SONG: “If I Believe It”
SOURCE: “The science of voodoo: When mind attacks body “, New Scientist, 13 May 2009, as used in the post “Imaginary Poisons.” (Although recent coverage of the H1N1 flu virus also played a large role.) (Also, anthropological note: New Scientist’s article title is somewhat misleading – “Voodoo,” or Vodoun, is an African syncretic religion that has a lot less to do with cursing and sympathetic magic than the public imagination would have it.)
For a long time, I’ve thought the placebo effect is the future of medicine. It’s so often dismissed – oh, that’s just a placebo, one says, skeptically. But IT IS A THING THAT WORKS! Even though IT’S NOT THERE! By using YOUR MIND! Which never ceases to amaze me. Of course, that it can work the opposite way is both terrifying and unsurprising. I don’t… I don’t feel so well.
I consciously modeled this new, as-yet-unlabeled genre that seems to be emerging – a kind of creepy, urban-sounding version of indie pop that’s more uncanny than melancholy. It’s not quite the spy soundtracks of Interpol, and not the dreampop of, well, The Postmarks or Au Revoir Simone. Although I’ve seen it described as goth psychedelia, it’s neither goth nor psychedelic. It’s music for night clubs in unfamiliar cities, black turtlenecks, disturbing puppet shows, and making a place for oneself far from home. Examples would include Ipso Facto and Sunset Rubdown, although there are roots of the sound in the first couple Death Cab for Cutie or Long Winters albums. So, I wanted to try to do that. A song about imaginary poisons seemed just about right for that sound – retro, unsettling, possibly all in my head. Once I had that aesthetic in mind, recording it was easy.