"Adam" from It's After Dark
"Adam" - Weekend Prince Remix
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AC would like to inaugurate a new AC feature in which we profile a band, quote Proust and Goethe, and with said band's consent offer up a new track of theirs and simultaneously offer up a very exclusive remix of the same track by Weekend Prince. AC is honored to focus here on Religious Knives. RK's new album, It's After Dark, is recently out on Troubleman Limited. They are founded in Brooklyn and tour and play often, recently opening for Thurston Moore at the Knitting Factory. They are closely tied to the community surrounding the yearly noise-rock heavy No Fun Fest, for which Maya Miller, RK's keyboardist, often pens images of slithering, malodorous trolls with floating potato feet.
Extra creative time is spent maintaining Heavy Tapes,a cassette-only distributor of underground experimental/noise recordings,
HEAVY TAPES and producing visual representations of microcosms of melting, bleeding faces and spewing, gross things.
MAYA E MILLER
Drawing for the inaugural issue of Showpaper, promoter Todd P's new venture which contains information on many all-age shows in Brooklyn, primarily of the Williamsburg-Bushwick loft circuit.
We feel the name Religious Knives is appropriate as their music sounds like monks slinking around in the dark waiting to stab each other, in chiaroscuro. RK has expressed to me their profound interest in 'downer psych', a neologism which well distinguishes their particular brand of chemical jam from other strands. For example, downer psych indicates you might be listening to Gary Higgins, but you are most likely not listening to Parson Sound.
I want to talk specifically about a track from It's After Dark that attracted me to remix it because I am attracted to songs like it for remix. This is the song called Adam. Many other songs on the album are of a more clamorous New Zealand noise-rock character, or a Psychic Ills track whose inebriated state has taken a queasy, stumbling turn and is about to fall sideways into some plastic trash bags. Adam is more restrained and downer, as if once you, while unpleasantly drunk, have fallen sideways into some trash bags, you decide that for the time being you are better off there, exposed to the night air and whooshing traffic sounds and your head in some old food, and you close your eyes and wait for sleep.
Here is what Mike Bernstein from Religious Knives has said to me about Adam.
"It's part of the song cycle on "It's After Dark" that deals with the brightest part of a summer day in the city, and it reflects the experience of the desire to bury yourself back in the ground only moments after you've managed to escape burial into freedom. The lyrics are collaborative and the song is meant to be hopeful and mournful at the same time."
I can't help but notice that the title says it's after dark, while there is a song cycle dealing with the 'brightest part' of the day.
The movements of escape and burial that Mike talks about are endemic to August in the city. One August, upon hearing me opine the loss of a girlfriend to another, an old British grifter who was my roommate, a rumpled struggling writer and proud chaser of foreign ass all at the same time, told me not to worry, "Everything falls apart in August. Nothing lasts. Wars get started."
In Adam I think you can hear that paradoxical state of an urban August, after you have been set free for so long by the endless sunshine you no longer have anywhere to go, and you wander streets in the dark and in the stultifying soggy windless air and wait for the cold to come and bury you again.
In a passage from Remembrance of Things Past, Marcel also calls up some sounds of summer:
"I had stretched out on my bed, with a book, in my room which sheltered, trembingly, its transparent and fragile coolness from the afternoon sun, behind the almost closed blinds through which a glimmer of daylight had nevertheless managed to push its yellow wings, remaining motionless between the wood and the glass, in a corner, poised like a butterfly. It was hardly light enough to read, and the sensation of the light's splendor was given me only by the noise of Camus...hammering dusty crates; resounding in the sonorous atmosphere that is peculiar to hot weather, they seemed to spark off scarlet stars; and also by the flies executing their little concert, the chamber music of summer: evocative not in the manner of a human tune that, heard perchance during the summer, afterwards reminds you of it but connected to summer by a more necessary link: born from beautiful days, resurrecting only when the return, containing some of their essence, it does not only awaken their image in our memory; it guarantees their return, their actual, persistent, unmediated presence."
"The hammering of dusty crates, resounding in the sonorous atmosphere peculiar to hot weather" could describe a lot of RK's percussion, particularly 'Adam's' echoey thumps. The flies that incarnate summer retain in RK's case the aura of death and corporeal decay, their chamber music becomes a doom drone. Doom music is so often associated with winter, ice and cold, can there be a summer doom, or summer noir? Would "On the Beach" by Neil Young qualify?
In his writings on the morphology of clouds, Goethe makes a useful contribution to our understanding of Downer Psych. Regarding the metaphorical significance of cloud movements, he says: "redemption is a gentle heavenward urge, and the downward pull of earthly activity, our active destiny of earthly woe." 'Adam' is the sound of windless August, when the clouds are pulled from the sky and their watery weight surrounds us, encasing us in 'earthly woe.'
Elsewhere in speaking to his assistant Eckermann Goethe goes on a very spaced-out tangent regarding humidity and the breath of the earth:
"I imagine the earth with its circle of vapors like a great living being which inhales and exhales eternally. If the earth inhales, it draws to it the circle of vapors which approaches its surface and thickens into clouds and rain. I call this state the aqueous affirmation; if it lasted beyond the prescribed time, it would drown the earth. But the earth does not permit that; it exhales again and sends back up the vapors of water which spread into all the spaces of the high atmosphere and thin out to such an extent that not only does the brilliance of the sun cross through them, but that the eternal night of infinite space, seen through them, is colored with a brilliant blue tint. I call this second state of the atmosphere the aqueous negation."
The humid swamp of earthly woe is also the planet's inward breath. Adam, in some alley of the cosmic ghetto, lies on the ground and dreams of the end of summer, and with it the casting of water vapor out in space, and its thousand crystalline reflections.