I never paid much attention to what many consider to be the most important Latin american rock band ever. Growing up in Mexico, there really was no reason why I shouldn’t have been influenced by them. I know I listened to them a couple of times on the radio, I knew who they were but for some reason my perception of them was linked entirely to 2 or 3 songs that I thought were kind of catchy and somewhat memorable. I am referring of course to Argentina’s Soda Stereo.
During high school, one of my best friends was a huge fan of both Soda Stereo and of the lead singer Gustavo Cerati. Cerati had pursued a solo carrier after Soda disbanded in the late 90’s. I was equally as big of a fan of other mythical characters in the realm of Spanish speaking rock bands, most of whom had followed the same path as Soda Stereo’s disbanding and solo career trajectories by their lead singers. My lack of attention towards Soda Stereo and Cerati changed when I heard that Cerati had fallen into a drug induced coma roughly 10 years after I graduated from high school.
When I read the news I thought it was unfortunate and I remembered what I liked about him. I revisited some of the songs I was familiar with but did not venture beyond the albums i was comfortable listening to. A couple of years later for some reason I decided to check on the status of the singer, I was sure that he had passed away yet I was surprised to discover he was still in a hospital bed trapped inside his own head. My curiosity grew exponentially.
What was the big deal? Was this man truly such a great composer, worthy of the thousands of lamenting messages urging him to please wake up?
After listening to every single song he ever composed I can honestly say…Yes.
It took for one of the best singer/songwriters/composers I have ever heard to fall into a coma for me to finally pay attention to him and to listen to what he wrote.
After compiling a best of list of Cerati/Soda Stereo songs, I listen to them with a certain sadness and guilt that makes me wish I hadn’t been so deaf. Because I did not listen to his songs in their present time and because there are no links between the music and my memories, I have no other option but to listen to his songs in hindsight and interpret his lyrics as ominous warnings he wrote to himself regarding his own fate.
from hombre al agua or man overboard
“quiero descanzar de todo ayer”
I want to rest of every yesterday.
“amanecio, abre los ojos, me ire con estas olas”
dawn broke, open your eyes, i’ll depart with these waves.
from engaña or deceive
“recuerdo el mar, soñe estar aqui y no recuerdo despertar”
I remember the sea, I dreamed I was here and I don’t remember waking up.
from un millon de años luz or one million light years
“no vuelvas sin razon, yo estare a un millon de años luz de casa”
don’t come back without a reason, i’ll be one million light years away from home.
from secuencia inical or initial sequence
“resbale quede flotando asi, sin tocar el suelo”
I slipped and remained floating like this, without touching the ground
“mojate los labios y sueña”
moisten your lips and dream
from vuelta por el universo or journey around the universe
“nuestras almas al flotar son las nubes mas brillantes, turbulencias, vuelta por el universo, cada vez mas lejos”
our floating souls are the brightest clouds, turbulence, journey around the universe, each time even further.
from ella uso mi cabeza como un revolver or she used my head like a revolver
“despues de un baño cerebral estaba listo para ser amado”
after a cerebral bath I was ready to be loved
“pasa el tiempo y ahora creo que el vacio es un lugar normal”
as time goes on I now believe that emptiness is a normal place.
from naci para esto or born for this
“pensandolo bien, se que siempre supe el desenlace”
when i think about it, i know i always knew the outcome.
“lo terrible del mar es morir de sed”
the terrible thing about the sea is dying of thirst
from toma la ruta or take the path
“despues de tanto andar estas en el mismo lugar”
after so much trekking you’re in the same place
from perdonar es divino or forgiveness is divine
“a mi me es facil olvidar”
to me it is easy to forget or it is easy to forget me
“estoy rodeado de bellos instrumentos, bebiendo la pereza de soñar”
i am surrounded by fine instruments, imbibing the bore of dreaming.
from magia or magic
“todo me sirve, nada se pierde, yo lo transformo , nunca falla, el universo esta a mi favor”
everything works for me, nothing is lost, i transform it, it never fails, the universe is in my favor.
Roughly 8 years ago I discovered a progressive/operatic/avant-garde/black/metal band known as Arcturus. Arcturus was/is a super group composed by members of established metal bands, two of whose members happened to be in one of my favorite bands at the time Dimmu Borgir. Having obsessed with Death Cult Armageddon for quite a while then delving into the entire repertoire of Dimmu Borgir’s extensive discography, I found myself exclusively listening to songs that included Simen Hestnæs (ICS VORTEX) in a lead vocal/ choral solo dynamic.
His voice impressed me to such a degree that I began trying to find more and more projects he had been involved with (Lamented Souls, Borknagar). It must have been close to a year after Sideshow Symphonies was released that I happened to listen to a one minute snippet of the second track “Shipwrecked Frontier Pioneer” which is currently and has been for quite some time on my favorite songs of all time list. When I realized it was Hestnaes’ voice I was thrilled, my wish had come true, an album that utilized Hestnaes’ singing abilities to the fullest. Soon after I learned of this album I also learned that Arcturus had dissolved pretty much immediately after the album was released (give or take 2 years). Scheduled for Fall of 2013 (though not yet available), Arcturus is preparing to release a new album with Hestnaes as front man.
A track I had not really payed much attention to when the album was released, “Deamon Painter” caught my attention several years after my initial confrontation with Hestnaes’ Arcturus. I must have been on a long drive somewhere and was listening to the song when I began to pay really close attention to the lyrics, which struck me as very ominous and foreboding while remaining extremely sincere and poetic.
Walking among shadows
Shady characters of faded cast
Acting out their last role
Beautiful lonely stars
These are my people
These fallen stars
You may think you see us
You never had a part
On a burning stage
In naked daylight
For you to hate
Directing the audience
I paint in tones of gray
In shades of black
In cold dismay
I paint my deamons
As scars of blood
In a barren landscape
Where all is lost
First off, the song starts off slow and sad, not droning or doomy but simple and melodic. Then out of nowhere you hear a burp. I can only interpret this as stating, yes this song is sad but don’t take it so seriously.
Walking among shadows, shady characters of faded cast…to me refers to Hestnaes’ band mates, whom are all involved in projects which at the time could be considered bigger than themselves as individuals or as Arcturus…faded cast.
Acting out their last role, Beautiful lonely stars…at the time I heard this, Arcturus had dissolved and was no more. The lyrics were written with this in mind, they knew that this album would be Arcturus’ last “flickering performance on a burning stage”.
These are my people, these fallen stars…these are Hestnaes’ colleagues whom share his title as a sideshow.
You may think you see us, you never had a part… speaks of the public’s interaction with Arcturus. They might have been perceived as just another band or as consumer’s fantasy but in reality we never really knew them. This project was not meant for us, it was an outlet for themselves.
In naked daylight, for you to hate…I must admit that after reflecting on the lyrics on the way I did I was angry at the band for completely relinquishing such brilliance and potentially dissolving at the height of their prowess.
The rest of the lyrics don’t really speak to me in the same tone. They are ominous and dark but not as direct as the first lines. The song picks up steam towards the end with blistering solos and melodic arrangements only to be abruptly snuffed and finished. Just as the band’s potential, the song ends without warning and with long echoes.
Now, 7 years later, Arcturus is back.
I have just discovered Robert Melee’s work. The new Paul McCarthy.
Special Thanks to Ott Web Design for making this technological maze possible.
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