Has it ever happened to you that for no apparent reason you dive into a theme week related to just one artist? I have many of these weeks. Not sure whether my neighbors are aware of what I’m exactly listening, but perhaps if they were paying attention, they’d think I get kind of obsessed with music. This time I’m talking about another turn of the screw: an album theme week.
I’ve been able to spend many days with just one single CD being played once and once again, most of times it’s because when I first listen to it the shock is so tremendous I need some time to assimilate. Hey! Funniest thing is that I’m not referring to the experience of listening to an album for the first time, It can happen with any of the 500 I have at home.
This happened with Ænima recently. Believe me when I reckon I hadn’t listened to that CD for at least 4 years. I’m serious.
The way we evolve amazes me sometimes. Things and people you would die for, keep stuck in the past at some point while you move forward. I’d better not start a one of these metaphysical thoughts which involve the paths in life, the burdens, what goes along with oneself and what is lots in the way. This happens with everything, lovers, friends, jobs, partners…and music is not an exception, even though I’m very loyal to my tastes since the very beginning.
Thus, it’s time to talk about Tool, and what Ænima meant to me.
Likely you’re wondering why I’ve started with all this evolution shit. Well, there’s a point I want to make right here right now: I’M NOT INTERESTED IN TOOL ANYMORE and I don’t care about Maynard James Keenan’s projects any longer. Frankly, I couldn’t care less.
Tool came to my life thanks to a mixtape, certain character I had one of my biggest crushes on, recorded and sent me when I was 17. This guy was 9 years older than me and everything which (never) happened was a stupidity, nevertheless he made a mark on me, treated me as a grown-up for the first time, and introduced me to some bands I still adore nowadays. I think I mentioned him when talking about Alice in Chains.
The two songs belonged to Undertow album, which I purchased as soon as I got some money after Xmas. It was dark, very dark, and very insane. It wasn’t heavy metal, it wasn’t the Seattle sounds I was familiar with, Tool was unique.
I developed this unconditional love towards the band, got Opiate in vinyl, and tried to spread the word, as they were completely unknown in my hometown. I remember being in London in 1996 when I met Lucy, who also was a huge fan, and asked her if she had heard something of an upcoming album, any tour… she didn’t know anything. It was July 1996. Two months later Ænima (Anima + Enema) was released.
It was quite expensive in the day, 20Eur ( 25USD approx) but the collector’s edition had this amazing hologram (multi-image CD case)cover case, and you could change among different covers. The most insane was the shocking scene of a masturbating contortionist swinging in front of the members of the band, with Maynard naked standing up and approaching to get a better angle. You don’t know how much time I’ve spent observing the images.
The length of the album 77:23min was the most extended up to date, approaching the CD capacity up to its fullest. This is a stupid detail which can help you picturing the kind of obsession I developed with this album.
Yes, I was obsessed. There was a year in London I used to play it every night, and woke up once finished to press play all night long. It was a time I used to sleep 4-5 hours as well, and it became a measure of sleeping time (4 clicks).
Lyrics about fist fucking, Jesus Christ dying for saving the human kind, the end of SoCa due to Saint Andreas Fault… very complex, and very intense. A recipe recited in strong German, excerpts of Bill Hicks’ speeches, eyes, Ron L. Hubbard, The Elephant Man… Ænima was a whole universe in itself and it was fascinating, and I was young and easily overwhelmed.
It was with this album when the general worship of Tool started to excessive limits. As for me, nothing was close enough to their magnificent work. Got sick of their fans, disappointed with their albums, and many other styles and bands eventually diverted my attention from them.
I played the CD one morning just because and while doing some stuff at the Hellhouse, I realized I still knew all the lyrics by heart, after so many years, in fact I was singing out loud and with passion. In the first years of internet, when everything was scarce and shabby, one of the first useful things I discovered, before I even had an e-mail account, was those wonderful sites with lyrics data base. There were approx 20 pages of lyrics for this album, and I learned most of them.
And what happened? I got hooked to the album for 5 days in a row, discovering new tiny details, arrangements and layers in the production I hadn’t noticed, probably because I wasn’t so experienced, and my ears weren’t ready for such amount of musical information.I even felt asleep while listening to it, as in the past.
Up to date I still don’t know which one is my favorite song, I think none of them are expendable. The effect of the track list seems having been designed as to intertwine the songs, in a progressive trip. Stinkfist, Ænema, H, Eulogy… insane, addictive, lysergic, dark… I love them.
I never mention this album as one of the most important and influential in my life, because for long time I blocked it in my head I never thought of it, but the truth is that I was really hooked. Perhaps with Ænima, Pearl Jam’s hegemony and almost monopoly, came finally to an end, opening the gates to musical wisdom, to other options, both harder, rougher, and milder and folkier. Thank you!