Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Brian Thorn at The Magic Shop in NYC during CMJ weekend 2011
Everywhere you look in a Gem Club song, there are gentle people, those who might recoil at too aggressive of a brush against another's skin, those who might spend all of their energy avoiding conflict, bright sunlight. They are those who avoid crowds because there's too great of a chance for error, for an uncomfortable moment, for the odds of seeing someone - or many other people - happier, having less of a hard time with getting by than they are. They are people who could be distinguishable for a characteristic that has no name. As you get up closer to them, you notice that, down near the soles of their shoes, at the back of each foot is a tiny little piece of string. It's connected to everything that they are and with one tug hard enough, someone can swiftly unravel them, turning them to tatters.
These folks that Christopher Barnes writes and sings and plays into grayscale moods with Kristen Drymala and Ieva Berberian are suffering from the harshest of realisms. They are prepared to not be here when they wake up tomorrow morning. There are many nights that they might even be praying for such a thing. They come across as people out of balance with how they were brought into the world and with how they've gone about interacting with it for all of these years, not to mention being utterly mystified by how the world has interacted with them over the same period of time. They aren't sure how they're put together and they're likely to scare easily. They're beset with all kinds of problems, their operational apparatuses shaky. Someone in the song, "252," which was recorded during this session, staged at the legendary Magic Shop in downtown Manhattan during the week of CMJ this past October, is concerned about the molecular structure of his body, wondering why the cells of his body had lost their memory. He had such precise issues that he was cursing the way his cells worked, not what his mouth said or his heart felt, but the way his actual cells behaved. Barnes sings, "And I hate that they require/The need to be together/How could they go wrong/This terrible anatomy/Will surely get the best of me/Maybe they'd grow in someone else…/Maybe I was wrong/A simple little strategy/To get rid of all that's wrong with me/Maybe they'd grow in someone else/Watch as they grow in someone else."
"Breakers," as an album (and a remarkable one at that), is a study in people wanting more. They're looking for enrichment. They're looking for clarity and certainty. They're looking for things to not seem so blurry or so unsteady. They are aching for less suffering, for just getting to feel as if they're not so wobbly. They'd like some energy, please. They'd like to find more beauty within themselves and they'd like to crack more gleaming smiles - out of character, out of the blue. They'd like more from their bodies - not feeling as if they're giving up on them, as if they're failing to live up to their end of the bargain. There's a whole lot of stuff that these people find to be deficient. They see the "slow lights" of other eyes and they wonder if theirs look the same from the other side. They fear that they might and that brings them to this day of sinking suspicion that they can't wait out because they'll be waiting forever. So, they smell the flowers alone and silently, knowing that they're falling apart.
Gem Club Official Site
Hardly Art Records