3 - Oh, You Temporary Thing
8 - Sail or Anchor
9 - Survival Machines (Reprise)
I grew up in Oklahoma, where I got my start as the main songwriter and front man for a nerd-punk band called Love Button. We toured around the southern USA for a while and almost got signed a couple of times, but then I went off to become a scientist and had to start recording solo. I’ve continued to make music as my scientific career has dragged me from Oklahoma to Florida, California, Texas, Australia, Germany, and now Okinawa, Japan. Stylistically my work is very exploratory, with almost every album being a massive departure from the one before. The uniting theme has always been meticulous songwriting with a unique sort of existentialist humor, focusing on awkward characters trying to find some peace in a world they don’t fit into particularly well.
I’ve released a number of indie pop albums known for their quirkiness (The Scientist, A Series of Tasteful Nudes). I’ve also made some much more experimental stuff like Son of Strelka, Son of God, which repurposed Obama’s self-narrated memoirs into a story about a dog-headed demigod who rebuilds the world after the apocalypse. That last one got a lot of international press coverage, and made some top ten lists for album of the year when it came out (including one of the DJs from WFMU, which is about as good as it gets as far as I’m concerned).
In the spaces between albums I’ve contributed music to some dumb memes that have millions of views, and have appeared on some very popular podcasts including Welcome to Night Vale. I’ve also made music for films and video games, most recently as alt-folk band Barnaby’s Chair in the wildly popular game Hypnospace Outlaw (which got a lot of critical attention for its soundtrack in particular).
Evergreen (this album)
Due in part to these side projects, Evergreen is my first full album in a while. It’s an extremely weird one. It’s essentially the soundtrack to an imaginary musical; a vocoder opera about a crew of malfunctioning robots struggling to bring their cargo of frozen human brains back to life. It uses that framing device to explore what actually keeps a human being motivated to continue existing. It finally arrives at the conclusion that it is our relationships to other people that motivate most of us, rather than fear, or the consequences of our actions in the world. I made it when I was living in Germany and my partner was in Japan; the job market in our field absolutely sucks and so we were forced to be on opposite sides of the world from each other for three years. That was rough but it’s over now, and we have a place where we can be together indefinitely. That’s also a huge part of what this album is about: the desire for, and eventual finding of, a feeling of permanence.
Musically this album stutters and beeps and occasionally hovers on the edge of collapsing entirely. It’s made of field recordings, synthesizers, pianos, and a dozen different types of synthetic voices. Despite the chaos and precarity of the music I think the lyrics are a big part of it, so I’ve attached lyric sheets as well. I really hope you like it.
On a side note, the cover art is a reference to the Toynbee Tiles, a mysterious series of street art pieces made by a mysterious figure who was obsessed with a very similar idea.