don't want to keep company with the same ghost? Don't worry, there are more to come.) In the end it's been scary, but you can't say it hasn't also been fun.


susan said...

It turns out the only album of theirs we ever really listened to was the first - 604. In that one Playgirl and the snaky sounding Seventeen were my two favorites with their vague menace and cold edge. What they were really good at back then and seem to have maintained is an atmosphere of cool beauty.

Of course, now you've made Witching Hour sound interesting enough that we may well have to spend some time listening to 'Ladytron Reach Peak Ladytron".

You do write killer reviews.

Ben said...

"I'm With the Pilots" is another really good song from 604. Perfect bit of Mira weirdness. And you're right about where their considerable strengths lie.

I'd heartily recommend Witching Hour. Has many catchy and memorable songs on it.

Thank you, again, very much.