Plazm Magazine: Documenting Creative Culture Since 1991
Plazm is a magazine of design, art, and culture with worldwide distribution. Founded by artists as a creative resource, the magazine is now published by the nonprofit New Oregon Arts & Letters. Order Plazm #30 now.
is the guy from various bands, including the Magnetic Fields and the Sixths.
He is one of the preeminent songwriters of our generation, an author whose musical fictions portray a symphonic array of experience and affliction. Once more easily categorized as a sort of quirky hybrid of new wave and indie-rock, his music has evolved to reflect such a remarkable diversity of influence that it might only be characterized, meagerly, as Caucaso-American (although, in light of tracks like"Wi' Nae Wee Bairn Y'll Beget" and "World Love," even that description may prove too restrictive). He has been compared by the various press to the most consummate of twentieth-century musicians and producers: Phil Spector, Kraftwerk, Prince, Irving Berlin, Johnny Cash, Lee Hazelwood, Abba, Brian Wilson.
Merritt's most recent project is the majestic, three-CD box set 69 SONGS ABOUT LOVE. Encyclopedic in its coverage of musical genres, the project aspires to, and achieves, a gorgeous cohesion of tone and lyrical sweep. Merritt writes from the multifarious space where heartstrings, piano notes, and distortion traverse: One listens to the record with the feeling that Merritt has written nothing less than a catalog of old standards that is somehow totally new.
I invited Merritt to listen and respond to the classic ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK album "ARCHITECTURE AND MORALITY," guessing those were two subjects for which he would have at least some passing regard (three if you count OMD itself). Follows a track listing of that record and the rejoinders it elicited. Merritt's conversational speech is almost pathologically concise and, despite his sad-sack reputation, he is very funny.
Text by Dan Frazier.
Photo by Sumaya Agha.
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