Thrill Jockey
Thrill 262E - 2011

Death-In-Life is the fifth album in Matthew Friedberger's Solos series. 

A happy-go-lucky record called Death-In-Life: why not? But "happy-go-lucky" is an ambiguous expression. Where exactly is happy being told to go? Put aside any dirty-minded associations--if you please. If happy is being told to go get lucky, does that mean happy is unlucky at present? Does that mean something bad is has happened? Or is going to happen? And why do "happen" and" happy" start so similarly anyway? Only to disappoint that much more effectively?

Death-In-Life is all about the only wind instrument to feature in SOLOS, the organ--if you please. If it sometimes features ambient noise loud enough to 'rise the deaf' as we say that's only because it was sometimes recorded in large churches--or train stations. As someone, to whom the Warner Bros. logo (the orange and white one at the beginning of Barry Lyndon is my favorite though as far as I can tell it seems to have lost the 'b') also refers, wrote long ago, "This is the Marseille religion station. Sleeping cars to eternity depart here at Mass times." By the way, I certainly hope that some of the ever-loving--maybe "ever-smiling" would be better--muzak on this album will sometimes put you to sleep for one reason or another. Though not in your cars. (I mean "you" plural; I don't imagine you have more than one car--if that! Though not if by "you" I mean you, plural. Which I did.) But this is, after all, a Nord record. By which I do not mean the keyboards; I can't stand those; and they are very expensive, and for what? They defame the color red as it were. I mean something else by writing: this is, after all, a Nord record. Remember to say it wrong. Rhyme and shine! False rhymes and "false friends"! What could be more fun? Relaxing? Pleasant?

Nearly every last bit of singing on Death-In-Life was stolen by the, as I said before, wind instruments. While making the album I thought: one should always be attentive to the proclivities of one's collaborators. Even if, as it says on the back cover, one is working very close to the place d'Estienne d'Orves. Resistance is the opposite of futile, but various voices lead to changing-of-choices. Some of them seem inopportune. But says who, or what? One's perspective is blinkered, if not blinking. The so to speak neo-vocalizing potency of august transistors--in August, no less, when this record was made--and "shiny brass pipes" can be denied for only so long. Then one has to pay the piper, with what money I'm not sure, and what sings are the things. The pedals are pushed and the stops are started. Drowning out not only the static, the pneumatic becomes what's dramatic. Emphatically or otherwise. What more could be said? What could be more sad? Disquieting? Dolorous?

Unfulfilling. Being hard to read is not reason enough to fill in a blank expression. Not far from Rue Milton,"all passion spent" is a mysterious notion. Is there really nothing left over? You might not have to pay much. I love this record very much. I'm listening to it right now. So should you.



  • 1 A Sensational Caprice
  • 2 Katie Did and Katie Didn’t
  • 3 Dark and Day
  • 4 Anniversary Quick Step
  • 5 Katie Did and Katie Didn’t
  • 6 Away Down West
  • 7 In the Days
  • 8 My Best Treasure
  • 9 Annie Laurie or Laurie Annie
  • 10 Call Me Pet Names

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