Monday, July 03, 2006

Listen Up: Hide and Seek

As we move from a more organic culture to a more electronic one, it is interesting to hear how electronic distortion can be mixed with something as intimate and personal as the human voice. So many times pop songs get you with the hooks. The song Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap gets you with the sound of it.

To call the song a cappella would be misleading. Although there is no instrumentation other than a faint piano plunking at the song’s closing, the vocals are so distorted, layered, and modulated that they act like a new musical instrument. This makes the song not only listenable, but interesting. In pop music, it is becoming increasingly rare to be confronted with new sounds. So it is a wonder when confronted with the simple and strange sound of the human voice. It is so versatile and surprising that each new phrase fills the listener with delight.

For the most part, the lyrics can be taken or left. They merely describe fragmented scenes of desolation and loss. Normally something like this would be bothersome, but, in this case, the lyrics seem just as lost in the world of sound as the listener is.

Until the climax of the song, that is, when everything becomes clear and the singer confronts the listener.

mm what d'ya say?

that you only meant well, well of course you did

this it's all for the best, of course it is

that it's just what we need, you decided this?

what did you say?

This rush of emotion, confrontational in a half-mocking tone, moves the song from goodness to greatness. The delivery is incredible and the ending is perfectly haunting. Well worth a listen.

Listen Up blog Entries focus on one song. They include links to the song, either in iTunes or directly to an .mp3 file.

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