Zach Cohen

The Dew Lasts an Hour – Ballet School (2014)

It’s a rare quality of an album to fit exactly into the liminal space between two seasons, to harmonize with the staggered days of 80-degree weather, nestled tightly between days of melancholic rain and overcast skies. The Dew Lasts an Hour has been out for about 4 years now, but it’s still a champion in the realm of getting-ready-for-spring albums. The Berlin-based band brings several genres into conversation on The Dew, reminiscent of the Cocteau Twins if they had only been clad with a louder electric guitar and used far more synth. The Dew is that kind of perfect dream-pop mirage whose wispy backdrops and snappy bridges go perfectly with a chill stroll outside, remembering what it feels like for sunlight to beam directly onto your pasty-ass skin that’s been hidden away for an unusually long winter. It’s the kind of album that evokes the most pleasant feeling of nostalgia, if only pleasant because it’s a yearning for nothing in particular from the past, just a remembering of all that ever was, and that all-that-ever-was was just so good.

Standout tracks: “Ghost”, “Heliconia”, “Lux”


Joshua Judd Porter:

La Soufrière (1977)

A documentary short by Werner Herzog

Though everyone knows, on some surface level, that they will die, it is not fact easily internalized. To understand that what you know of as your body will become food for worms, that what you hold to be your conscious mind, maybe the closest material thing to soul, will become nothing but decomposing tissue, is not really a fact that a person can internalize and still keep going about completing the quotidian tasks required for a normal, functional life. We are, however, still programmed to die, our cells at least, and maybe that is why it fascinates us so. From characters neurotically obsessed with dying to terminally ill characters forced to confront their own mortality, there is undeniably a cathartic element to, at least, undergoing a second-hand acceptance of our apoptotic fate. These characters, though, are normally confined to the fictional, so when we find documentary examples of such figures it is always a particularly striking viewing experience. It is, however, one of these documentary examples that we find in Werner Herzog’s magnificent short La Soufrière — a 30-minute study of those who chose to stay behind and face the destruction wrought by an imminent volcanic eruption on the island of Guadeloupe. Instead of Bergman’s anthropomorphized death or the walking manifestation of evil and chaos we find in the Coen Brothers’ Anton Chigurh, what we have in La Soufrière is maybe a purer, more traditionally awesome yet almost benign portrayal of death, and it is through this lack of malice that we can witness maybe the truest reactions to oncoming obliteration. It is an important question to ask, whether these remainers are truly accepting their own mortality or are just living out an egotistical fantasy akin to other notorious narcissists in Herzog’s fiction films. I will not spoil the reactions, motivations, and decisions made by Herzog’s subjects, but I will implore every reader to try to give it a watch; it is arresting experience throughout its runtime, and at only 30 minutes long (a mid-level study break) it is hard to find an excuse not to give it a try (especially because you can find the entire thing on youtube).

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