Music Review: Throwing Muses



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Throwing Muses


University


[4AD]

Throwing Muses is one of the heavyweight champion of alternative bands of the Boston music scene before "grunge alternative" Nirvana went public. But as frontwoman Kristin Hersh once said, "We were always considered alternative...to real music." Throwing Muses' songs on "University" are dissatisfied, strange demands and reconciliations; they linger and pummel. Maybe I like them because their lyrics remind me of H.D., maybe because she's been to the edge of human consciousness and came back again. Maybe it's the shame.

Today, the heat overwhelmed the space where music was meant to be-all steam, sweat, chords, phantasms, any second ... I'm looking out the window waiting for the mirage over my non-operational hot tub with the Muses' imagery beating in my head. Hersh's phantasms, her babies, her lovers, her disappointments and gains and conversations. "University"'s curling rhythms co-exist in heat wave non-time. "University" is high-pressure emotions-"I climb you as I grow older/By fifty I'll ride on your shoulders." In its colloquial phrases and ultraviolet probings, she has a day and night-vision mind. The harsh surrealist atmospherics, the sound of flocks to let us breathe, dreamy passages, chords floating away... It needs to be winter.

I listen to "University" all day and think of school. The joke is there are no lessons, just life and its passions. "University" may be her best album because it displays more control than "House Tornado," and less personal than "Hips and Makers." Her defiant voice gave birth to phrases, like a post-coital Emily Dickinson, "My tongue is filled with sugar/ my back is filled with pain/ your tongue is on my shoulder/ and there's nothing on my brain-[crescendo] Don't follow me home." Normally we want to get inside, but "University" is as close as we can get without freaking out. "University" lies in territory between a music you can lose yourself in, and a music, like "The Letter" that breaks you.

Annie Wilner

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