23 August 2005

the boy least likely to - "paper cuts" (from the best party ever lp, available for purchase as an import here)

i have synesthesia.

no, no, it's going to be okay. i was diagnosed--if that's the word--years ago by michael daddino, after discussing marvin gaye's what's going on? in terms of color. oh, not like that, racist--here, let me cite vladimir nabokov, another synesthetic, who explains it thiswise:
on top of all this i present a fine case of colored hearing. perhaps "hearing" is not quite accurate, since the color sensation seems to be produced by the very act of my orally forming a given letter while i imagine its outline. the long a of the english alphabet (and it is this alphabet i have in mind farther on unless otherwise stated) has for me the tint of weathered wood, but a french a evokes polished ebony. ... the confessions of a synesthete must sound tedious and pretentious to those who are protected from such leakings and drafts by more solid walls than mine are.
indeed, so i hope you'll bear w/ me through this.

nabokov later adds, "music, i regret to say, affects me merely as an arbitary succession of more or less irritating sounds." for me, however, it is music--and not the alphabet, which i don't find irritating one bit--that produces the sensations nabokov explains above; it is perhaps for this reason that, given my disparate interests, music remains in closest proximity to the heart. nabokov's definitions suggest that he sees solid colors, but that's rarely the case for me. to be sure, there are some reactions that resemble a rothko painting; more often, though, it's like forked lightning across a tinted sky. at its best, though, it's like a skittles commercial. a quick example: david bowie, "'heroes'": green and red tendrils reaching across a deep gray background, like a foggy late evening, an hour before dawn.

synesthesia has probably led me to champion music that others might find less than praiseworthy--convenient cop-out, that. i'm thinking in particular of early 90's smooth r&b that utilized irresistible keyboard colors (nothing suggests itself at this moment; it was more of a general trend on stations like 98.7 kiss-fm. there was a song by will downing that i still recall ... "don't wait for love," maybe?) more meritorious masters of such conceits include stevie wonder; those who know me know the special affection i have for his music. in large part, this, again, is due to the colors he created w/ his synthesizer manipulation (and, yes, there's irony here, the colors generated by a blind man ... ) even the synesthetically uninclined will find much to admire in his albums released in 70's. other r&b songs that play tricks w/ my mind: kool & the gang, "summer madness"; al b. sure!, "i'm still in love with you"; mary j. blige, "all that i can say." greatest non r&b source? brian eno and his productions (best examples: "the big ship," "here he comes," and "'heroes.'") see also: the magnetic fields.

all of which leads to "paper cuts" by the boy least likely to. you'd be well within your rights to wonder if this is another song that just appeals to my mental technicolor. yes, the keyboards on the chorus are skittles commercial for me (last time that happened: basement jaxx's "rooty," the bridge), but i think there are other things on offer here, not the least of which an endearing earnestness and weltanschauung that will appeal to fans of, say, belle & sebastian. and then there are the colors.

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