The Late Show

by 400 Lonely Things

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While all of the 400 Lonely Things records are strange and a bit incomprehensible, even to its authors, The Late Show is perhaps the most baffling record in the 400 Lonely Things catalog. It provides some moments of genuinely difficult listening balanced out by passages of blissful, simmering narcolepsy and quiet incoherence.

The Late Show began life with a song originally recorded in 2002 by long-time friend and collaborator Erek Gita entitled "Speaker For The Dead" (after the Orson Scott Card novel) from Erek Gita's unreleased second album. The version "Sleeper For The Dead" on The Late Show is essentially an ambient mix of "Speaker" using the first passage of the original Erek Gita song. All elements of this song were originally generated by one of Erek Gita's many electric guitars. It was lonelied up a bit, adding some bits of other Erek Gita songs as well. The resulting mix that appears on this album was the nucleus around which the rest of the album was assembled.

Also of note is easily the most curious and puzzling track on this album, "Bullfight at Swan Lake". It's a bit of a cover song, and a bit of a mashup - taking pieces of several versions of Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" and blending it with a few brief samples of David Sylvian's "Before the Bullfight" from his 1986 album "Gone To Earth". These were arranged into a lengthy soundbed that is at once pastoral and spacey. Winding it's way through this landscape is a vocal narrative (a rarity for 400 Lonely Things), the lyrics to David Sylvian's song, "sung" by perhaps by a Gollum impersonator (Thus the song's subtitle, "A Tone Poem for Tchaikovsky, Sylvian and Gollum").

One of The Late Show's most difficult passages is "Pounder". It's a lengthy piece, improvised live using a few heavily treated samples of Skip James and Lee Hazlewood among others. The result is a disorienting, swirling blend of bewildering desperation, and at it's peak feels a bit to us like grief pulled inside out - cathartically reaching its climax in a disquieting stillness. [End hyperbole]

Material for this album was originally recorded between 1996 and 2008, with most of the album itself being assembled in 2005-2008.


released June 7, 2008

Craig Varian | Jonathan McCall



Track Name: Dracula Needs Glasses
The noise on the stairs disturbs me.
Somebody walks my way.
Track Name: Bullfight at Swan Lake (A Tone Poem for Tchaikovsky, Sylvian, and Gollum)
I hear your voice
Way down inside.
A whispering sea
Of towering trees;
But no reply.
A silence so rare,
And more than I can stand.
Sweeps like a flood,
Through life's flesh and blood,
And steals away with it's heart.
If I'm losing you,
Then there's nothing more that I can say.
The fighting is on,
And battles are won,
Or thrown away.
But if I could live,
Safe and sound,
In God given fields,
Or mountains of steel;
Then here I'd stay.
Till you'd gone.
Guilty of stealing
Every thought I own.
I will take my turn
To fight the bullfight.
Every word's sunk in deep,
Like the blades of a knife through my heart,
But my strength will return
To fight the bullfight.
As time's come to show,
I'm told nothing more than I should know.
A ship on the sea that threatens to leave,
But never goes.
This island of blue,
Where life clings to your hands
Like water and sand,
Will lose it's way
When you're gone.
When all's forgiven,
Still every fault's my own,
I will take my turn
To fight the bullfight.
Say a prayer for my release,
When every hope in the world is asleep,
And my strength will return
To fight the bullfight.