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Light Mirror

by drowse

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    Vinyl version of Drowse LP. Black vinyl and colored bone vinyl edition. Ships on or around June 7th.

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about

“Who are we when we’re alone?”

The simplest questions are often the most difficult to answer. In April of 2018, Drowse’s Kyle Bates left his home in Portland, OR for an artist residency in barren northern Iceland. Much of Bates' time there was spent in self-imposed isolation, giving him ample space to ponder the nature of solitude, and what it means to be "closed" or "open" to the world. Upon returning home, Bates worked obsessively. Maya Stoner, a longtime creative partner, sometimes came to sing, but recordings where mostly done alone. The dichotomy of his Icelandic musings materialized in a very real way as he neglected his personal relationships in favor of his art. While he was confronting his life-long fear of intimacy, and reconciling himself to a diagnosis of Bipolar 1, Bates found that the means he employed to conquer these obstacles–self reflection through art–carried with them an equal measure of misery. Light Mirror, Drowse’s second album for The Flenser, is a subtle exploration of these contradictory attitudes and their consequences that can be heard as an artifact of sonic self-sabotage.

Light Mirror falls within a lineage of overcast Pacific Northwest albums (think Grouper’s Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill), but finds Drowse pushing past its slowcore roots. The album’s prismatic sound reflects experimental electronic, noise pop, black metal, krautrock, and more through Kyle’s distinct song-worlds. The lyrics are ruminations on the idea of multiple selves, identity, paranoia, fear of the body, alcohol abuse, social media, the power of memory, the truths that are revealed when we are alone, and the significance of human contact. They were influenced by filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky and poet Louise Glück, who both address self-contradiction. Mastered by Nicholas Wilbur (Mount Eerie, Planning for Burial) at the Unknown, the album showcases a striking maturation in sound. Light Mirror is Drowse’s most intimate and desolate work to date.

credits

released June 7, 2019

Written and recorded by Kyle Bates at NES artist residency in Skagaströnd, Iceland in April 2018 and at home in NE Portland from May to November 2018.
Non-recorded concepts and other materials completed during a residency at Studio Kura in Fukuoka, Japan in December 2018. The live drum sounds on “Between Fence Posts,” “Shower Pt. 2,” “Oslo,” and “Betty” are taken from a session at the Unknown in Anacortes, WA in March 2017 and were recorded by Nicholas Wilbur.

Maya Stoner sang and wrote melodies on “Between Fence Posts,” “Shower Pt. 2,” “Bipolar 1,” “Oslo,” “Internal World,” and “Betty.”

Taylor Malsey played violin on “Between Fence Posts” and played the drums that were then warped and recomposed on “Between Fence Posts,” “Shower Pt. 2,” “Oslo,” and “Betty.”

Thom Wasluck played the weighted drone on ““Don’t Scratch the Wound”.”

Sections of field recorded conversations with Andy and Betty Bates were used on “A Song I Made In 2001 With My Friend Who is Now Dead” and “Betty.”

Samples of Tuesday Faust’s voice taken from the Soon Asleep sessions were used on “Bipolar 1” and “Oslo.”

A cassette recording of Miles Avila-Crump can be heard on “A Song I Made In 2001 With My Friend Who is Now Dead.”

Fog Storm instruments built in collaboration with Jesse Keating were played on “Bipolar 1,” “Oslo,” and “Betty.”

Noah Johanson’s preamp was used to record most instruments.

Mastered by Nicholas Wilbur at the Unknown in December 2018.

The cover art is a photograph, January, by Norah Fuchs. September is on the back cover, April is on the inside, and December and June are on the record labels. All photos are of her conceptual piece, Unterschleif. More of her work can be viewed at www.norafuchs.de.

Design and layout by Maya Stoner and Kyle Bates.

Thank you to my father, mother, and sister –Maya Stoner, Taylor Malsey, Parker Johnson, Alec van Staveren, Kevin Gwozdz, David Fylstra, Paul Thomas, and Jesse Keating for helping bring Drowse to life at different points–Jonathan Tristan Tuite, Bryan Manning, Daniel Schultz, Mat Miller, Julio Anta, Kristina Esfandiari, and Thom Wasluck for trusting in my work–NES Residency and Studio Kura for providing space for me to experiment–Andrei Tarkovsky, Louise Glück, Peder Balke, Theodor Kittelsen, Nora Fuchs, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Marcel Proust, Sarah Manguso, Phil Elverum, Spiritualized, Darkthrone, Can, Red House Painters, Liz Harris, Neil Young, and Elizabeth Bates for providing points of reference on this album–all friends who have been less directly involved with Drowse but no less influential–the psychiatrists and substances that have closed me off or opened me up; as life continues I hope to face the world more openly.

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Track Name: Imposter Syndrome
(The sound inside of an airplane in the middle of the night.)
Track Name: Between Fence Posts
Fence in Winter
overgrown
and closed.

Four sides,
nothing enters--
just silent snow.

Trust that it won’t open up;
seasons change and it remains untouched.

Inside black
vines wither
as they glow.

You are the moonlight
shining in
between posts.

Trust that it won’t open up;
seasons change and it remains untouched.

The sound of death surrounds it all the time,
though flowers sometimes spring up on the vines.
Track Name: Shower Pt. 2
Cloud eaten by the air;
For months
bile spilled from throat,
‘cause I don’t trust anyone:
it rains a little less.

