on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2015 14 Jul

The highest art of failure

von: Manafonistas Filed under: Blog | TB | 7 Comments

This entry was posted on Dienstag, 14. Juli 2015 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. Keyleigh:

    Hahaha. Here’s what I struggled with: How do I culturally contextualize this record without diminishing it? It’s perfect, it’s genuinely brilliant, it’s everything I needed exactly when I needed it. Purple Mountains is concentrated, sad-bastard music of the highest, holiest order, the sad bastard manifesto. But it’s also just a nice honky tonk-tinged indie rock record at its core. A good one — a great one by virtue of Berman’s absolutely preternatural poetic prowess (“See the plot of a flawed individual looking for a nod from god”).

    Quite frankly, I don’t want to start a conversation about this; I don’t want to decide whether or not someone making great indie rock also has to push the sonic envelope and make cultural waves to deserve being bumped up onto the peak of the album-grading mountain. I want to be a fawning poetic coward. I want to perform as spiritual exercise the handwritten transcription of every lyric from this album for my own personal studies. I wouldn’t change a goddamn thing on Purple Mountains. I might put it at the top of my favorite albums of the year. The whole thing is a totally fucked-up affair, everything’s broken, but nevertheless it somehow feels strangely uplifting.

  2. Ben S.:

    Right, strangely uplifting.

    And, not to forget: Purple Mountains teems with great Berman-esque wordsmithery. The second line of the first song, “That’s Just the Way I Feel,” succinctly summarizes his creative exile as “a decade playing chicken with oblivion.” “Darkness and Cold” is built around the line “the light of my life is going out tonight without a flicker of regret,” a brilliant bit of twisting, turning wordplay. Show-don’t-tell descriptions litter the landscape: A “Band-Aid pink Chevette” here, the “icy bike-chain rain of Portland” there. In “That’s Just the Way I Feel,” he unearths this gem: “When I try to drown my thoughts in gin, I find my worst ideas know how to swim.”

  3. Ian McCartney:

    Great thoughts on a great album. By the way, M. Ward should be added to the list. A master of melancholy, too, not equally sharp, but to the bone, too.

  4. Martin Waldner:

    Ich hatte bisher vergeblich nach einer Möglichkeit gesucht, mir dieses Album anzuhören, und jetzt taucht es hier auf, wenige Stunden, nachdem jemand es auf youtube platziert hat. Wird wohl nicht lange dort stehen. Aber ich habe es mir angehört, und war beeindruckt. Die Texte sind gut zu verstehen, und klasse. Ich hoffe, ich bekomme das Album bald. Scheinbar ist es in Deutschland noch nicht verfügbar. „The old country trick“, bittere Medizin mit Zucker zu versüssen. Was soll man sagen: hart, aber tröstlich.

  5. Christoph B.:

    Habe die Seite über einen link aus Norwegen gefunden – auf der Suche nach einer Gelegenheit, dieses Album zu hören. So gut ist mein Englisch nicht, dass ich alles beim ersten Hören verstehe. Bei Genius Lyrics habe ich die Texte kopiert, ausgedruckt, mir einen schönen Weisswein eingeschüttet (ich bin alter Silver Jews-Fan), und das Ding mir von vorne bis hinten reingezogen, mit einer Taschenlampe für die Texte. Also, trotz der guten Schwingungen, Trost ist für mich was anderes – die Scheibe ist knallhart, bitter und sehr traurig, auch wenn sie nicht so klingt.

  6. Suasa:

    Thank you, Keylleigh for sending me this link, never heard about Manafonistas before.

    Well, the album is very hard stuff. If life fucks you, singing may be a relief. Maybe meditation would even do work better. One year ago, when my wife left me I would have listened to it on a daily basis. Now fresh in love, I prefer some good old Stevie Wonder stuff.

    Hugs, Susanne

  7. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Oh, well never heard this man for ages, the Silver Jews are are long gone. Liked a lot of his stuff, and now this one: really sad bastard music. Hello, darkness, my old friend. Sometimed it is quite helpful to turn turn a stranger, for a whilr. Otherwise it kills you, or Biddha is waiting at the cafe around the corner. Purple Mountains is not about self pity, it‘s about sincerity, and black humour as self therapy. Yeah, sing sing sing, David, create sharp one-liners instead of crying a river, for fuck‘s sakes.

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