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The REAL Meaning of Lateralus by Tool


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#1
Sephi

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i got this in an e-mail by a friend, and it seems VERY interesting, so i'm gonna try it on my PC after i post this....

quote:


TO ANYONE WHO THINKS TOOL SUCKS: READ THIS POST ON A WEBSITE I FOUND, AND FIND OUT WHY THEY ARE INCREDIBLE Okay - I'm a first time poster, but there are some things that I really want to throw around. To me, Tool's Lateralus is the most amazing piece of music ever composed. Not because I'm a goofball that has an affinity for the rockin' hard metal, and not because I want to latch on to their (in my opinion, unfairly applied) satanic reputation, but because I can say that it is the most intellectual, inspirational, and awe-inspiring material that I have ever been exposed to. Many reviews and commentaries of Lateralus on the internet mention that it was long-awaited, often saying that it eased Tool fans' desire for more. I think it was much more than that. I think Tool deliberately wanted to give their fans something truly amazing, but wanted them to find it on their own. "Recognize this as a holy gift..." At first, I thought that the song Lateralus was about tripping acid - discovering true color by seperating the body from the mind. At first listen, I imagined the bending envelope as an intense visual. After becoming more familiar with the track, however, I had reformed my interpretation to something broader: think deeper. Lateralus, perhaps because it is the album's "title track", serves as the central clue for a puzzle that a friend of mine had read about somewhere on the internet.

"All I know is that there is a different order for the songs - something about two spirals. Oh yeah, and thirteen is in the middle." After scavenging through endless google search results, I gave up on finding more about this 'alternate order'. Intent to figure the album out, and very curious about the spirals - I put on the proverbial 'thinking cap'. I understood how the spirals could have a lot of significance, in that the album's title track offers the inspiring, "swing on the spiral of our divinity and still be a human..........And following our will and wind we may just go where no one's been. We'll ride the spiral to the end and may just go where no one's been." In my internet scavenging, I had read one review, written by a drummer, who mentioned that Danny Carey's drum beat formed a fibonacci sequence during the song Lateralus. A drummer myself, I decided to get out the graph paper and follow Danny. I can't play like he can, but at least I can hear everything he's doing, and thus was able to construct the drum tabulature. Sure enough, Danny repeats a Fibonacci sequence through the number 13: 1,1,2,3,5,8,13. After 13, he starts again with 1. Bringing in my Algebra 2 knowledge of the Fibonacci sequence, when the equation for the Fibonacci sequence (which I don't actually know) is graphed, it forms a sprial whose vertex depends on the number at which the sequence begins. Coincidence? I began to think not. I had already known of Danny's obsession with sacred geometry and am familiar with Bob Frissell's book, Nothing in This Book Is True, But It's Exactly How Things Are , so the significance of what I had stumbled upon had actually begun to settle in.

This is where I just had to play with Lateralus. I had doodled a few spirals in the corners of my graph paper, and in doing so made the first important connection to Lateralus. I knew that if the tracks were in fact intended to be heard in a different order, "Parabol" and "Parabola" would have to go together. In drawing my spirals, I had begun with a vertex and 'spiraled' outwards. After writing the numbers 1 through 13 linearly, I could immediately see that Parabol and Parabola would have to be the middle of my spiral (in that 13 / 2 = 6.5). I drew a simple arrow between 6 and 7 and then pondered the next pair. At first, I actually drew a spiral connecting pairs of numbers whose sum equaled 13 (the number of songs on the album). This, however, left the last track in the same position and without anything to connect to. At this time, I had used my copy of Lateralus and Cool Edit Pro to take out the silences between tracks and put the songs in the following order: 6,7,5,8,4,9,3,10,2,11,1,12,13. The transition from Parabola into Schism blew my mind, as the plucks, probably dismissed by listeners as a drawn out rant of an ending, perfectly transition into the beginning of Schism. When you count out beats as the strings are plucked, Schism resumes with the same time signature and tempo - mirroring the progression of notes. The transition from Schism into Ticks & Leeches is equally intriguing. Schism ends with strong double-kick bass and tom smacks, and Ticks & Leeches begins with what many would call a 'tribal' drum beat. The beat at the very start of Ticks & Leeches is slightly different every subsequent time it is repeated - the measures are two beats longer. Yup - you guessed it - those two beats are ACTUALLY the last two beats of Schism.

