Saturday, June 15, 2013

Pale Whale - Changeling

Why did Ahab pursue Moby Dick?  Melville's Ishmael tells us, in part:

Yet as of late the Sperm Whale fishery had been marked by various and not unfrequent instances   of great ferocity, cunning, and malice in the monster attacked; therefore it was, that those who by accident ignorantly gave battle to Moby Dick; such hunters, perhaps, for the most part, were content to ascribe the peculiar terror he bred, more, as it were, to the perils of the Sperm Whale fishery at large, than to the individual cause.

At least in Ishmael's view a particular white Sperm Whale named Moby Dick had become a Whaling Industry menace. Ishmael also spends a chapter characterizing the "Whiteness Of The Whale,"  which, if you have read it, leaves Moby Dick a little more pink, like an albino, than a bright white.

Moby Dick was the first thing that came to mind when I received the new release titled Changeling from the band Pale Whale and you can see why.  The name of the band makes ones' mind wander to Melville's leviathan.  The bizarre whale eagle vine tree tiger octopus dolphin needle-mouthed creature that comprises the cover art also points the mind toward mythical beasts. However, when you play these eight tracks you realize that the only thing monstrous about Pale Whale is its ability to write and perform awesome indie rock music.

Unlike Moby Dick as required reading in American Literature in College, I dove headfirst into the eight track compilation that is Changeling.  Acoustic guitar blues, harmonica, classic rock electric guitar lead, wailing voice, catchy lyrics - that describes the first track, "Give It To Me," and I was immediately hooked.  I did a little head shaking to the Kinks-like "On The Outside Looking In." There is a sense of foreboding in the music and lyrics of the "Failing Point," but, "Don't Trust You Eyes" fish tails away from convention. "Maybe, Baby" causes quite a splash with its percussive acoustic guitar rhythm.   "Without Us" plays in a thunderstorm as waves of emotion ripple from Jeff Kotulak's guitar and voice while Ed Travis provides the bottom and backing vocals, Neil Travis plays drums and Ben Cahill fingers the keys.  With "She Needs Me" Pale Whale wades into deeper waters and combines garage rock, classic rock and electronica to form a new current in indie rock.  The final song is the title track. An acoustic guitar plays sweetly, harmonics echo and Kotulak settles us into a sorrowful alternative folk lullaby that takes us from the ocean to the stars.

I can’t think of a reason not to download this album. It is wonderful classic indie rock and it is a free download!  Get it right here -

Melville had Ishmael talk about the rendering of a sperm whale and today, taken out of context, it sounds quite naughty:

Squeeze! Squeeze! Squeeze! all the morning long; I squeezed that sperm till I myself almost melted into it; I squeezed that sperm till a strange sort of insanity came over me, and I found myself unwittingly squeezing my co-labourers' hands in it, mistaking their hands for the gentle globules. Such an abounding, affectionate, friendly, loving feeling did this avocation beget; that at last I was continually squeezing their hands, and looking up into their eyes sentimentally, as much as to say,—Oh! my dear fellow beings, why should we longer cherish any social acerbities, or know the slightest ill humour or envy! Come; let us squeeze hands all round; nay, let us all squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness.

That, in itself, is enough to make any white whale turn pale.

-  Old School

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