PITPV049 | 10JAN24
It is not the limit. It’s a fragile shield against the infinitely expanding freeze; it’s a network of invisible rivers that connects every continent and every creature, forever confronting science with its caprices; its psychic soot falls to rest on each of us. With all the reverence that terrestrial awe can afford, the latest work from Washington’s Slow Dancing Society (aka Drew Sullivan) gazes up and asks, Do We Become Sky?
Best experienced front-to-back in its 86-minute entirety, Do We Become Sky? is – by the artist’s description – a spiritual successor to 2008’s Priest Lake, circa ‘88, whose namesake location harbors visions of childhood freedom and innocence, of family road trips through northern Idaho and a yearning for something simpler that once existed under the same sun.
Channeling the inevitably complicated feelings around loss and entropy through the years since, Sullivan relied on the unique, nostalgic tonality of the Korg Wavestation as the backbone of this set. Many of its tracks arrived nearly fully-formed, inspired by “dusty and blurred memories of sounds from youth that seemed to transcend time”.
As a result there is a skillful arc of tension and resolution across the album’s four sides, sustained by a distinct balance of rhythm and drift. “The Past is Always Following Close Behind” pairs graceful, melancholy arpeggiations with rich beds of swelling harmony, accented by guitar plucks that strike like distant lightning and unfurl across the stereo field. The looser, cascading composition of “Retrograde” creates a transitional moment as the dial of a disused radio scans crackling signals through storm and static. There is a quiet unease, but the center holds itself reassuringly; this too shall pass.
“Time Won’t Forget What You Meant to Me” is perhaps the most direct nod to the artist’s main inspirations here; a lucid, evocative synth progression is wrapped in panning whispers, like the maundering conversations that arise and fall away by the lakeside or along trillium-lined forest trails. The final side succinctly collects the themes of all that came before; “The Return” hums with angelic sweetness and a sense of light emerging beyond the greyscale roil, while “Coda” closes the suite with towering guitars, warbling piano and a kinetic rush toward an unreachable horizon.
In considering the onset of adulthood realities and the attendant passing of friends and family members over the years, Sullivan cited this quote from Clive Barker’s Imajica as particularly resonant:
“Remember that everything you learn is already part of you, even to the Godhead Itself. Study nothing except in the knowledge that you already knew it. Worship nothing except in adoration of your true self. And fear nothing except in the certainty that you are your enemy’s begetter and its only hope for healing, for everything that does evil is in pain.”
All songs produced, arranged, composed
and performed by Slow Dancing Society
Mixed and mastered by Drew Sullivan at SDS Studios
Original Photography by Drew Sullivan
Layout and graphic design by zakè
© 2024 Past Inside the Present
℗ 2024 Past Inside the Present Publishing (BMI)
This is PITP-V049
Marketed, distributed, and
Past Inside the Present
Matrix / Runout (Side A): PITP-V049 / A / DUNK!PRESSING
Matrix / Runout (Side B): PITP-V049 / B / DUNK!PRESSING
Cut at ODM
Pressed by dunk!pressing
Manufactured and assembled in Belgium