Comment of the Moment: Le Noise's "Sonics"
The Neil Young Comment of the Moment is from Le Noise Video "Hitchhiker" by Matthew L.:
I think Neil is feeling Keith's death really hard. That's probably why he said that, about the 70% of his material. I doubt the overall sincerity of the statement, only in that it's likely a comment made in the throes of mourning. Likely, as time goes on, his attitude will change.
That's what I think anyway. Just speculation, but when you look at his discography, Ben Keith is a constant, pervasive presence since the beginning. It's likely very hard to lose someone who has been a strong component of your music for that long, and that intensely, and consider touring and playing all that material.
I hope Neil brings the Horse out of retirement for another go, personally. That sounds like therapy to me. But you never know what he's going to do.
As for Le Noise, I am having a heck of a time with this one. It's so different. The only thing I can compare it to is Trans, in that it's so experimental and weird. At times it sounds like an experiment in literal one-man garage rock played in some kind of echo-chamber. The loops and delays permeate everything, and the songs are just awash in these 'sonics'.
One thing for certain is that the word 'sonics' has become a new favorite of rusties.
I like what Lanois is doing. I don't think it's 'innovative' per se', but it's definitely playful and fun. I feel like the songs are at once held aloft by the 'sonics' and overwhelmed by them. Sometimes I think I'd like to hear them with a band, like, the Horse should play these tunes, they'd really rock them. But at other times I can just let go and get into the vibe of them.
I love Angry World, and I love Love and War. Both beautiful comments on society and the general state of things, and each set to either this fusion of delay-drenched psychedelia and garage-rock (Angry World) or big, open-prairie style acoustic strumming that Lanois just paints the sky with.
Beautiful stuff. Strange electric production that might suffer in the end from a lack of percussion, I think - but who am I to criticize?
Mostly I love Neil's lyrical style of late. You know, the part that everyone keeps complaining about.
Neil has become a master of making complex statements about things using very simple statements.
What fascinates me is that this is the same artist who, 30 years ago, was using complex, psychedelic imagery to describe very simple feelings, and wrapping things in abstractions.
In true Neil Young fashion, he has managed to become the opposite kind of poet than he was originally.
Whereas young Neil can be described with references to poets like T.S. Eliot or John Keats, this more reflective, older Neil more reflects the style of William Carlos Williams, who mastered the art of simplicity with his poems 'The Red Wheelbarrow,' and 'This is Just to Say,' also in his later years.
The Red Wheelbarrow in particular, I think, is a good comparison point when one considers the overt simplicity of a song like Angry World.
It's a small and seemingly inocuous poem, but when you start thinking about what it means, it opens up into a world of complexity.
Simple lines like 'No doubt everything will go as planned,' in this song, are exactly that. A simply worded phrase that one could expound upon at great length - and that is the mark of a great poet.
So when people start getting down on Neil for his delvings into simplicity and apparently direct statements, I think they're generally missing the point of Neil as a poet, and what he's trying to convey in his simplicity. Deep, complicated thoughts about the world. While young Neil would have conveyed simple internal feelings using abstract imagery, also awesomely.
So, this is evolution. And in Neil's ever-entertaining way, it comes with experimentation, inversion and surprise.
I'm lovin' it.
Thanks Matt! We're lovin it too.
More commentary on Le Noise Video "Hitchhiker".
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Release Date: September 28, 2010
More on Neil Young's New Album 'Le Noise'. Also, see:
-Neil Young Interview on Le Noise: "It sounded like God"
- Producer Daniel Lanois Discusses Making of "Walk With Me" + UNCUT Review (UPDATED)
- Video of Neil Young's "Angry World" from Le Noise
- Neil Young's Le Noise: "Just a man on a stool"
- "Imagination never sleeps": Neil Young's Le Noise
- NPR Previews Neil Young's Le Noise's "Walk With Me"
- Dead Man Soundtrack: Preview of Le Noise?
- Anticipating Neil Young's album Le Noise
FWIW, pre-orders for Le Noise by Neil Young are already ranked at