Interpretation of Rishloo’s Pandora

Rishloo is one of my favorite bands, and I will try to show you through this post why they really deserved this special place in my heart by discussing their song “Pandora”.

Pandora is the 4th song of the album “Eidolon”, released in 2007. If you never heard of Rishloo, I recommend you start with that album. And please, take your time to enjoy their music, like really enjoy it. It is the kind of music that seems written on different levels. It is not just a nice text with some clever riffs and melodies, it seems to be a well thought process of making music, getting every instrument, voice, and vibe into the same context.

As mentioned, I’ll illustrate with their song “Pandora”. It starts with a fade out of the sounds of the previous track and quickly makes place for a repetitive background noise that sounds like a train on tracks. It repeats, over and over. Suddenly, the clean guitar (with what seems to be some reverb and chorus) falls in with an inviting riff. It falls smoothly in the sound of the train tracks and joins a somewhat repeated trend of striking strings. The drums then fall in with a clear but heavy presence, accentuating the changes of the riff with a steady and solid, but not too imposing, sound. It is now the bass that subtly slips in with the notes exactly where they need to be. Let’s take a moment here to appreciate the build-up. You have been invited, smoothly, into the song. At this point, you experienced the transition of a repetitive noise into the harmonious interplay of instruments. And notice that the sound of the train tracks is still there. Now, we finally have the voice that softly joins the party as if it has been singing all this time.

Cedar grains cling to woven skin upon walls.
I know.

For this song, I will not go to deep into the whole lyrical meaning of the whole song as I find it may be interpreted in several ways. However, I would like to share how a part of the lyrics helped me personally in my life.

Without a key, without a sound.
Without a chance to hold the light.
It reaches in between the seams
to tease the madness and the grief.
To curse the walls, to cure the need,
to curse the damned who damn the need,
the need to know what lies beyond, beyond the walls.

Before I get all personal about it, I would just like to give some background on what the title “Pandora” may refer to: Pandora’s box. Pandora’s box is a story that tells the tale of a young girl that opens a box (although originally it is a jar) out of curiosity and by doing so releases the world’s evil (and I am really roughly summarising it). The point is, we feel the need, the need to know. We seek answers to life. This may be seen as a gift, as we are able to wonder about life, think, express and study… but it is also a curse. We cannot help but wonder. We cannot help but ask our self what the meaning of life is. We actually don’t have a clue of which questions matter the most. So in a sense, we have no key to ask ourselves the right questions to the meaning of life [Without a key…]. But this feeling is shared across humanity, it is implied without speaking about it [without a sound…]. And although we ask ourselves what the meaning of life is, we shall find no answers. We will remain in the dark, and we know this. [Without a chance to hold the light]. We cannot stop however to try to answer at least a part of the question. It nearly drives us crazy, makes us grief. [to tease the madness and the grief]. We resent the obstacles that we face, the obstacles that keep us from answering the question of life [To curse the walls…] and we try to find partial answers to smaller questions in the meantime, such as the meaning of our actions, to cure the itch of the main question of life [to cure the need]. Sometimes we can feel condemned to these thoughts, we damn them. Out of frustration, we helplessly start to damn the people who try to answer the questions. We feel the need to get through the obstacles that keep us from the truth. [to curse the damned who damn the need, the need to know what lies beyond, beyond the walls]. We want to know so badly, we want to open the door to the answers. We need to open the door, learn the answers of life.

Turn the key, turn the key
Turn the key, turn the key
Turn the key, turn the key

But we can’t.

Damn the key, damn the key

No matter the answer, we want freedom from the questioning.

And set free…

Of course, this is only one of many possible interpretations, and it is my personal, and obviously subjective, interpretation. I struggle with constant questions, thoughts that race my mind. I cannot suppress them, it feels like a burden I often damn. I long to be set free, but it also makes me who I am. Reading/Listening to the lyrics gives me comfort somehow and tells me it’s alright. It’s alright to have questions that cannot be answered. It’s alright to damn the need to know, to be tempted to turn the key. Without a key.

To get back to the song, also note that the guitar beautifully translates the journey of the whole reflection. In the beginning of the song, it started out clean and repetitive (structured). The further we go into the song, the more you can hear distortion coming on (with some flanger from time to time). The distortion really kicks in at the repetition of the phrase “turn the key”, stressing the obsession, the haunting thoughts. The guitar thus accentuates quit fittingly the torture. The frustration of asking it all over, again and again. It’s the gnawing of the need. The torture of wanting to know. And the questioning leading to instability, uncertainty… the distortion. Notice how the guitar drifts off from its structure. It becomes more unstable, less predictable. It is losing it’s mind over the thoughts. And everything ends together at the end of the song, after accepting that it is alright, putting it behind. Making room for the now.

Breathing, I step beyond the past and let it go.

I would like to add that the song that follows “Pandora” on the “Eidolon” album flows in a transition from the distorted “torture” sound into a clean sound. As if the madness is gone, everything is back to normal. Let’s move on.

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