Lower Dens | RBN009 | Released: 29/04/12
Nootropics (pronounced No-eh-tro-pics) is the second album from Lower Dens. It's an ambitious work, and it delivers — heavily metaphorical, the symmetries and concordances of the lyrics run deep; the luminous lines of the music converge at a point in a future just out of view. Lower Dens have made music that reconciles fear and uncertainty by freeze-framing it and turning it into a thing of beauty.
Here's a track-by-track "behind the scenes" rundown from Lower Dens themselves:
1. Alphabet - The poem "Suicide" by Louis Aragon, published in 1924, which is a recitation of the English alphabet. A good friend and mentor introduced me a long time ago and it made a strong impression. The song is an examination of man's relationship to his animal self, language as the animal's confines. Looks at our entire history as a species, or even out of temporal context.
2. Brains - this song explores our relationship with technology. The narrator, in the verses, is embracing and encouraging others to as well, the benefits of our technological advancement and its ever-growing availability, as tools at our disposal, and in the "bridge", the long dark section in the middle, voicing, maybe via the subconscious, the fear the we are not capable of self-regulation, and will destroy ourselves through technology. Perhaps afraid of technology itself, instead of acknowledging our responsibility for its misuse. Does that make sense? I think it's hilarious, but a lot of people do think of machines as a threat in and of themselves.
3. Stem - conceived originally as an entertaining exercise in pop counterpoint, then added as a coda to "Brains".
4. Propagation - with "Alphabet" and "Brains", the triumvirate of album concept, perhaps. We, humans, as biological creatures, are and have always been driven in almost all things by our desire to preserve and propagate our species. Oftentimes it feels very much like a trap. In the chorus, "population incandescent" describes the intensity of our longing to procreate, to raise children. It is the thing most central to our species but its affiliates, romance, territorial pissings, etc. are the frequent source of our most base problems.
5. Lamb - Mankind is on the brink of realizing his long sought after dream of immortality, and the song imagines the possibly dark, lonely existence of the human immortal.
6. Candy - The narrator has an uncomfortable relationship with the human race. a love/hate thing, explored via the metaphor in a romantic relationship. There's a compulsion to "save" humanity coupled with revulsion and a desire to destroy it. In the first verse, there is a bit of shoving away the object of affection (humanity) for its own good, and there continues throughout the song something of a hero complex, but the internal (more or less hidden) belief in the futility of trying to "rescue" mankind colors the narration to the point of great pessimism, with optimism always battling for its place at the table.
7. Lion in Winter, Pt. 1 - was written as a precursor to the following song. Will and I, on guitars, create drones, as we are wont, over which Geoff on bass and Carter on synth engage in a back-and-forth that always sounds to me like whalesong.
8. Lion in Winter, Pt. 2 - A song about the hamster wheel of human existence. We are successful beyond necessity. Our drive to succeed may well destroy us. Oh the banality of irony! Its insistence is the bassline. This is reflected in ALL THINGS HUMAN. Hence, as above so below. It is named for the film, the analogy being that we, in our possible final hours, or the possible final hours of this part of human history, are still fighting the change looming over us, the death of our way of life which will come in one form or another. And indeed, the record as a whole begs the assessment of all the flaws inherent in our existence and the imagining of a better, more suitable, logical existence.
9. Nova Anthem - A hysteric, anthemic belter that is rife with the emotional content undeniable in these tropes. Large swaths of text lifted from Burrough's Nova Express. I like this wiki quote: "Burroughs attempts to use language to break down the walls of culture, the biggest control machine." As long as we are slave to language, let us use it to free ourselves from the many other self-imposed imprisonments.
10. In The End is The Beginning - Let the lyrics guide you. The narrator is ready for the next phase of Humankind. Our knowledge of reality and ourselves is not as illuminated as we have liked to think, and it is time to acknowledge darkness so that we might move on. Perhaps we are in this process.
Here is a very crude idea of the album theme: let's take a look at human history and analyze it's patterns so that we might make this transition into the coming next paradigm as smooth as possible. I don't believe in the Mayan 2012, but I do believe that we approach some sort of fulcrum of species. We anticipate techno-bio fusion, the depletion of traditional resources, global contiguity, etc etc etc. The first record woke up to community, to human community and its importance. This record is the next step.
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The double LP vinyl is housed in a deluxe gatefold jacket and includes an exclusive fold-out poster and a mp3 download card. Pre-order the album now and receive a mp3 download of the album in your inbox on April 30th."