Portastatic - Picnic Lightning

Daytrotter Studio (Rock Island, IL), 11/30/2008

Music Audio Portastatic
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Almost without fail, when cruising at whatever altitude you are normally doing that at in a jet airliner, the wonderfully high voice of Mac McCaughan warning about ice on the wings crops into the head. You don't want ice on the wings, just like you don't want a bullet in the arm. Here, McCaughan - the lead singer of Superchunk, leader of Portastatic and one of the founders of the great Merge Records - offers two readings, "One is really short. It's a poem by Billy Collins called "Picnic, Lightning" and the other is longer -- an excerpt from the Jonathan Lethem book Fortress of Solitude." There's always been some worst case scenario-ism involved with Superchunk material, but it seems to come out even more frequently in Portastatic songs, or maybe that's just an illusion, who knows. The images of planes malfunctioning occur often in McCaughan's imagery and in the Billy Collins poem, he seeks it out as the short piece begins with the idea that planes and pianos can just drop out of the sky on people. It's not so strange. It happens. The Lethem excerpt shows reluctance and an educated skepticism getting overruled by another part of the brain of a young boy that wanted to hope for the best, only to have his cherished bicycle stolen out from his grip just like he feared it would be. Bad things happen and McCaughan likes sharing them. Portastatic has a new retrospective called Some Small History out now and a 11-song bonus, companion piece can be downloaded for free "here":http://www.mergerecords.com/store/store_detail.php?catalog_id=559&link=sidebarLink-home

Jonathan Lethem is one of Merge's 14 curators of SCORE! Merge Records: The First 20 Years box-set subscription. It's a pretty phenomenal thing
Merge Records
Portastatic Official Site