By: Charles John Babcock, Managing Editor
Sadness and isolation in our rainy little valley have plenty of soundtracks. Whether it be the bleeding minimalism of James Blake’s “Limit To Your Love,” or the hung over decay of “The Fall” by The Weeknd, Bloomsburg is well bereaved in this respect.
The feeling of graduation at this point is one of desperate breaths, the kind you get when you’re being drowned, or getting a broken heart.
Driving out of Bloomsburg on May 12 will be something like a catharsis wrapped in a tear stained baby blanket; this is what my therapist tells me. Between the staring out of windows and the dulcet tones of “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now,” especially that wonderful falsetto, graduating seems even farther than it did four years ago.
All of these songs mentioned so far, with their pain and anguish, even their falsettos, can’t bring about the happier part of the coin. Sure, it is easy to wallow in self-worthlessness and watch your other graduating friends buy Adderall in the library on the first floor.
There are bittersweet songs though, such as “Romantic Streams” by Sleep ∞ Over, with the near-disembodied singer, a voice of a scorned lover, and shivering synthesizers (I personally prefer the sad water flow of the Balam Acab remix, with its intermittent bits of optimism). There’s also “With Your Friends (Long Drive)” by Skrillex, whose own disembodied voices, without real, audible, understandable speech, convey the same feelings through a seemingly completely new language of sampled voices. Those “music-purists” who think only “real instruments” can convey things, hopefully read an earlier column; for those who didn’t...get off planet outdated already.
Sure, I could be cool and list Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ In The Wind” as the perfect song for these emotions. Bittersweet and encompassing, the legendary song creates a picture perfect route out of town, with a landscape out the driver’s side window, and all the memories on a hill at my back. Of course, to hell with the classics. I didn’t go to school during Bob Dylan’s highest days.
Something contemporary to these days would be Burial’s “Fostercare” or “U Hurt Me.” Yet, the UK electronic music God that is Burial doesn’t seem appropriate for such a rustic area until visions of urban decline reach the eye within the coal region (I think as a culture, we’re all just fracking away our futures, anyway).
Probably the only song I like from the 1990’s is “Motorcycle Drive-By” by Third Eye Blind (I also like Wu-Tang, so that remark is untrue.) The continuous haze of the song is poignant and delightful. “Motorcycle Drive-By” didn’t come out during my tenure at Bloomsburg, but it is still in the running though for my discovery and caring about 90’s music during my stay here.
Along the lines of sad electronic pieces mentioned earlier is Pittsburgh’s own Rivka, a kind of doom chillwave, with “Hey (Feat. Hope Vanucci)” off of Rivka’s wonderful self titled release (check rivka.bandcamp.com if you’re interested). The song is over-saturated in sun, the complete feeling for the weather lately. It also strangely reminds me of a party attended with a former Voice staff member, where we entered a bedroom decorated with a drumset and a queen size bed, where strangers were walking up to what appeared to be a helium tank and filling balloons while inhaling the balloons. This song fits the Exit Music criteria of providing nostalgia, the correct emotions, but sadly lacks the sing-along vocals required for such escapes. Perhaps outright sadness isn’t the correct option for the exit soundtrack to a college career.