When I discovered what is today known as ‘alternative music,’ I read all about the influence of Pitchfork. During this time of research, I discovered that Pitchfork, notorious for their often tough marking system for albums, had once given a bizarre-sounding band named Neutral Milk Hotel a perfect score of 10. I then made up my mind to never listen to this band, because it seemed to have become the biggest cliche of an adored ‘underground album’ that existed.
Then sometime after this strange decision, a rather attractive female suggested I listen to a track of theirs, called In The Aeroplane Over The Sea.
In a three-and-a-half-minute-long blink of an eye, I was enamoured. not just of the girl, but of this song; perhaps the most beautiful slice of simplicity to have ever invaded my ears. There’s something about Jeff Mangum that breaks down any possible idea of fabrication, perhaps because he doesn’t have that great a voice. And this is somewhat universally-accepted. He can hit notes, but instead of packing his music with adroitly-sung vocals, it’s full of raw emotion.
And the album is an absolute masterpiece, filled with references to Mangum’s clearly disturbing dreams and to Anne Frank, with whom he became preoccupied during the LP’s creation. Yeah, it’s pretty strange.
Also strange is the fact that after finding some fame with the 1998 album, Mangum couldn’t handle life, music or apparently anything at all, so he disappeared into obscurity for a decade or so, doing what Kurt Cobain should’ve done. Every whisper of his whereabouts has been discussed by fans and reported by music websites, and he’s performed a couple of small sets at random places around America in the past few years as he slowly gets used to the idea of performing or writing music again.
This week, he launched a new website, featuring two unreleased tracks and the chance to buy a huge vinyl collection of everything Neutral Milk Hotel has ever done.
Ferris Wheel On Fire: