Monday, July 23, 2007

Bamboo Floor

A might-have-been classic of the "apocalypse pop" genre, this Slow Dazzle outtake wasn't really properly recorded. The mix is questionable and there's a certain "demo" quality to the vocal (which is pleasant enough). Still, there is ample reason to be glad it appeared on the Island Years/Gold quasi-compilation. It's another mixture of extremely pleasant, jaunty music with dark lyrics. Not just any pop song can carry a chorus of, "Another monsoon's here and it feels like judgment day."

The first thing you'll notice about Bamboo Floor is the constant bell-like burbling organ (?). It's extremely distinctive and, oddly enough, soothing. It's key to the optimistic sound of the music, and makes this otherwise straightforward track stand out. The dominant piano part sounds very upbeat and a bit retro (unsurprisingly - musically, this is a far superior rewrite of the fey and corny "Dixieland and Dixie", a Vintage Violence-era pisstake allegedly written solely to fulfill a contract.) A very conventionally strummed acoustic guitar follows the piano chord change for chord change, and the drums and a completely unsurprising bassline complete the aural scene.

The lyrics, though, aren't conventional for the genre. They're a fractured glimpse of adventuring life, or something - robbers and drugs and houses with bamboo floors. It sounds like an extra-sordid ninteenth-century adventure novel: "Watch out for the eagle's eye or the opium on the breakfast tray, and the laughter of the dying monk from the poison of the tsetse fly." (Pedantic aside: Either it's a bit sloppy or the scene changes from continent to continent: the tsetse fly, the infamous carrier of sleeping sickness, is indigenous to Africa; in the chorus, though, we're reminded that "you can see it all in the rivers of Shanghai" - that China fixation again.) It's a nice little lyric - doomy and amusing at the same time. The roughness of the vocal lends a certain credibility to the narrator.

Have a listen and see what you think:
Full quality flash player
Low-bitrate mp3

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