Sunday, January 4, 2015

Adventures in Television at MungBeing

Adventures in Television at MungBeing
Published December 2014


by alison ross

Among critics and listeners alike, Television's debut album, Marquee Moon often stands as the, ahem, lunar eclipse of the band's sophomore effort, the softer, slightly sunnierAdventure. Don't get me wrong - I adore the startlingly novel Marquee Moon with all its tangled, byzantine guitar work - the lines intertwine like vines on lattice. Too, Verlaine's wraith-like vocals conjure the spirits of a creepy Poe protagonist and his lyrics recall the feral and preternatural poems of that vaunted rock-star favorite, literary rogue, Arthur Rimbaud.

But the traits that make Marquee Moon so great are also the ones that are mostly MIA on Adventure, and it's for this reason that Adventure merits more recognition than it will likely ever receive. It's as though Adventure was the precursor to Marquee Moon, with its almost naively stripped-down approach, hinting toward a more convoluted, intricately woven tapestry. But instead Adventure is clearly a deliberate departure from Marquee Moon, an adamant assertion against Moon's "caged-in chaos" ethos. There is no sense of sublimated anarchy here, only unfiltered, pillowy smooth or thumping upbeat songs that are anchored by a highly cerebral sense of sonics, a kind of textbook technical adeptness that could be construed as aloof but that somehow ends up resonating emotionally. But even the more contemplative songs such as "The Fire" are not self-indulgent exercises in grandiose moroseness. To the contrary, the song is a quietly disquieting meditation. Television always knew how to circumscribe the histrionics.

Adventure, by its very lack of pretense toward dethroning Marquee Moon's reign as art-punk paradigm, is an adventurous aural experiment, and a subtle "screw you" to those who would insist that Television merely replicate the template that garnered such overt and profuse praise. Adventure soothes and uplifts, and that's all we ask of it. 

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