ot’s a taste if wime.

Autopilot never stays auto forever. You get up every morning and put up water for coffee and get dressed and get on the train/in the car and get to work and then sometimes around 9:45, one of you coworkers says “tough night last night?” and you realize you never buttoned the top three buttons of your shirt, or one one your coworkers says “hey, nice pants” and you realize, shit, you did put on pants today, and a nice pair at that.

Likewise with music, there are certain things we will not realize exist until they are shoved in our face. Like this handy fact: Did you know that, just like the rest of people living on this planet, that singers breath? Oftentimes, as they’re channeling sounds we don’t normally associate with speech, we forget that singers have to breath just as often, if not more so than the rest of us do when we speak. Normally, a good mixing job will eliminate breathing, and if not that, the other instruments on a track cover it up nicely for most listeners.

But there are some bands and artists who utilize this inherently human and necessary function for their songs. They take the sound of an exhale and make it something important to their songs. In some cases, they use it to emphasize urgency. Before Muse’s ambition lead them to be a second-rate-whatever-it-is-they’re trying these days, they were about the most furious, Anafliactic band who ever venture into Prog territory, and Matthew Belamy’s life or death vocals sold the whole thing. In other cases, singers used them as the ultimate letdown. The breath that Steve Mason from the Beta Band takes in the first seconds of “Simple” is loaded and heavy, the kind of inhale that predates a break-up speach.

Field Music (who, for the sake of brevity, were gold medalists at the Bell House on Saturday Night), in typical Field Music fashion, manage to afford breathing an entirely different but equally interesting role. Listen to the last 49 seconds of “Sit Tight” and tell me that saw that coming, or that it acts as anything less than a centerpiece.

New Born” is from Muse’s album The Origin of Symmetry.

I Luv The Valley Oh!” is from Xiu Xiu’s album Fabulous Muscles.

Don’t Leave The Light On, Baby” is from Belle and Sebastian’s album Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant.

Simple” is from The Beta Band’s album Heroes to Zeros.

Sit Tight” is from Field Music’s album The Tones of Town.

Any other suggestions of songs where breathing plays a role?

One comment

  1. shrekkus

    Muse are trying to be themselves, which is a hell of a lot more individual than a lot of these “Arena Rock Bands” out there. U2 are a case in point!

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