Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
There is a concise, but wonderful tribute to Maurice Sendak in the year-end issue of Time magazine, written by Tony Kushner. The piece focused on Sendak's desire to make books and book-possessing treasured pastimes for the wee and the old alike, always thinking about what they looked like, how they felt and what was in them. It ends with Kushner writing, "And now, having left the world, Maurice Sendak, a sublime artist and a splendid, delightful man, resides entirely, and probably immortally, within the books he created. He's always worth a visit. Look for him there." The last two lines provide a comforting, yet eerie thought of someone living on forever, even though it's exactly what we'd like our of our own immortality. We're not sure if it's what we'd like out of the immortality of certain others, however. We'd like to think that we can get away from this current living space and that there's something else out there after the final curtain call and bow - if we're lucky enough to get and then take one of each. We'd like to think that we will have been able to leave a tiny smudge or at least a greasy palm print on the glass plane of existence when we've maxed out our tokens, but that's really for others to determine, isn't it? It's not for us to say that we'll be remembered. It could take all that we are capable of to try and achieve such status, but the effort is misplaced and woefully inadequate.
We're only the pawns, but then there are songs like "Ghosts," the absolutely brilliant lead track from the Chicago/Minneapolis band ON AN ON's debut album, that makes us think otherwise, as if we don't ever have to stop working toward our longevity. It's a song that stops you in your tracks and it's just one of many jaw-dropping songs on this impressive record by three former members of the group, Scattered Trees. It's a song that takes us into a beautiful nightmare, one of constant haunting and something that's akin to sorrow, though it would never describe itself as such. It's just the same old feeling that you've been having for so long now that you think it mustn't be sorrow, that it should be something more all-purpose.
Nate Eiesland, Alissa Ricci and Ryne Estwing have made a dynamic statement about all of the things that are most terrifying for us to think about when we're alive and remind us somehow that, oddly enough, these fears won't even be allayed in death. They'll continue - uninterrupted, unabbreviated. Our spirits will take on our cause and they will come back for those that we've left behind. They will make themselves known - subtly, but definitely. Eiesland takes us into this frigid place of desolation that's only barren if you don't count the beating hearts that keep getting produced out of nowhere. There's a sense that no one's ever alone and, even when you might be on the verge of screaming, as he sings about in these instances, something holds you back. It just might be the feeling that you're not along and nothing is ever over.