Halyards in Gowanus, I’m flying solo and electric, opening for the debut of xclnt friends The Tell. On for ~half-hour starting 9:30…
The Tell is a trio formed of the core of After School Special: Josh Matthews, Ashley Semrick-DesRochers, and David Miller. I’ll be doing a 25-30 minute “Storytellers” set to ease the throttle into the big show, and let everyone float away into the evening. We’ll laugh a bit, maybe cry, maybe even daydream like landlocked surfers.
Stripped down songs, just me and Fabien (my Peekamoose custom M2), a few pedals and my Fender Super Champ X2 amp. Short set, so ambient flights to a minimum – more of an Americana-heavy romp through a few favs from across my catalog, with some superhero origin backstory between. For sure, Windfall and Love In This Land. The other three or four are up for grabs. It’s a Saturday night and I feel like leaving everyone with a smile or two, so nothing with too much gravity.
Since my last solo live performance, there’ve been nine records, a quarter million spins and 70K downloads(!!), a ton of collaboration, a bit of exposure, and a lot of inspiration. All this to say, this gig is overdue, and I hope it’s way less time until the next time.
A soundtrack for the simulation reset.
“A cloud fitted with an iron scaffold,” wrote Disquiet’s Marc Weidenbaum about me. Weidenbaum’s analogy is a spot-on fractal, in this case of my overall approach to songwriting and composing. The “cloud” speaks to my playing with abstraction and taking flights of spaced-out fancy; the “iron scaffold” to my love and reverence for accessible, turn the radio up songs. In the end, you get three chords and three changes in rock ‘n roll. I try to make the most of them.
“cipher /e” is a command line code that directs a computer to encrypt a file, directory, drive, or perhaps even a universe. We’re in a moment where dreams are being encrypted, the keys thrown away, and the sessions destroyed. It is a time of reset. There is something liberating, however, about time-zero. Perhaps we will each return to our true potential, where love flows uncorrupted through our hearts, and where wonder and curiosity outwit fear.
This record is an adventure in “sunny darkness,” exploring the gray area of life’s constant flux. I wrote most of the tracks in the final year of my dog Sterling’s battle with bladder cancer, and “Angel Let Down” surveys my emotions while caring for him. “Broken Heart > Wasted Soul” is how a suicide note is seen from both sides. “Lonesome Faraway Sounds” meditates on the murders of Honduran human rights activist Berta Cáceres and Syrian programmer Bassel Khartabil, each stuck down in the name of callous political expedience. Their deaths are proof of the absurdity of faith in politicians on any end of the ideological spectrum. “Last Call Home” was written as I listened to recordings of phone calls made from inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL, as a gunman took the lives of dozens of people just out enjoying life.
The centerpiece track for me is “The Other Side of the End,” a blithe-on-the-surface, but celestial-deep pop song about simulation theory, Alan Watts, and – depending on whether you hear the comma in the chorus – the meaning of existence or true friendship. No matter what you hear, let your mind wander to the stars as you drive down an empty Pacific Coast Highway. The world’s reset is your chance to become the enlightened, unadulterated, uncorrupted you. Take it.
Posted in cypher /e dreams, sounds, tracks
Tagged angel let down, cipher /e dreams, europa sunrise, europa sunrise (escaping earth remix), last call home, lonesome faraway sounds, love in this land, the other side of the end, the young unicorns, tracks, universal coherence, wake up time
Written early July 2016 on the way home from a final visit to my wife’s family farm in Orrtanna, Pennsylvania, outside Gettysburg. RIP, Aunt Suzanne…
This track also grieves not for an America that was – but for an America that could have been.
A few hours west of the City line
About 200 miles as the crow flies
Your family farm up on that hill
A place that made time stand still
Where Saturday nights on the outskirts of town
and ways of life were hand-me-downs
Every sunrise let you know just where you stand
There was love in this land
But time made other plans
In time you’ll understand
How much love was in this land
Now we’re taking one last drive tonight
To say one long last goodbye
To the land that held your family name
Thru an America getting auctioned away
By a world designed with no stop just go
That knows you never miss what you never know
That’s countin’ on you to forget where you stand
And all the love in this land
When the radio starts playing favorite songs
You can’t help (but) wonder where we went wrong
The moms and dads pass’d away
The kids flew away on the interstate
The farm is now in other hands
It’s up to you to still give a damn