Welcome to Emotional Overtones, the newest feature set out to overcome genre borders and create a more intimate relationship with music! We here at Everything Is Noise think that genres can sometimes be a little limiting, which is why I created this feature. Every episode of Emotional Overtones will feature a certain emotion (for example: Melancholy, Euphoria, Apathy) as its topic and four to five writers will chose records based on this emotion or based on memories that conjure this emotion in connection to this record. There are no limits to genre, length, style, or band; everything is allowed as long as the writer feels it’s right and can explain their stance. This feature will be an ongoing series.
Today’s episode is the second one already and represents Gemütlichkeit. To explain this emotion, Gemütlichkeit is a German word that can’t quite be accurately translated into English. It’s a mixture of a sense of belonging, coziness, relaxation and feeling calm. This emotion will be tackled by our writers Jud, David, Vigz, and Andrew, who all had very interesting takes on the topic:
Wrestling with chronic anxiety and depression can sometimes make coziness a concept as foreign to me as the term Gemütlichkeit itself. It also makes my reactions to a given piece of music fairly unpredictable. Sometimes I can spin a low-key record like Zoology’s Bloom or Devin Townsend’s Ghost and melt right into it; at other times, albums like those stir up melancholy associations of where I was, both geographically and emotionally, when I first heard them. Consequently, it can be hard for me to anticipate how even an old favorite will make me feel on any given day.
Except for one. I’m sure there’s some fascinating armchair analysis as to why this should be the case, but I’ve yet to find myself in a mood that couldn’t be elevated by Shining’s Blackjazz. When I’m feeling affectively steady, what appeals to me are the grooves of songs like “Madness and the Damage Done” or “Exit Sun”. When I’m not, though – when I’m most in need of some Gemütlichkeit – songs like “Healter Skelter” and especially “Blackjazz Deathtrance” speak to me as nothing else can. I think it’s the simple rhythmic logic that glitters beneath the maelstrom of drums and fuzz, but that could well be a just-so story I tell myself. The reason is secondary to the fact of it: listening to Shining’s batshit opus when the world starts getting too loud somehow soothes me. Blackjazz just gets it, makes me feel understood when I’m at my least articulate. For all its aesthetic aggression, there’s no other album that can manage that quite as well.
Picture a room full of metalheads aged 15 to 55. Play a song off of Metallica’s third album and chances are most of them – or maybe all of them – will grunt in agreement, shout out loud, or proclaim ‘hell yes!’ or more likely something far less eloquent. Beer steins will bang together. Gruff voices will join one another in infantile chants of ‘Master! Master!’
This is the warm comfort, the fellowship that a nigh universally loved album can bring. Consider even the arguments about whether Master Of Puppets is better than Ride The Lightning; over which album was the one where Metallica ‘sold out’; or over such preposterous notions as a certain other thrash metal classic from 1986 ‘reigning’ over it or that a certain other band formed by an ex-member is better. Even these bring people together. Metal’s most divisive subjects unite fans across the genre in its dominant mood, that of conflict. But that is illusory. Take a listen outside the internet echo chamber for a moment. Go to a Metallica show, and hear the crowds of people across all demographics, ethnicities, ages, and across the gamut of metal fandom; all of them clamor for the eight songs on Master Of Puppets.
Metallica released Master Of Puppets in the summer of 1986. It was the cumulation of a then young career of a band that even then seemed unstoppable in not just success, but in redefining a genre that the mainstream and critics looked down upon as a sideshow. Kill ‘Em All brimmed with furious bluster and Ride The Lightning had better guitar playing (and really awful singing). Master Of Puppets perfected the art of the metal riff, and simplified the vocals to something less embarrassing. These things gave the album an appeal that was as immediate as it was ultimately to become timeless. They made the album the unifying force it is today. Those familiar riffs, those infinitely singable melodies, all those hooks add up to 55 minutes of pure Gemütlichkeit. That word explains the album’s timelessness as much as anything else could.
What? Yes, really. In 2015, LA noise rock/dark pop band HEALTH released what I consider to be a warm-blooded machine of catchiness and atmosphere that gives me a great, almost weird amount of security and a sense of belonging. Because sometimes the anxieties of life catch up to you and you need someone to remind you that death takes us all, hurt is universal, but love can help… even though its end is also inevitable and will also cause pain. I’m a stable person, I swear.
Look, all I’m saying is I personally find comfort in the inevitabilities in life. But it’s important to enjoy the time you have, especially the good. After DEATH MAGIC’s buzzsaw synths, roaring guitars, and heartbeat bass open me up, I’m quite susceptible to Jake Duzsik’s absolutely haunting vocal delivery, which is slow, calming, and direct:
‘Follow your lust
There’s no need for forgiveness
Do what you want
Don’t hurt the ones you love’
‘Are we alone here
No matter who we’re with
Am I stuck with myself
Along with everyone else?’
Not particularly words to live by, but kernels of comfort for me nonetheless. Cut through the nihilism and you may feel the same way. This album’s ambiance is unmatched in terms of dark warmth. Its blood-hot, vibrating depth wholly envelopes me like a friendly touch. As such, DEATH MAGIC is something I often revisit when the lock step of life threatens my mental well-being.
[Volume warning for a loud start]
Gemütlichkeit, cosy, friendly, gentle. I’m finding that as I get older, I value these things more and more, and you can’t get much more cosy than a bunch of middle-class English dudes playing music together. Pink Floyd’s sixth album is not their most well known, but I’ve always found that late at night with the lights down low, this album always makes me feel warm and fuzzy, even to this day.
Sure, “One Of These Days” is pretty full on, but the prolific use of delay gives it that soft focus feeling. Things get very literal with “A Pillow Of Winds” (there’s nothing as cosy as a nice pillow!), the lyric snippet, ‘Green fields and cold rain is falling, in a golden dawn’ sums up the small rural village feeling.
“Seamus” is classic English comedy and feels like a day on the farm. The laid-back piano blues evokes the band not having a care in the world and the titular dog is howling along in a playful way.
After a very gentle holiday to “San Tropez” (no clubbing or binge drinking, thank you!) we then have the ultimate chill out track, “Echoes”. From the sonar-like pings that start the track, Gilmour enters with his signature sound that’s just gorgeous. The arrangement builds up ever so slowly, and the lazy, laid-back grooves from Mason complement the almost spoken word vocal performance. There’s no rush, no sudden changes, no need to pack every idea in, or even edit the track. They let it flow and breathe over the full 20-odd minutes. Get cosy and dive in.