learning to like gin (listening, day 4 – part 1)

Years ago, as a young reporter, I worked in a bureau under the wing of a woman who drank straight gin.

(She did, and was, so many other things as well and in particular was kind to me. But that’s another story.)

So being a hero worshipper, I tried to drink straight gin. It was an experience; the drink manages to be stinging, foul and interesting at the same time. Acquiring the ability, let alone the desire, to drink it without tonic water or in a Martini, takes patience and a certain mindset. It’s nothing like, say, Scotch, which is bracing, but not difficult.

Google “taste of gin” and you get various schemes for learning to like it and descriptions of the taste – my favorite was a combination of “stank man’s azz and men’s cologne.” On the other hand, this page is devoted to the appreciation of gin and describes the aromas you can get as “citrus, fruit, floral, earth, spice, sweetness and wood.” What, no stank azz?

Anyway, my struggle with gin 30 plus years ago reminds me somewhat of Cobalt’s 2009 album Gin. This was pretty highly regarded by people who follow metal, with its Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson influences. I bought it for my daughter who gifted it back to me because she already owned it.

I am no fan of metal: though I get that the whole Satanic thing is part dress-up, part trying to keep some taboos in play, the expression of admiration or acceptance of evil bothers me in a way that, say, some of hip-hop’s reporting from the front lines of urban violence does not. Also, the screaming in metal is a stylistic convention I just don’t care for. Finally, metal’s intersection with science fiction and prog rock strikes me as over-played and underthought, though in fairness perhaps the evil soul eating creatures from the bleak, airless dimension next door poised to invade us would find Krallice’s Dimensional Bleedthrough a taste of home. But I digress.

So every few weeks I dutifully get out Gin and play it – or at least part of it – but couldn’t distinguish the tunes and never made it from beginning to end. That is until tonight, when I began to hear separate parts and sounds in the music, (Cobalt uses acoustic guitars to good effect) and a little singing. Of course in metal dynamics is everything, even if you’re intentionally ignoring those dynamics, not that Cobalt does. The band seems to fall in the middle – not exactly from a whisper to a scream; it’s more like from a conversation in the front seat of a car to a scream.

Anyway, two guys who put a picture of H.S.T. shooting a typewriter as their inner sleeve photo will always get many chances from me, so I persevere and hope to be rewarded.

The b side for the night is disc one of the Glass Box: A Nonesuch Anthology collection. This is very early Glass, extremely repititious, back when men were men and minimalism was minimalism. I like.

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