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Lateralus tells a story

Written by SMARTYR on Friday, 7/26/2002

Yeah so what I am a tool nerd. The band is absolutley amazing maynard is a genius and I honestly feel that this band could go down as one of the best bands ever, they could be studied like mozart or shakespeare in 200 years. The levels of emotion in their music is absolutely incomparable. To me they transcend what any other band has done to date. But now for the meaty stuff.
While it isn't stated anywhere, when you look at the layout of the Lateralus album as a whole it plays like a perfect story line. I'll break it down major song by major song. I don't have the time to explain all the little tracks,But anyhoo I will show you how they created a story and a musical master piece.
First of all you have to know the basic parts of a story line. It starts with an intorduction, then it has the incitement point followed by rising action events. Where the story reaches it's peak is the climax, which is followed by the resolution.
The Grudge. This song serves as a starting ground for the story of the album. it sets the mood and show you around the world you are going to be drawn into by maynard and the gamg for the next 78 minutes and 58 secinds. BTW this song to me sounds like it's about a breakup. I want to start a forum for tool lyrics interpertations but jeremy want to custon program it so it wil take a while ot get it started if i ever gets off the ground
The Patient. This song serves the role of the incitement. Maynard is tired of the life he is living and is trying to find a way out. He needs to do something to change things... but doesn't know what. This is where the journey begins....
Schism. Schism is the first in three rising action events. It is actually very traditional in most stories and fair tales to have 3 rising action events. In this track maynard looses something and is trying to put it back together. I don't know if it is sanity or the relationship mentioned in the grudge but it is definetley something.
Parabol/a. This is the second rising action events and an absolutely amazing song. This is maynard finding whatever he was looking for, i think. He obviouly comes to a great relization. This song is so uplifting and unlike some tool songs the message is so easy to get.
Ticks&leeches.; This is the third and final rising action event. To me it's maynard getting pushed back down from his realization. What I relate it to is the backlash some smart people get. It's society not accepting maynard's enlightenment he found in Parabol/a. It's such an angry song that's mainly about the type of people in society who can't handle those think a different, higher level. (see seans new article)
Lateralus. This song is amazing. This is the climax to the album. Maynard decides to stay on the path of enlightenment to see what lies ahead. he wants to know so he makes the decision to go on with what he is doing despite the rejection and realizes or embraces his desire to stay on the spiral and ride it.
Disposition/reflection/triad. I know some people say that this would be lumbing these songs together, but an interesting side not is that these songs were original recorded as one song called "resolution" which is exactly what this serves as. It basically proves what I am telling you. these songs are the final stories that finish the story of and tells you how it plays out. It doesn't really tell you if maynard finds what's at the end of the spiral but it does show his final thoughts on the emotional adventure he took us on. It sums up and resolves the story of the album.
At first I didn't realize this but when I did it was just so amazing. i am sure there are other people out there who realized this too but I had to write this for those who didn't. I have actually thought about writing a play based on this. I wouldn't because the artistic value is nada and I don't really have the skill. I guess the point is that you could and that is absolutely amazing. It works out so well that I don't think it would really translate well on any other medium. I am just stunned that the band has that kind of talent both musically and poetically. This is why I think they could be studied. The brilliance exhibited on this album is nearly unparalelled. Tool is truely a master of their medium.
By the way I know I used maynards name a lot and I do realize that is a generalization. but he writes the lyrics that narrate the story, or he is the story teller depending on how you look at hit so that's why I used him. I kind of picture the other band members as the set or lights designers of the "play" they put on. I myself am a techie so I know how artisctic and difficult that can be and really apreciate it on that sense

Question Everything
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article discussion

posted by Scott on Friday, 7/26/2002:

Isnt it amazing how every tool video seems to be premade, and then just have music added to it? Simple formula. Creepy Man-like character walks around. Add Music. Repeat as nessicary.

posted by Tom Ford on Tuesday, 7/30/2002:

no no no you got it all wrong. You are supposed to listen to the tracks in a spiral... 6 7 5 8 4 9 3 10 2 11 1 12 13
(each pair of numbers adds to 13, if you write the numbers 1-13 in a line, then start at 6 and arch over to 7 then arch under to 5 and continue in a spiral you will understand)

The end of each song then leads into the beginning of the next one. This changes the whole story of the album. Also, in the song "Lateralus" if you count the syllables as he sings you will see it follows the fibonacci sequence.. 1 1 2 3 5 8 5 3 2 etc... which also happens to be the length of a spiral plus he sings "Swing on the spiral!" Yeah its great... they are geniuses "i know the pieces fit"... hehe, it takes the album to a new level...

