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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Interpol -- Turn on the Bright Lights (and a discussion of the complexities of the Human Mind and its ailments, namely the migraine)

 photo 220px-Interpol_-_Turn_On_The_Bright_Lights_zps223d0c75.jpg

For me, a migraine has two disparate causes: dehydration or mental issues. The first cause is easily preventable, and not so difficult to treat: take my pills, drink some water, eat a little something, and get some rest. If not in a couple of hours, it'll be gone in the morning. The second cause is harder to prevent and even more difficult to treat. When I picked up a debilitating nine month cranial visitor, it wasn't because I wasn't drinking enough water--it was because my mind reached an impasse. I had been dealing with problems by taking mental loops that could not be sustained, the circles growing shorter and shorter, until there was no place to move. My mind was completely boxed in. I know that sounds crazy. I know I am not mentally wired like most people. I also know there exists a large enough minority of people similar to me to keep several major pharmaceutical companies in business. I patronized many of them. Most did nothing for me.
Eventually, I realized, while certain medications could temporarily alleviate the pain, I had to get out of the box. The impasse had to be crossed. The obstacles had to be dealt with. I guess I'll do a review in the middle of this thing.
Interpol's Turn on the Bright Lights turned out to be a great companion on the mental journey I had to take. It's an extremely introspective, late night album. The relationship issues singer Paul Banks describes were just as easily relatable to me as my own metaphysical battle with my brain. It's also ironically titled for that purpose. Bright lights are a migraine sufferers greatest nightmare.
Without any personal connection, Turn Out the Bright Lights would still rank highly in my estimation. It's musical perfection. The rhythm section is as in-sync as any you'll find on record. The bass and drums are ideally what holds a rock band's music together. Unfortunately, they are often afterthoughts. On Turn on the Bright Lights, they serve the ideal impeccably. They steady and move the beast. The guitars often sound like stabs of icy light emanating from from the solid, tidal darkness of Interpol's rhythmic base as it  rolls along. The guitars can be as impressionistic as they want because the rhythm section is always carrying the weight of the songs. In true rock fashion, the rhythm section is turned up loud, emanating inescapable movement. Finally, Paul Banks' often pained lyrics are ideally conveyed by his wounded singing. I mean "wounded" as a high compliment, and I use "ideally" again because it is the most fitting word for this album. Everything is just as it should be.
Considering the band and its legion of imitators haven't been able to top this since, perhaps the moment of its creation was serendipitous. A point of reference others have given is the work of the short-lived band, Joy Division. Let's be honest, though, Interpol is listenable. Getting through Joy Division's full albums is a slog. Which brings us to why: I've made this album seem far more gloomier than it is. Despite the density of its darkness, Turn on the Bright Lights is a real good time, whether it's in the blow out the roof rhythm section I've made apparent I am obsessed with, or in Banks' and the band's lighter moments, like the breath of fresh air of "Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down." Maybe its the simple fact that the resolution seems like progress past an impasse. And speaking of impasses...
My neurologist, Dr. Kaufman, ran an EKG on me, gave me an MRI, I had my sinuses X-rayed, and I went through all matters of testing. Finally, Kaufman and I had a long discussion on mental disorder. I realized that my migraines stemmed from thoughts associated with certain people, entities, and issues. I found that I had to cut certain people out of my life (if you have psychopaths or narcissists around, cutting them out is a must, even if you've never had a migraine in your life), and completely change the way I either viewed or related to others. I had to, in a way, be selfish, and perhaps put myself before people in situations I would have always put myself last. You can't really do much good when you can barely stand or keep your eyes open, though. So I forced myself to travel deep into my own mind, down every corridor, until I cleaned out the cobwebs, cleared the blockages, and found a way to live that didn't build up more. It was hard, it was dark, and it was difficult. But it happened, and at the end of the journey, I found myself migraine free. I get a couple a month these days, and they are easily treatable with the one pharmaceutical medication I have found to be reliably effective. My life goes on. I've discovered how to heal when I feel withdrawn, instead of withdrawing only to escape. Simple religious repetition, such as reciting the Lord's prayer, has helped as well.
Today, I still know every word to Turn on the Bright Lights. It's still just as much a dark masterpiece to one who has a clear head, as to one who's head was engulfed  in fog and night.

2002 Matador
1. Untitled 3:56
2. Obstacle 1 4:11
3. NYC 4:20
4. PDA 4:59
5. Say Hello to the Angels 4:28
6. Hands Away 3:05
7. Obstacle 2 3:47
8. Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down 6:28
9. Roland 3:35
10. The New 6:07
11. Leif Erikson 4:00


Anonymous said...


This post is brilliant. You are vulnerable as you explain the difficulty of identifying and crossing mental barriers. You are also wise as you lay out the need to deal with the causes, rather than only the symptoms, connected with psychosomatic pain.

Thank you for your post.

Keep up the being awesome.



Nicholas said...

Thank you for the kind words, Friend.