Sunday, September 8, 2019

Certain Songs #1625: Preston School of Industry – “Enclyclopedic Knowledge Of” | Medialoper

Album: All This Sound Gas
Year: 2001

It’s only happened a few times, but occasionally a band I love that features a pair of songwriters breaks up, and they both issue their post-breakup albums, I like the one that was by the secondary songwriter better than the one by the primary songwriter.

The first time this happened was 1989, when I enjoyed Grant Hart’s weirdly experimental Intolerance way more than Bob Mould’s formally experimental Workbook. Next was 1995, when I (barely) loved Wilco’s fun A.M. more than Son Volt’s , uh, less fun, Trace. And finally, back in 2001, when enjoyed Preston School of Industry’s All This Sounds Gas more that Stephen Malkmus self-titled solo debut.

Obviously, two out of three of these were feints: while Wilco became one of our all-time great bands, Son Volt has remained resolutely good; while both Mould and Malkmus almost eventually outpaced Hart and Kanneberg as the years went on. However, in 2001, no one was more surprised than me just how much I liked Preston School of Industry’s debut album.

I think I was still mourning not just Pavement’s break-up, but Terror Twilight, so the ramshackle pleasures — no matter how hard Scott Kanneberg tried to achieve them — that came from All This Sound Gas were right up my alley, especially on the nearly eight minute “Encyclopedic Knowledge Of.”

Naturally, “Encyclopedic Knowledge Of” crawls along at the same snails pace that latter-day Pavement walked, and naturally it features indecipherable and/or incomprehensible lyrics, but there are multiple guitar hooks here, even during the meandering mid-section, and it features an utterly indelible chorus, the final variation which goes like this.

Don’t you see the creek, boys?
Don’t you want to run?
She speaks to you in Greek, boys
Don’t you want to follow the sun?
Don’t you want to follow the sun?
Don’t you want to follow the sun?

After a few minutes of solar bliss, the song breaks down, and the once and future Spiral Stairs starts chanting:

We know that you like us
We know that you like us
We know that you like us
We know that you like us

Then a drunken loopy horn section comes in completely out of nowhere while the guitars sparkle and shimmer, and if you squint hard enough, you can totally hear “Enclyclopedic Knowledge Of” as the sun-drenched centerpiece of the sixth Pavement album that I knew I was never going to get. But during the time I was listening to this album in the late summer / early fall of 2001, that was easily good enough.

“Enclyclopedic Knowledge Of”

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