Mothers is an unusual band. There are four members (which isn’t that unusual) but their music has a number of elements that makes them hard to classify. Their songs are slow and somewhat meandering, with a lot of ethereal qualities. There’s no drums and the bass is spare.
On “Too Small For Eyes,” lead singer and guitarist Kristine Leschper sings in a very high, delicate voice and she plays vibratoed guitar lines high on the neck of her guitar (she even holds the guitar very high on her body). There’s another guitarist who plays similarly high notes and a keyboardist who is playing single notes that sound almost like a steel drum—in the most nontropical way ever. The music is pretty and feel like it could float away at any second. But Leschper’s voice veers towards the harsh from time to time which comes as a surprise. And as the song nears the end (it’s unclear just how long this song is going to be since there’s no conventional structure—the song could go for 20 minutes longer), the guitars start playing a slightly more dissonant sound.
“Burden Of Proof” is similarly slow with washes of spooky keyboards growing louder. If they didn’t pause between songs I would have thought it was the same song. The second guitarist is on the floor playing with effects pedals.
As the song ends, the music continues as the bass player thumbs some notes to keep the sound going. The second guitarist and keyboardist switch places. When I first listened to the show without watching I thought they only played two songs.
The third song sounds a little different from the other two (it is a newer song not on their debut album). The guitar line is a little deeper. Like the first song, this one turns a little unsettling in the middle with notes that don’t quite seem t go with the music. It feels like things are slightly awry as they play. The song returns to normal and then as it reaches the end there is that slightly seasick-sounding wave of keyboards that bring the song to its conclusion.
The blurb says that, kind of like with Ane Brun, the band chose to play their most mellow songs for this show. In some ways that makes sense, but it also lost me as an audience member because I felt like their music was too samey.
[READ: April 6, 2016] “My Purple Scented Novel”
I’ve enjoyed just about everything I’ve read from McEwan, but this is by far my favorite story from him.
It is about two writers–Jocelyn Tarbet and the narrator, Parker Sparrow. Forty years ago, they went to school together and were the best of friends. They took holidays together, made love to each others’ girlfriends and even tried a homosexual relationship. That last attempt didn’t work–they were repelled by each other’s penises.
But that was fine, because they were each successful in their own way. Parker had his story published first. But soon after Jocelyn had his story published. And things were great.
Until Jocelyn wrote a TV play and made a fortune.
Parker had no idea Jocelyn even knew anything about writing for TV. And this exposure made Jocelyn’s star rise very quickly. At the same time, Parker married Arabella, who is still his wife, and his career trajectory changed. At the time, it didn’t matter so much–he was very happy and they were about to have a child–not to mention Jocelyn’s success made him happy as well.
But then Jocelyn’s star began to rise more and more. Parker’s novels were ignored, but Jocelyn’s really took off.
It was fair to say that they were still friends–they visited each other less, but they still liked each other–they were able to put their professional aspects of their lives aside for their friendship. Indeed, when Jocleyn and his wife went on vacation, they asked him to house sit–which also gave Parker a chance to work on his newest novel.
And that’s when Parker hatched a brilliantly deceitful ploy, one which he swears he didn’t really plan , but which tips the balance of their successes. It is a devious and brilliant plan, and I love how unrepentant the narrator is about it. And I love the way the opening paragraph threw me off the scent of whose career had actually risen and fallen.
I really must read more McEwan–his writing is really easy to read and his ideas are sharp.