Cover Image: The North Sea in Moonlight

Caspar David Friedrich, 1823-24

The landscape of The North Sea in Moonlight is subdued by Friedrich’s standards—it is less feral and frenzied than in some of his more famous works—but nevertheless jagged, cavernous, and undoubtedly perilous. If not for the mast and bowsprit, the cutter in the foreground could be mistaken for another rugged outgrowth of the ghostly fringe. The moonlight, inhibited by cool, overcast clouds, offers only tentative relief from complete darkness.

These would make less-than-ideal sailing conditions for the moored-up vessel. But the image itself—tense, ambiguous, intimidating, and strangely peaceful. As with many of Friedrich’s paintings, it reminds the viewer that though nature can harm, it can do no wrong; it is amoral, perfectly dangerous, and, at times, disarmingly beautiful.

To live with nature, including human, without succumbing to scorn or nihilism. To run alongside it when possible; to defer to it when necessary. Always with respect, never with despair.

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Reflections on The Wave

The Wave bandcamp

On the 13th of May this year I released my first and what may ultimately be my only album of (mostly) original music. I recorded the album, which is called The Wave and can currently be downloaded off Bandcamp (with physical copies coming soon), with Mike Ricci, an independent record producer whom I met through our mutual friend (and Mike’s former bandmate) John. Mike had heard I was looking to record several acoustic guitar-driven songs I’d written on my bedroom floor over the previous few years. So I showed up at Tilted Roof Studio (Mike and John’s former residence in Berea, OH) one afternoon last August and, without my lyrics sheets but with a flask of whiskey to abate my nerves, spun out a few bedroom pop licks. Though I already sensed the songs I’d written could together form a pretty cohesive album, I figured that that album would have to wait; that instead we were going to record a rough but heartfelt demo that I could eventually build upon. Upon realizing this was 2017 and musicians could now cut professional-sounding albums on their laptops, I began to think less about limitations and more about possibilities.

We recorded and mixed the album between September 2016 and April 2017. The recording sessions were at turns fruitful and frustrating. Happy accidents were balanced by strange misfortunes. Some recordings filled me with optimism and excitement; others with pessimism and self-doubt. Throughout, Mike displayed an indefatigable patience and dedication to realizing and improving my vision without imposing his own. Whatever limitations I have as a musician or singer, I believe in both the individual tracks on The Wave and the 25-minute musical journey they collectively form. That belief, along with a few hearty cases of beer, propelled our sessions through the winter, and by the spring, The Wave had crested.

Though I have begun to promote the album under my own terms, I’d rather affect a few people deeply than many people superficially. Moreover, as I am not a career musician, I need not worry about making art for a living—which in turn frees me to make art solely for pleasure. My only considerations are craft and time—the kind and quantity of art I can discipline myself to produce in my limited amount of free time.

Of course, I do want people to hear and hopefully enjoy The Wave. Artistically, as with most things, I commit to nothing halfheartedly—for any of its faults, this album was crafted with care, with the intention of reaching, speaking to, consoling and rousing the individual soul. My ambition was to give someone what The Beatles’ Revolver, Nick Drake’s Pink Moon, Prince’s Purple Rain, The Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream, or Radiohead’s Kid A have given me—namely hope, clarity, ecstasy, inspiration, respite (however temporary) and catharsis; in short, invaluable companionship in times of need. Whether or not I’ve succeeded is for future listeners to determine.

Brandon

Manifesto Gravità

“If my answers frighten you, Vincent, then you should cease asking scary questions.”

 

I will sometimes try to answer scary questions on this blog. Sometimes less scary questions.

Subjects of interest to me include etymologies, the U.S. Air Force, sport, Big Star, the Western tradition, fountain pens, and distilleries.

Basically, if I have a persistent intellectual itch, I may scratch it here. Or I may scratch it elsewhere.

This blog may evolve in form, though I hope it will always remain a place of sincere and reasoned inquiry.

I will post as my schedule and level of engagement allows; re: irregularly. I will post whenever I feel gravity’s pull.