Writing can be a mixed bag. Sometimes words come out like you’re exhaling and other times they need to be exhumed painfully from parts of your self that are better off untouched. The former is the case for our album currently in production: relatively short writing periods, small edits, feelings of gratitude and connection. It’s great! Feels like a gift, exc and so on. And I can accept this because the last album, Gilded Prayer, was quite a helping of the later. It is a huge postmusical interwoven beast that is one step beyond even my own comprehension. So, before I spoil this blog with unmerited positivity about the self-actualizing process of creating this new album, it’s important to walk through of the self-destructive process of creating the last one.
At the end of 2014, I stumbled out of graduation summa cum laude with a degree in music composition and I was, simply put, burnt out baby. Worse than that was that I had lost a spark. The internal energy that once defined my future, directed my present, and contextualized my past was more or less gone. The avant-garde academic music I wrote felt distant and aloof, and the pop music I wrote felt infantile and self-indulgent. Around that time, I released an album, did nothing with it, and pretty much told no one.
The tragic thing about studying a subject seriously is that it changes your relation to it. All the secrets are unearthed, all the mysteries are explained, and that can spoil some of the fun. I realized around this time that I had no interest in listening to music and little interest in playing it. My rigorous study had somehow compressed my passion into a more definable and ridged skill. It was something I could do like math equations or argumentative writing. A competency that I could put on a resume. I guess everything has a cost.
Conversely, while my ability to appreciate music was diminished, I found that my attraction to field recordings and other incidental/ unintentional sounds greatly increased. I would listen to traffic, wind, and idle chatter with great attention. My new love was the symphonic byproduct of the indifferent mechanisms of existence. I would spend evenings browsing recordings of birds and waterfalls (many of which can be heard in Gilded Prayer).
So I wrote the music for Gilded Prayer with a kind of indignation towards it. I’d write a song and then pick at its seams, fray out all the edges, and reduce it to a tangled weave of musical filament. I’d then send the demo recordings to drummer Devin Tomczik and frantically try to explain the concepts to him. To my undeserved benefit, Devin would always nod and work out any odd syncopation or beat I could dream up. A true friend and collaborator whose only payment was being featured on opening the record with a frenzied mess of drum solos.
There was a contract and everything.