Monday, November 07, 2005

Abstract Titles

What is with Progressive Rock bands and their bizarre titles for things? I can appreciate artistic vision, and what not, but frequently I just don't understand what the title is supposed to mean, or even how it relates to the song/album/concept/whatever.

Take, for example, the title of the latest Coheed & Cambria album (which I enjoy, BTW): Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes of Madness.

OK. Now, quick, explain what that is supposed to mean.

The only part I understand is the IV, since it is the fourth album in a supposed pentalogy. Of course, even that is sketchy since they started with part 2, part 5 is going to be a two-part album, and they are releasing part 1 last. Is it really a pentalogy if there are six albums? I suppose it doesn't really matter.

The track titles on GAIBS4VOFFTTEOM (how's that for an abbreviation?) are actually rather pedestrian compared to the album title, but still contain things like:

12The Willing Well I: Fuel For The Feeding End (7:17)
13The Willing Well II: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness (7:28)
14The Willing Well III: Apollo II: The Telling Truth (7:19)
15The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut (6:05)

Still, Coheed & Cambria are mere amateurs when compared to The Mars Volta, the undisputed kings (in my mind at least) of crazy titles. I don't even particularly like Mars Volta, their music is a bit too free-jazz-ish for my tastes, but I am amused by the bizarre track titles they use.

For example, their critically-acclaimed album Frances the Mute had only 5 songs, but 12 tracks. There are seven variations on of how to label those tracks, some significantly different (as in, is track #2 "The Widow", or "Cygnus...Vismund Cygnus: Umbilical Syllables"?). A sample track listing:

Frances the Mute Tracks
1Cygnus... Vismund Cygnus - A. Sarcophagi, B. Umbilical Syllables, C. Facilis Descenus Averni, D. Con Safo (13:02)
2The Widow (5:51)
3L'Via L'Viaquez (12:22)
4Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore - a) Vade Mecum b) Pour Another Icepick, c) Pisacis (Phra-Men-Ma), d) Con Safo (13:09)
5Cassandra Gemini - a) Tarantism (4:46)
6Cassandra Geminni - a) Tarantism, b) Plant a Nail in the Navel Stream (6:40)
7Cassandra Geminni - b) Plant a Nail in the Navel Stream (2:56)
8Cassandra Geminni - b) Plant a Nail in the Navel Stream, c) Faminepulse (7:41)
9Cassandra Geminni - c) Faminepulse (5:00)
10Cassandra Geminni - c) Faminepulse, d) Mulitple Spouse Wounds (3:48)
11Cassandra Geminni - d) Multiple Spouse Wounds (0:47)
12Cassandra Geminni - e) Sarcophagi (0:53)

I'm pretty sure that one is incorrect too, labeling movements across the tracks. But who knows. Even Amazon and Yahoo Music don't know how to label the tracks, leaving track 9 as 'Untitled'.

And just in case you were saying "Well, those titles are weird because it is a concept album, and they have a deep meaning that you just don't understand", I wonder if you have seen the track titles of their forthcoming new album? It's a full-length live album, sporting these doozies of titles:

Scab Dates Tracks
1.abrasions mount the timpani
2.take the veil cerpin taxt
2A.gust of mutts
2B.and ghosted pouts
6.cicatriz I II III IV

I can just imagine being in the audience at a concert and going "Ohh! Cicatriz Pt. III, my favorite!". The most amusing part is that both Frances the Mute and Scab Dates are albums from after the band supposedly got sober. Right.


McBrideFarm said...

Weird. I feel like they used some computer randomization to come up with the titles, stipulating that the computer had to use nonsense words of three syllable or more.

Brenden Johnson said... just don't get it, man. It's called "progressive" not just because of the music but because of their MINDS! They're so forward thinking that you just can't comprehend their meanings.

Steve Eck said...

Sarah, That is exactly what it looks like to me too.

Brenden, clearly they are way ahead of me on some level, I'm just not sure which one.