10 January 2008

8+

"Tornado" by Mandy Reid which clocks in at 8:41

Coming of age in central Massachusetts, the prospect of a whirling cyclone bearing down on my mulleted self never really posed a clear and present threat. Sure, I had heard about a substantial tornado passing through in 1953 and even braved some of the residual winds and rain of a small twister passing through my hometown in 1989. These were small potatoes though, and my lasting memory wasn't a crippling fear of the tornado but a desire to cop one of the inevitable "I Survived the Twister of '89!" shirts that made their rounds soon afterwards.

The point is, I remain largely ignorant about tornadoes. I can safely say that I hadn't even thought about them for a solid decade until last Friday. It was then that I watched in horror as the latest episode of Friday Night Lights manipulated this most mysterious of natural disasters as a handy plot device, forcing the Dillon Panthers to share their facilities with hated crosstown rivals - whose school had been wiped out by a twister, naturally - and creating a whole mess of conflict. I may not know much about tornadoes but I know enough to be scared of them.

Fast forward to this past Tuesday. As I sat watching the New Hampshire Primaries on CNN, Wolf Blitzer's immaculately sculpted beard was soon interrupted for a report on some unseasonable tornado activity occurring in the Midwest. Unseasonable? Again, I remain largely ignorant about tornadoes. I hadn't realized there was a specific season that posed an increased threat of tornado activity. According to CNN, January is not that season. It turns out the twisters that had touched down were only the second EVER to hit Wisconsin in January and the first to strike Illinois since 1950. The report continued, meteorologists blamed the warm weather, and then CNN cut to a home video taken by an eyewitness. Whaa?

It's true. Just as one of the funnels of fury touched down on Harvard, IL, local resident Kathy Luth chose not to flee to the safety of her basement but rather to grab her video camera and film the entire event. The resulting footage of the tornado sweeping across the plains a mere 150 yards away from her is fairly mesmerizing. Like Dorothy pausing one last second to gaze into the eye of the storm before fleeing into her clapboard home, I'm sure Ms. Luth also felt an inexplicable attraction to a force so powerful. Still though, I can't say I would have shared Ms. Luth's bravado if the tables were turned. 150 yards? She crazy. That may sound like a safe distance until you consult the Fujita Tornado Intensity Scale (and who doesn't?) and realize that a Category F5 tornado can travel up to 318 mph!

It may seem that I'm gradually ramping up my knowledge on this subject, yes? And yet, I really don't know much at all about tornadoes, just enough to know I'm still scared of them.

This is also how I feel about techno music. Or electronica I suppose. Actually, let's stop for a moment so you can listen to the above song and tell me, is this techno or electronica? And then perhaps we can answer the next question: What's the difference? I honestly have no idea.

I don't know much about techno music, but I know enough to be scared of it. I've innocently walked into record stores only to stop dead in my tracks, rivulets of cold sweat forming and then shuddering to the 3,756 bpm chirping of a synthetic kick drum being fed amphetamines, eyes failing to adjust to the blacklit surroundings while coming to the stark realization: you are not in a record store, you are in a TECHNO record store (you're eating maggots Michael).

Now, I'm sure there are redeeming characteristics to this genre and realize that a wholesale denunciation is not fair. I bet if I developed a modicum of coordination when it comes to twirling glow sticks I might think differently. And I'm even willing to concede that some of the hollow sequences of thuds and "oontcha oontchas" that comprise a techno song may contain....substance.

Like in the above song, perhaps you could make the argument that it's supposed to approximate the sensation of actually being swept up in a tornado, complete with a gentle break almost exactly in the middle around the 4:20 mark (being in the eye of the storm) before intensifying again. That may be the case, but it still sounds like the background music in Streets of Rage to me.

No, I may not know much about tornadoes or techno music, but I know enough to be afraid of both.

*above image found HERE

Buy "Tornado" on Amazon/on iTunes

EAR FARM's 8+ is a weekly feature that showcases songs longer than 8 minutes. In the recent past these songs were featured on EF's 8+:
Genesis - "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight"
Metallica - "Master of Puppets"
British Sea Power - “Lately”
The Decemberists - “The Mariner's Revenge Song”
Lynyrd Skynyrd - "Free Bird"
Ludwig van Beethoven - "Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68 - Allegretto"
Gioachino Rossini - "La gazza ladra (The Thieving Magpie)"
The Fiery Furnaces - “Inspector Blancheflower”

To see a full list of every song featured in EAR FARM's 8+ click HERE.

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