A Room with a Review

“Hey, do you speak English?” the guy asked me at the station. I was wary at first, usually people like that are out to beg or talk to you about their religious cult. Turns out this guy was in a band called ILLUMENIUM (their allcaps, not mine). Having had an extremely long and tedious day, being on my feet or in a train for more than 12 consecutive hours, I wasn’t really up on my A-game, conversation-wise. I mostly nodded and interjected a lone “Ahh.” here and there, as he was telling me about the many live shows they play, post-grunge in general, and how much you have to pay for the permission to play in Switzerland. Nevertheless, I decided to listen to the guy anyway, because he seemed genuinely nice and interesting. I might also have been a little flattered that I still looked like a rock/metal/post-grunge kind of guy in my fine clothes (I was coming from a job interview, you see). It was also quite cold outside and I had to kill another 25 minutes before my bus arrived, but that is incidental.

Turns out, he had some album of theirs with him that I could buy. He was very upfront about that and I have the feeling that, had I said no, it wouldn’t have been a problem. He also said I could pay whatever I liked, which was a nice touch. Still, giving him the benefit of the doubt is a courtesy I did not extend to the guy who wanted to sell me his yoga/ashram/esoteric/whatever piece of crap propaganda book in the Ikea parking lot a day later. What is it with me and people just coming up to me, anyway? Regardless, even though I had almost no money with me that day, I am now the proud owner of ILLUMENIUM’s Towards Endless 8 (is that a pun on ‘hate’, by the way?)

I am like many people when it comes to music. I like to listen to it and do so quite often. I know what I like and I know what I don’t like. But I don’t actively follow any bands or read magazines to be up to date on new releases and stuff. Part of that might be because I listen to lots of old stuff, artists who don’t have new releases planned, anyway. Another part might be that I already have so much stuff I like to listen to, be it on CD, as MP3s, or on vinyl. Heck, there might be some cassettes still lying around here.

I write all that to make one point abundantly clear: I think I haven’t read an album review in my life! I have no idea what musical or journalistic consensus agrees on as good or bad for certain genres; not for genres I like, certainly not for genres I don’t much care about. And don’t even get me started on the need to define almost everything as its own genre, leading to ridiculous, overly long and overly narrow and ultimately useless genre categories. I am looking at you, Metal! I understand the need to put stuff into neat little boxes but, oh well, I guess that is the topic of another blog entry.

Anyway, I will give Towards Endless 8 a listen (several in fact. I have never had an album I liked right away. I need time for that. My musical tastes are a delicate flower…) and then I will attempt to write a review, something I haven’t really done yet. (a certain piece of critical navel-gazing notwithstanding) A daunting task for somebody who doesn’t even write all that well in the first place. But maybe that improves the more I leave my comfort zone.

So stay tuned for that, and join me in the journey of finding out whether or not I can actually pull of an album review.

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