On What You Need To Know About Tristan if You’ve Ever Loved My Bloody Valentine or What You Need To Know About My Bloody Valentine if You’ve Ever Loved Tristan

09Mar08

In which The Gay Recluse compares the Richard Wagner opera Tristan and Isolde (first performed in Munich in 1865; financed by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and now running at The Metropolitan Opera) with Loveless, the final record by My Bloody Valentine (Creation, 1991).

While the music is dissonant, it’s never abrasive; it’s just another thread in the rich tapestry of the overall work. It’s a quiet dissonance — almost undetectable, a constant yet hovering tremolo — that leaves us hypnotized by what you might call an irrational longing, the sort of thing that never really goes away no matter how perfect life might seem at any given moment. Except, oddly enough, when we listen to this! How could we crave anything when we look up in awe at the shimmering, oscillating melodies even as we are pulled deeper and deeper under the unceasing waves of sound? Does it bother you not to understand the words, or (when you do, now and again) to hear that they are simple and repetitive, more cheaply poetic than philosophical? If so, then you’re missing the point; forget what everyone else says about any theory of Gesasmtkunstwerk! It’s about music; lush, beautiful (symphonic) music. It’s about immersing yourself in the most undiluted form of love, which of course is the night and everything that symbolizes, including the most loveless state of all. In a thousand years, when people look back at the birth of modernism, this is the music they will point to for first fulfilling the premise of unfathomable beauty in utter chaos (and vice versa).

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