Saturday, November 12, 2011

Wind & Wuthering (1976)

This is approximately exactly what you might expect from mid-'70s post-Gabriel Genesis—long, densely structured, rarely inspired, occasionally pretty. I took home a copy of it from the used record store when it was still a fairly recent release, and found that, in patches, it sometimes fit a few moods quite nicely, something about late at night in Minnesota winters, locked in by snow but warm at whatever I was calling home at the moment. The "Wuthering" of the title, in case you were wondering, is indeed a reference to the Emily Bronte novel, with two tracks near the end of the second side evidently built around (or anyway directly named after) the novel's last sentence: "I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth." In fact, "Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers..." (at 2:23 far and away the shortest track) and " That Quiet Earth" contain some of my favorite passages here. There are also some nice moments in "Blood on the Rooftops." But with the typically ornate way in which these often rather long tracks are put together—four of the nine coming in over six minutes, one of them practically 10 minutes, and all but two of the rest four minutes or more—there's a lack of focus and general aimlessness to them; only too infrequently do they become interesting. I know lack of focus and general aimlessness is more or less what they did, leavened with smatterings of British literary lore—I understand that, even understood it then. I recall enjoying a handful of their albums, sometimes even intensely (and not just The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, which I still like a fair bit). But it rarely comes back to me now, seemingly lost for good, and alas, much of this album was no exception recently. Mostly it sounds silly and self-indulgent and empty, which, OK, may have been suitable for me to some degree at one time. I find myself impatient with it now, even embarrassed for what they seem to think they are doing. It's nice and goes down smooth and everything, and bully for them that they know the Bronte novel. But nothing here is even within hailing distance of it.

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