© 2015 Josh Caroline

Dream Theater – Images and Words

Fucking prog rock.
Vox Player, home theater, 1024 kbps FLAC vinyl rip.

It sounds good; I really need a subwoofer – I’m really lacking that bass; and with John Myung’s amazing basslines and Mike Portnoy’s ridiculous drumming, I should be feeling every kick.

I listened to this album quite a bit when I was younger.  I never really liked anything else they did, so I’m glad this one made the list.  What’s funny is I remember Pull Me Under and Metropolis Part I; but not so much the other ones except little bits here and there. I guess 20 years of distance will do that. James LaBrie’s voice is kind of nuts, but I guess it makes sense, every member of this band is ridiculously talented.

I’ll admit, I don’t really like this music anymore.  I’m trying not to judge, but I can’t help it.  I just don’t like Track 3, Take the Time.  It’s really good, but it doesn’t click with me at all.  I’m kind of looking forward to Metropolis, because I remember loving it, but I’m resisting the urge to bail on this and skip to the next album on my list.

My friend Dan pointed out that I should make an effort to pick out one instrument and follow it for a whole song, to enhance the experience.  With this band that’s crazy because every single one of them is so insanely good that I’m actually getting jealous as I listen to it.  I mean, John Petrucci has always lived in my head as one of the greatest guitarists I’ve ever heard. This shit is so epic, it would be right at home in a final fantasy game or a flash gordon-esque space opera.

I remember Surrounded now Despite how good it is, I can’t get over how cheesy it seems to me now. I need to make it louder. I feel like if it were loud enough it would drown out my judgement.  Maybe I need to get better headphones and just drill my brain with this.  This song is really good, I’m on board.

One night, I was in my apartment with my door open, I had a friend over, and she was sitting on my couch while I was cooking. One of my neighbors, someone I’d never seen before, just walked into my apartment with this aggro as fuck attitude talking some shit about a party and how someone needed to move their car.  I was so confused, because my first thought was to welcome this stranger into my apartment and offer her a drink; but as soon as I caught her attitude I went cold.  She realized somewhere into her third sentence that she was terribly mistaken, but she decided to roll with it and continue to cop the same bullshit attitude.  The two of us just stared at her for a good long time while she, remaining indignant and angry, talked herself back out the door, but she wasn’t making sense anymore.   I think she choose to be angry instead of embarrassed.

I think I would have dove into the embarrassment myself, and really milked it for every bit of the… god damn this song, when the crazy solos start; wow, these fucking guys are so god damn talented I’m actually jealous.  Anyway, I think I would have savored the awkwardness of that embarrassment.

So I would listen to this album on a discman and walk around my neighborhood at night. It really does sound like a soundtrack to a far more exciting adventure than any I’ve ever had.  I think that with the right soundtrack my life would be more exciting. I was constantly disappointed by the lack of supernatural experiences. I used to be a big magical thinker, you know, always imagining that behind some closed door there was a cabal of reality manipulating magicians, and all of the fantastical creatures of our imaginations were there, just behind a thin veil that protected them from mundane eyes.   If I could just believe a little bit more certainly, I could pierce the veil.

Eventually my disappointment with actual reality became ennui and then cynicism.  Now I scoff at ‘believers’. I’ve gone from trying to see through mirrors and trying to peek under the surface of the world to being as real and physical as cold iron, the bane of the fey.  I have all this useless ‘knowledge’ about magic, demons, monsters, divination, mysticism; and it’s weird because it now lets me dismiss ‘believers’ in two different ways. First I can just call bullshit on their magical ideas, but I can also criticize them on their particular half-assed paradigm.

If I could construct the perfect magical landscape to lay over the world it would include animism for sure, mutability of reality, will-based-magic, old sleeping gods, and the whole host of classical beasts with intricate societies and alien cultures.  There would be entire parallel planes inhabited by all manner of beings, from a world of faeries and changelings, infinite and chaotic; a nihilistic breed of world eating monsters kept at bay by the solidity of our reality, a whole dimension of madness, dynamism and creativity that occasionally leaks in through weak spots in our own reality. Secret societies of arcane enlightened wizards who are so constrained by their own prohibitions and rituals that they have disengaged from the world in all but the most tangental ways, perhaps led by a wise but slightly mad merlin or crowley, prepared to intervene in the mundane world in the direst need. There would be gothic vampires with a highly regimented political society pulling the strings like some undying illuminati, occasionally bestowing immortality on the greatest artists, geniuses, and beauties, living nocturnal lives of endless boredom or hedonism.  Superstitions would always have a kernel of truth, being alone in the dark would always be dangerous, and seeking would always lead to finding in some monkey’s paw twisted satisfaction.

Well look at that, looks like Images and Words did something for me after all. Learning to Live is just wrapping up and I’m actually glad I got over my initial reaction.  That was a great ride.  Tomorrow, Tom Waits – Blue Valentine; friday night music. I might get some scotch to go with it.

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