posted by Tom Ford on Tuesday, 7/30/2002:

black (1)
then (1)
white are (2)
all I see (3)
in my infancy (5)
red and yellow then came to be (8)
reaching out to me (5)
lets me see (3)
there is (2)
so (1)
much (1)
more that (2)
beckons me (3)
to look through to these (5)
infinite possiblities (8)
as below so above and beyond I imagine (13)
drawn outside the lines of reason (8)
push the envelope (5)
watch it bend (3)

heh, you aren't the only tool nerd.

posted by (anonymous) on Tuesday, 7/30/2002:

tool sucks, listen to fleetwood mac

posted by Tom Ford on Tuesday, 7/30/2002:

In spiral form the album starts with parabol/parabola. The video has so much meaning. It starts out with three disfigured humans, one of them carrying a black bag and within it lies the means to cut into the apple or "the fruit of knowledge" if you will. After that they transcend their human forms, purge themselves and the next thing you know is a big heavy swinging pendulum. The spirit guy then stops the pendulum from swinging. Notice this guy is more human than the ones in the beginning. You also see this little mechanical type guy which I think represents the ego. As the video goes on the chemicals build up and the ego is destroyed (i think this represents ego loss through drug use). He then disects his ego and then enters the forest beyond the window of his small room of walls. I think the forest represents his mind. As he explores the forest his third eye is opened and he is enlightened and becomes like the whole universe.

I think this songs message is that we are really spiritual beings "chosing to be here in this body... this body holding me". We should "recognize this as a holy gift". We each have this little ego that sort of defines our personality and makes us who we are in this human form, but along with this manifestation comes pain. But to our spirits it is nothing... "all this pain is an illusion".

posted by Tom Ford on Tuesday, 7/30/2002:

After parabol(a) comes Schism. Here he is having communication problems with someone he loves. "cold silence has a tendency to atrophy any sense of compassion". This is where the grudge is born.
Next comes Ticks and Leeches. Someone he's loved has hurt him and the grudge grows and develops into a rage. He is forgetting pain is an illusion. His compassion has been beaten black and blue. Worst of all he wants to cut off all communication "take what you want then go".
Next is Mantra, it represents deep meditation to clear the mind. Then comes Lateralus, I think of it as the climax of the album. He is realizing he has been over thinking/over analyzing, withering is intuition etc. Before he only saw in black and white, but now he is seeing the "infinite possibilities". He steps aside to weep like a widow, then becomes inspired, empowered, witness the beauty and rides the spiral of his divinity. Brilliant.

posted by Tom Ford on Tuesday, 7/30/2002:

Next comes The Patient. He realizes things will be better, the pain he holds will not defeat him. "if there were no desire to heal... i certainly would have walked away... by now!" Time heals.
Next comes disposition. Really soft and mellow. He is being patient. "Mention this to me... and watch the weather change", then comes Eon Blue Apocalypse... to me it represents a sort of electrical storm... the weather changing... Next comes Reflection where he is analyzing what is causing his pain "don't wanna be down here feeding my narcissism / I must crucify the ego before its far too late". Next comes The Grudge. He talks about saturn ascending, getting deep into astrological references... he must make a decision to hold on to the grudge and be consumed by the pain, or to let it go, to drop the stone and be freed. He lets go. Then comes Triad, to me this is the end of the album. A nice little tribal beat, to me it represents the freeing of the spirit from the games of pain of the ego. The last track I just think of as a sort of extra bonus track so they would have 13 tracks.

There is a lot more I could say but space is so limited.

posted by Smartyr on Tuesday, 7/30/2002:

I have heard that before, and I like it both ways. I didn't cook up the spiral one and I didn't want to take credit for it. The only thing I don't like is the splitting up of the "triad" or reflection diposition and triad. these songs were meant to be together and were recorded together.... It is a truly great way to listen to the album because you get the same story in a new form.... I actually burned a copy of the CD in this order and listen to it all as one.... it flows better than programming it... In my version the last track is the credits

posted by smartyr on Tuesday, 7/30/2002:

I also wanted to say the fibbonacci thing is awesome. I don't know if anyone else knows this but JEremy pointed out that he thinks there is morse code in the grudge. I then spotted possibilities in other spots on the album. I know how morse code works but I can't find my walkie talkie from 2nd grade to tell me how to decode it. IF anyone has the walkie talkie or knows more code let me know if you hear it too.

posted by someguy on Wednesday, 7/31/2002:

morse code
a= .- b= -... c= -.-. d= -.. e= . f= ..-. g= --. h= .... i= .. j= .--- k= -.- l= .-.. m= -- n= -. o= --- p= .--. q= --.- r= .-. s= ... t= - u=..- v=...- w= .-- x= -..- y= -.-- z= --.. 1= .----- 2= ..--- 3= ...-- 4= ....- 5= ..... 6= -.... 7= --... 8= ---.. 9= ----. 0= ----- fullstop= .-.-.- comma= --..-- query= ..--..

