Art should make demands on the audience

"Ma'adim Vallis"

I’ve written before on the discomfort of sharing lyrics. Notwithstanding, I was reminded this week—in a conversation about alternative guitar tunings—of how important it is to share and debate ideas. Transparency and critical analysis create dialogue and value for artist communities.

A song like Ma'adim Vallis benefited from our experiments with the cut-up technique. In case you missed it, here’s an in-depth piece on our abstract expressionist approach based on the method favoured by David Bowie, Kurt Cobain and others.

For me, it was about finding an approach that was creatively rigorous but detached from the result, rather than designing for an expected outcome. The products of these experiments have been far more interesting than what I could have conceived in a linear process.

The song and its title present a good case study of how curious allusions and unanticipated consequences can arise through this incremental, iterative writing style. I described being struck by two things in our research: that art should have a certain mystery and make demands on the audience (Henry Moore); and a line like, "Luminescent anglerfish," may never have arrived by or survived any other means of process.

With this in mind, I consider Ma'adim Vallis endearingly grotesque and ultimately rewarding. We hope you enjoy it.

Ma'adim Vallis

We are descending evaporated seas
On the rock of a dead planet

Faces turn towards the beginning
The phantoms resurgent in strange cities
A vegetal sleep in a spectral world
Not a universe expanding but filling up holes

Look into the doorless deep some more

We are descending evaporated seas
On the rock of a dead planet

Shows its teeth to those who sleep
The awful intensity of eyeless things
A habitat mapped out in infrared
And the silence breaks revealing our bloody work here

Look into the doorless deep some more
The edge of a magneto world
A long delirium

Luminescent anglerfish
Spacesuit silhouette
Surface at your feet

We are descending evaporated seas
On the rock of a dead planet

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