Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Three Mile Pilot (Magic number: 39)

Three Mile Pilot- Chief Assassin To The Sinister
Three Mile Pilot- Another Desert, Another Sea

Musta listened to ‘Chief Assassin’ a dozen times or more sitting in front of a blank screen. Nothing was coming, aside from the phrase ‘loping waltz’, which I’m pretty sure I’ve used before (a quick check confirms my suspicion- a SDRE review already contains that bit). Banging my head against the wall, etc. No idea.

There was this one afternoon when Krista came to Allston to hang out and grab some sushi. I sat her on the back porch and played the whole demented Wadsworth canon, the weirdest shit in the house, and (get this) she didn’t even run away screaming in terror.

You can see where this is going, I’m sure- threw on the Pilot to get some kind of outside perspective on a band that I know I love even if I’m not sure why. I mentioned the trouble I was having getting to the heart of act. Then she dropped this bomb on me:

“This sounds like Pink Floyd.”


Yep, that was the sound of a soul dying. My soul. Goddammit.

I’m exaggerating a little, of course- my soul was in fact only deeply wounded- but the horrible moment of realization was there: I was going to have to take Krista’s analogy and write about it. Writing about Pink Floyd. Man.

I never got into Pink Floyd. Tried to- bought and listened to “Dark Side Of The Moon” when I was like fourteen or so, fifteen, and dismissed it as uncool or whatever, but was unable to avoid the band because my home state of New Hampshire is dominated by album-oriented radio stations. I didn’t smoke enough pot to really get it, I guess. I think that’s where the similarity that Krista was talking about comes in: On ‘Dark Side’ there’s this cohesiveness even though all these unorthodox, seemingly disparate songs roll by, this thread that connects everything together. I can hear that, I admit it. (I’m gonna switch gears while I still can.)

3MP does what they do very well, in this unique fashion that makes ‘em very difficult to write about (hence the aforementioned head-bashing).Waltzy, droney dirges that pulse and occasionally explode hysterical-sounding vocals into the forefront as pianos plink and pound, tribal-sounding chants rumbling in the background. For no reason, voices and instrumentation sometimes change keys, plummeting/ratcheting up the tension. So much going on that you barely even notice how little there is in the way of guitar work- more for emphasis than anything else. Beautiful, haunting, skittish.

I like “Another Desert, Another Sea” a bit more than “Chief Assassin,” because I’ve listened top the former more times, although it must be said that the latter was my introduction to the band. It boggles my mind that “Assassin”, this fairly unorthodox, complex album, was released on Geffen. Who was the A & R guy that thought it would be a good idea to sign Three Mile Pilot? Did some schlep really think that this band who are fucking near impossible to even WRITE ABOUT was going to recoup? He musta been related to the band or incredibly idealistic/naïve (I know, I’m one to talk).

Three Mile Pilot- Songs From An Old Town We Once Knew

Double disc set of b-sides and rarities that I found for the princely sum of three bucks at some second-hand store in Seattle. There are some duds, as is usually the case with odds n’ sods productions, some droners. For the most part, though, this is a cool comp that showcases the band’s many strengths: unorthodox vocal harmonies that push the already hysterical-sounding lyrics to a newer level of dementia; lilting percussion-based art waltzes, jazzy Dire Straits-sounding guitar ramble over simple, three or four note counter leads. There’s something to be said for cohesion, but there’s also something to be said for salivating fanboys.


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