Thursday, January 6, 2011

Song #2: Scent of Neon

Scent of Neon (Demo - Please Comment) by Ignatius Zoo

This is as good a time as any to talk about my influences. Like everyone who grew up in the '80's, I like U2, and they're a big influence for being consistently great. Eurythmics have a place in my heart for changing what I thought was possible in music at an early age, and Annie Lennox for continuing to be flawless yet emotive. Beck for doing unconventional things in traditional ways. Harvey Danger for being the best example of a personal secret: most people consider them a one-hit wonder (if that) where I see a vibrant but sadly abbreviated body of work. Dropkick Murphys for playing balls-out rock 'n' roll, with a bagpiper in their lineup.

The top of the heap, though, is Peter Gabriel. "San Jacinto" is like a sonic blanket. "Here Comes the Flood" is titanic. And time stands still whenever "Mercy St." plays. I have been quoted as saying, "I shudder to think what the world would be like today if Peter Gabriel had not made 'Mercy St.'" (I exaggerated, but just barely.) Amazing, brilliant, bracing work.

Peter is known for his uptempo pop numbers, but there is a very dark vein he mines every now & then. From the increasing hysteria of "Moribund the Burgermeister" (first song on the first album), he has done crazy. He goes there. "Wallflower," "Birdy's Flight," "No Self Control," "Darkness" and many others have him returning again and again the the well of madness.

I did not intentionally set out to make a Peter Gabriel-ish song. And good thing, because this really isn't. But in retrospect, I can feel his influence.

This song is about paranoia and delusion in an urban setting. City, winter, night. Hanging with the colorful characters. Getting laid in unusual ways, and making sex sound like alien abduction stories. And feeling that something is amiss. Seeing William Burroughs' Mugwumps slithering, and thinking that David Ickes was on to something in seeing lizards in human skin. This is not how I literally see the city, but a little booze and a little fatigue and it's not such a stretch.

The song sprang out of nothing. I sat down on Tuesday and just started futzing with factory presets in Reason. Lots of fiddling with the sound architecture. It was a lot like sculpture this time: I started out with a sonic mass and removed everything that didn't sound like a song. None of this was pre-conceived, with the exception of the phrase, "Predators know only hunger / Prey know only fear," but that wasn't set to music until tonight.

The part in the middle where the two voices overlap: Happy accident. I went to record over a track, and liked the way the two sounded together.

Scent of Neon
© 2011, Ignatius Zoo

The footprints in the dirty snow dead-end in front of you
The moonlight is obscured by neon signs that burn bright blue
Upturned, pleather collars hide their freezing breath from view
It's awful, it's just awful, what the scent of neon does to you

They'll make you fill your face with a jagged, black tattoo
They'll cuff you to the bedposts and insert things into you
It's awful, it's just awful, what the scent of neon makes you do

They're people, but they're not human
Their skin is made of tastebuds and tiny, lidless eyes
There's no surprising them
They're predators, but they're aching to be your prey
They're attracted by the scent of neon
The scent of neon will not go away

Predators know only hunger
Prey know only fear
The scent of neon is always near
The scent of neon is always here

(Make the night brighter than the daylight)

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