I can honestly say that I never understood the album's fourth track, Mantra until reordering the album's songs. What I had originally heard as whale calls now had begun to resemble the worst imaginable dry heaves - or a stylized choking. Fitting, seeing as how the last line in Ticks & Leeches is "I hope you choke." After this transition, none of those following it really seemed to make much sense. I certainly didn't like that Disposition and Reflection had been seperated - as they sound quite good when played sequentially on the album. This was the only real roadblock in my disciphering of the Holy Gift. Then I had remembered what my friend had told me - 13 was in the middle. At the time, probably just wanting to believe that there was more to this cd, I had equated this to the positioning of the song "Intermission" on the previous release, Ænema. For the song to be in the 'middle' of the album it would have to be the seventh track in sequence, here having six tracks on either side of it. So I inserted Faaip de Oiad after Lateralus, and almost peed my pants when I discovered that (ever-so-faintly) the fading tone of the last note of Lateralus could be heard in beginning of Faaip de Oiad, and how the distortion of the guitars at the tail end of Lateralus resembled, and later transitioned seamlessly into, the static at the beginning of Faaip de Oiad. The lyrics of Lateralus justify this break in the spiral, almost instructing: "spiral out, keep going, spiral out, keep going." I went back to Lateralus to find the next clue. In Danny Carey's amazingly competent Fibonacci sequence, he had stopped at 13 and gone back to 1. This is what I chose to do to finish the sequence. A second spiral was now constucted, and the order for the Holy Gift now became 6,7,5,8,4,9,13,1,12,2,11,3,10. Already many of you are probably fascinated at what I have revealed to you, but I can not even begin to tell you what this new order has opened up for me. The beauty of Lateralus is very, very fragile and has to be viewed with a very open mind. It can also be different when looked at from different points of view. Aside from the fact that the new order of the songs places them in an order where they flow together nicely - often ending and resuming on the same notes or within the same progression, and some times - in the case of Lateralus into Faaip de Oiad and The Grudge into Triad - even overlapping (though admittadly sound much better when actually electronically overlapped, this is kind of cheating. Consider this a hint, however, if you plan on doing this yourself), the two spirals help to tell a story that every Tool fan should hear. In the interest of not boring the only casually intrigued, I will try to keep this very brief. I would also recommend familiarizing yourselves with Frissell's book (yeah - the one I mentioned earlier). I consider Parabol and Parabola to be quite expository. Maynard wants us to know that no matter what happens, we must all know that this is not our only existance. Our very minds and the contents of our subconscious are intended to be immortal, and if we accept this into our lives (be it because of personal or religious reasons), it will be so.

As such, pain is an illusion. At first, I called it "The Lateralus Prophecy" (for reasons you will soon understand), but I have since decided to call the 'reordered' version of Lateralus "The Holy Gift". As Maynard says, "Recognize this as a holy gift and celebrate this chance to be alive and breathing," I take the word "this" to mean much more than just his simple cautioning. Since Parabola is the second track of the Holy Gift, it can be considered at the beginning (esp. considering the context of it's duality with Parabol), and as such, I interpret Maynard's words as more than just clever lyrics in a song. They are a plead for his listeners to listen to everything he has to say and truly celebrate the chance of immortality offered throughout. I would be lying if I said that each song has a specific translation. On the contrary, Tool's music is designed to make you think, not say something specific. It must be treated like great literature - much is hidden contextually. I will elude to Geometric-Drumming's previous post, where he explains the time signatures of Schism: "It represents the title...it's arranged in 12/8 time which is SPLIT into 5/8 and 7/8 - which only really FITS as you PUT THE PIECES BACK TOGETHER." Where Geometric-Drumming claims Schism as his favorite Tool song, I have heard some fans say that it was a retched pick for the album's only single - but I think it was brilliant. Not to downplay the interpretations of those who have posted before me (in fact, I agree with much of what %BlueSoulRobot% has to say), but I think that to the casual listener who knows nothing of Tool, it can be a powerful invitation. Think about it - a lot of dingbats with MTV and a radio would walk around with the words "I know the pieces fit" in their heads. I wonder how many of them took the time to put the pieces back together to (re)discover what is trying to be communicated. I welcome any feedback. I would love to share interpretations of the songs via email - just too lengthy to post here. I would like to offer the following advice: DO NOT use MP3s to digitally reorder Lateralus. A lot of VERY IMPORTANT information is encoded on the actual cd. Ever notice how everyone who has lost or broken that cd has IMMEDIATELY gone out and bought a new copy? I know I have. It's because there are things encoded on the factory pressing of the cd that are lost in the mp3 compression process and any direct copy onto a cd-r. If you want to do it, do it right - I can't stress how important this is. Use the cda tracks as you put it together and maintain all audio fidelity using professional mixing software (sic)

