As a synesthetic overwriter who smokes a healthy amount of weed, let me start by saying that I get it. Music writing—particularly the type provoked by genuine passion—begs the metaphor, and the metaphor—particularly the type that occurs to the music writer—tends to get well out of hand.

However, because reading about music sometimes feels like getting hosed in the face instead of what it should feel like, which is a conversation with your coolest and smartest friend, I am here to address this set of common literary offenses with their only fitting punishment: another metaphor. Welcome to music writing jail, where no diffuse yet over-specific literary struggle goes unpunished—and you only gain entry if you've been very, very bad.

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We start today with this very enjoyable collection of D'Angelo blurbs put together by Saint Heron and Friends, a tite indie collective of artists and producers gathered and nurtured by Solange Knowles's Saint Records. D'Angelo's gorgeous record Voodoo just turned 15, and here we get to see what it means to people like Janelle Monae, Ariel Rechtshaid, A-Trak, Kindness, Thundercat and more. Beyoncé herself calls Voodoo "the DNA of black music." That's a good metaphor: simple, expressive, specific, nontransferable, evocative all at once.

In contrast, here's the blurb by Dave Longstreth, who—to his eternal credit—is not a music writer, but the composer and frontman for Dirty Projectors, a band with prodigiously interesting structural and technical instincts, and a band I admire a lot.

Voodoo collapses time, it feels eternal. Voodoo is a voice that's been whispering vines into the margins of medieval manuscripts in some Alexandrian library beyond the barbarous antiquity of the present. It posits an alternate reality where traditionalism and technology aren't at odds: the palette of the recording is so futuristic and crisp but the playing is so real, so effortlessly true. The grooves are at once taut as an airlock and free as a handful of almonds strewn on a tabletop, and the One always snaps back, elliptical as a portrait of Jupiter's orbit in a convex mirror. D'Angelo's voice is insanely elastic, his runs so crispy, his vibrato a light green leaf in the May breeze, and the thrum of him singing with himself is an inexact three-color silkscreen, as if his spirit is constantly leaving his body and then returning to it glossolalia — to testify, to affirm, to explore, to assure.

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LMAO okay okay okay hold on omg let me pick my Flat Albert-ass hippocampus up from under this turgid verbal steamroller so that we can go back through what we just read from the beginning.

Voodoo collapses time, it feels eternal. Voodoo is a voice that's been whispering vines into the margins of medieval manuscripts in some Alexandrian library beyond the barbarous antiquity of the present.

Let it be said, again, that I get the sentiment. Voodoo has a strong, subtly insinuated magic about it—something so irrefutable as to feel ancient, something simultaneously spiritual and organic and thus fitting to the idea of vines on an illuminated manuscript. But not "medieval manuscripts in some Alexandrian library," because the Library of Alexandria burned down during the time of Julius Caesar, which is long before the dawn of the Middle Ages—otherwise known as Medieval Times. What Longstreth is saying about Voodoo in logical terms here is that it's a voice doodling errant fauna onto a Chaucerian sheepskin that has time-traveled back to ancient Egypt and also exists "beyond" (yes—in any way in particular?) the "barbarous antiquity of the present."

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What is that last phrase there? It sounds very full of ideas and means literally no ideas. If Longstreth means antiquity as senescence—the "deterioration of culture" or whatnot, pardon me while I turn off this A.G. Cook remix, I am a plastic toy and I have no idea what you mean—then maybe. The present, however, is not very barbarous when wedged within the same sentence as both Medieval Times and ancient Egypt. Today, all our barbarousness exists deep within our dark, content-creating hearts.

Oh my god, next:

It posits an alternate reality where traditionalism and technology aren't at odds: the palette of the recording is so futuristic and crisp but the playing is so real, so effortlessly true.

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This sentence is chill, even though—forget it. Next:

The grooves are at once taut as an airlock and free as a handful of almonds strewn on a tabletop, and the One always snaps back, elliptical as a portrait of Jupiter's orbit in a convex mirror.

HOO BOY. The grooves are as... taut... as... an... airlock, okay, so we're either in space or a hyperbaric chamber, I'm rolling with it... also like a bunch of spare nuts someone threw on the counter? I get it, but life doesn't have to be this way. After the airlock and the almonds comes an ellipse—a good spatial metaphor for the diffuse diligence of D'Angelo's work—that is also, buckle your seatbelts, a portrait (classic "ellipse portrait" genre of portraits) of Jupiter's fucking orbit (classic "Jupiter's orbit ellipse portrait" genre of ellipse portraits) in a convex fucking mirror (classic "convex mirror set up to reflect a portrait of Jupiter's elliptical orbit" that you see around corners in most subway stops these days).

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Okay. Last sentence:

D'Angelo's voice is insanely elastic, his runs so crispy, his vibrato a light green leaf in the May breeze, and the thrum of him singing with himself is an inexact three-color silkscreen, as if his spirit is constantly leaving his body and then returning to it glossolalia — to testify, to affirm, to explore, to assure.

Sure, yes, love the elastic voice, those crispy, crispy runs, the vibrato like a leaf—a light green one, in the May breeze, sure, I will buy those descriptions at the word store. Harmonies as an "inexact three-color silkscreen" in which D'Angelo is dying and then returning to his own body to speak in tongues is a lot though. I hear the lovely meter of "INex-act THREE-color SILKscreen" and still, the spirit in glossolalia is really just a lot.

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This whole thing was five sentences and contained 20 abstractions. The motto of Metaphor Jail is "Do a Little Less." Till next time, I leave you with the Dirty Projectors' terrific cover of Usher's "Climax."

Image via Virgin Records.