Terror Twilight: Farewell Horizontal

Terror Twilight: Farewell Horizontal

When Pavement broke up in 1999, they left behind one of the most influential bodies of work in indie rock: music that bridged melody and noise, classic rock and punk, cryptic poetry and boyish charm. They could be breezy and low-key, but also elevated—a balance few artists have managed to strike since. “I think there was a certain amount of apprehension when the band ended,” Bob Nastanovich, the band’s auxiliary percussionist, backup “singer,” and general noisemaker tells Apple Music. “Like, after five albums in over an eight-year period, what the hell were we going to do next that would keep Pavement fans happy?” Their swan song, 1999’s Terror Twilight, had represented a shift: The sound was more processed (the influence, in part, of producer Nigel Godrich, then famous for his work on Radiohead’s OK Computer and Beck’s Mutations), and the songs split between the band’s headiest psychedelic tendencies (“Folk Jam,” “The Hexx”) and their most conventional ones (“Spit on a Stranger,” “Ann Don’t Cry”). The recording process had been fragmented: The band’s primary songwriter, Stephen Malkmus, hadn’t shared much in advance, and the band ended up cycling through a couple of studios before anything clicked—a process highlighted in demos for “You Are a Light” and Malkmus’ synth-heavy sketches of “Carrot Rope” and “Major Leagues,” included on the album’s 2022 edition. “[Godrich] liked the band a lot, and I think he felt a certain amount of pressure,” Nastanovich says. “And Pavement’s approach to recording records was probably something different from what he had encountered at that point in his career in terms of lack of preparation and what one might basically call professionalism.” The band was so split on how to sequence the album that when it came time to package the reissue, they opted to change the original release’s tracklisting to what Nigel Godrich had envisioned, leading off with some of the album’s densest tracks (“Platform Blues,” “The Hexx”) and lightening things as it goes, ending with the (relatively) simple romance of “Spit on a Stranger,” previously the album’s opener. Between the poles, you can hear the band’s legacy: smart, stonery nerds who punctuate their fog with moments of disarming emotional clarity. “I think when Terror Twilight was finished and came out, we felt like it was mission accomplished, from the standpoint that it was clearly different from the previous four Pavement records,” says Nastanovich, whose loose, multifaceted role in the band always made him a kind of spiritual avatar for the band as a whole. He remembers a day late in the process of Terror Twilight, twiddling knobs on his Nord synthesizer, trying to find a cool sound, not realizing his bandmates could even hear him. He looked up to see Stephen Malkmus through the window of the recording booth, giving a thumbs-up. “Moments like that are sort of cherished by me,” he says, “because I was just hoping for the best.”

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