it's a long read, but it's worth it, as the whole CD can tell a story about the mind being immortal, more than just listening to the song Lateralus again and again and again.

well, bye for now!

#2
Sephi

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well, obviously as it says on the "FAQ", i can't do it on my PC, so this is gonna be hard!

#3
Ptodgekin

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*yawn* People will try anything to justify wasting thirty bucks on a crap album from a good band.

#4
Sephi

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cry

i like Lateralus, actually.

#5
Mercury

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I LOVE Lateralus, actually, and Tool is one of my favorite bands....but I think people tend to over-analyze their music.

#6
Sephi

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Mercury:
I LOVE Lateralus, actually, and Tool is one of my favorite bands....but I think people tend to over-analyze their music.

true, but wouldn't that be crazy if it were true?

#7
Duke

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The credibility would be a bit higher if he didnīt start out by calling Tool "hard metal".

Otherwise, itīs a good album, but itīs not the damn Bible Code.

#8
Mezachhas

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Tool are one of the most boring bands I've ever heard.

#9
CSL

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Whoa... That's definitely interesting, but I don't think I buy it. I absolutely love Tool, they're one of my favorite bands, and Lateralus is an amazing album in my opinion, but I agree that a lot of people tend to overanalyze their music. It's a pretty intriguing concept, though. I highly doubt the band actually did this on purpose, but I can see how it would make sense in some ways. There are some inconsistencies, though, like how Eon Blue Apocalypse and The Patient are separated, and the Disposition-Reflection-Triad sequence is totally broken up. I don't believe it's anything to be taken that seriously, but it's still cool to think about.

#10
Jedi Economist

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So, if I play the tracks in a different order, it does... what exactly? Do I need to play it while watching The Wizard of Oz or something?

#11
Axis

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Since when does incorporating algebra into song writing make anyone a better band?

I like Tool because i appreciate their music, not because i believe half of the crap they put out there to **** with their more overanalyzing fans.

#12
David

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Axis:
Since when does incorporating algebra into song writing make anyone a better band?

I like Tool because i appreciate their music, not because i believe half of the crap they put out there to **** with their more overanalyzing fans.

ditto. many of the tool fans out there are a bunch of d|ldos.

#13
Vid Sicious

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You mean they're a bunch of tools? Har har. But yeah, I think that theory is interesting, if not true, but that's not why I listen to Tool. I listen to Tool because they rool! Uh yeah, time to take my medication...

#14
Fymix

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[quote] sephiroth lives:

[QUOTE]TO ANYONE WHO THINKS TOOL SUCKS: READ THIS POST ON A WEBSITE I FOUND, AND FIND OUT WHY THEY ARE INCREDIBLE [/quote]i stopped reading here.

#15
Joey Ramone

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Fymix:
i stopped reading here.

LOL laugh

I actually read most of the first post.

#16
Luke Vader

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wow...

talk about over-analyzing (sp?) laugh

who knows...maybe they did put it in there on purpose like that to give over-analyzing fans something to do when they have too much time on their hands...

i'm sure he's not the first to "discover" this "mystery", but reading through all of the trouble he went thru to figure all of that out really reminds me of Manson and the Beatle's White Album laugh

quote:


Otherwise, itīs a good album, but itīs not the damn Bible Code.

exactly...i'll never understand why some fans cant just leave it at being a great album...if they're looking for the meaning of life in a TOOL album, then they should definitely be on a couch somewhere, paying someone to figure out their problems...

