Monday, November 2, 2009

On Repeat: Bedhead

I'm not sure how the search began, but I discovered Bedhead after spending a bit of time in the Tiny Mixtapes review archive. The now defunct slowcore act lives on today in the form of The New Year, but Bedhead's tragically under-recognized Transaction de Novo is an album definitely worth revisiting, or getting acquainted with if you're unfamiliar. Anyway, though there are many great songs on the record, "Lepidoptera" stands out as the clear highlight.

As much as I love "Lepidoptera," it's been bothering me quite a bit lately. The typical hallmarks of a Bedhead song are here -- contrapuntal guitar and bass lines, an andante tempo, and Matt Kadane's mumbled, reticent vocals. The drums metronomically count out the 3/4 time signature as soft guitars chime two-note intervals in the background. Kadane quietly details a still room at night, lit only by "what [little] moonlight there is." At about a minute in, though, the drums disappear completely, a moth flutters through the open window with its delicate "blown-glass wings" and lights on a darkened lightbulb. The sumptuous, clean guitar strums hang in the air gracefully. We hear the sound of wings pushing against the constraints of a chrysalis in the beginning, the first hesitant wing-beats relishing freedom, but then hear the narrator reveal that he can't move or speak. Whether this is from awe of the beauty or some sort of literal paralysis is uncertain. The subtle dissonances in the final measures suggest the latter, but the revelation that "[his] guardian angel has finally arrived," paired with the major resolution, lend the entire song hope and positivity, as if seeing this graceful moth reminds him of what life was (or would be) like free of confinement.

The delicate guitar interplay against Kadane's soft, hesitant vocals is so arresting that I typically play the track about three or four times in a row. "Lepidoptera"'s chord voicings are very atypical and advanced by indie-rock standards -- simply put, this is a refreshing, exciting song. The very brief track time is appropriate given the ephemeral nature of an insect's life, and maybe it's even a comment on human mortality (or maybe I'm looking into this far too much), but I really wish that it lasted at least a minute longer, as the chord progression that starts to unfold in the final measures hints at a continuation of the breathtaking beauty that preceded it. Please listen to this song, and let me know what you think! Then go buy this album. I'm glad I did.

1 comment:

winter94 said...

Bedhead will always be underrated, I feel. As will The New Year, the Kadane's most recent project. Sooooo good.