I’m still afraid of death;
I’ll “take every pill that I can find.”
When I’m drunk at night
stumbling in that light
the sky speaks:

““You’ve “learned to hear like
a psychiatrist”
your self-faith is a
mask that hides you from: --”

--I want to be alone.
The air smells of images,
so I eat some snow;
in sleep my mind is glimmering.
Disconnected from reality:
where meaning finds me on it’s own.

“What is it that resonates in us?”
Track Name: Bipolar 1
(The sounds heard while walking to an empty music school under the freezing sun in Skagaströnd.)

He’s not human,
a fire in black and white:
my internal uncanny valley,
fog around half formed memories.

Can you feel the lack of warmth in the sunrise?
All the fields are freezing up, reflecting so bright.

Bipolar 1:
definition is a mirror.
So I’ve been running half my life,
alone with voices in the night.

Can you feel their floating warmth in the night sky?
All the fields are swelling up, giving new life.

He believes in a god sometimes:
the truth beneath the world he finds
when he writes these songs--
fence posts to protect me.
Track Name: Physical World
Growing, shrinking,
I don’t take care of it
‘cause it’s “what’s inside that counts”,
and I’m scared of it--

the way it binds me to the “physical world”,
how it reminds me:
life’s a leaf in October.

But there’s no “physical world”--
there’s “no inside or out”,
air flows through the mouth
and into the blood

I wanted to see
in the third grade:
tiny
medieval sword--
from my grandfather in Spain--
into my stomach.

Without pain
or discovery,
through screams she found me
so no insides came out.

I wake alone at night
with my anxious heart
running wild in my chest,
a reminder
that I have a body,
so it thumps harder:

“- - ---, - - ---”

(Panic attack.)
Track Name: A Song I Made in 2001 With My Friend Who is Now Dead
“It was before I met your mom, and I’m going to say I was probably about 28--and you’ve heard this story, but I’ll tell my mom. I was lying in bed and I had my face against the wall and I woke up in the middle of the, like early, you know, two in the morning. The whole room was just lit up, like sharp light, and I was looking at a white wall, turned away, and I thought: “oh my gosh, what did I do, leave the light on?”. I turned my head to go turn of the light and over my bed hovering, probably about four feet tall, was this glowing, like sunlight bright, sort of head and shoulders shape leaning over me--”
“But it had a human figure?”
“--kind of a, but uh, like a blobby human figure, not facial features. I sat there and I immediately thought like...it wasn’t like fear or anything, just absolute, like, frozen, like: “am I seeing this, am I awake?”. I sat there and slowly it disappeared and got dark, and I got up, just to kinda walk around the house, just kinda collect my self.”
Track Name: Arrow
If I take it out my life’s a mess on the ground, so I keep it hidden close.
Track Name: Oslo
Free in narrow alleyways
that block out sun.
Portland
in air,
(question:) “evil” on tongue.

Darkthrone in headphones,
climbing stairs
to the gallery
Phil sang about in “Soria Moria”.

I prefer Balke, Stetind in Fog:
no humans,
it transports me back
to that mountain.

(Outside Astrup Fearnley
sun shines down.
A book in the grass
while people laugh nearby--
a storm hits,
we all run,
plastic chairs fly,
and I smile.)

Later at Helvete I’m further back:
thirteen years old, alone with headphones,

sound blankets my mind.
Like pills now.
In that basement chills come,

feeling stronger than art.

Youth and memory--
that sound once spoke to me, it said:

“ ”
Track Name: Internal World
In silence thoughts are born,
stories that die with us:
gates to the internal world.

Let them open up.
Why do we fear our selves,
muffling silence with cold blue light?

Who are you
without the things you buy,
and the posts you like--
without the people you love,
alone in bed at night?

Projection,
story of my life:
silent judgement,
waisted insight.

Waking up
warm in the morning to
images
pouring down from the sky:
they’ll fade out when you die.

March 2016,
Haystack Rock in cold air,
high on ecstasy.

Seagulls in rain,
you didn’t want to see
your parents:
the love would be too great.

Dad’s getting
into boxing,
mom’s got cancer on her lips, (“the way blood is shown”)

sister’s depressed in Canada,
I’m right here:
just mind and this.

Old pain in the family:
fresh paint on the canvas.
Tears freeze on the mountain:
avoidant attachment.

Waking up
warm in the morning to
images
pouring down from the sky:
they’ll fade out when I die.
Track Name: Betty
Betty you lived your life as an artist;
do you remember
showing me
where sky meets lake?
Watching you watch the light fade,
I knew we felt the same ache:

To see the through the mystery,
or maybe just get some insides out.

You never pictured you’d live to watch
your own body giving up.
Your hands shake too much to paint;
Alone at 93, all thoughts and memories.

Know that I found love,
she’s an artist too;
she faces the world openly,
shining through
just like you.

“Well just to do it, not to be recognized so much as just to get it out of my system. You spend a certain amount of time doing it, and it’s satisfying, but I’m not a true artist.”
“I dunno mom, you’re a pretty prolific painter, you painted an awful lot of paintings in your life--”
“--I was at one time.”
“--Thousands.”
“At one time.”
“Over the course of your life I’m saying there were thousands of paintings you know, probably.”
“Well I had children to raise.”
“Had you not had children, you might have had a whole different course in that regard.”
“Maybe.”
“It was a dream but I dreamt it was real.”

You are and you’re right here.
For a moment it’s bright here.
Track Name: "Don't Scratch the Wound"
(The sounds heard laying under a gray sky by the river in Blönduós.)

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