Last night, as the New York-based, psychedelic metal band Liturgy was taping a session in the old school house that we occasionally use to tape in, out from under the door of the studio started coming the bugs. They were retreating, it would seem, from the rumble shaking through the walls. The hinges and the doorknob, the ceiling tiles and the baseboards were making jingling sounds that we've never heard come from them - the kinds of new sounds that come out of women when they deliver a child, in a way. They were abnormalities caused by a sound that this 120-year-old schoolhouse had never heard within it before and it was causing the bugs - typically safe there in the basement, mostly surrounded by quiet steps and darkness - to rethink where they were lurking. First, there was the wolf spider, a hog of a creature that slipped surprisingly under the door. It might have lost some back hair with the friction. It appeared to be disoriented and sort of stalked one way, turned and, keeping close to the edge of the floor and the all, tucked under another door further down the hallway. Then there was a water bug that emerged, followed by a fat, fall cricket, walking gingerly, as if it had just come out of a pool and the air temperature was cooler than it thought it would be. Not sure where that cricket got away to, but we're pretty sure that it didn't head back into the studio. Seeing this mass exodus of tiny critters makes me think about the Low session that I'm listening today because one gets the sense that the exact opposite would have happened had they been playing in that room instead. The old wood and the tired walls of that building would have been blushing and burning with affection. They would have let out satisfied sighs, as if they were getting full-body massages. The wolf spider, the water bug and the plump cricket would have remained where they were, or they would have craned for a view, moved themselves out from behind the obstructions that were muffling the pretty sounds. You see, Alan Sparhawk, his wife Mimi Parker and bassist Steve Garrington write music that welcomes the tiniest movements. It welcomes the smallest and shyest hearts because it's about those pounding, but hesitant hearts. They take on the sneaky nights and those bumps and thumps that keep us awake during them, like those houses talking, like the feet of mice pattering along the attic floor above your head, like the old spooks representing all of the people who used to walk about those wood floors that you now call your own. They're back, just to eavesdrop. They're back or there because they have nowhere else to go. Sparhawk and Parker, with their phenomenally candlelit harmonies, give every mood they sing about a touch of bewilderment, of odd unbalance. They are the creaky floors and the sly looks. They are the witches that Sparhawk bats away with a Louisville Slugger. They are bats, swopping through the eaves and across the moonlit night. They are the pieces of a night, the remnants of a day that keep you up until all hours. You stay awake and you listen closely and that acute sense alertness, you recognize it to be your undoing.
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