Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Pat Stolley
No matter how hard I try - and this is partially, if not fully his fault completely - it's hard for me to separate the migrant Van Pierszalowski of trips to Oslo and of summers working in the fishing industry in Alaska from the salty and sea breeze disheveled music that he makes. First he did it as Port O'Brien and he's back with his new outfit, WATERS, a group that takes many of its cues from him and therefore goes where his old romantic heart goes to when it's worried. It's one that takes its beatings. Some sound as if they were provoked and others sound as if they were miserable and unwarranted. The whole mix of them amounts to being out on the merciless and uncaring waters, out of sight of all land and with a gray mass of storm cooking up in the distance, unlikely to slow down before it reaches you and your ill-prepared little craft. You freeze for a second, scared out of your wits and then you take it all in: the winds kicking up to their true, brute forces, the surface of the water getting rockier and the light getting taken away from you for a duration of time that's totally unknown. It's a situation that you have to ride out and hope for the best because there is not a goddamn thing you or anyone else can do about it now. Within Pierszalowski's words is this insinuation that the men in his songs are right where they need to be, and dare we suggest, right where they want to be, even with the impending danger. They've responded to the urge to take themselves away from the familiar, from the people that they've learned to love and the people that they've grown to know. They've had their days of routine - or whatever that amounts to - replaced with their often misguided and frequently torturous wanderings. They've found these new, lonely haunts out there, where the growling of their stomachs could resemble thunderclaps, if only for the solitary drift that they've put themselves into. It would echo and bang for miles of nautical miles. The men that we hear in WATERS songs have certainly put themselves in the spots that they find themselves and they're very welcoming of whatever may come. They have a feeling what it might be and they're hardened to it, though it pains them to know that they're not in the clear just yet. Their sides are going to get bruised and they're going to take some shots in the gut, but they're planning on surviving. It's all they can do. Pierszalowski sings, "I ain't to old to give a shit," and then reminds himself of another truism when he adds, "I ain't to young to regret." It's a real trick to find the comfort somewhere between those, or perhaps the secret is that there is no comfort. Everyone decides that they need to keep looking for comfort and all that exists to the self-medication to deal with the discomfort and the storms cooking up, just off in the distance, coming straight at our heads.