#17
Darth Spoon

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To the guy that wrote this I say this. I'm sorry but I have never read a bigger load of crap in my entire time here. And I'm not just saying that for effect. That TRULY is the biggest load of over-analytical, rhetoric bull**** I've ever heard.

Yes, TOOL are a great band, Lateralus is a great album and all the songs do have a symmetry to them. That's the idea! That's what they have millions of dollars worth of mixing equipment for, to link the end of each song to beginning of the next via similarities between their tone. It's not rocket science!

But seriously, some of their fans are too damn intelligent for their own good. Do you seriously think Danny Carey would sit there and say "Y'know guys, I really think this song needs a Fibonacci geometric sequence to correspond to a spiral on a vortex graph I drew last night. If we don't do that, this album will not sell"?? Give me a break!

And I thought we had some ridiculously nitpicky people here (Prequels forum, Matrix fans etc), but damn, some TOOL fans continue to amaze me even with all I've seen.

You want the meaning of Lateralus? Put your Goddamn graph paper away, find a girlfriend, bring her over, put it in your CD player and then *** her! THAT is what this album is about! It's music, it's mood-evoking music, it's not Algebra 101!

#18
Sephi

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Weird Al did something like that once, on one of his songs, if you play it backwards, in an evil voice, it says "Satan eats cheese wiz". and in another one, he says "wow, you must've been bored".

#19
Luke Vader

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maynard is a PROPHET! he saw this coming and even hinted at it in the chorus of Lateralus!!!

"Over thinking, over analyzing..."

doesnt this mean something?!

laugh

#20
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[quote] Darth Spoon:

Yes, TOOL are a great band, Lateralus is a great album and all the songs do have a symmetry to them. That's the idea! That's what they have millions of dollars worth of mixing equipment for, to link the end of each song to beginning of the next via similarities between their tone. It's not rocket science!

Um, the big surprise was that the songs flowed into each other better and made more sense in the context of the rest of the album when the songs were rearranged according to the spiral. It's not just about making sure the songs flow in the 'normal' continuity. Now, it's a matter of opinion how much better the album flows in the 'new' continuity, but it does work.

But seriously, some of their fans are too damn intelligent for their own good. Do you seriously think Danny Carey would sit there and say "Y'know guys, I really think this song needs a Fibonacci geometric sequence to correspond to a spiral on a vortex graph I drew last night. If we don't do that, this album will not sell"?? Give me a break!

What makes you think that the overriding purpose behind the spiral sequence was to make the album sell more? I know it's hip to be cynical about everything, but might it be possible that some artist might still want to do something creative for the sake of art itself?


You want the meaning of Lateralus? Put your Goddamn graph paper away, find a girlfriend, bring her over, put it in your CD player and then *** her! THAT is what this album is about!


You're a sad little man.



#21
NINdroog

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I agree, i think people over-analyze stuff like this too much. Radiohead is the same way, I love Radiohead, but I don't think that it is complex as some people make it out to be. I think that both of these bands are very artistic but that there is not anything extremely complicated or ordered about what they do. I think they just decide that if something is cool and fairly original, they put that in. This is not to take away from their work at all, but like somebody said it isn't the bible code, they are just making cool music.

#22
Darth Spoon

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quote:


Originally posted by Cuckoo:
Um, the big surprise was that the songs flowed into each other better and made more sense in the context of the rest of the album when the songs were rearranged according to the spiral. It's not just about making sure the songs flow in the 'normal' continuity. Now, it's a matter of opinion how much better the album flows in the 'new' continuity, but it does work.



You make it sound as if Lateralus is the only album that actually has an aobove average flow and continuity. Might I also mention Pink Floyd and Radiohead among others that could give a **** about the pedantic details of how it was done rather than whether it actually sounds decent.


quote:


What makes you think that the overriding purpose behind the spiral sequence was to make the album sell more? I know it's hip to be cynical about everything, but might it be possible that some artist might still want to do something creative for the sake of art itself?



