Congratulations Brian + Stars of the Lid
by Joshua B. Hoe There was obviously a time when everyone in music wanted to see themselves in the pages of Rolling Stone magazine.
Maybe, it is not the same as it used to be, but I suspect it is still a pretty big deal for any musician to find themselves appearing in that venerable publication.
Today, I was alerted that one of my old friends (probably not anymore), Brian McBride was interviewed about the continuing influence of his former band (Stars of the Lid). You can read the interview here.
Count me one of the few people who own the complete Stars of the Lid discography. The RS interview says that they are the most acclaimed ambient artists outside of Eno...That is pretty high praise and I think accurate.
When I have had a long day and want to explore an entirely different head space, I like to turn the lights off, put on some headphones and just cogitate while listening to Stars of the Lid. If you are familiar with their work, you know that it works in soundscape more than conventional forms. I always felt you could connect to their music in much the way that you can connect with a train emotionally by putting your hand on a banister in the subway station as it passes. There is something to it that is/was visceral. It made you feel things.
Brian and I both started college about the same time (I think I started in 85 and he started in 86). He was at The University of Texas and I was at The University of North Texas. We both were exploring and playing in the alternative scenes of Austin and Dallas around the same time and we both shared college debate. We both went through some terrible tragedies and had some incredible triumphs. I would not say we were ever close friends, but we were always friends, and we always discussed music together. We sometimes exchanged mix tapes (cds).
I have not seen Brian in several years, but on one of the last times we sat and discussed the Bell Gardens demo he had sent me (his current band)....I thought it was very interesting stuff. Bell Gardens take a typical structure, say a time signature, and instead of playing ,music straight through from beat one to beat four (assuming 4/4) they unleash a carefully curated sound burst pattern follow it with a period of space and silence and then unleash another sound burst etc.
It is an entirely different way of experiencing music. Instead of experiencing music as flowing like water you experience it as punctuation….as the information filling the space between parenthesis. The bursts of sound can be variations on a theme or show great contrast...They, like Stars hold emotional connections that sometimes feel electric.
Just having the ability to see and create music that is so totally different from what everyone knows music as is a pretty impressive accomplishment. To do it with multiple bands, in different ways, and to be recognized by the one-and-only Rolling Stone Magazine…..that is pretty cool and iconic.