Norway - Full Moon 55 - 04/08/01
The Nightly Disease
Madrugada has just been touring Norway, filling up every place they've visited,
in spite of receiving some bad press for both their concerts and their new record.
This might be the well known "build them up, tear them down" principle,
but also hitting Madrugada now, to some extent, is the "I liked them first, they have become
too popular now"-syndrome. It's a wicked world.
Their first record, Industrial Silence, was
rim-filled with wonderful songs, making it a hard debut to follow up, in many ways.
The reviews for The Nightly Disease have either been of the half positive
"out of the blue, into the black" Neil Young-quote type, or the more negative "this is
kind of boring / the good songs are missing" type. Well, the lyrics doesn't seem to be any "blacker" on this album,
boring it is not, and the songs just need some more time. (If I were to make a list of the weakest Madrugada
songs, I'd include more from Industrial Silence than from this record.)
Are these critics just surface-listeners? While that could
work for the more immediate
Industrial Silence, it falls through for The Nightly Disease, which is a more
demanding record. The slower songs have been stripped of any sugar-coating,
leaving just the raw essence of beauty. This time, Madrugada obviously want us to drink our tea
But while the ballads are still present in purified form, the harder
songs are a radically new chapter, which many critics have failed to observe.
Take the simply genius Lucy One. Lyrically it could be a reference to
LSD (you know, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds), but it could also
be referring to the
claimed-to-be missing link fossil skeleton known as Lucy ("... a strong knee of stones,
bone upon bone, Lucy One ... got such a big hand ... we are new and improved ..." - Lucy could walk because of her human-like knee joint,
and her hands were bigger than ours). Strangely, this transfers directly
to Terence McKenna's theory 1 that hallucinogenic mushrooms are "the real missing link"
in human evolution.
But it gets even stranger: The reason why the skeleton was named Lucy,
was that Donald Johanson, the guy who discovered the bones, had
a tape recorder on when he found her 2, playing the Beatles' Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds!
(I'm getting dizzy now ...)
Musically, Lucy One is utterly confident, rock in its
purest essence, most accessories removed, aiming for the heart, and hitting.
People who find this one boring, probably feel the same way about bands like
Velvet Underground and The Stooges also. In fact, Sivert sounds a little like Iggy Pop
on this track.
Listening to the slower songs, it is hard not to think about Nick Cave and Lenoard Cohen,
because the emotional and atmospheric similarities with these artists are so obvious. Also musically
- there are lots of references to The Bad Seeds' instrumentation and aesthetics -
and lyrically. For instance Step Into This Room And Dance For Me:
"This is the room in which we dance" vs. Cave's The Weeping Song:
"This is a weeping song, a song in which to weep", vs. Cohen's Dance Me To The End Of Love.
Not that I am implying that Madrugada's music and lyrics are derivatives - but they are
moving around in the same territory, although lyrically the religious elements are almost
non-present. Madrugada's music is highly emotional,
more vague when it comes to spirituality, and mostly blank on religiousness.
That is to me the biggest difference
between them and the two aforementioned artists. Surely there must be some kind
of redemption somewhere, I say to myself as the last track, Only When You're Gone fades away.
Maybe I should put on Nick Cave's new one for directions.
1 Terence McKenna: Food Of The Gods
2 Time Magazine: How Man Began
Copyright © 2001 Knut Tore Breivik