SONG: Complicated Man


“Complicated Man.” [Download]
(To download: double right-click & “Save As”)

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE: Based on “New carnivorous harp sponge discovered in deep sea”, Nature, 9 November 2012, as used in the post “Carnivorous sponges found. (As if you didn’t have enough to worry about.)”

ABSTRACT: I’m not sure I really want to explain this one, but I guess if you’re not inside the song, it’s pretty obscure.

The idea here is that it’s narrated by an undersea researcher who has been eaten by a larger cousin of Chondrocladia lyra, and, “Green Thoughts” style, is still sort of conscious even though now a part of the inanimate organism. So he led a complicated life, consumed by desires and the need to explore and categorize and tinker with his machines… until the change, when a different voice took over and life became much stranger and simpler.

I’d originally written a chord progression that was twice as long (or each chord was double the number of beats), but transcribing it into computerese, I managed to compress every four beats into two, liked the sound and decided to make the vague shadows of lyrics fit into that more demanding space. I also kinda did that thing I try to avoid doing, which is to decide, “OK, this song is about this thing, so the structure should be like so.” But I did. Complicated human part has complicated time signature (I think I’d originally done it in 3/12, then compressed it to 3/6) which collapses into 3/4 once man made simple. If I could ever get the hang of singing it and playing the guitar part at the same time, I think I could make a much softer, seductive version, but that’s unlikely to happen.

I was quite pleased, by the way, to be able to use the Crap Talker – the same synthetic vocalist who performed one of my favorite songs (“Giant Isopods Have Stolen My Gameboy”). It’s that song, more than anything, that makes that voice make sense as some kind of barely known, deep-sea consciousness.

Now, for a penitential cover.


Once, I was a complicated man

With machines and machinations
Two legs to stand on.

Forward motion
See oceans by submarine.

Benthic zones
Pressed my obsession

Never sleeping
I’d always dive deeper

Sorting by species.
Like coral clusters in

Then, there in the beam
A sponge as straight as a harp string

Beckoning (beckoning)
Opercula opened
To let me in

Soaked to the skin.
Absorbing all of my worries.

Absorbing all of me.
(Absorbing all of me. )