Jesse Jarnow

“new year’s eve” – stephan mathieu and ekkehard ehlers & “new year” – the breeders

“New Year’s Eve” – Stephan Mathieu and Ekkehard Ehlers (download here)
from Heroin (2001)
released by Orthlorng Musork (buy)

“New Year” – The Breeders (download here)
released by 4AD
from Last Splash (1993) (buy)

I like the contrast of these two takes on New Year’s. Stephan Mathieu and Ekkehard Ehlers’ field-recorded fireworks are literally kinetic energy. Though they are violent chemical reactions, they are also soft, as if muffled by a snowfall. Certainly, the swelling organ helps — a fantastic exercise of bare melody finding form in chaos.

“New Year,” meanwhile, is the sun-blinded morning after and all (conceptual) potential energy. The lead track from Last Splash, it is two minutes of indie-surf glee whose main purpose is to set up what follows. Like slowly remembering the impossible resolutions made in the ecstasy of revelry, its ending is profoundly unsatisfying without a dramatic statement to follow. Below the lyrics, in the liner notes, there is a literal parenthetical clarification: “(stage direction: suspenseful point).” The Breeders came up with the classic bass-drop intro to “Cannonball.” If only every year could start so well.

(Thanks to the too-oft-neglected-but-still-bloody-awesome ‘buked & scorned for introducing me to “New Year’s Eve” last December. I should probably check out the rest of Heroin now, huh?)


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