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AgnostoLibertarianTechnoGeek

Saturday, June 26, 2004

And you think Rush is pretentious?

Anthony Mariani, in Fort Worth Weekly online, has written what is in fact a very positive article on the current Rush tour, but in doing so, he can't stop himself from being overly satisfied with his writing, and in so doing, has on occasion taken to the oddly turned phrase, and every so often, being outright inaccurate. For example,
Drummer/lyricist Neil Peart ... has reined in his notoriously abstract stickwork for the sake of plain ol' pounding

His "stickwork" was "notoriously abstract"? His drumming is sometimes very complex, as suited Rush's song structures, which often have shifting time signatures, and his virtuosity allows him to add his own polyrhythmic textures layered on top of this. Now, I haven't yet heard all of Feedback, Rush's "EP" of covers coming out on Tuesday, but on Vapor Trails, their previous studio album, Neil's drumming was a complex and subtle as at any time in the past. And I'm sorry, but I just can't forgive anyone for using the word "lambent":

Guitarist Alex Lifeson hasn't lost any of his touch, but he's become just as comfortable adding lambent texture as he is detonating open chords.

And I just don't get this:

They're still holistic sci-fi naturalists at the mercy of metaphysical sturm und drang. The problem with this approach is that some of their lyrics are better read quietly than sung aloud. Emotionally fraudulent, these numbers court destruction despite their intellectual fervor.

Yet for every pretentious lump of coal, Rush has produced about a dozen gems, the best involving musical and spiritual liberation. Some critics have said that since Peart's tragedies, his lyrics have grown more personal, meaning more "mature." Bullshit. Nothing he's penned since is any more or less substantial than his previous three decades' worth of wordsmithery. (Could sympathetic critics be reading Peart's personal life into his words?)

Of course people read Peart's personal life into his words. How else could one read "Ghost Rider", "Sweet Miracle", or several other of those tracks? They are clearly about dealing with life in time of tragedy, and anyone who is reasonably familiar with Rush is aware of the tragedies in Neil's life, so it is impossible not to hear his lyrics without hearing (and feeling like one is participating in) his healing process as well.

Where the writer starts getting a bit inaccurate again is in describing what is happening instrumentally, for example in this description of the intro to the sone "The Pass", off the album Presto, we read this:

The intro, a metallic call-and-response, pits Lee's thick four-note chordal bass line against Lifeson's one-note kerrang.

In actual fact, we have a two-note chordal base life, against Lifeson's power chords. Quibble? Perhaps, but in trying to sound like he knows what he's talking about, he comes across as a bit of a poseur.

But it's all ok after all, because this reviewer is obviously quite taken with the band.

Lee's bass suggests a massive dragon whose flame has gone nuclear. Peart's polyrhythmic drumming dramatizes speed, bombast, and agility, even as wind chimes and other assorted non-traditional percussion doo-dads leaven the gravitas. And Lifeson's fretwork belongs to the music the way that the sky possesses thunder and lightning.

I'm very much looking forward to seeing them in August.

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