In Or Belonging To The Past
Our album I Hope I Got All The Good Stories Out Of Them was released 3 days ago on all streaming platforms! If you haven’t yet listened, here’s the skinny on what you can expect to hear:
I have a geometric brain. I mean that figuratively, of course – my mind isn’t literally shaped like a prism or a rhombus (as far as I know!). Visually, though, I'm a very shapes-and-lines kinda dude. When learning guitar and piano, for example, I first learned to remember chord shapes and fingering patterns, not notes. If you hand me a pencil and tell me to draw anything, I’ll most likely doodle aggregations of squares and triangles; clusters of harsh lines and patterns and occasional mazes.
Hand-in-hand with my weird spatial predisposition comes a needless (yet comforting!) tendency to seek, pinpoint, and quantify patterns in everyday life where often none lie. It was this endeavour that led me to notice an odd trend in my personal life: as far back as I can reasonably remember, every fourth year has been a good one. 2007 was good. 2011 was great. 2015 was downright fantastic.
So, I went into 2019 mildly optimistic that, if the trends continued as forecasted, I was due for a pleasant year.
I was wrong. 2019 sucked.
For reasons I won’t delve deeply into, it was a rough one. Though little I'd characterize as truly "traumatic" happened, a series of missteps and endlessly-materializing worst-case scenarios left me feeling sunken and exhausted. It was a year of uncharacteristic loneliness and lowness; dissatisfaction and disillusionment.
My only lyrical contribution to this album is a spoken-word piece, which is layered into our album closer “In Or Belonging To The Past.” I penciled it after noticing that I have an unfortunate habit of becoming mentally mired in days past. It's so easy, on the tail end of a challenging year, to fixate on my mistakes; to analyze too deeply the circumstances that led to my patterns of despondence; to look back fondly upon the 2011s and 2015s of my life and wish I were still there.
It’s a mindset wherein my dumb geometric brain begins murmuring in a steady, barbed hum the disheartening mantra that maybe it simply won't get any better. Maybe my happiness peaked in my early twenties. Maybe 2015 was the last great year I’ll have. It’s easy enough to shrug off the feeling in the good moments, but often, the hum persists fixedly; a weighty, low-lying intonation layered under all else, like the rumbling of a subway train beneath a sidewalk. “In Or Belonging...” seeks largely to exorcise that habit by gently reminding myself that what's past -- good or bad -- belongs only to the past: "Look back to a place where you lived absolutely and loved steadily to know where you no longer belong."
So yes, it was a rough year, and at times, the making of this album was pretty rough, too. Listening to it, you're hearing four-plus years of creative strain; weird personal and interpersonal turmoil; moments of trauma, frustration, and exhaustion. You're hearing writing, recording, tweaking, re-recording, layering, re-writing, and re-recording again. And, though this album is so long in the making, the challenges behind its conception make it feel in many ways like a microcosm of 2019 – and I love that.
It's by a sheer, screaming, bareboned, hail-mary effort we were able to get this album out before year's end. At some point it became imperative to me that we release it in 2019; a creeping but consuming need to dispel all my sonic baggage into the world had taken over, because something good had to come of this year. Underneath everything you'll hear as you listen, ringing out still stronger is a broader sense of relief and pathos, because staying in the light is a wild and important undertaking.
My next good year will happen only when I stop searching for it.
So pardon, as usual, my whining. I hope you dig the album -- make sure to listen loud.
You guys are the best!