Liner Notes

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>> Nico Muhly's full review can be found here, on The Talkhouse: http://music.thetalkhouse.com/talks/nico-muhly-talks-beyonces-beyonce/

By Nico Muhly ’03CC, a classical composer, from a December 2013 post in the online magazine The Talkhouse, analyzing Beyoncé’s just-released self-titled album.


Let me tell you a story about my phone. Four times in the last few years, it has made a certain series of Noises. My current theory is that the Noises are generated when a critical mass of gays text one another at the same time. The first time, it was when Michael Jackson died and I was in a fever-dream in St. Petersburg, Russia, having just interviewed the homeless-looking and possibly insane conductor Valery Gergiev. The second time, it was when Whitney died, and I was absurdly having gnocchi with certain friends and then other friends rang and we had to pull the whole evening over “to be together in this time of need.” The third time, it was when I got off a plane last week in Rome, and I thought to myself, “Girl, not Janet, not tonight.” It was a false alarm: it was just that English diver announcing that he was fuxing a man.

Then, last Thursday night, I was asleep in a very, very rural hotel in Iceland when the phone made the Noise again. I was almost too scared to check it, but then, in my benighted fumbling, my computer and iPad turned on, and they started making sonic ejaculations too, which they hadn’t made for Michael or Whitney. What is it, I thought, the President? My mother? Of course the answer was that the internet wanted to send me many gigabytes of Beyoncé’s new unannounced album and its attendant videos, and of course I moved heaven, earth, ice, and lava to have my computer in the one square meter of the hotel that could actually make this happen, because I am a homosexual and these Knowlesian dispatches are treated, by cultural necessity, as oracular and as gospel: gnomic, poetic, abstract, and very, very relevant.

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