Friday, August 6, 2010

August 6: Telefon Tel Aviv, "I Lied"

Artist: Telefon Tel Aviv
Song: "I Lied"
Album: Map Of What Is Effortless
Year: 2004

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Though there is clearly no easy way to create an amazing song in any style, one can make the case that it is within the extremes that this becomes most difficult, as the balance of elements becomes hardest to achieve.  Whether it is an overly aggressive, loud composition or the lightest, most delicate musical approach, when artists are able to achieve greatness within the furthest ends of the musical spectrum, in many ways their success becomes all the more impressive.  Furthermore, there are certain musical styles in which specific parts of the world seem to excel most, so if an artist can defy this norm as well, their greatness cannot be overlooked.  As technology has become more easily accessible to the masses, the electronic-based genres have expanded in many different directions, and few have bred more stunning results than that of the down-beat or ambient style.  Working within the confines of this structure, and proving that U.S.-based artists could achieve just as brilliant a product as their European counterparts, the New Orleans-bred duo, Telefon Tel Aviv, set a new standard for ambient records with their extraordinary 2004 record, Map Of What Is Effortless.  Filled with soaring sonic landscapes, yet rarely diverging from the chilled-out mood, each track has its own personality, that when combined together, create a true musical masterpiece.  Though each track is worth being noted, there are few songs in the Telefon Tel Aviv catalog that are as truly beautiful and perfect as their 2004 song, "I Lied."

As with the entire recorded catalog of Telefon Tel Aviv, "I Lied" is nearly entirely the product of the brilliant minds of Charles Cooper and Joshua Eustis.  On all of their songs, the duo proved to be one of the most imaginative and outright talented teams of their generation, and "I Lied" spotlights everything that makes them so amazing.  Throughout the entire song, the mood that the two create keeps getting deeper and deeper, and "I Lied" remains one of the most hypnotizing tracks ever recorded.  Though the programmed drums that run throughout could easily have been placed into a far more aggressive arrangement without being altered, Telefon Tel Aviv are able to craft the music around it to keep it easily within the ambient style.  However, this contrast in sound helps to make the song unique, as well as keeping it from falling into too much of a slow or lulling pattern.  It is these other sounds that surround the drums that make "I Lied" so intriguing, as the distorted keyboard progression is nothing short of perfect, and it gives the song an almost ethereal, yet completely blissful feeling.  There is also a soft, melodic wave as well as a gorgeous string arrangement that run throughout the entire song, and these elements keep "I Lied" firmly rooted in the ambient style, playing a fantastic compliment to the keyboards.  Finally, there are countless small sound effects and other musical nuances that appear during the song, and when combined, "I Lied" becomes as close to a flawless ambient track as one will find anywhere.

With the music being a perfect, yet extremely delicate blend of sounds and moods, one would think that Telefon Tel Aviv would want to do nothing that could possible upset this balance.  There are countless cases throughout the history of electronic music where it was a vocal track that ruined a great musical arrangement, yet on "I Lied," the duo make such an attempt, and succeed in grand fashion.  Joining the pair for the song, vocalist Damon Aaron brings a soft, yet strong and smooth voice to the track, and it is this element that truly pushes the song into a category all its own.  There is a great deal of soul and emotion within Aaron's vocals, and while the song has an overall warm feeling, the tone of his singing creates a strange, yet stunning feeling of loneliness within the track.  The fact that Aaron is able to create an almost desolate mood alongside such an inviting sonic landscape is due not only to his fantastic voice and musical approach, but also to the somber, yet wonderfully crafted words which he sings.  Singing what seems to be a lament to a lost love, "I Lied" takes a unique approach in that the lyrics seem to speak of a person who realizes that the reason the relationship failed was because they simply let it pass them by.  Though in many ways heartbreaking, there are few lines penned anywhere in history that are as simple, yet profound as the lyric, "...while we drifted away, I missed it, missed it all..."  It is this strange sadness, and the superb vocal execution from Damon Aaron that make "I Lied" such a special musical experience and it perfectly captures everything that made Telefon Tel Aviv so amazing.

Without question, the one key to making any great song is that of finding the balance in every aspect of the musical creation.  From the proper mixture of instruments involved to volume to lyrics, it is only when this ideal balance is achieved that a song becomes great.  While most groups are content with archiving this balance once in a career, there are certain artists who seem to understand this combination so well, that it exists on nearly every song they create.  Though it went largely unnoticed to the masses, there is little arguing that Telefon Tel Aviv's 2004 record, Map Of What Is Effortless was one of, if not the best album of all of 2004.  Taking the ambient approach, and creating some of the most intriguing and exciting sounds ever to grace the genre, the album is filled with breathtaking musical moments that music be experienced firsthand to be properly appreciated.  Among these sensational musical achievements is what may very well be the bands' finest moment, the dusky, moody lament, "I Lied."  Perfectly balancing the warm, inviting musical arrangement with the heartfelt, soaring vocals from Damon Aaron, few songs from any genre can compare to the overall impact that one will find on this track.  Showcasing everything that makes the entire ambient genre so compelling, as well as cementing their names as one of the finest acts in the genres history, there are few songs that achieve similar musical perfection as one finds within Telefon Tel Aviv's 2004 song, "I Lied."


Anonymous said...

Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.

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Brian said...

Thank you for this post. This is a beautiful song musically and lyrically. Thank you