Television- Marquee Moon
Silence. Blank Space. White Noise. The Abyss: things that inspire primal terror. In a world of increasing noise, the moments of quiet—the moments where nothing happens—take on the terror of meaninglessness. However, those who embrace silence know that it does not make things meaningless, but gives shape to the things surrounding it. Silence is where Television, and Marquee Moon, flourish.
Marquee Moon sounds thin, weary, and vaguely exhausted—whether it be Tom Verlaine’s dreary vocals; the twin guitars, like antennae in the night singing with no affectation; or the anemic bass and drums, which only make everything seem further apart. This album distinctly lacks fullness, but the spaces between the instruments are as loud as the instruments themselves.
More than that, this is punk by way of jazz and minimalism, with modular riffs stacked in continual layers, each portion operating independently of the others, yet integral to the whole; the chord changes and musical progressions wind, meander, and move over wide spans of time. This record indulges in quiet, disaffected complexity.
This is most evident in the construction of the ten-minute title track, starting with a single chord, a guitar trill, and two note bassline moving ever forward in complexity in design. Snares and hi-hats crash against the mid-range bass, all building, yet never seeming to go anywhere. Over it Tom Verlaine’s reedy voice punctures the silence in the noise. Even so, this album is recognizably punk: the self is expressed. There are no shits to give. It’s one great paradox: the virtuoso anti-virtuoso
It is another truth that silence is a necessity. It is in the space between sounds where meaning is created; a letter only has shape because of the contrast to the white of a page. In this way, Marquee Moon is an important album.
Until I stand ‘neath the Marquee Moon, Waiting.