Nov 17, 2016, 10:12AM

Let’s Be Careful Out There

52 Weeks of Elizabeth Veldon, Week 46: “winter is a warm coat” (11/9/15).

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The sun rises later, then sets earlier. The trees stand nearly naked. The chill seeps in through layers and follows you back inside. This is not “fun” autumn, when strangers accost one another on the street to enthuse about brilliant foliage left, right, and center. This is “brutish” autumn, late autumn, when winter’s so near we can almost taste it. The tolls of church bells seem to ring exceptionally hollow. Leaves breakdance across streets full of cars with headlights switched on, regardless of the time of day, that emanate less sound pollution because everyone’s too fucking cold to leave their windows down. Spring’s coming, sure, eventually, but winter is coming first, and coming harder.

“winter is a warm coat” is tuneless and rubbery, too determinedly neurotic to qualify as boring; rather, it’s cunningly tedious. A synthesizer drone fattens itself, then shrinks, then fattens itself, and then shrinks again. Imagine two children fighting over a nondescript parachute that neither really wants, for half an hour. One child yanks his end of the parachute, then relents; then the other child seizes her part of the parachute in a brief flash of animation, her interest swiftly waning. A studied, crooked indifference that’s easy to overlook, but impossible to fully deny.

One triumph of “winter” it's very willingness to exist as music without a defined function. It’s not compelled to blossom gradually into anything more dynamic or comforting; it’s like a fly locked in a room with you, or someone mowing a lawn outside, or an unspeakably dated light fixture in a rental that the lease prevents you from replacing. Another triumph of “winter” is that its title isn’t a lie, but sonically, a triple fat goose for the ears is capable of leaving a listener psychically shivering. A last triumph of “winter” is that winter is less a season than a state of mind, the world stripped bare of every contrivance, natural and man-made alive, that in the best and warmest of times serve to distract each and every one of us from how deeply, and hopelessly, alone we really, truly are.


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