The Dark is to me, it’s author, the most cohesive section of the album. Each song was written in close proximity, and lyrically move throughout a continuous stream of consciousness that reaches a conclusion (the songs in the previous two sections, The Sun & The Moon, were written independently and found relations later on when I was sequencing the album), while sonically maintaining an aggressive timbre. The themes at play (isolation, faith, doubt, the unknown, the almighty) ricochet off each other and find themselves begging a lot of questions.
I was raised in a conservative Christian home, and found my identity within that culture for the first part of my life. At the time of writing these lyrics, that identity was being questioned, and the quandaries/contradictions I found within the environments I had grown up in were not being answered by anyone around me. So exorcising those thoughts through word was a way of not only clearing my head, but laying out my issues and potential resolutions. Note that the title, The Dark, has nothing to do with the nature of these questions (as I’ve found questions, or doubt, are often the doorway to truth), but the gloomy sounds found within these three songs.
Starting with The Dark itself, a sound design piece sourced primarily from samples of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's film, Berlin Alexanderplatz. The movie aired in Germany as a miniseries, spanning a whopping 940 minutes, and was about (among many, many other things) an individual discovering upon their release from prison that the world had moved on without them. Everything around them has shifted but wears the same face, so how does one survive or exist in such a society? I found a connection within that idea, and pulled a few moments from the film to help paint the aggravated tone of the introduction to this chapter…
The spoken German at 0:50 translates to: "There is a Grim reaper whose name is death with powers from almighty God.” And at 1:23: "Soon he will shear a path, and we must bear his wrath.”
The crackling at 0:57 is our bassist, Matt Kenyon, gurgling like a walrus into his bass pickups.
The reverb-heavy drums rolling throughout the background is a direct reference to the Madison East track, White Flag Debut.
Barring a few bits of field sounds I recorded, everything else is culled from a scene in Berlin Alexanderplatz where our lead, Franz Bieberkopf, beats his girlfriend, Mieze, within an inch of her life. The bird chirping and pained breathing is her after the attack, and there’s a macabre serenity in it, this holding on a quiet detail in the wake of a appalling act. Her screams that end the track, in the film, come when she’s run out of words to plead with. In this moment she stands, robbed of physical agency, and just howls at her attacker. That action felt honest, it felt like it belonged here.
And then we plunge.
The Flubs, The Goofs, The Larks, The Groans is now available for your free downloading and listening pleasure (if your pleasure consists of audible masochism). Enjoy?
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When Silent is Meek was written at the exact same time as When Used is Boastful, they were born one right after another and decided to stick together. Thematically and musically, it made sense to place them in tandem, as the lack of lyrical content until the end let the composition tell the majority of the story while echoing previous energies and hinting at the sounds to come. It’s kind of like the twin sibling of WUIB on steroids; the long, slow build blended with intertwining guitar melodies, but coupled with more aggression from all the self medication.
The melodic change at 1:17 is, once again, the result of many hours spent listening In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3. In fact, that whole section is really just a sad excuse to play some Coheed & Cambria-esque riffs, but that’s the least of our transgressions, just you wait and see. All that riff-lifting, however, did teach me one thing: guitar solos were not my strong suit. So instead of trying to fill out the sections with wild and winding leads, I built the guitar parts around the main chord progression and simply expanded the melodies found within it. With headphones, you can clearly hear all three guitar tracks split L / C / R at 1:38, and identify how those parts inform each other.
Not much has been said about Paul (our drummer) so far in these posts, and that habit ends here, as his performance on the back half of this track is easily some of my favorite on the record. We had this interesting sonic relationship in the studio, because it was the first time we were really hearing each other’s parts clearly. We’d be laying tracks out and he’d look at me with a knowing grin, saying "THAT’S what your part sounds like? I like it, I get it now." I had the exact same reaction to his playing when tracking WSIM. You’ll have to forgive my excitement, but Paul was always one to keep his head down and work things out independently, and it wasn’t until these moments that I noticed how much of a guessing game we were playing with each other, and how much it paid off. Listen to the percussive patterns he starts at 2:30 and the subsequent elaborations he makes on those as the build develops, all while minding the consistency of the groove and guitars. I still break out into a smile at his floor tom fill at 2:54 (a flourish he added in the studio). Simply put, the man knows his way around a kit.
Remember those riff-lifting transgressions I mentioned awhile back? Here’s the big one: The final chorus’ chord progression and melody are swiped from none other than A Prairie Home Companion, including the line "let a smile be your umbrella". Don’t believe me? LISTEN HERE. Garrison Keillor’s long running NPR radio show was a weekend fixture in my life at the time, and while driving on a Sunday evening I heard the bit contained above, then had to turn off the radio so I could hum the melody to myself over and over until I got home and could figure out the chords behind it. Garrison, I apologize. Also, thank you.
Closing the track out is yet another similarity to WUIB, that being another solo by Terry Geer, this time on guitar. The part even originated in the same way, he was plucking on his guitar while bouncing out a mix of the song and managed to write about half of the solo in one pass, on a whim. God, I hate that guy.
And with that, we exit from The Moon and into the long, dark night of the soul…
Ever wondered what our full length concept record, intended to be heard as one, gapless song sounds like with commercials in between every 3 or 4 tracks? Now you can! Why? Because we’re officially up on Spotify!
