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by Raymond Cummings

March 2, 2014

Indie Rock & Photography

by Raymond Cummings  |  March 2, 2014

A photograph is capable of evoking a wide range of emotional responses in viewers, from disgust to desire to indifference to joy. It depends entirely on who you are and the nature of your relationship to the material in question. Songs often operate according to a similar principle, and songs about photography — literally so, figuratively so, even tangentially so — can come across as especially affecting.

The work of guitarist Mark McGuire — formerly of the late, lamented Emeralds — is mostly instrumental, consisting of sinuous latticeworks of heartstring-strumming guitar that works just above the level of meditative fare. But when McGuire opts to incorporate recordings of family gatherings, as he does on "The Human Condition (Song for My Father)," every holiday photo or happy Christmas you spent with a loved one, since gone, will come rushing back, unbidden. Tortoise's gorgeous "I Set My Face to The Hillside" takes a similar tack, its strategically arranged, rippling melody making room at moments for the laughter of children at play.

Elsewhere, the will to appropriate photography assumes myriad forms: Spoon's starched/pop collar cock-strut, Wilco's midlife crisis frown, Animal Collective's reverse-negative fugue, Pussy Galore's ladies' locker room-storming leer. Blur's "We've Got a File on You" translates surveillance-state paranoia into triumphant Oi punk. Come's restless "Shoot Me First" trades on an uneasy triple entendre of flashbulbs, drug abuse and firearms. Tear Ceremony's "Aperture," meanwhile, suggests the diffuse, unfocused imagery inherent in experimental photography.

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