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Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Verve A Storm In Heaven

      Featuring Richard Ashcroft and Nick McCabe 
Written by Bobby Hurley and Bill Watt 
Verve A Storm in Heaven is as much a psychedelic shoe gazer 

album as Pink Floyd's Darkside of the Moon. A Storm in Heaven is 

the less popular masterpiece. Let us explore: The Verve's music

 floats you like an out-of-body experience. Your spirit floats freely

to unascertained areas of your psyche. You think about a better

 place in this world. However, some of the songs, like Slide Away

 transmit feelings of energy, coolness and power. The beauty of

 this music is that your interpretation is correct.

       A storm in Heaven has a few phases: In the first phase occurs in the first few songs, I am in the quest of finding my body and spirit and refining my personality (which needs refining). The second phase starts with The Sun The Sea, I break on through to the next desired major destination of my life. A new job, new place to live, new relationship, etc. The third phase "Butterfly" is the "storm" of final adjustments. The fourth phase begins at See You In the Next One (Have A good time), a period of peace that I stand as a better person grateful to God for my new place, job, relationship etc.
       I was going to claim that A Storm In Heaven was better than Pink Floyd's Darkside of the Moon, but after listening to Darkside of The Moon I felt the albums were equal. Now that I avoid a dull comparison of what album I think is better I contrast them more meaningfully. I find A Storm in Heaven has a much darker mystique. Darkside of the Moon is more emotionally detached but with less madness. Darkside of the Moon has brighter sounding chords but is no less trippy. Pink Floyd's album has incredible vocals and the music has layers of sound. I love the guitar solo of Time, one of my all time favorites. Placing Darkside of the Moon the title track near the end of the album is perfect.
Pink Floyd's Groundbreaking Album Darkside of the Moon

       Feeling sad on a November night I listen to Darkside of the Moon from beginning to end in one take. This is how music should be listened to. The music gave me a mysterious and exciting experience.  I played the Skate Heaven level of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 as I listened. Outer Space enhanced the trip. I desire music is excessive and different sounding. This certainly was! One major point of music is to brighten your step and attitude; Darkside of the Moon achieved this for me. As I get in the car with a red mountain dew, I drive under the pink and orange sky. I ask you to darken this experience and try listening to A Storm in Heaven.
       The more obscure Verve A Storm in Heaven lifts you into a whirlwind of emotion. I can point out to you the twists on this albums but it's no substitute for you experiencing it.

The Verve A Storm In Heaven
 Star Sail begins the journey into a musical world with a psychedelic punch. The guitar riffs are catchy, and you plead for more. Star Sail brings cool feelings of a beautiful foreign world's cave. Indeed, the front cover illustrates a cave. The album's sleeve also has a barn on fire, a cave-man watching television. And on the back cover someone is sleeping in a graveyard. Is it Richard Ashcroft?
       Brian Cannon the sleeve artist says, "The concept behind the overall sleeve was four separate images depicting the journey of life. This (the barn on fire) is the second image and represent youth; the idea was if there was a car on fire in your front garden you would immediately call the fire brigade and no doubt panic a little." 
       Verve, who later became The Verve (due to legal reasons) struck gold in their early career with A Storm in Heaven. The atmospheric rock music hypnotizes you into an intense trance. When one listens to this album in a quiet atmosphere with headphones he or she hears all the subtleties, the layers of guitars and loudness. A lyric sheet allows you to appreciate Ashcroft's songwriting genius, and the overall power of this album. However, the album and this music is not for everyone. If you want a more vocal oriented standardized  pop sound with less exploration, I recommend The Verve's Urban Hymns.

Slide Away    
Music video

At first listen Slide Away sounds like an uplifting U2 song from their 1992 album Achtung  Baby, but Ashcroft's is less upbeat. Slide Away is manic. Richard's lyrics of love and madness coincide with the images of fire in the album art. A unique experience awaits those who listen to Slide Away with headphones instead of speakers.
       Slide Away starts with a tremendous guitar riff and catchy hook. 22 seconds into the song a chirpy guitar sound is played. Let yourself dance. The remainder of the song has an energizing bass riff. The lyrics give the song a cool vibe. This vibe overshadows any exploratory space rock element of the song. Slide Away portrays letting go of pride, the nervous excitement of being with a first love at night, and the freedom of not being self righteous. This song temporarily frees you of obsessions and addictions. You can overcome the mental dullness of a routine. 

