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Author Topic: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea Turns 10
Catchfire
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4019

posted 14 February 2008 01:52 AM      Profile for Catchfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 

"Buddy, he's singing about a king of carrot flowers."

quote:
In indie circles, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was hailed as an instant classic. I first realized this at Neutral Milk Hotel's live shows-- the crowd singing along to the songs was often louder than the entire band, even within weeks of the record's release. This was at a time when the human race hadn't advanced to where we could all easily steal album advances off the internet; these people had bought the record and played it non-stop, memorizing it in days.
[...]
One of the reasons that Aeroplane has aged so well is that it deals with heavy stuff in this really personal way. It's almost never precious, and when it is, it has the balls to be. The record works partly because Mangum addresses Anne Frank obliquely throughout (another "lesson" of the album is that the best concept record is the one you can listen to without even being aware it's a concept album). As with the Who's Sell Out, it's the half-assed concept records that have the longest shelf life. For all the ways the album has influenced so many people, I wish more would take this away from it-- that it's OK to examine, and be nakedly emotional, about stuff aside from the lint in your belly button. Aeroplane's radiant weirdness works, and is so oddly life-affirming, because it looks right into the face of the heaviest of heavy historical evils.

I'm really glad that Aeroplane is so revered. I love it to death, myself-- cried when I first listened to the promo cassette and everything. I knew immediately that this was something really special, and wasn't surprised when quite a few other people agreed. It's awesome that the record continues to sell well enough to support Mangum to this day. In the end, though, Aeroplane is just a record. And I hope that when Mangum makes music in public again (and I'm confident he will) that folks could tone down their enthusiasm just the littlest bit. Please don't sing over the guy.


(Disclaimer: I apologize for linking to pitchfork, the great demon, but I thought the article and the testimonials was appropriate considering the subject matter. Plus, it has some textbook cringe-worthy aloofness and indie hipsterism: "I cried when I first listened to the promo cassette," etc.)


From: On the heather | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
jrose
babble intern
Babbler # 13401

posted 14 February 2008 08:54 AM      Profile for jrose     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
This thread has made my day happy!

I was just gushing about this album with my boyfriend yesterday, and we both agreed how badly we need to listen to it. It's by far one of my favourites, and I think the fact that it was inspired by Anne Franks's diary makes it even more unique, because every time you listen to it you can draw another reference, or it strikes another chord.

Plus, the great "demon" pitchfork gave it a 10.0 which isn't a common occurence.

quote:
Shortly after the release of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, Puncture magazine had a cover story on Neutral Milk Hotel. In it Mangum told of the influence on the record of Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl. He explained that shortly after releasing On Avery Island he read the book for the first time, and found himself completely overwhelmed with sadness and grief. Back in 1998 this admission made my jaw drop. What the hell? A guy in a rock band saying he was emotionally devastated by a book everyone else in America read for a middle-school assignment? I felt embarrassed for him at first, but then, the more I thought about it and the more I heard the record, I was awed. Mangum's honesty on this point, translated directly to his music, turned out to be a source of great power.

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is a personal album but not in the way you expect. It's not biography. It's a record of images, associations, and threads; no single word describes it so well as the beautiful and overused "kaleidoscope." It has the cracked logic of a dream, beginning with "King of Carrot Flowers Part 1".

SNIP

Lyrical references to technology are hard to fix. Anne Frank's lifespan from 1929 to 1945 is perhaps the record's historical center, but the perspective jumps back and forth over centuries, with images and figures sucked from their own age and squirted out somewhere else. When "The King of Carrot Flowers Part 3" mentions "a synthetic flying machine" our minds leap to something like Leonardo da Vinci's 15th Century drawings of his helicopter prototype. The image in "Two-Headed Boy" of a mutant child trapped in a jar of formaldehyde is pulled from Dr. Moreau's industrial age island. The radio play powered by pre-electric pulleys and weights, the nuclear holocaust in the title track. What's it all about? Mangum offers an explanation for these jarring leaps in a line about Anne Frank in "Oh Comely," where he sings, "I know they buried her body with others/ her sister and mother and 500 families/ and will she remember me 50 years later/ I wished I could save her in some sort of time machine." If you can move through time, see, nothing ever really dies.


I love it. It's one of those albums you could spend years disecting, and still never get the full effect. I sincerely wish that I were not at work right now, so I could go pull it off the shelf.


From: Ottawa | Registered: Oct 2006  |  IP: Logged
Catchfire
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4019

posted 15 February 2008 12:31 AM      Profile for Catchfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm glad another babbler feels the same way about this record that I, too, have been missing lately. It's bulletproof, in a way, and a lot of the testimonials mention the fact that somehow, this record manages to be honest, emotionally evocative and passionate without being precious or too cutesy.

I remember playing Aeroplane back when I was a line cook and being repeatedly told to turn off that "Christian rock shit." (I love you Jesu-us Chri-i-ist. / Jesus Christ I-I lo-ove you, ye-e-es I do...) It was like I earned my hipster badge of suffering.


From: On the heather | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
jrose
babble intern
Babbler # 13401

posted 15 February 2008 05:08 AM      Profile for jrose     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I know that feeling all too well. I can't even count the number of times I've had the album on at work or in my car, and somebody gives the disapproving look and the "Whhaaaattt are you listening to!?" as soon as that part comes on. But that's just an example of how many layers this album has, which is a large part of its charm.
From: Ottawa | Registered: Oct 2006  |  IP: Logged
jrose
babble intern
Babbler # 13401

posted 17 March 2008 06:07 AM      Profile for jrose     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
BUMP! I was just reading this on the Tyee, which gives me the perfect excuse to bump this thread.

quote:
Neutral Milk Hotel would have provided the perfect soundtrack to my 24th year. I was in my second tour of substitute teaching duty, still the young rebel educationalist, busy warping the minds of elementary students with songs about putting bubblegum in their hair. Mangum showed me that such things could gain currency in the cultural milieu...or at least on critics' top-10 lists.

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Unfortunately, I completely missed them. I didn't hear Neutral Milk Hotel until 2006 when my girlfriend sent me the title song in an e-mail, and chances are even if I had heard them before, I would have dismissed their music as "weird." (I was still listlessly clinging to Pearl Jam and U2.)

But right now, they sound perfect.



From: Ottawa | Registered: Oct 2006  |  IP: Logged

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