2005 Year End Thoughts
t was the last album I wanted to pick up in my stash at Headstone’s Friends, even purchasing A Guy Called Gerald’s nondescript To All Things What They Need and Airborn Audio’s disappointing Good Fortune before it. Maybe I wanted something more indicative of my situation, and that album had failed to be an adequate representative. I had emerged from perhaps one of the most acrimonious years of my adult life—unemployment, rejection letters from doctoral programs, and the almost embarrassingly typical move back to your parents’ home after graduation—so I had little patience with theater that sought foreplay. Immediacy was the keyword. Speed. Aggro. M.I.A. Death From Above 1979. Chemical Brothers.
Things got better, of course. Work came, acceptance letters came, and that tiny pebble of optimism I had been clutching for a while managed to create some impressive splashes as it skipped over the low tide of my situation. I even had a bit of romance that summer, fondling fingers and coquetry over instant messenger, kissing in her old Pontiac with clumsy expectation. And again in the parking lot of a coffee shop, she feigning refusal but knowing better. The finality of the second event was that little terror hovering above our heads: the quiet breaths of our engines as we drove off in different directions, the left and right turns on sundry streets made sharper, and the moving boxes that awaited me as I came home. We wanted things to be slower. Easier. 13 & God. Emiliana Torrini. Low.
The family’s last rites included a lunch at the Great Wall Chinese Restaurant on 3rd Street. It was strange that a Nigerian family would be so obsessed with “Chinese” food, much less make it a habit to find one irrespective of the town we found ourselves. It’s about three and a half hours from Terre Haute, Indiana to Hamilton, Ohio, and my younger brother and I had to occupy ourselves with sound to drown the crushing novelty of living in a new state as adults. For me it meant the hard severance with a 12-year relationship with a state, with friends, and with most of my human development. But we masked our pain by gamming over the effects of Red Bull and Mountain Dew. We needed a soft landing. A buffer. Gorillaz. Ming & FS. Cato Salsa Experience.
So began the summer that never ended, a sun that never slept, and neighborhood kids that were insufferably upbeat. It was suburbia, and I hated it. The months between June and August were a haze of isolation and quietude, one of the few times that I lived through songs instead of albums. Bowery Electric’s “Fear of Flying.” Folk Implosion’s “Serge” and “No Need to Worry.” Joy Division’s “Transmission.”
In August I bought my first ever one-way ticket to begin school, arriving in a state with the proud distinction of being “the smallest in the Union.” I came to a disheveled apartment and a bed with the length and hardness of an isthmus. I came to a university full of overconfident children and thought I was mistakenly accepted. I sought redemption. Ease. Betterment. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Susumu Yokota. Boards of Canada.
And now, as this year comes to a close in less than a week, I look back at it with such crushing ambivalence. I rummage through my discs and MP3s, but only find items that are monolithic in position … except for one. It was “the last album” I wanted this year and it was its last song—a wordless, moog-driven ballad filled with effusive, wraith-like vocalization—called “Lower your eyelids to die with the sun.” From a rebirth of purpose to summer romance, from the summer heat in Ohio to the untouched ice of Providence sidewalks. The song offers no recommendations, no rewards, and no demands.
It’s a summary, and I have yet to figure out if it points to a dream or a nightmare.
Reviewed by: Ayo Jegede
Reviewed on: 2005-12-29