No we know you’re wondering, “CMC, that’s all well and good, but what if I want to buy said album without having to enter my credit card information on more than one music playing application?”. We’ve got you covered, because we’re also available in iTunes! BOOSH!
Get your one-click purchase and stream on this weekend, we appreciate the donation of your ears.
One of the oldest songs on the record, it and its counterpart were originally conceived as one large composition. There was lots of Coheed & Cambria floating through our collective headphones at the time, so writing something that broke the nine minute mark was a near necessity. However, since the song was always broken into two sections, when it came time to press the record divvying them up came through as the best idea, not only to further implicate their differences, but to let each part stand on its own two legs.
Easily the most reserved we ever were as a unit, writing the verses was an exercise in restraint, but not a decision we made knowingly. We just knew we wanted it to start softly and grow into a big-chorded chorus, a coming of age for us (this was the first time that we used chords that spanned more than two strings). Elements such as the bass line that carries the first half arose out of letting a lack of assuredness take over, and for as composed as it is on the whole, it’s the most felt song we’ve put together. All of it coming out of slowly letting it develop on its own.
We tracked this song several times over our run, both with Terry Geer and all within the same walls (Terry even wrote a memorandum about this occurrence HERE). Pretty much all of the audible flourishes are the result of his meddling in the studio, and were early signs as to how much he cared about the production of these songs. The blues harmonica solo that has become the track’s staple was spurned out of his mouth-harping for kicks while we listened back to some takes, which we then insisted be kept. I remember coming back to track some additional parts one night and he had placed in the harmonies over the second bridge without prompting, acting on instinct. I believe I said something to the effect of “We’re not Relient K, Terry”, I also believe that I was wrong.
As an inter-band introduction to the slow burn and an easing into the dead center of the record, WUIB remains a personal testament to the maturity we held, a fitting turning point within ourselves and the album.
Today marks the first birthday of our debut record, ‘The Sun, The Moon, The Dark, The Dawn’. To celebrate, we’re giving away digital copies, so copy and paste one of the codes below at http://callmeconstant.bandcamp.com/yum to nab one. When they’re gone, they’re gone. Enjoy!
We landed a spot in Alternative Press Magazine this month! Go get yourself a copy and treasure this blurb forever.
During those band practice warm-ups, once all done with scales, exercises, tuning and pedal adjusting, we’d often open up our time together with a groove or riff based improvisation. Most of it was terrible, but every once in awhile a song would come out of it, which is how we happened upon what would become The Moon.
The idea was simple enough, two sections pieced together, a build up and a build down. It wound up being an exercise in restraint when it came to finalizing the arrangement, as there was a massive section that bled into it (Contradictory Anatomy), and a following track that opened up in its back half (When Used is Boastful). The trick was hinting at the overall feeling to come without losing the energy of the record’s first section, The Sun.
What I always loved about the piece was the different forms it would take depending on what setting the song would be played in. The studio found it at its most composed and controlled as it was harnessed into serving as a segue into the calm that is the middle of our record. However, the use of our friend Matt Hunsaker’s vibraphone elevated the melody and the implementation of field recordings created an ambient mood we weren’t able to achieve anywhere else. Other settings, like the aforementioned band practices, found the composition turning into a full blown, bombastic build, with too much finger tapping and delay. We laid tape on one such practice, and you can listen to the nine and a half minute version of it HERE.
Contradictory Anatomy, like all of our songs, was written in pieces and parts. The intro sections were concocted in a hotel room in Vermont while on a family vacation years ago, the rest was primarily written during my shifts at the dry cleaning job I held from high school through college. During the down hours there I’d be hanging out in the back air drumming, walking in circles and muttering possible melody ideas to myself and recording them into my phone.
Ska had a huge influence on me when I was learning to play the guitar, Five Iron Frenzy, specifically. I used to learn their songs by ear, which attributed a lot to the way I started to put parts together in my head and taught me about the use of instrumentation. Of course, throughout all this was that reggae-style upstroke guitar that would undoubtedly leave it’s mark. The verses in this song were a blend of those factions of Five Iron Frenzy as I understand them: Staccato rhythms accompanied by a lead that ping-ponged its way throughout the melody.
The chorus has my favorite chord progression that I’ve ever put together. Whilst heavily inspired by Mogwai, I had written every part out knowing it would fit together, but with no way to actually record and play along with it, didn’t know how it would sound as a whole. I wore the biggest, most idiotic grin ever when we played it as a band for the first time. It’s not overtly complex by any means, but the way all three guitar parts blend and groove is, to me, one of the finest moments we had as a melodic unit.
This was the first song where we really played around with harmonies and call and response vocal parts. Terry Geer made a masterful call in the recording process to turn the “drown my arrogance inside” at 4:30 into a three part harmony. He belted the britches off of that note, too.
Another major influence on this song, especially its back half, was post-rock. I had just acquired Godspeed You! Black Emperor's record Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada, and would listen to the song BBF3 over and over, fascinated by how it built up and just exploded in its multiple crescendoes. That’s the primary influence for the two chord jam at the end of the track, and Matt’s bass line (he’s also a big GY!BE fan) perfectly accentuates and provides the melody at the same time.