Almost exactly a year ago today, reader Lorefin asked me to look at Roland and Stella — well, here’s Roland!
This song presents so many musical traits that feel very “Interpol” to me:
- A tight, clean texture consisting of highly repetitive riffs,
- modal mixture (the song is in E minor for the most part, but F-natural appears in a few places [e.g., 0:26] making it briefly in E Phrygian),
- non-tonic notes (in particular B and C) feature prominently and therefore create a sense of harmonic tension,
- and the last third of the song presents new material in which the melodic tension increases dramatically.
The song’s form is Intro – Verse – Chorus (“He severs segments”) – Interlude – Verse – Chorus – Coda1 (2:30) – Coda2 (2:58). I love the contrast between the Verse and Chorus, the former being a really dense texture with interlocking guitar lines, the latter being a really unified texture with the guitars and bass all playing almost exactly the same line in octaves. Whenever the Chorus starts in this song I want to start moving my body.
The Coda in this song is so…sexy, if I can get poetic here. Starting at 2:30 Carlos is playing extremely high on the bass in completely stepwise motion (so, the notes are all close together), while one of the guitars sets up a stable large-scale four bar pattern as the other guitar plays a melody with a wave-like contour that both metrically and harmonically pushes against this large-scale pattern. At 2:58 this all sort of releases into a two-bar pattern with a strong sense of forward motion; the pattern repeats three more times verbatim, and we end the song not on the tonic E, but on the sixth scale degree, C.
Those are my initial thoughts on Roland — I always feel bad not including Sam’s drum parts in my transcriptions, since his playing is such an integral part of their sound. Like, there would be no Interpol without Sam’s insanely amazing, disciplined, tasteful drumming. Ever since I saw them live at Bowery Ballroom last year my already high respect for Sam’s playing has increased dramatically.
Anyway! In order of request, next on my list is Stella, C’mere, Obstacle 1, Length of Love, Same Town, and My Desire. I fall more in love with El Pintor the more I listen to it and I can’t wait to dig into those songs.
Until next time!