Monday, November 07, 2005

It's you. It's you

I need help.

I can tend to be a little obsessive when I find something I like. If I fall in love with a new author I'll tend to devour all their books, one after another, until there's nothing left by them to read. When I find a wonderful new video or computer game, my nights and weekends vanish. (I'm sure this will surprise readers of this blog.)

What's especially dangerous, though, is when there's no obvious stopping point. I can get to a point where I say, "I have read every published work by Kurt Vonnegut," and move on to something else. Something like Civ is trickier, in that you can win a game, but its near-infinite variety and replayability causes me to dive in over and over again. Closer to this second pattern is the way I approach music. I'm not happy once I've bought every album by a band; I'm happy once I have completely absorbed, analyzed, memorized and evaluated every song they have done. Of course, it's impossible to do this without getting something stuck in your head.

I have been blessed with access to a collection of Sigur Ros albums. Prior to this, the only album I'd heard was "()", which was recommended to me by (Don't laugh - their recommendation system is far from perfect, but I owe many wonderful discoveries to their prodding; without Amazon I might never have read Catch-22.) () amazed me, and has been in regular rotation for a while, but for whatever reason I never crossed over and listened to the rest of their stuff.

Now I have. Over and over and over again. Basically, I get to work around 7-7:30 AM, turn on my computer, and plug in my headphones. Sometime in the next hour I'll realize I've opened ITunes. I'll start playing Von or Agaetis Byrjun. It doesn't really matter which, because I'll listen to them each two or three times over the course of the day, along with () and an assortment of their live music and b-sides.

If you've listened to Sigur Ros, you know that it's the sound, not the lyrics. (Though the lyrics are cool - they tend to sing in Icelandic or an invented language called Hopelandic.) It's just an amazing, often cool (in the sense of distant or removed), complex, almost orchestrally electronic wash of sound which laps at your mind. Actually, that's a good metaphor - much like a river, it feels like this music is actually cutting new channels into my brain so it can more easily flow through.

It has totally taken over my life. Civ IV is only a tyrant when I'm at home, but Sigur Ros is now a part of me. This weekend was wonderful, but there was hardly a single event during which my brain was not loudly playing "Svefgn g englar" or "Hun Jora" or any one of many other songs. Which is nice, I guess, since I love the music, but I can't help but feel that it's crowding other stuff out.

Of course, this too shall pass. Similar things have happened to me before. I've noticed it most with electronic-sounding pieces - recent Radiohead and R.E.M.'s "New Adventures in Hi-Fi" and "Around the Sun" have been the worst offenders to date - but I'm not sure if that's because my brain resonates with that kind of music or what. I've learned that it's useless to fight it or drown it out. I'll cheerfully surrender large portions of my brain for the next couple of months until the next thing comes along.

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