I’ve been haunted.
Well, not entirely; most of Titanic Rising’s jaunty indie-country ditties haven’t stuck in my mind the way a ghost lingers in an old home.
But still …
I’ve been haunted.
At first it was ‘Movies’, and then ‘Andromeda’. And now, at every listen more apparitions begin to gather in the background as I go about my day.
Today, it’s ‘Mirror Forever’ and ‘A Lot’s Gonna Change’.
Tomorrow, who knows what will take their place.
I struggle to identify exactly what it is about this that haunts me. What it is that draws me to immerse myself again and again in this flotation chamber where the ghost of Patsy Cline swims about in the ether. To immerse myself in this feeling of ‘drowning from the inside and out,’ as Rebecca Solnit once wrote about the best kinds of country music.
But yeah …
In the early months of 2019, Weyes Blood has somehow tapped into that same vein – that music which is like ‘the stories of Edgar Allan Poe and Katherine Anne Porter, a kind of southern gothic in love with tragedy and topography’ (R. Solnit again).
The Southern Gothic elements do not come unexpected; Weyes Blood is, after all, a reference to Flannery O’Connor’s Southern Gothic classic Wise Blood. And like the way Solnit describes Southern Gothic (I haven’t read too much of it myself), there’s something transcendent, extra-terrestrial, lurking in Titanic Rising’s understated phrases. A sadness that casts a transcendent spell over the album’s surface infrastructure (which is pretty standard: string sections, guitars, reverb-laden harmony vocals, etc.)
It’s a sadness like Kirsten Dunst’s in Melancholia – of being possessed by a premonition of great doom and a yearning for the comet to strike.
It’s a sadness that lifts you ‘momentarily out of your body because something else is speaking to you.’ A portal that makes your skin porous and lets in the tragedy of the world.
It’s an emotion filtered through distant memory … an entire lifetime compressed into a few stanzas and a refrain – a story that spans and layers time (R. Solnit once more). In this way, it makes total sense that within several weeks of the album’s release someone would upload a 34-minute Andromeda 750% slower version to Youtube. It’s just a matter of unspooling that vast stretch of time gracefully compressed into a four-minute pop song.
Titanic Rising is a beautiful monument constructed entirely out of memory and desire. Which, needless to say, is quite a lot to work with. Desire is (most of the time at least) far larger than its object.
There’s nothing solid here, nothing political. It’s not about movement in any direction. It’s about floating in the ether of the floatation chamber with Patsy.
And, my god, it’s beautiful in here.