Friday, January 9, 2009

Blur Goes Outlandish: 13

With all the recent excitement about Blur's reunion this coming summer, we have to admit that we've found ourselves digging into the back catalogue a bit to reminisce about where the band's been, and what we might hear in the future. Specifically, we've been harping pretty fanatically on the band's 1999 release 13.

From the singles, it would be easy to dismiss the record as a saccharine sweet entry into the world of Britpop. But therein lies the dig: The likes of "Coffee And TV", "Tender", and "No Distance Left To Run" are barely representative of the many facets the album has to offer. Instead, the record (produced by William Orbit) offers up what is largely a genre-pushing, experimental foray into fuzzed out garage rock, with the singles being the exception rather than the rule.

At the end of the day, listening to 13 is a thoroughly immersive experience: tracks blend from one to another, textures mutate and change, and there's seldom a clear lyrical protagonist or directive. Rather, the album establishes its own feel that transcends a particular slant or directive. 13 is a record about experimentation, atmosphere, and feedback.

When the singles from the record were released, a separate mix of "Bugman" was released from each bandmember. Each proved to be highly divergent. Perhaps this lends some insight as to exactly why the album is so confounding and pleasureable at the same time. It is very clearly and distinctly an amalgum of tastes, styles, and production. From the growing climax of "Trimm Trabb" to the subtle undertones of "Battle", the record presents the listener with a wholly unique and realized sound of colliding sensibilities coming together in unity.

At the end of the day, this is exactly what has us so excited about a Blur reunion: it's not hearing "Parklife", "Song 2" or "Popscene", but rather the prospect that it might reintroduce a band that, while conflicted internally, is pushing musical boundries and confronting the musical establishment with a distinctive and aggressive sound. Cheers to that.

mp3: Blur - Trimm Trabb (YouSendIt, click through)