“There’s always music in the air…” #3: ‘The Stairs Are Like An Avalanche’ by Swell Maps

Third in a continuing series of posts highlighting Lynchian sounds and musics (as defined by The Double R Club and I) that may have flown under the radar of many and which perhaps one might even imagine appearing at The Roadhouse in some future, imaginary episode…

A hypnotic, plodding, repetitive ditty (perhaps dirge?) with its slow, shambling drum beat, insistent ride-cymbal and intermittent distorted stabs, scratches and scrapings of guitar, as if a rock band have fallen into some strange fugue state, this track has a feeling of slow, boozy, narcotized collapse, or perhaps of gradual descent of the titlular set of decrepit, perhaps ruinous, stairs.

Maybe following the infamous ‘Pink Room’ scene in Fire Walk With Me, Laura finds a door and then a flight of stairs leading her down to another, stranger Powers & Glory in some forgotten basement; maybe the basement of The Dutchman’s? Maybe lining those stairs are several dirty, bearded men…?

Bonus track on the ’89 CD reissue of Swell Maps’ 1980 album Jane from Occupied Europe, ‘The Stairs Are Like An Avalanche’ stands as neither a representative example of the band’s other output, nor as an anomaly; the strangeness and diverse nature of their (albeit relatively small) body of work defying any accurate description or categorisation. An all too often overlooked gem in the unhelpfully vague genre of ‘post punk’ Swell Maps are by turns punky, experimental, bemusing, amusing, toe-tapping and engaging.


~ by benjaminlouche on December 11, 2017.

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