quarta-feira, 20 de março de 2019

Darkswoon, "Bind" - Track by Track

Bem, para quem acompanha as páginas do TBTCI, o nome Darkswoon não é nenhuma novidade.

O, hoje, trio de Portland, e seu poderoso mix de electrodarkgaze. Desde o excelente "Year One" de 2015, passando por "Silhouettes" de 2016, que aguardamos ansiosamente o próximo passo do Darkswoon.

A espera enfim teve seu fim no dia 9 de Fevereiro, dia que o mundo conheceu "Bind".

Uma passo gigantesco na sonoridade da banda, que apesar de permanecer em seu ambiente soturno, começa a sinalizar, mesmo que sutilmente alguma presença de luz. Mas a luz no mundo do Darkswoon vem de um sentido rítmico dançante, não feito especialmente pra pistas, mas para o cérebro.

Situar o Darkswoon, como alguns fazem de gótico, é um limitar a capacidade criativa de Jana, Andrew e Rachel. Obviamente que fantasmas de sonoridades clássicas da 4AD ou da Beggars Banquet exalam pelos poros do disco, mas existe muitos outros segredos e mistérios que envolvem "Bind", na realidade o álbum deve ser degustado sem pressa, e por inúmeras vezes, só assim é possível absorver cada detalhe desta pequena maravilha do submundo dos bons sons.

E para obras deste quilate, como de praxe, o TBTCI tenta sempre desvendar um pouco mais, e para isso convidamos Jana Cushman para elucidar "Bind", faixa a faixa.

Apague as luzes e boa viagem.

***** Darkswoon, "Bind" - Track by Track *****

I wrote ‘Bind’ over the last two years. I wasn’t really setting out to write a specific kind of album but I did have some specific intentions and then some unexpected pieces that fell into place. Previously, I was using Ableton Live to write the electronic elements in my music. I love computer music but I entered into this stage of songwriting feeling adverse to my laptop after it had caused problems and inconsistencies with my live performances. Sometimes technology just does it’s own thing. I wanted to have more control so I wrote all of ‘Bind’ on live hardware, drum machines/sequencers and synths. Our electronic set up is actually still fairly basic but there is more control. Between that decision and bringing Rachel (Ellis) and Andrew (Michael Potter) into Darkswoon, the sound shifted and evolved into what is heard on the record. In the studio, we had some of the usual challenges and some new. It’s always a learning experience. Our engineer had a very different approach to tracking than I’d ever experienced before. It was not a very encouraging environment but in the end, I am very satisfied with the results regardless of how we got there.

I chose to call the album ‘Bind’ and it means a couple different things. When I started writing lyrics for the first few songs that materialized, I was using some of the same creative energy and inspiration I’ve always gravitated towards-talking to ghosts, both literally and figuratively, re-examining relationships and experiences, writing mostly in or of the past. But some things changed in my life that forced me to live more in the moment, finding new challenges and inspiration through self exploration and self preservation under the new US administration. It’s a scary time for a lot of people in America. I made a decision that with the shifting political/social climate I wanted to be more open about who I am and more visible as a queer person. I also found myself really falling into gratitude and love during this time. The word Bind is to be taken both metaphorically and literally. It is about binding spells to protect loved ones and that which is sacred from harm. It is about feeling pressure and constraint. And in a literal sense, about chest binding, battling dysphoria, and finding self love and new forms of gender expression. It’s also about the urgency of life.

The themes, although different from song to song still have a common thread that pulls them together
- Jana Cushman

Red Ferrari
This song began with lyrics that I wrote down after waking from a dream. In the dream, I got a phone call from my first love. She passed away in 2005. I dream about her now and then, have conversations with her ghost who is sometimes judging me, sometimes teaching me.

When we were together and friends beyond our relationship, she was full of life. Everything was extreme, extremely fun, intense, Aries fire, she was hilarious, violent, tortured, brilliant. We weren’t talking anymore for about 8 months before she passed away of a heroin overdose. So I think I will always dream of her and always write of her. I am still searching for closure.

The title of the song comes from a kind of ecstasy (the drug). Lyrically, there is a conversation happening, reminiscing with her in death while reliving moments we shared in life.
I struggled with finding the music. It was a mercurial process, changing forms every time I approached it. Finally, I had a breakthrough. Usually I write alone but my previous band mate, Christian Terrett, and I approached it together one day. We used a beat he wrote on his Arturia Drumbrute and I just kind of broke through with the guitar lines and a vocal melody that stuck. The drumbeat was slightly adapted onto a Korg Electribe for the current version but it was a really important moment with him that I really value.

This Flesh
For being complex in layers, the music came easily. The beats had been around for a while when I added the guitar. I brought back a style of playing I had all but abandoned. I don’t do a lot of faster, flat picking anymore but it used to be my go to and it just worked for this song. With Rachel executing the arpeggiated synth line and Andrew’s rhythmic chugging fuzzy bass, ‘This Flesh’ turned into a hard-hitting, dynamic piece of music.

Lyrically, the song is pretty personal. I am having an ongoing discussion with myself about mental health, gender fluidity, non binary queerness, and what it takes to be comfortable in my own skin.

Human faults
I began ‘Human Faults’ as a possible song for a movie I was working on throughout the entirety of the writing of this record (‘My Summer As A Goth’). And then it kept becoming something else. Since I was the acting music supervisor for the film, I had to veto my own song. It just wasn’t becoming something I wanted for the movie.

