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Language will always fail music. Where language cages and limits, music releases. And finds a way. A way to convey the meaninglessness of it all and give it some form of meaning. I wouldn’t be surprised if scientists found that music boxes literally “inhabit” the center (or singularity point) of black holes.
And yet, I feel the need to express – non-musically – how much this band’s music means to me at a deep level. Their music magically managed (I always love a good and unintended alliteration) to bring all issues of personal and professional/academic interest to me under one all-encompassing umbrella. The pillar that holds everything together is still undoubtedly and everlastingly the one and only: music. And if that fails to make me see the light, then nothing will.
Music is one of the reasons – for there are a few – I will continue to fail at poetry (the other main reason being that I do NOT READ poetry). With the risk of hierarchizing arts, poetry will always come second to me. Here’s what abstract painter Agnes Martin has to say about art and music:
Art is responded to with emotion … and the best art is music — that’s the highest form of art. It’s completely abstract, and we make about eight times as much response to music than any of the other arts.
Why Muse again? Their music has grown on me episodically since my first encounter with it as I was fascinated as a kid/teenager in love with space by their Sing for Absolution video, not knowing that years later – more specifically around 12 years later – I would sing (my lungs out) for absolution at a live Muse concert.
And it was the music that gradually crept under my skin and built a nest there overshadowing almost any other bands or types of music I’d care to listen to. They have taken over completely but only because I let them.
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Because musically, they complete me and put on sound world issues I’m yearning to hear more in music (and why not, since we’re at it, on the news). And whoever dares to tell corporate and capitalist fucks to kill themselves and do us all a favor – and sing about it – has earned my utmost respect (reference to Animals song).
If you try to find the chemical formula or the magical potion that makes up Muse, you’ll find Queen and Pink Floyd nuances (two other bands whose music speak volumes to me), coupled with the genius of classical music, accompanied by the sound of space as they have clearly explored their affinity for space – in songs like Starlight with its black holes and revelations which also gives the name of the album, Space Dementia, Shrinking Universe, Dead Star, Supermassive Black Hole, Exo-Politics, Neutron Star Collision – and finally, mixed with Orwellian resistant flavors.
George Orwell happens to be one of my favorite writer (see my post on Orwell and why he writes) and 1984 one of the best novels I’ve read, if not my number one. No wonder this has contributed to making The Resistance album my most treasured one (alongside the chaotic Hullaballoo and the aggressive Drones).
Another key ingredient that is more of a Muse trademark is the unexpected passage from rather tender tones to more aggressive ones – even the rage and the violence are delicate, but it’s a delicacy that shuffles all of your senses and makes you explode in colors you didn’t even know existed. It’s a subversive tonal violence and the live version of The Globalist song was one such experience for me.
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Lastly, the unifying element in this Muse symphony is the concept of freedom. It’s at the core of my personal and academic (past and future) research interest as well as the reason why I founded this blog. Muse never ceases to urge us to fight for our rights (Uprising), for our freedom, to defect from an oppressive and unjust system (Defector), to Revolt, to save ourselves from absent gods and silent tyranny and to make Love our Resistance against the dark forces, be they capitalist or simply inhumane.
With themes ranging from deep ecology, the empathy gap, and World War III, the concept album Drones (2015) rebels against modern warfare and the evils of technology:
To me, drones are metaphorical psychopaths which enable psychopathic behavior with no recourse. The world is run by drones utilizing drones to turn us all into drones. This album explores the journey of a human, from their abandonment and loss of hope, to their indoctrination by the system to be a human drone, to their eventual defection from their oppressors. Matthew Bellamy
In that sense, the tale being told is rather an optimistic one. The more activist side of the band surfaces in many other past songs and this reinforces my idea according to which artists are the ones changing the world and never politicians.
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Of course, not all art is activist, as some of it is mere aesthetic, but there is something about merging aesthetic pleasure with an urge to not simply please, but wake people up to act against whatever wrongs or wounds this marvelous society of ours may inflict upon them.
And if you feel like you can’t speak up, write a good song and it will speak for you. There is healing in the process of creation. And there is healing in feeling like you’re on the same (political) side of the Universe as your favorite band.