Thursday, February 10, 2011


Song: "The Color of Her Hair"
Procer Veneficus
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"Procer" [I didn't know it was actually a word in any language. Seems it's Latin?]

I enjoy a lot of ambient music, but honestly now: There's minimal and then there's flat-out underdeveloped. Of course, the line is often thin regardless of musical style. For instance, Wire's punk classic Pink Flag sounded effortless in the sense that songs like "Three Girl Rhumba" and "1 2 X U" seemed to have sprung into being fully formed from the minds of a restless band that had such a surfeit of ideas that they were loath to spend any more time than absolutely necessary spitting an idea across. Wire's new album, Red Barked Tree, sounds effortless in the sense that the band now seems largely uninterested in devoting any energy to the songwriting process, and it's mostly a bummer. Ambient music, though, is more forgiving than most other musical forms when it comes to its creators' ambition or lack thereof, since atmosphere trumps everything else when you're on its turf. But still, even given the slow-motion requirements of ambient, it seems like there should be something to it; otherwise can a given piece be said to be any more artistic than, say, that Justin Bieber song that someone slowed down by 800%? On the other other hand, does "artistry" even matter if the music successfully creates the mood it's aiming for?

All this is a fancy way of saying I don't know what I think about this dark ambient track by Derek W. Schultz (who records as Procer Veneficus, which translates to "gimme that ficus"), which consists of nothing more than a basic acoustic arpeggio that's frozen in time by an overzealous delay pedal, eventually giving way to a pointless reading of some goth kid's diary. I find it perfectly pleasant because I generally respond positively to drawn-out echoes and rumbling undertones like this, and it does nail the dreary, misty tone it's going for. Toward the end of "The Color of Her Hair," however, when the delay effect slowly falls away from the guitar and the true elementariness of the arrangement is revealed (the song's one clever trick), I can't help but feel like a bit of a sucker. Particularly since I've just spent about four times as long thinking about this creation than I expect Schultz himself has.

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