Webber vs. Portishead
Apart from being banished from home/studio for the last two weeks while I have asbestos removed from my attic, this was my first week on guitar for a local group doing Jesus Christ Superstar. I got recruited by long time Endless Blue friend Graham (you know him as the male singer on Low), who is playing Jesus. Now, I’m not a fan of musicals. I banned them from my iPod long ago. But after a week of rehearsals, I’m really enjoying myself.
First off, it’s very humbling to work with so many good musicians, folks that can just sit down with an instrument and sheet music and play songs. Just play. Sitting alone in the studio with only your own music can make you forget how important mastery of an instrument is. It also takes me back to Zen Guitar and the concept of actually being able to play a song, not just noodle around… It also blows my mind how effing hard this music is to play. Keys? Hah! 4/4 time? Puh-lease. And yet, with all craziness and weirdness in the music, it all stays highly musical. Therein lies the genius of it — pushing the limits of structure and convetion, but meticulously gluing it together so as to not lose the listener.
And at this point I feel the need to heap some criticism on an album I find extremely irritating, especially considering its “critical acclaim” — Portishead’s Third. That album totally loses me. Its amusical to the point of just being noise. Now, I recognize and respect an artist’s desire to do something different, to push boundaries and break out of ruts. Massive Attack has really done a good job of changing it up over the years — they haven’t released the same album over and over again like, say, AC/DC. And Portishead seemed to have already mastered the edgy, dissonant sound, so getting even stranger was the way forward for them. But Third never ties it together in any sort of way, the way that Webber does in Jesus Christ Superstar. It feels weak and half finished, and, quite frankly, you replace the name “Portishead” on that album with any other band name, and no one would have listened to it at all.
Ahem. Enough of that rant. My friends are all familiar with it, believe me. 🙂