SOURCE: Scientific American, April 2020, “Undersea Telescopes Scan the Sky from Below,” as used in the post “Telescopes deep under the sea are revealing secrets of deep space.”
Yesterday, there was no song. Or rather, there were leftover words from March’s uncompleted song (it was a villanelle about bats) and leftover music from actually weeks before March’s song was due (it was a soundtracky thing inspired by Trent Reznor’s Watchmen soundtrack, a little too dark), but they didn’t go together, and didn’t feel right either. So I did this all today.
I knew I wanted to do something with a drone, or at least with basically one chord with a bass part that did stuff around it. Somehow, this turned into a (fairly common) chord progression by the end of this. Weird.
Started with that drone (three different string tracks), then the drums. Then I did something I’d never done before, which is creating a side-chain with the compression so the drone got a little lower every time the drums hit. Amazing. I did it again, later on, to make the guitar parts stand out a little. No more mud! Incredible. Why hadn’t I been doing this years ago? I have no idea. Always sounded way more complicated than it actually was.
The piano came next, then some words, then some editing, then that guitar and bass at the last verse were last. Then, everything had to get shifted around to make room for them.
Anyway, writing has been hard because, well, you know why. Quarantine and layoffs and kids getting remote schooling. Stuff. I really like recording in an empty house, and though I’m seeing a lot more house lately, it’s a lot less empty. I need to get over myself. Don’t we all? I’m using this song as a step out of that bag. (May the penitential cover be even more of a step.)
And the subject matter here is sort of about that – taking steps out of a dark place and sneaking peeks at what’s really going on outside by doing counterintuitive things. Getting deep to see tiny explosions in order to map out what colossal, dense stars are (or were) doing millions of light-years away. Watching them through the mass of the planet, even. I really liked the way the one researcher, Paschal Coyle, said “perhaps one or two neutrinos in a million will interact with quarks…” just because of the weirdness of the scale there. Such big numbers, such small objects.
The words aren’t really in any poetic form, just internally rhymed free verse with some kind of meter. They’re probably better than the actual music. If I was a better guitarist, there’d be a shredding hippie solo at the end, like The Holding Company or Ten Years After, but that’s not who I am. Instead, it’s just – maximal minimalism. Simple repeated figures, stacked and stacked into other textures. Hypnotic enough, I guess.
In the sounding deep we keep the silence of neutrinos flying light-years,
Steering through the solid matter, planets flattening the seers’ longer
Lenses underwater, blotting out the background chatter, watching
Two in a million
The globes we know are floating, sense explosions as the sky keeps falling
Streetlights bleach the night skies, fight the shine of constellations all
Around the drowning drop we call a solid solar system, never seeing neutron
Two in a million
Mired among dark matter, blind as bats or bound by satellites
That shine with stolen globes as hydrogen gets heavy, slamming atoms
Into electronic dawns of secret suns producing particles like
Two in a million
Like sunken shadows