TOOL are indeed about showcasing their own artistic merits, but regardless they're about SELLING RECORDS. NO-ONE in the music industry makes music for the art itself unless they'll still see some dollars from it, or they're in the Led Zeppelin/Beatles supercelebrity category where they could just sit on their asses for the rest of their lives and still be billionaires. TOOL may be very successful, but don't have that luxury. If they release an album that's so uncommercial that no-one buys it, there's a fair chance it will ruin them. So yeah, their aim is to sell records, otherwise they wouldn't be in the business.

quote:



You're a sad little man.

Glad you can understand metaphors unimpres

#23
Cuckoo

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[quote] Darth Spoon:


You make it sound as if Lateralus is the only album that actually has an aobove average flow and continuity. Might I also mention Pink Floyd and Radiohead among others that could give a **** about the pedantic details of how it was done rather than whether it actually sounds decent.[/quote]I'm not sure that you're getting it; while the album sounds fine played in the order that is on the CD, there is another order for the tracks (as described in the article) that is different from the CD order that shows evidence that the new order (and not the CD order) is the 'correct' order. Did you read the whole article? It's not just saying, "oh, listen to how smoothly track 1 flows into track 2 and then track 3," it's saying "if you place track 8 before track 4 according to the spiral theory, 8 flows into 4 as if it's meant to be that way."


quote:

TOOL are indeed about showcasing their own artistic merits, but regardless they're about SELLING RECORDS. NO-ONE in the music industry makes music for the art itself unless they'll still see some dollars from it, or they're in the Led Zeppelin/Beatles supercelebrity category where they could just sit on their asses for the rest of their lives and still be billionaires. TOOL may be very successful, but don't have that luxury. If they release an album that's so uncommercial that no-one buys it, there's a fair chance it will ruin them. So yeah, their aim is to sell records, otherwise they wouldn't be in the business.[/quote]I didn't say that their aim wasn't to sell records. I said that the whole bit about rearranging the tracks according to the spiral sequence to get the "correct" order for the songs doesn't have to be driven by a desire to sell records, it can be something that was done for art's sake. The album sounds fine without rearranging the tracks, and probably most people who bought the album don't even think about the possiblity that there could be some alternate arrangment of tracks that is 'correct'. The possiblity that the tracks should be in a different order doesn't affect potential sales at all. However, the alternate order is there for those that want to dig deeper and find it.

#24
Euronymous

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What a load of wank.

#25
Darth Spoon

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quote:


Originally posted by Cuckoo:
I'm not sure that you're getting it; while the album sounds fine played in the order that is on the CD, there is another order for the tracks (as described in the article) that is different from the CD order that shows evidence that the new order (and not the CD order) is the 'correct' order. Did you read the whole article? It's not just saying, "oh, listen to how smoothly track 1 flows into track 2 and then track 3," it's saying "if you place track 8 before track 4 according to the spiral theory, 8 flows into 4 as if it's meant to be that way."

Oh yes, I read the article, and if you understood the clear meaning of what I was oprininally saying you would see that the the point I was making was "Who gives a ****??" Not everything is engineered!

quote:


I didn't say that their aim wasn't to sell records. I said that the whole bit about rearranging the tracks according to the spiral sequence to get the "correct" order for the songs doesn't have to be driven by a desire to sell records, it can be something that was done for art's sake.

Well yes it would've. All bands have a schedule and a budget. Bands don't have an unlimited amount of time to make their recordings, and they sure hell ass don't have enough time time to pedantically tinker with their songs just so that a finicky over-analyzing minority can have something to waste their precious time and cranial intensity on. It's called coincidence, as I said it's not brain science.

quote:


probably most people who bought the album don't even think about the possiblity that there could be some alternate arrangment of tracks that is 'correct'.

Well did you ever consider that might be because they're too busy actually enjoying the damn music? unimpres

quote:


The possiblity that the tracks should be in a different order doesn't affect potential sales at all. However, the alternate order is there for those that want to dig deeper and find it. [/QB]

If they want to waste their time they're more than welcome. I suppose I'm atypical as I just like to listen to a CD simply to enjoy the music on it. What a novel idea that is.

I can't believe I'm even wasting any more brain cells on this! laugh



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