A Deadend Mind is one of the calmer songs on Madrugada's latest CD, The Nightly Disease,
an album that in hindsight perhaps will be looked upon as a transitional release, torn between
the beauty from their at times overwhelmingly beautiful debut, Industrial Silence, and
a bunch of harsher, more aggressive songs. There may not be many shreds of light
to be found in a deadend mind, but the song is certainly not ripped of beauty.
Nice melodic moves, perfectly coloured by Robert Burås' clear tremolo guitar.
Next up is a live version of Vocal, the opening track from Industrial Silence,
with only acoustic guitars backing up Sivert's voice. If not essential, it stands firmly, also
without the lush production of the original.
The other 4 tracks are all new. It is pretty obvious by now that the band really like
the EP format, perhaps feeling less constraint, less pressure. View From A Hilltop
is a relaxed, almost sedated, almost cosy little acoustic song, where the main character is just
watching trains rolling by, birds flying above, people going off to work, people returning home, and so on.
Sounds boring? It's not, I'd like to spend a day on that hilltop every now and then.
With Fast Blues For Little V we're back in rock'n'roll city, trains swooshing by,
the birds are scared off, if not by the trains, then by the two acid saturated guitar solos
in this very straightforward rock'n'roll song. But again, the band manages to come up with a memorable
and very hummable melody line. Sort of a good-time feel to it also, no minor chords at all ...
I said there were 6 songs on this EP, and that's what my CD-players decodes, but to add some
confusion, the last two ones are called 4-Track Country Songs Part I and 4-Track Country Songs Part II.
"4-track" refers to the recording device, and these are raw sketches, low-key and un-cut.
To bring further confusion, both these songs consists of two separate parts, making it
really 4 songs, or 4 tracks ... To top if off, the last one of these are somewhat hidden, separated
by a good three minutes of silence. This last song is a bit psychedelic, an instrumental made up of
some sparse bass tones and droning and sliding guitars, a real filler, while the other country
tracks/songs are just what they appear to be - decent small country tunes. All in all,
the most up-beat release from Madrugada so far, at least musically speaking, but
probably also lyrically.
A wrong move?
Høyem once stated in an interview on Norwegian television that Madrugada aim to
be a band that nobody will ever catch doing anything wrong. If he was talking about
the ten commandments, it would be clear what he meant, but I guess he was thinking
of the band's artistic integrity and credibility, which of course is a more difficult
thing to control ...
Being pictured on the front page
of the latest issue of Norwegian lifestyle / consumer Magazine 2001 (see left column)
was probably not the smartest thing to do, and it is understandable that Høyem feels the need to
slag the whole thing off as a thing that should never have happened. It's a good thing that the band
regret doing this, because magazine 2001 stands for a superficiality that Madragada apparently
fights against. But it clearly shows that being a rock'n'roll band on
a major label may bring rather 'existential' conflicts.
The references ...
When first commenting on Høyem's columnn The Angriest Man In Norway, I
won't stop here. By the way, the column (published at the Madrugada fan site madrugada.de),
may prove to be an interesting read, and I would advice fans to follow it closely. The article called Notes On Stealing
deals with the band being tired of always seeing other artists referenced as influential on their sound,
sometimes giving the impression that the band are copycats. He closes with this statement:
"These are my thoughts, anyone should feel free to say, think and write whatever they want about this, and I
am sure that they will. And surely I will still have to read the names Nick Cave, Chris Isaak and
the Doors mentioned in the same sentences as the name of my own band." Well, I am guilty of mentioning
Nick Cave more than once in my reviews of Madrugada, so here I go:
As a pure amateur and novice of the art of record review writing, my reviews most often ends up
more or less as consumer guidance. For people who don't know an artist, referencing similar, but more
well known artists is an easy way of informing the non-initiated what this is all about. I can understand
that the band is becoming tired of reading the same artists mentioned over and over again, but
many will probably read about the band for the first time, and perhaps find the references useful.
I also find it rather amusing that while Høyem complains about journalists always referencing other artists
when writing about the band, they found it useful to drop these names in the infamous
Magazine 2001 interview: Leonard Cohen (x4), Nick Cave (x3), Johnny Cash (x2), Neil Young (x2), Bob Dylan (x2),
Yo La Tengo, Guided By Voices, Iggy Pop, MC5, Love, Cramps, Count Five, Gun Club, Giant Sand, Calexico,
Palace, Smog, Link Wray, Billie Holiday and, of course, Elvis! I rest my case ...