My younger brother arrived home from India yesterday. It’s wonderful to be around people who are fresh from being abroad-they tingle with a tangible energy that is wholly infectious, their eyes convey the glory and the misery they have seen. If they have done it correctly the wild mercury exudes from them, they are electric. My brother, you see, is part neuromancer-part shaman-part mongoose, and I feel as if he did indeed do things correctly. He spoke of sapphires in the front of the mind and of crystallised beams of light and of burning bodies floating down the river and I did not doubt him, no not for a moment. I felt an adoration for him but also something parasitic, as if I was leeching the experiences from him as best I could, seeking an input to his output. I didn’t feel guilty about this. We’re all parasites.
What we’re after is things that shift the brain and the heart. The changing of a gear, the opening of a new ventricle, access to an undiscovered chamber. People can do this and music can do this. Eyes Wings and Many Other Things resonated within me this week, a week where things stopped and started and reemerged in my life. Lights out, lights back on, new lights, please string some lights on my balcony.
There is an understated glory to this music that is at once obvious yet ambiguous. It is affecting, it shifts gears, it has something of the wilderbeast who has arrived home from other dimensions. It is vital. I tracked down as much of their music as possible (some available through their website) and it soundtracked the semi permanent state of purgatory I find myself in, minimal psychedelic music that billows and envelops like the pink dust on this albums cover-the menacing mist, the shapeless maw, the hungry Bad Powder.
For the past few weeks I’ve had terrible insomnia, and the nights and days both meld together into a painstaking, dream like mesh of struggling by. I’ve listened almost exclusively to dreampop, shoegaze and ambience; trying to lull my brain to a place of rest, and have filled the rest of the night hours with science podcasts and non fiction; figuring that I may as well learn something if I’m to stay awake. Wisdom Teeth and I met while the dawn broke on a weekday, after two absurd hours of pretending I was going to sleep and then six learning about the different subkingdoms of life (because what else is one to do?). Within a track I was soaring, tethered to the strange reality that has become my ever-waking life while Daniel Gray, aka MPSO, took me by the wrists to a gentle elsewhere. Wisdom Teeth is gorgeous, an otherworldly collapse into an orchestra of pedals, guitars, and synth while Gray churns hazy harmonies and spacious vocals from what seems another room.
Gray’s lyrics reveal an ache, and to whom or what it is directed remains a mystery among the lovely crush of eight tracks. Wisdom Teeth is the symphony of a man calling for something unattainable. In my manic crush of insomniac half-thought it reminded me of social amoebas. Amoebas are microscopic organisms, shapeless wanderers of ocean and earth, in a kingdom apart from our own. They are untethered, innumerable creatures, single celled and yet some visible to the naked eye, shifting shape and propelling themselves through tiny environments in remarkable ways. In this strange yet beautiful way, Wisdom Teeth propels itself through a fluidity of sound- it is the perfect soundtrack to the strange adventures of amoeba. Really: I watched microscopic amoeba doing their odd dances throughout the entirety of my first listen on Youtube. Picture if you will a twenty-five year old girl clad in an ancient Ben Folds Five t-shirt (incidentally the first band I ever saw live, I was twelve when Whatever and Ever Amen was released and golly I loved them) and boxers, strapped to headphones and a Macbook, grinning maniacally as single-celled organisms spasmed over her computer screen while the sun crashed through the window and her cat snoozed on her thighs. Insomnia makes a lady crazy.
When times are tough and food is scarce, social amoeba (also indelicately called slime moulds) do something remarkable: they mesh together to form what looks like a garden-variety slug (!). The ‘slug’ travels to higher ground, and the amoeba that form its ‘head’ pile on top of one another and their tiny bodies solidify. They die so that the others can live, forming a ladder or stem that the other amoeba climb before throwing themselves to the wind and hopefully, more fruitful pastures.
Imagine the loveliness of that merger, forming a strange creature that journeys faster and longer than any trip you have previously been on. This is where Wisdom Teeth begins, taking the listener through an otherworldly undergrowth it hasn’t yet ventured too. Then, if you will, imagine climbing the stem of your dead brothers and taking flight to unknown places, soaring on breezes on the back of those who have killed themselves for your flight. This is the feeling that Daniel Gray has made (or so he has given me, sleep deprived and bound to the early hours of the morning): one of loss and beauty, of taking flight and being grounded. Wisdom Teeth is a glimpse into a different kingdom, where single celled creatures flail and form things beyond the realm of waking life in a dreampop crush of euphoria and sadness.