Archive for August, 2018

The Master is Mute

August 23, 2018

In 1992, Dave Grohl, under the pseudonym Late!, came out with a cassette album called Pocketwatch. It was a recording of ten songs, in which he played all the instruments to.

Two years after, Grohl replicated the feat in a Washington-based studio and came out with what would become the debut album of the Foo Fighters.

Fast forward to today, the Nicest Guy In Rock is at it again. This time, demonstrating his multi-instrumental genius not to produce an album’s worth of material but instead hone in on one song, an instrumental, which—pardon the pun—plays for 23 searing minutes of pure rock and roll.

Released on August 10, 2018, Play is a documentary featuring a lengthy instrumental track of the same title that sees Nirvana’s drummer playing drums, Foo Fighters’ frontman/guitarist playing guitar, and supergroup Teenage Time Killers’ bassist playing bass—which, of course, are one and the same person. You can literally see this as the video films seven Dave Grohls playing seven different instruments, a “really freaky mushroom trip” Grohl claims to be his idea.

The track is a sonic blitzkrieg that launches in full display the same decorum of dynamics Grohl has been comfortable and crafty with through his years with the Foo Fighters. An all-too familiar formula is apparent: a hard-hitting intro (in this case, as if mimicking the sound of a thousand angry killer bees abuzz spiralling down an assault in a backdrop of rolling thunder) plateaues out to ambient, steady rock-easy soundscapes, establishing catchy hooks in the process, then explodes to full-on balls-to-the-wall aggression before turning down and thrashing on again.

Cautious ears will catch in Play traces of Floaty, Wattershed, the title track of two-disc masterpiece In Your Honor, Low, Cold Day in the Sun, I Should’ve Known, a couple of songs from Sonic Highways, and many others, but to dismiss it simply as a stretched-out pastiche of Foo Fighters songs would be myopic, especially since it bears an inspiring lesson about passion, commitment, and fun for those about to rock (the documentary is peppered with interviews with young music students talking about the challenges and joys of learning music).

A cornucopia of moods and melodies flirting with texture and tension, Play flourishes with an aural brilliance that is so ambitiously palpable it cuts across wordlessness and communicates to its audience a commanding message: stomp your feet, bang your heads, and rock the fuck out.

This isn’t Dave Grohl subconsciously paying tribute to Edgar Winter Group’s Frankenstein, the instrumental he says that sparked his love for records. This isn’t Dave Grohl bestowing this generation a Smartwatch the same way he did 1992’s with Pocketwatch.

Neither is this Dave Grohl attempting to mount a culmination of all the songs he’s written for the Foo Fighters (23 minutes for the 23 years that passed since the Foos’ first public performance? Hmmm…) nor is this Dave Grohl unleashing a composition to test critical reception to exhaustion as it seemingly makes you wait for the ending, everlong.

More importantly, this isn’t Dave Grohl’s ultimate musical jerk-off, a grunge-flavored post-rock/prog-rock piece, to celebrate “the rewards and challenges of dedicating one’s life to playing music.”

Or, maybe it is.

What I do know, though, for certain is this: this is Dave Grohl playing. Like the master that he is.



PUBLISHED: Philippine Daily Inquirer

August 10, 2018


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Sunday Singe

August 10, 2018

Sunday sees me staring at screens, sentences me susceptible to shimmers of scenes shaking, screaming and signaling stars to swim in sight, which, by now, spins with a syndrome summoning shamanistic sensations that slither through scalp and stun stupendously the spirit soon splintering, splattering, sputtering as stains successfully shaping a sickness to sear the skin and singe the soul.