Keeping Score: Columbus & Colour Green


This is Keeping Score. Every other week, I recommend a movie and an album, sort of like an unofficial score. 

It’s around this time of year, when the trees are bare, the weather is gloomy, and the sun sets ungodly early, that a sense of melancholy is almost unavoidable. Comfort movies, food, and music make their rounds, and we all revel (wallow) in their nostalgia. The pot of lentil soup on my stove, my Spotify ‘recently played,’ and the sudden uptick in my sweater wearing can confirm. 

Whether you’re at home this season or not, the changes brought on by the pandemic and isolation have also made the most recent wave of nostalgia a little more pensive. Kogonada’s 2017 movie, Columbus, is the perfect movie for this moment. Set in Columbus, Indiana, a city known for a number of beautiful modernist buildings, the movie follows the son of an acclaimed architect, Jin (John Cho), and local architecture enthusiast, Casey (Hailey Lu Richardson) as they meet and grow closer to each other. Grappling with the circumstances for their both being (and staying) in Columbus, the movie waxes on the emotions of difficult family relationships and feeling stuck (physically and mentally). I would liken Columbus to an existential and sadder Before Sunrise

Columbus’s music is ambient and minimal. It works well for the movie, but it isn’t exactly something I revisit or think about (very well by design). My album for this week is both nostalgic for me personally, but is filled with the comfort and melancholy of the season. Sibylle Bair’s Colour Green approaches life’s beauty, fragility, and sadness with a gentle hand just as Kogonada does with relationships, architecture, and personal growth. 

Recorded by Bair in Germany in the 70s, Colour Green was not published until a copy of the recording found its way to Dinosaur Jr. ‘s J Mascis and then the label Orange Twin. The majority of the record sees Bair’s soft and sad voice paired with gentle strumming, similarly dealing with loss, sadness, and relationships. 

“Tonight” opens Colour Green with the simple struggle of discussing and being sad together, repeating the lyrics “we had a change of the moon.” Somehow getting even sadder, “I Lost Something in the Hills” reflects on having complicated feelings about home. Both feeling deprived of a certain way of life and nostalgic for another, what we want is always out of reach for Bair here. Turning to a love song, “Forget About” is an ode to being with someone so fully that nothing else matters. “Time, you washed out / like a soft, summer rain,” Bair’s vulnerable and simple approach to music is poetic and melancholy in the best way.

Take time between staring melodramatically out the window and drinking gallons of herbal tea to watch and enjoy this pair.

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