The end of last year was a nightmare for me of long hours in hospital rooms, soundtracked by the beeping and whooshing of intimidating machines under a sickly halogen buzz. As I confronted very real fears and my absolute inability to do anything other than hold a warm, dry hand and sing the occasional song, I lacked the words to express how that feels.
Everything Absent or Distorted is a band of wonderful guys from Denver whose new release The Great Collapse incisively explores some of these themes that gnaw in your head during long hours of waiting. In the starkly-perfectly titled song “A Form To Accommodate The Mess,” lyrics ponder all that a hospital room has seen over the years, and the cycles that hold us all together. Over a slowly-building cadence that grows like a tsunami, the words question why the stench of sickness is the same as the smell of medicine and healing. “We are born gasping for air,” the song notes, “and we die gasping for air. One, two, three deep breaths — the end and the beginning.” It’s hit me rough and potent.
A form to accommodate the mess – Everything Absent or Distorted
Through EAOD’s gorgeously vibrant multi-instrumental music (that sounds “more at home in Montreal than Denver“) this album is helping to define something to accommodate a mess and a chaos that befalls me lately. During the recording process of this album, band members faced massive situations like a dad dying, a baby being born prematurely, a marriage beginning — the true grit that makes up life. Life’s ups and downs are all there, reflected in the incisive, poetic lyrics.
Like an Arcade Fire collective, all eight band members cohere through a symphony of instruments ranging from “violin, cello, bowed double bass, guitars, glockenspiel, casio keyboards circa 1985, alesis synthesizers, bass, drums, trumpet, trombone, banjo, piano, pots and pans, trains, and fences.” And just in case eight is in fact not enough, they’re also joined on the album by members of Denver bands DeVotchKa, Bela Karoli, and Cat-A-Tac.
I’ve been privileged to see EAOD a few times live (and will again this Saturday at their record release show at The Gothic) and it’s one of the most pure-hearted rock ‘n’ roll bacchanalias you will see. They convulse and thrash and jump and fall over each other, but they close their eyes and they sing with their whole hearts and therein lies a gorgeous glimpse of the role music plays to them and their audience. As another song on the album says, this feels like “featherbeds in a bomb shelter, trying to find some sleep.” For me, The Great Collapse is a bit of comfort during the shelling.
“We barely make enough money in a year’s worth of shows just to make a record and we then go in debt to put it out and slowly try to recoup some of the funds. We’re a part of the so-called Needlepoint Records family with Rabbit is a Sphere, Thank God for Astronauts and Cat-A-Tac, as we thought an Elephant 6 type deal could be fun.
But at the end of the day, of course all the label/money stuff doesn’t matter at all to us. Of course this project will end up costing us tons more money than we could ever make and we don’t care. We put our blood, sweat, tears, and dollars into this because it’s about all that matters to us.
We never set out to get signed or tour the world. We just all had to make some art in order to be. To be.”
As they also said in a recent interview, and what must be keeping this fantastic album vibrating and resonating within my chest, is that “anything meaningful in this world, musical or non-musical, is bound to take a great collapse.”