This is the first song on my forthcoming record "Everything Around Me". You can listen to it and/or buy it by clicking here
Above is the album cover. It is a photo I took of the Amherst Cinemas in Amherst, MA. More on that soon.
I plan to talk more than normal about the entire project, but for now, I wanted to focus on just this song.
I've been writing songs for this record since early 2016. I was once again recording with my dearest friend, Mr. Joel Stroetzel. We had a plethora of 75%-ers that were coming to fruition when I decided to make an attempt at building a home studio. The original intent was to blend the songs that I had recorded at home with the songs Joel and I were doing in his studio. It became apparent, rather quickly, that there was a message being sent through the songs at home that was demanding sole attention.
I started recording at home just after the turn of this year. I was immediately re-enamored with manipulating sound. I experimented with numerous field recordings, loops, filters, and envelopes. I also took quite a bit of time with midi and sound sampling because I had been listening to nothing but minimalist traditional music. Lots of single note french horns, oboe, cello. Arvo Part, Ryuichi Sakamoto, some Ravel. I was aware of all of the bleed of traffic through my window in Easthampton, MA. It works in stark contrast to the concept of hermetically sealed orchestral environments of the music I was spending so much time with. I tried to utilize the dichotomy. I enjoyed recording the sound of rolling tires kicking rain as much as I enjoyed recording overly compressed whispered vocals. The album opener is called The Monastery On The Hill. It contains samples of other aborted songs, field recordings of the film The Revenant, strange synth loops, screamed and exhausted vocals. Ebow-ed guitars, stereo drums misaligned, no bass, ruined input levels, out of pitch melodies, editing mistakes, demos of my friend Sheri Hupfer singing ghost melodies that weren't intended for this song, contrapuntal on top of contrapuntal keys and guitars.
It's a mess.
And so am I.
I wrote this over the course of 3 months. The last 3 months of my mother's life.
It started as a story inspired by a building that I've always loved. The monastery in West Springfield, MA - on Rt 5. Set bucolically on a rolling hill of green, only barely separated from the disaster of contemporary American decay. A tire shop sits at its foothill. To my knowledge, my mother never stepped in there. Nor have I. It is as mystical and magical now as it would've been when I was a child out with my mom, in the late '70s, on the way to Zayre to buy fabric and action figures. A place that either housed dragons from my coloring books, or some Star Wars castaways that made a colossal galaxial error in a coordinate entry and landed feet from the Donut Dip. Or a place that offered a respite from the incessant motion. A place with oil painted cement basements that stored old pews that I could crawl underneath and feel a way that I couldn't anywhere else. Safe from all of the monsters, thanks to my mom.
But there were no monsters.
It wasn't until much later in my life that I realized what I felt wasn't a pause from some undefinable unsafe elements. That thing I felt was much more simple. More palatable. That thing I felt was innocence. An innocence that I experienced while eating Halls cough drops in a very real cement church basement in Agawam - where I listened to my mom sing in the choir upstairs. The pulse of the organ distantly violent against the walls.
The monastery in West Springfield is allowing me to return to that time. To return to her. To write about what might or might not be happening. To write about not knowing what to do. To write about something.
To find her.
I thank you, from the deepest part of myself, for reading and listening.