We’re beginning our week with a few listens to “Silva Halo” off of Medazzaland. It was also released as a B-side track to “Out of My Mind”, from the soundtrack of The Saint.
You shine Where others fade You dare To be so brave Don't compromise No one can touch you Just believe Just believe Come to heaven, silva halo Come to heaven, silva halo Silva halo Silva halo
What a weird Duran Duran song, am I right? Short and to the point, Silva Halo is one of those songs that leaves me scratching my head for several reasons. The synth loop goes on throughout the song, and there is this underlying chordal sort of “buzz” that I hardly take notice of at first, but as the song continues, I am deeply aware of it, as though it was the foundation for the entire sound.
When I think of “experimental” Duran Duran songs, this one is at the top of the list. It is unlike any Duran Duran songs I’d ever heard before – with a sort of celestial “spacey”, almost airy, feeling about it. I suppose when they talk about existential work, this might be on that list. The beginning and end remind of a spaceship landing and then taking off. I hear what might be the very faintest of drum beats, but I can’t even be sure that’s what they are. Album credits have Warren as playing both guitar and bass on the track, which is fascinating because I can’t really hear either – but hey – I’m not a professional reviewer, either.
What I can tell you though, is that as a long time Duran Duran fan, I was intensely affronted when I first heard this song. Honestly, isn’t that what you really want to know? We all know Amanda and I are not unbiased music writers, and certainly not critics. So let’s just get down to brass tacks! Did I like it? No, I didn’t. I still don’t. I never understood why they’d bother with SUCH a short song, and the lyrics make not a single bit of sense to me. Simon sounds like he was tripping on acid when he recorded his vocals. Dreamy, existential…and higher than a kite. When it boils down to it, they were a long, LONG way from “Rio” the day they recorded this one. To me, it felt, and still feels, like they had completely lost their way. When I think of Medazzaland, it is this song that comes to mind first, and is the reason I put the CD away for so many years. The sad thing is that there are great songs on this album, it’s just that this one is way too far out there for my taste. It belonged on a TV Mania album, and reminds me of one example where the influence of one slightly overbearing guitar player changed the creative direction of an entire band.
Well, then. As always, before I started writing my review, I played the song. I’m not sure that I ever really listened to it before. Of course, I have heard it a number of times but I don’t think I ever really stopped to listen to it. As the song began, my cat was less than thrilled. There is that weird piercing sound at the beginning that led him to put his ears back and look around in concern. That song morphs into that weird loop that plays over and over again that reminds me a bit of being underwater. It isn’t a particularly pleasant loop, either, I don’t think. That being said, I could give them credit for just embracing the experimental here. It doesn’t feel focused on instrumentation but sound. I always want to cheer the desire to be artistic over being commercial but…it still needs to work.
The vocals and lyrics fit that experimentation vibe as well. The lyrics are not long (neither is the song as a whole) and I have no clue what the heck he is talking about. Is the idea that the person is saint like? Or misunderstood but still saint like? Again, I have no clue. The vocals are not particularly strong either, hoping to blend into the experimental fabric of the song, I assume.
Overall, this is a song that I would not miss if it went away. I can appreciate the desire to be experimental, to be artistic, to fly in the face of normal song qualities. Still, I have to wonder if it was still worth taking up a whole track on the album. They didn’t have any other choice of a track? Would Medazzaland be less goodif this song was missing? Less interesting? I doubt it. I know that I wouldn’t miss it.