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album analysis > leitmotif



Concept | Liner Notes | Lyrics | Discuss

Here we take an in-depth look at the album 'Leitmotif' by dredg.  We took clues and hints from the official dredg website left by the band members, used the journal entries from the booklet for the album, and with help from others, looked up related information dealing with the concept of the record.  I want to make one thing clear however, and that is; this is in no way 100% accurate, and there is no perfect answer to all the information below, or all the ideas supplied in 'Leitmotif'.


The Concept

"....and before the sun runs out, a journey can change the mind."

Leitmotif:  An associated melodic phrase or figure that accompanies the reappearance of an idea or person.  A dominant reoccurring theme.  A melodic passage or phrase associated throughout a musical event with a specific character, situation, or element

"We decided to call this release "Leitmotif" because we wrote our music based upon the adventures of a wise man who traveled around the world to become a pure soul."  These travels are outlined within the liner notes of the album.  The story focuses on a man visited by a spirit who tells him he has a moral disease and must travel the world on a quest for higher spirituality.  If he succeeds, he will evolve; if he fails, he will die.  Ultimately, the character learns to put faith in the religion found in the spiritual awakening of humankind, rather than buy into the religion of commerce and greed.  The result of "Leitmotif's" explorative, experimental union of music and text is a mystical sound odyssey.

Change:  The idea of change, whether it's of a person, mind, spirit, or merely physical, is deeply enrooted within this album.  This theme is very apparent by the lyrics, and symbolism within this album. Even the symbol for "the symbol song" is derived from a Chinese character meaning change. Even the opening lines of the album bring forth the idea of change.


Information

Leitmotif was recorded in 10 Days

Leitmotif was released independently by dredg in 1999, and was re-released by Interscope Records on September 11th, 2001, with different artwork.

During the improvisational bit (secret track) at the very end of "leitmotif", Gavin can be heard singing the lyrics to "penguins in the desert".


The Songs

01. Symbol Song

The above symbol is derived from this   Chinese symbol meaning, "change", a common theme within the album. 

The sound that opens the record, and this track, is from a "spirit catcher", and it consists of a wood spoke and large rubber bands.  The sound is created by spinning it as fast as you can.  The spirit catcher was a familiar implement in the traditional culture of the Northwest Coast. Usually made from a hollow section of round bone that was polished and carved in low relief with a conventionalized, symmetrical two-headed motif, it was a primary tool in the hands of the Shaman or Healer. During the climax of his ministrations to the sick, whether in the form of song or dance, the Shaman would produce a spirit catcher and, by drawing through it with his breath, release whatever invasive influence was infecting the body of the invalid. As such, this piece was literally a "catcher of spirits", a powerful talisman in a culture that considered illness and cure to be spiritually situated.

02. Movement I: @45° N. 180° W.

45° N - a line of latitude that runs through the northern USA, central Europe, and central Asia.
180° W - a line of longitude that runs through the Midway Islands, halfway around the globe from the Prime Meridian.

Locations of above - Water: 694 km (431 mi.) from the land in the northern Pacific

03. Lechium

Lechium: This track was supposed to be spelled "Le'chium" or "Le'chiem" but was misspelled on the track listing due to misinformation between people.

In the Liner Notes for the album, in the Lechium section of the notes, the "shaman" is talked about, and in the booklet there is an actual picture of a Shaman. A Shaman is a member of certain tribal societies who acts as a medium between the visible world and an invisible spirit world and who practices magic or sorcery for purposes of healing, divination, and control over natural events.

04. Movement II: Crosswind Minuet

Crosswind Minuet: A musical wind blowing at right angles to a given direction, in 3/4 time that is usually the second or third movement of a symphony or string quartet.

05. Traversing Through The Arctic Cold We Search For The Spirit Of Yuta

Track features guest vocals from Shannon Harris from the group Spike 1000.

In the Liner Notes for this track, the quote; "could this be Thetan" is stated. This refers to: “Operating Thetan.” The state of Operating Thetan is “knowing and willing cause over life, thought, matter, energy, space and time. For thousands of years men have sought the state of complete spiritual freedom from the endless cycle of birth and death, a state of full awareness, memory and ability as a spirit independent of the flesh. This is....Thetan in Scientology. Scientology is a religion which is about the individual man or woman. Its goal is to bring an individual to a sufficient understanding of himself and his life and free him to improve conditions in the way that he sees fit.

Traversing: To travel; to and from, cross and recross an area. To look over carefully and examine.

There is a brief pause in music after this track, that accounts for the intermission, just as there would be at an opera or musical..

06. Movement III: Lyndon

The opera voice featured in this track is by a man named Gus Farwell, he went to high school with the band back in Los Gatos. The title comes from Gus's middle name which is Lyndon.

07. Penguins In The Desert

08. Movement IV: RR

The acronym RR is universally used to represent: Rest and relaxation.

09. Yatahaze

Yatahaze was written in one day, and hasn't changed since that day.

10. Movement V: 90 Hour Sleep

The sound of an apple being bit into can be heard in the introduction to "90 Hour Sleep".


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