Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Shawn Biggs at Studio Paradiso, San Francisco, California
The people that Matthew Daniel Siskin, or Gambles, tends to write about are people whose hides have been thickened, but just barely. They've been battered and scarred, but they've hardened some where those incidents took place. You can run your hands over them and you'll feel those trouble areas - those that have been through it all and then some. The biggest problem for them is that there's nothing to assure that that thickening is going to matter when the next incident occurs. Like ants, these things just kind of shuffle over and find a new way in. If you block them from coming in via a sliver near the front door, they'll discover a crack in the caulking along the bottom seam of the window frame and the wall and they will march right in, like they own the place. Some varieties of pain and sadness are the exact same way. There's no sure form of protection so you're continually uneasy, even with the experience you might have in your hind pocket, having dealt with the stuff.
A Gambles song features these postscripts and preludes that feature circumstances where there's nothing that you can bet on. No days have been buried yet because there's always a fear that they're not quite dead - that at any second their eyes are going to pop back open and they're going to be hungry for some brunch or something. We're there, staring at these things, with some serious suspicions. Siskin treats them as objects to dissect and many of the characters that he writes into his stories are willing to keep knifing into them. They're willing to get to the bottom of everything, even if the evidence suggests that there are no clear leads. He even puts us in the middle of it, when he sings on "Safe Side," "Once the child and now twice the killer/But let's be civilized/You're washing the blood from our mirrors/They could improvise/Just bodies and sweat and the heat will survive/She's chosen a side/But it's far too late and he's freezing/What's it all symbolize/Am I the body or am I the mirror/They could hypnotize/But what's cold now could just be Daytrotter/And she's blinded by his style/And his dark moves are nothing to gamble/There is no safe side/Wherever I stand I tremble." The skin shivers. We think we saw the eyes blink and the chest move, but it could all be in our heads.