It took forever to write. Maybe longer than any song in my music career. I don’t know why. There were so many different forms before it became something I was satisfied with musically. Then Andrew added that killer bassline, Rachel applied the synth swells and it became complete. The song itself is about toxic love, a reoccurring theme throughout the album. Knowing that someone/something is bad for you and almost loving it more because it connects with some dark part of you. Connecting with the darkness in others and seeing it for what it is. Exposing vulnerability, owning it and pouring salt on the wounds.

Maybe the quickest to write with some complicated subject matter. I was reflecting on the vulnerability of my childhood and some of the things that happened to me. I grew up fast and feeling pretty invisible at times, not feeling heard. I think that a lot of people can identify with having experienced that as a kid. But then sometimes we get lost in that place, bad things happen and it goes unnoticed. Kids don’t have the vocabulary to describe the trauma they experience and they often blame themselves. So ‘Emoto’ became a bit of a poetic call out to those who were supposed to protect me. But you can’t protect people from things that you don’t see/hear. Not being heard feels like drowning under water to me.

The title comes from Masaru Emoto’s study of human consciousness and the molecular structure of water, how the two are related. I have had this idea for a while about waking up, drinking water that’s absorbed my dreams and subconscious thoughts from sleep. Drinking my dreams, so to speak, and having them heal me. “I drink my dreams, they don’t drown me” is the opening line to the song. The two ideas melded together.

I had a few different versions of this song rolling around for a while. One version was very slow and sad but I didn’t really want this song to be slow and sad. The final version started as a mess. I didn’t know if it would work. I think it was the very last song I finished for ‘BIND’. We were very fresh with it in the studio. Somehow we pulled it together-I can’t remember when it started to actually sound good. The middle break/bridge lead in is one of my favorite moments of the album. The arppegiating synth line, strong bass punch that punctuates the song and the rising melodic sequences syncopated with a slow crescendo on guitar. Thematically, it is an anthem for protecting those that are vulnerable, animals and human animals alike. It’s a vision for reimagining myself as someone strong enough to be this hero.

‘Fireplace’ is about cutting the cord of a bad relationship while also seeing the value in it. I was angry when I wrote it. Can you tell? Haha! It became the most aggressive track on the album but is now just so much fun to play. It’s really about resolution more than discord. The idea that if a relationship is no longer serving anything positive, time to let it burn. I really am most proud of the way that it was mixed. It’s just a swirl of vocals and distortion, hard pounding industrial drums of a Korg Kaossilator with the modular sounding growl of the Minilogue.

Parting Embrace
This song came together after a series of events that happened in the summer of ’17. There was a month where I felt stalked by death and destruction. I felt like I was in a Final Destination movie. First, a tree fell on my car minutes after I left it. Then, very tragically, I was riding my bike home from work when I came close to a speeding car that crashed into a pole in front of me. I was the first person on the scene for a fatal car wreck. Then I had a go-cart almost run me over at full speed (I’m not kidding!). It knocked things out of my hands as I almost stepped in front of it and went full speed through a picnic table and into a tree that it toppled. And lastly, I was standing about ten feet away from and active shooter at my work. If I was at 12 o’clock, a bullet struck at 3, just feet away. Amazingly, no one was hurt during this incident.

I came out of this strange cycle with ‘Parting Embrace’. It is literally about embracing the cycle of life while existing with gratitude, love and acceptance. Remembering to tell people you love them and knowing that this is all too short.

Musically, it might be the most shoegazey song on the record. I wanted to keep the guitar, drums and synth sequences simple. Andrew plays a really nice melodic bass line that sounds more like a guitar and Rachel’s keys add brightness in the end, cutting through the distortion and rising wall of sound.

Love is a Warm Dark Cave
I wrote this song early on in this process of creating ‘Bind’. It was the first song I finished. It was also one of the first songs I’ve ever written for Darkswoon where, initially, I could perform it solo. Although that all changed in the studio once I had decided to add several layers of guitar. Even though this song was older than the rest, it had been neglected, only played live once prior in a premature state. This neglect carried onto our first run of studio time and I was left having to figure out how I was going to finish it. The keys and beats I tracked at home. For the rest of the song, I was lucky to work with my friend Erick Scheid, from the band Mercury’s Antennae, who helped me capture the more soulful bits of the song. We did several takes on the guitar and three or four on vocals. The finished product is layered but not overdone, leaving room for the melody to move in and out of step with the more mechanical bolts of the song.

The theme was initially something I meant to keep private. Rachel of Darkswoon is my partner of many years but she is still a relatively new band mate. We operate really well together within our music dynamic so the transition has been easier than I ever imagined, despite lots of hard work and separate sensitivities to be gentle with. The song is about feeling bored and also boring in my relationship and life. Feeling time pass and recognizing personal stagnancy. The statement about everything being ordinary is more about knowing that love and life is so sacred and magic but taking it all for granted by somehow finding boredom in something magnificent. Feelings of emptiness and a simultaneous gratitude, appreciation for what I have while also feeling domesticated and unsatiated.

I am so grateful to live in a world where I’m able to create music on my own terms and have a creative platform with a supportive network. I couldn’t have made this without the support, love and talent of Rachel and Andrew. Many thank to everyone who worked on the record and everyone who has helped me at Icy Cold Records mainly Jl Martel and Évi Ké. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy the music. - Jana Cushman