Mazzy Star - So Tonight That I Might See
I suppose such an approach is apposite for an album like So Tonight That I Might See. For anything positive that can be said about it, there is a sense that it is like a runaway train - you know where you are going because the rails will take you there, but you have no idea what is going to happen before you get there. Then again, comparing Mazzy Star to a runaway train is probably not the best metaphor given the style of music they personified. The only thing is that the train is not running away very fast and, if I wanted to, I could easily jump off and save myself before the train drops off the damaged bridge into the gorge.
In some senses listening to a Mazzy Star album is like a night out on the town for a massive bender. You pass through genres of music - slowed down smoky electric blues; eerily hypnotic neo-psychedlia; weird twangs from the repertoire of country and western. As your alcohol-fuelled bender progresses through these musical scenes, you consume various mind altering substances - rotgut whiskey; a couple of E's; a tab of LSD. You wake up in the morning and you have little idea where you went, what you did but are under the impression you must have had a good time because you have a fuzzy feeling in your ears and a slightly nauseous one in your stomach.
That feeling epitomises this album. That voice speaking to you is not your Mum yelling at you to get your lazy, drunken arse out of bed, but Hope Sandoval whose I-wish-I-was-barely-audible vocal style rarely deviates from the mega-languid delivery which speaks of the ennui of hhhh-actually hhhh-aving t-hhhho sssss-hing in the first place.
The voice drifts above a musical framework which, with a few exceptions can best be described as background side effects. "She's My Baby" merges a single acoustic guitar with odd feedback sounds; "Mary of Silence" attempts to live up to its name with a musical background of almost silent drones of organ; while "Five String Serendade", which I think is a cover of a song by Love, struggles to drag the life out of a violin which sounds as if it could have been recorded on an Atlantic coast promontory one November evening. Every now and then, there is a quick shake of a tambourine to remind you what percussion adds to a sound. "Wasted" provides moments of relief from the endless panorama of the soporific with a broken blues guitar sound, but that relief is temporary and the album quickly slides back into lethargy and sloth.
At this point you might be forgiven for wondering what on earth anyone would want with such a lazy album. Well, at times it is hard to listen to the album the whole way through. I certainly wouldn't recommend having this in the CD changer in your car, for example. In fact the only time I can actually think of listening to this the whole way through would be in a state of complete and utter drunkenness wherein I was unable to move, unwilling to communicate and incapable of wondering what would happen to me next. That would be a rare occurrence, for such a state in most people would be most likely indicative of sadness or even depression. Yet So Tonight That I Might See is not a depressing album, in the sense that Joy Division made such albums.
Anyone familiar with the album will note that I have managed to reach this point in the review without actually once mentioning "Fade Into You". But no review could be complete without mentioning that track. That track is, without doubt, the high point both of this album and Mazzy Star's entire output. Coming as it did in 1993, it provided a perfect counterpoint to the aggressive and unwashed persona of grunge. A glorious, dreamy song where Ms Sandoval's vocal almost strays significantly far enough from its usual monotone to constitute a crescendo, it is, in contrast to the rest of the album, music for a summer's evening, your lover resting in your arms as dandelion poppies launch their wingèd seeds across the orange glow of the fading sun. The album is worth getting for that track alone.
And so, having reached the end of the review, I am no closer to coming to a conclusion than when I started. The album, as I feel is the intention, generally fails to provoke a sense of being. Remove "Fade Into You" and there doesn't seem to be much there at all to hold the interest of the listener. Yet it is real, and does affect you. My highest rated albums are those which have an emotional effect on me and produce an emotional reaction in me. This one does have an emotional effect. I am just not sure what emotion is affected. Maybe I will change my rating when I can figure that out.
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on 2009-11-30 bewitchingfaery Said:
I'll be checking that out for sure. Thanks :D
on 2009-11-30 dscanland Said:
Were you all aware that Hope Sandoval has a new album out called Through The Devil Softly? Haven't heard it yet but it's been getting a lot of coverage. Oh, and she's a vocalist on a track on the forthcoming Massive Attack album. That should be worth watching for.
on 2009-11-30 bewitchingfaery Said:
Thanks, I appreciate it Brian :) It took me a while on this one, I couldn't quite figure out what I wanted to say about the lovely sound of Hope Sandoval :)
on 2009-11-30 hstisgod Said:
excellent review, listening to this 90's classic gem is an unique experience in itself, everytime, without a doubt. Fade Into You certainly provides witness, but the entire album blends vocal acoustic depth and character.
on 2009-11-29 bewitchingfaery Said:
Mazzy Star is best known for Fade Into You, which was a top 50 hit in the US and UK, and was used in a variety of movies and television shows in the last decade. My personal favorite is Into Dust. I love the hypnotic sound of Hope Sandoval's voice, along with the melodic sound reminiscent of the vintage psychadelic era, so to speak. The guitar sound is good and gritty, performed by David Robacks. She's My Baby is a another favorite. Listening to Mazzy Star, for me, is more than just listening. It is an experience, no matter how many times I listen to it, I always come back to it. If you haven't already checked out this band, do so and post a comment.