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Album prep: A beautiful homework

Whenever I’m working on a major project I usually find that some other piece of art sticks in my craw while I’m working on it, serving as a sort of guide. Usually it’s a musical album, and since most of my projects involve language, the guidance doesn’t directly correlate on the level of instruction so much as attitude or philosophy. When I was working on the chap Last One Given this past July, I had Frank Ocean’s song “Monks” and the soundtrack for Three Seasons on loop. When I did Autumn last year I played James Blake’s Overgrown and Lapalux’s Nostalchic into the ground. These guides don’t tell me what to write, but they do give me extra attitude and more importantly, a license to experiment. When I see other experimental art – and it works - I get hyped.
The new CD, File', is no different. The bulk of the work for it will take place this month, and like most of my other undertakings, I have a guide, though this one is more in line with my art form: Pablo Neruda’s The Captain’s Verses, which I’ve read through many times before, but called to me now as I struggle to get off my butt and get to work. Now, TCV is a dangerous ingredient because, really, it’s like the love poem bible. Neruda was the king of the modern love poem, and I’m already naturally inclined toward longing and feelings like it, so I have to handle my interaction with TCV like it’s hazardous material: the tiniest spill into what I’m doing and everything is ruined. So I’ll be cutting it with something musical later. But for now, I am in love with digging back into the master’s tome, rooting through its assuredness and its straight pimping swag. It’s not what I’m doing in terms of the content of the record (well, a couple of love poems will appear, sure), but the attitude is what I’m really feeding off of: the density of his passages, the resilience of his follow-through, the ego of his emotions.
It is a beautiful homework.

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April 2014


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