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Sunday, September 20, 2015 21:49

What is so special about Taro? Why does one get the feeling that its deceivingly warm first notes plucked on the guitar hide a story as layered as Newman's voice?

nce in a while a song just grabs you and throws you into a state of mind which is hard to describe, but all too familiar for each and every one of us. You put it on repeat and pray to whichever god you're into at the moment that you will not get tired of it like you did with the last one. You will.

Taro is the final song on Alt-J's debut studio album, An Awesome Wave. Fitting name for the album... and boy does it end on a high note! Now, I love the track for several reasons. It's an incredibly well put together song from a technical point of view, the highlight definitely being the riff starting at 1:17 (which is played by tapping the strings with an insulating tape).

The melody - bewitching as it may be - only counts for half of the song's genius. Newman opens by painting a picture of Robert Capa's, the famous war photographer's, last seconds as he steps on a landmine in Indochina.

"...very yellow white flash

A violent wrench grips mass, rips light, tears limbs like rags"

According to Newman, the song is about the two seconds before and the two seconds after stepping on the mine, which essentially makes it a five-minute track about four seconds. But why is the piece titled Taro? As it turns out it refers to Gerda Taro, Capa's lover who was also a war photographer. She died in similar circumstances several years before our protagonist, when a tank crashed into the side of her car during the Battle of Brunete. The band's frontman views Capa's last seconds as his chance to be finally reunited with his lover …oh and reunited with his leg too, as it was blown off by the explosion.

For the sake of keeping the article fairly short, I will not go into details on how and why André Friedmann and Gerta Pohorylle came up with the names Capa and Taro, but those of you who will eventually look into it will find a story about ingenuity and perseverance along with one of the most iconic relationship in the history of photography.

“Doors open like arms my love, painless

with a great closeness

To Capa, to Capa, Capa dark after nothing,

re-united with his leg

and with you, Taro.”

Now go listen to that album one more time people, and enjoy that awesome wave!
Next week: Remember that cheerful indie hit song from 2011 about the homicidal teenager? Yeah, Pumped up Kicks, that’s the one! 

Written by Ákos

Published by: The MPill Magazine Also posted on:

TAGS: Alt J, Taro, An Awesome Wave, Robert Capa, Gerda Taro
Before you start feeling hip, this track is almost a year old and Noisey have already tired to ruin it.
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