Should It Stay or Should It Go?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Like Falling In Love

Artist: Bugskull
: Snakland; Distracted Snowflake, Volume One; Distracted Snowflake, Volume Two
: Bought new (DSv1), bought used (Snak, DSv2)

Ask most people if they love music, and they'll probably answer in the affirmative. But I don't think most people really know what it means to love music; I think they're in like with music, but not in love.

Having a true love affair with a band is a lot like...well, it's a lot like really being in love. There's that head-spinning shock of the new when you bump into a new band, the sparks of recognition when the songs speak to you in that indescribable (yet totally recognizable) way. A song can cloud your thoughts for days, an intense show color the way you look at the rest of the world for awhile.

When you fall in love with a band, really fall in love, it changes you forever. And you never want it to end.

Therein lies one of the chronic heartbreakers of Music Love. Keeping a band together is tricky business; having just read Dean Wareham's autobiography, I can say it sounds like it can be harder than keeping a marriage afloat. And the alchemical drive that makes a person synthesize themselves as music is not a forever thing; sometimes they lose the spark or need to pay the bills or, for a host of reasons, just give up.

But more often than not, bands end (the Stones notwithstanding) and it can break your heart.

Bugskull was a band I kind of fell in love with, and now things are weird between us. I first heard Distracted Snowflake, Volume One in 1997, a year when I would listen to just about anything Darla Records put out. They essentially said, "Hey, meet my new friend. I think you guys will really hit it off."

And we did! We totally hooked up! DSv1 sounds like...kind of like nothing I'd heard before. It was instrumental, but had some vocals; had some electronics, but was audibly instrument-based; was rock music, but also a little dubby and oddly otherworldly; must've been home-recorded (and was still the style in '97), but had a clean, punchy sound. The opening track, "Icecream Daydream," has a bass line that still wanders into my head unbidden from time to time, and something about "Grand Canyon" mainlines directly to the heartstrings.

So I waited for Volume Two (which was good, but not quite as great as the first time), and dug into the back catalogue a bit. Bugskull popped up in magazines and on websites from time to time, dropped tracks onto compilations every now and then, and...

And then it stopped. I guess the band broke up. Or maybe it wasn't really a band (on both Snowflake volumes, it's pretty much all played by mainman Sean Byrne) and they guy just wasn't into it anymore. Either way, I not only never heard from Bugskull again, I never heard of them again. They'd never made much of a mark on the music scene, so their passing went unremarked upon. No articles charting the demise. No deluxe reissues. No reunion tours.


And that's how it goes sometimes when you're in love with music. A band or an album or a song can be so important to you, infiltrate you down to your toes, but it's often a fickle, one-way connection. And the breakup can change how the music sounds--maybe only a little, but enough to make a difference. I listen to Bugskull and...well, I miss the time we had together. I know they're never coming back, but at least we'll always have the music.

SISOSIG? It's hard to do a rational analysis in the midst of a relationship, but now I've got a little distance on the whole thing. Basically, DSv1 is still thoroughly awesome, and I listen to it a lot (even though it reminds me that Bugskull is gone, baby, gone); DSv2 isn't quite as good, but it's pretty OK and anyway it's part of a set.

, on the other hand, really isn't very good. Eileen stopped by while I was writing this, and Snakland was playing--"What the hell is this music?" she asked, and the missus had a point. That album finds Bugskull not yet fully formed (it's a good thing we didn't meet then!), and I really never listen to it. Snakland goes, but my beloved Snowflake is mine forever.


  • I discovered them at Snakland, so I never went further. I do have band stories like this, though. Ever heard of Sister Sonny? No? Not surprised.

    By Anonymous nivekholodeck, at 12:30 PM  

  • but i LOVE me some snakland!!!!
    first album phantasies and sensetions is also awesome. jesus what a band. the stuff of legends.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:08 PM  

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