Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
The thought came to me long before I even looked to see what the title of the song was, I swear. As the Pillars and Tongues song, "Ships," begins to get going, we're faced with a feeling like our chest is just heaving, or more like it's slowly heaving. It's a slowed down heaving, as if our lungs were expanding ever so leisurely with awe, the slowness having nothing to do with the very certain sense of grand intentions. There is something about to be seen that we're not going to believe. They are filling slowly, but in real time, as all of the other voluntary and involuntary actions are proceeding as normally intended. We're still behaving the way we'd expect to behave, but we have this song - this big, hulking song - that is promising us a pay-off. We have no doubt that we should perhaps even try not to blink until whatever it is reveals itself. It could be gone in an instant, the crescendo and the explosion barely a speck of measurable time. The song, and the way that Mark Trecka, Elizabeth Remis and Ben Babbitt wrote it and perform it, makes you feel like you're in the middle of nowhere, but something historical is happening. You sense a timpani a-comin', you feel as if a thousand bald eagles are going to soar over top of your head at any second.
You've been on a boat for days and you've gone far beyond the points where you could still feel safely of the land. You've gone out past all of the points where someone could still feel like they won't just be swallowed up, bones, foolish head, heart and all by a sea that couldn't give less of a shit about you or your intentions. There you were, out there with your team, preparing to remove that growth from the old girl's stomach, the tumor that had sunk and stuck to its belly like a mass of chewing gum, but the sea didn't care. Who knows how we got the gear to do the job. We called in some sizable favors and we met some hearty, adventure-seeking folks at the pub near the dock. We set out to find that treasure, to bring that ship back to the land of the living, barnacles and all. "Ships" makes you feel that you're doing something that unheard of, just by listening to it. The orchestrations urge you to just listen, to try and think about what you might be seeing out there in front of you. For me, it's a sunken pirate ship - the cannon hole seen right there in the hull, the blow that took it down - as it's just coming out of the water. The song is the welcome party, or the reaction of forgotten wood and lore hitting the air for the first time in hundreds and hundreds of years, the salty water dripping off its side.