The lyrics; "I wonder if you're here just to use my mind" presumably indicates a mistress present. The singer and her have a tangled up and ecstatic romance.
The line, "You always do that, something I'm not sure of"
is the woman affecting the man with mysterious emotions.
But Just for today
let go slide away.
The lyrics urge you to let go of your cares, your mistakes, and to enjoy the night's freedom and euphoria.
                                               My song captures the night's excitement. 

I was thinking maybe we could go outside

Let the night sky cool your foolish pride
Don't you feel alive?
These are your times and our highs 

The chorus intensifies this idea of letting go of personal pride and cares. The heavy rhythm brings cool and energizing feelings. The Verve members travel on foot in the Slide Away music video. Similarly, The Verve's  members travel in a convertible in the Gravity Grave music video.
The next line: I wonder which cup you drink from I hope its' mine alludes to the singer being a Christ-like leader who wants the girl to follow him. Throughout the song the vocals maintain a rhythm so You can dance.

The mystery of her mind is an exasperating puzzle to solve.
Cause I read your mind
I read it because it takes me where I can find
This brings real intensity. He is treasuring her mind's delirium.

The crazy excitement of romance continues:
I was thinking maybe we could go outside
Let the night sky cool your foolish pride
Don't you feel alive? 
These are our times and these are your highs

The song's intensity relaxes when the guitar chirtles and the music becomes slow and trippy. The slowly sung lyrics, "Slide away burn away"  beautifully accompany the music. They suggest easing the crazed relationship. THEN the music explodes with unmatched intensity. He rediscovers the hidden treasures of her mind and the night's euphoria. Imagine a night on a pier with your lover, like my music video illustrates (minus the lover).

       The song's end has Ashcroft singing passionately to his girlfriend. The wild sounding guitars match this emotion as he yells, "FINNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNND." Also around 3 minutes into the song are mysterious sounding wind chimes. Comment with corrections if necessary.

I am a big fan of good live bands, like The Verve here:

I am also a creature of habit and don't like certain things tampered with. I dislike a band's live version differing too much from the album version. After all, I want to relax and follow the music at the concert, not have to closely listen to new lyrics or guitar riffs. The Verve satisfy me, by having the live version very similar to the album version. As mentioned before, the beginning of Slide Away has  peculiar guitar parts and a rocking bass rhythm.  The bass is the driving force of the song. Ashcroft sings with energy and strength, dancing when musically appropriate. But Ashcroft is also good at being silent, pausing to let the people hear the band's music. I associate Slide Away with night time, however, this live daytime performance is very well received by the fans.  The song an instrument that plays the adrenaline in their bodies.
       The Verve's music has a quiet, loud dynamic. Early 1990s rock bands like Nirvana popularized this type of music. A Storm in Heaven was produced in 1993 when the grunge movement very much alive. However A Storm in Heaven is separated from the grunge movement and its short guitar solos.  Slide Away in particular utilizes the quiet loud dynamic. The heart of the song rests with the chorus that expels feelings of excitement, contentment, love, and madness.
"Don't you feel alive?" is such a great lyric referring to deep joy; joy from your perspective on life and love. Slide Away is heavy yet dynamic. Listen to the song's many live versions to discover your favorite.

The Verve's Unique rhythm
Already There
This song has somber imagery of gray dark spaces. The Indian-like drums sift through the atmosphere of emptiness. Without headphones the song's guitar rhythm is too soft to be appreciated. The guitar lines become increasingly enjoyable throughout the song, they climax into a great solo around 3:50. The lyrics are inspirational.
If trees cut stars and eyest to heaven
I'll bend them back and bend them again
If my skin looks tired and old from living
These lyrics are sung with interesting style.
Then I heard it turn off  sounds like "turtle" because of the song's desperation. The song's drug fueled destination gives you a calm trip.
       This song and the whole album influenced one of my most psychedelic and psychotic dreams. The dream featured past loves, current acquaintances and places I've been. I entered into an underground tunnel that connected my college's dormitories. There was a narrow stairway connecting to the Hyatt hotel that my cousin had his wedding at. I was looking for a therapist but ran into an evil looking woman instead. A guy drove a golf cart with flashing lights. I got in the hotel's elevators on the bottom level. I realized the elevator was going to crush me, and I prepared to die. At the last moment they stopped above me and I slithered out from under. I then flirted with some girls my age for a while before walking into the stormy night. This music much like a powerful hallucinogen and takes your life, your acquaintances, and your problems and gives you a weird spin and calm trip.
       Beautiful Mind

