Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Patrick Stolley
Salty splashes are the knuckles of Port O'Brien, the knees are the undulating pulls and thrashings of the big body of water and the humongous thought about what could possibly be slinking around underneath millions of gallons of that water - which no one can see through - makes up everything from the belly button on to the highest peak of it. The Bay Area band is a collection of men and women - the most legitimate and pinchable flesh and the typical teeth and hair, but they act more like mystics, dreaming the secrets of all the rest of that unending world out there.
Mystics aren't people, but those whose being here in the present, thinking about and discussing the fine line between being here and being an aberration, is quite enough qualification to actually give them the classification of an aberration. They may even pay rent and feel hunger pangs enough to prompt them into scrounging up three squares a day because it feels like the right thing, but they're manning a ship that might as well be a ghost ship, bellowing its haunting howl through the night to ward off trouble. They may find that the widely accepted modes of occupation and general existence to be grating and lacking stimulus, so they set out on their own, cutting a path with them that is exclusive and meaningful, perhaps only to them. They may even think to themselves, "If everyone else is keeping dogs, cats and birds as recognizable accepted household pets, why don't we just find ourselves a nice, energetic, but nocturnal flying squirrel? It will fill a void for us and we can have those adorable pet-rearing stories to share with others."
They're seen and heard as whalers, voyagers upon the unforgiving ocean -- an ocean that they imagine as having a supercomputer for a brain and eyes all over its rippling blue muscles, to see the flutters, the legs kicking in them anywhere, waiting for the appropriate opening to pull them in and see a fight - willing to come to terms with insignificance, even if it doesn't make them feel good. Van Pierszalowski and Cambria Goodwin spend their summers in the densely populated fishing waters of Alaska, working for the Pierszalowski family business, casting for salmon. The time available for rewinding, replaying and laborious forecasting - for the kind of internal exploration that if done correctly yields a goodly sense of insanity - is copious.
It is that operative that the lanky live wire of a man trusts in for his news. He gets those flash reports on wellbeing and matters of every other twisted ilk from the rumblings that rattle around in his head all day, like a bouncy ball in a racquetball court. The principles of inertia and energy don't apply when a man's at sea to the extent that Pierszalowski is bucking waves. That bouncy ball refuses to be collared for anything. It just goes on causing a commotion, shooting off at angles, on tangents, never slowing down. It might even be overkill, but it's got to last - that intensity has got to last - for those other three seasons, when they return to Oakland to write and live and sing. A safe harbor is where they write from, but it must be like having an apartment on the South Side of Chicago, where you condition your ears to learn how to tune out the piercing sirens of emergency vehicles that find airtime all hours of the night. Those months at sea provide the easel for which Pierszalowski and Goodwin (along with Caleb Nichols and Joshua Barnhart) sketch on, with milky sweeps and eerie cogitations - as if they were living in that scene on Funeral, when they went out into the night to pick a fight with anyone, to dance in the pretty prism of police car red and blue strobe, securing a good suckle from the scene that starts with twitching nerves and a sick feeling of anxiety and ends with sobriety. He sings about a bird flying by in the midnight sky and a more frightening thing there isn't, for the rarity and the almost looming something are inarguably following the scent.
Click here to visit Port O'Brien's myspace page.