Through a series of events I’d rather not go into deeply, I’ve recently had the chance to revisit the music of Manu Chao. I was always fascinated at how many songs they were able to recreate with the exact same feeling. I’m suprised at how many different songs my memory insisted into mapping to only one. I actually listened to most of “Clandestino” sure that “Me Gustas Tu” was the next song coming up. Turned out that album just happened to have another five songs that recreated the same ambience. Some of them seem like mere interludes. “Je ne t’aime plus” sure sounds like one verse of the lyrics stretched out. Yet, at the same time they all sound so intimately crafted and recorded.
Anyhow, then I had dinner and sat down to listen to some more music. Started out with Kendrick Lamar. Honestly, “To Pimp a Butterfly” is an artistic achievement I put in the same level of “OK Computer” and Sgt. Pepper’s. The middle section, driving from “If these walls could talk” to “Alright” is just crazy. The song joining them together “u” is very peculiar. It is two confessional songs glued together. It’s almost as an interlude to the main songs, but it always struck me the hardest. The first one angry and confrontational, the second one disappointed and revengeful, both full of the same incontent aggressivity that Kendrick Lamar can express like no one. But at the same time, they never rise up to a proper chorus, or a conclusion in any way. Yet, they do that so greatly (the song is on the video only until about 3:50, then it’s another song).
Well, after some more thinking, I realized I have a thing for interludes. I’ve recently got tickets to Neon Indian and while most of his “Psychic Chasms” is burned into my brain, the track that I go back to the most is a 47 second filler from that album. “(If I Knew, I’d tell you)” is the perfect trippy, synthy, retro filler. It just hints at some amazing verse that mounted up to it and to a great closer coming right after it, but does not actually show them.
Another killer interlude that I’ve obsessed over for a long time is Frank Ocean’s “Fertilizer”. It’s a perfectly valid hook for a 6-minute Stevie Wonder song, but he just hid it as a single chorus stuck in the middle of his “Channel Orange” album. The song is perfectly dwarved by everything else on the album, but it gives us a perfect glimpse of something that could be there if Frank Ocean wanted us to listen to it. (It turns out this is actually a full song that he recorded with another artist, I’m still impressed by how that short bit of it that’s in the album sets an amazing mood).
To close off this rambling post, there’s another interlude I enjoy a lot. “Nangs” by Tame Impala. It’s definitely not Tame Impala, but somehow it fits perfectly in their weird trippy album. The whole song is basically one verse throbbing around the trippy drums and drawn-out synths. It could definitely go much further, but they didn’t want to go there.
Maybe that’s the thing I enjoy about interludes. They hint at something that could be, but they don’t define it. They give you a taste of something that’s not quite there, but only a taste. I’ll finish with one more Tame Impala song that’s nearly an interlude as well. It has a chorus and whatnot, but at 1:48, it barely counts as a full song. “Disciples” from the same record also bridges two perfectly amazing song and never quite goes all the way to where you’d expect it to.