This fan made video has great dark imagery. The music cascades in waves of sound, with mystifying lyrics. If you allow yourself to be hypnotized by the song you can fade into a state of unknown; not knowing where you are or what you are doing. This is a great to listen when driving through the woods at night. This is an exciting experience. This song illustrates ocean waves breaking on an Island's shore. A cliff looming in the distance.
A beautiful mind or a beautiful body 
Which one do you choose?

The Sun The Sea

In contrast to Beautiful Mind,  The Sun The Sea alarms your current state of mind, regardless of how many times you have previously played the album. The subject of the song is about a  broken relationship with one partner mentoring the other. The singing is in sync with the music. My friends who normally only listen to mainstream rap enjoyed this song, asking what the song title and band were. The slightly disturbing lyrics and intensely loud instruments won't be appropriate for DJing your grandma's party. But that's your problem.

The synthesizer enters 1 minute 20 seconds in. All different kinds of guitars make weird sounds. A saxophone enters at 4 minutes. The dualing saxophones sound sick. Must be Bill Clinton and another saxophone player.
Artist Brian Cannon, depicts youth The Verve A Storm in Heaven

Virtual World
is weird but lovely song with good horn instruments. Not sure if it is Bill Clinton returning to play saxophone. Check the credits. Virtual World is an epic song that slowly builds into an emotional charged trip. This song has the most straightforward message to interpret. We all relate to a virtual world, whether tv, cell phone, video games or whatever way we escape reality to find happiness, safety and security. Virtual World is based around an acoustic guitar with other instruments chiming in; a lot of synthesizer sounds. Two minutes into the song has a very effective transition to the verse. The song is folksy but not uncharacteristic of The Verve. 3 and a half minutes in the flute enters, followed by a combination of guitar and flute. The singing and percussion continue to switch roles.  
       One of the greatest stories is Gullivers Travels because you sense when he finds himself in a new world. That's the type of music I imagine The Verve playing, the music describes their unspeakable feelings in this new world.

Make It Til Monday

The song opens with trippy guitars. The interesting lyrics are standardly sung. The lyrics are cohesive to the strangeness of the album and create a smooth transition into the latter part of the album. Make it till Monday is about surviving a drug trip til the following Monday. The enjoyable guitar sounds resonate. This is the psychedelic highlight of the album.  

One of three loudest songs on the album because of a solid bass and rhythmic guitar. The dark lyrics concerning a pill, are sung with cool style. I consider songs like the Weight and Up on Cripple Creek as other songs sung with great style. They pack a punch. 

is a very cool song with the horn instruments. The listening experience awaits you. Hear this musical adventure for yourself. You will either love it or hate it. 
See You In The Next One (Have A Good Time)
A Storm in Heaven undoubtedly takes the listener through many turns. The final track is most surprising; a ballad sung over Nick McCabe's wonderful piano playing. A very cool way to phase out this album. 

Fans of British rock, particularly  fans of Porcupine Tree like listening to an album in one sitting, without distractions. The Verve have created an album to be listened to in this way. All songs tie together musically and vocally.  They have similarly tuned instruments and few chords. However, no song sounds alike. One of the most musically cohesive albums comparable to Porcupine Tree The Incident. When Verve craft well-orchestrated music the listener experiences more than she expects. The spacey yet adventurous
Verve A Storm In Heaven back cover
music rises you above your life problems. In later blog posts, I will profile another adventurous and more energizing album; Porcupine Tree Deadwing. But any version of Slide Away is equal to anything in terms of energy. The overall unusual experience of this album equals Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. I'm not sure which album has longer guitar solos but both albums have a deep unknown mentality. If you like Pink Floyd, treat yourself to Verve A Storm In Heaven.