posted by asimmons on Friday, 9/13/2002:

Did anyone notice that 987 is the 17th number in the fibonacci sequence, and Tool plays the intro guitar pattern (8 beats) 17 times, and then go into 9 beats per measure, then 8, then 7? then it goes back to 4/4 time for the verse, and the drum pattern repeats 17 times before going back to the 9-8-7 pattern. Also, when you graph particles based on the fibonacci sequence (or the "golden ratio"), you get a spiral, as in "ride the spiral to the end." One other thing i noticed is that in the bridge, the bass plays in 4/4 and the hi-hat comes in later and plays in 5/4, and catches up with the bass as they are both playing their pattern for the 48th (46 & 2nd?) time, and then maynard sings "feel the rhythm." Anyway...not sure if you guys figured out any more than this...the bridge obviously has a pattern but it's trickier and i'm kinda stuck on it...

posted by asimmons on Friday, 9/13/2002:

oops i mean he goes back to 5/4 time for the drum pattern

posted by SNEFF on Monday, 12/2/2002:


posted by RawIsLaw on Tuesday, 12/3/2002:

dude sneff is such a big tool fan, he put pictures of the band in the back of his lizards cage, and makes it listen to tool. The lizards name is Maynard

posted by the fonz on Thursday, 12/5/2002:

lizard eh? is that what there calling it these days?

posted by potsie on Saturday, 12/14/2002:

we all know gg allin is as smart as rock music will ever get

posted by Everyones Friend on Monday, 12/16/2002:

I tried to write this long and drawn out review of the movie homeward bound but it went past the character limit, i dont feel like writing it again besides it really didnt go anywhere. So now i am going to write about Zebras. everyone wants to protect them cuz they have fruity stripes. Their just horses with stripes, any moron could come up with stripes. Besides their stripes suck And whats all this crap I been hearing about giraffs.

posted by Michael Haishkarem on Friday, 12/20/2002:

I think the song "Lateralus" is about stepping beyond the bounds of habitual conditioned conciousness(black and white)to see the infinite connection we all share to the divine. But to do this we have to not over think, over analyze because this separates us from the one moment(feed my will to feel this moment)where we know this. We have to find a way to feel connected enough to "step aside and weep like a widow" one who has lost everything that makes them secure. then we can allow the channel to "feel the rythym, fathom the power, witness the beauty, bathe in the fountain......"
Embrace the random.

posted by Michael haishkarem on Friday, 12/20/2002:

Any discussions about other TOOL songs welcome.

posted by E B on Friday, 12/20/2002:

thank you micheal, but that discusion was not about fruity animals. please try to keep these discussions on the topic people! anyhoo... now chimpanzees, if you were to shave them and put them in tuxedos they would be like little people. discuss!

posted by Michael Haishkarem on Friday, 12/20/2002:

Yes yes, Quite so.
But You could still tell them apart by noting one crucial difference. Their somewhat more intelligent and humorous antics..

posted by Kcoleman on Monday, 12/23/2002:

Quote from Tom Ford (above reply):
"1 1 2 3 5 8 5 3 2 etc... which also happens to be the length of a spiral plus he sings 'Swing on the spiral!'"

What do you mean by the length of a spiral?

posted by Kcoleman on Monday, 12/23/2002:

And also, in the video for Parabol/a, the man in the end achieves enlightenment through meditation to the leaf which sticks out from his other surrounding (the leaf in in color while the other surroundings are black and white). As said by a different reply, the forest is the man's vast and now open mind. And to me, this leaf represents the small opportunity man has to achieving peace of mind, and this man finally notices it and achieves it. But in Buddhism, the whole point of reaching enlightenment is to free yourself from suffering, or pain if you will, which fits in with the quote "all this pain is an illusion".

posted by Ryan Calderoni on Friday, 1/24/2003:

Rancid is better

posted by Quadell on Monday, 3/10/2003:

Kcoleman, here's an article that may help.

Also, according to this book, a standard textbook on the subject, primitive languages with limited color vocabularies have words for black and white, then red, then yellow. Other colors follow from these. (These is much debate in the scientific community on the subject.) Some researchers believe that infants follow the same progression in their development, but evidence is sketchy.

(To e-mail me, replace the word "spiral" with "yahoo" in my e-mail address.)

posted by Quadell on Monday, 3/10/2003:

P.S. If you want some amazing fibonacci spirals to trip on while you listen to Lateralis, check these out.

(To e-mail me, replace the word "spiral" with "yahoo" in my e-mail address.)

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