It’s a tremendous joy to get this album out finally. It’s been a large labor as I’ve tried to get it to a more polished place than any of my previous releases. I’ve wanted to find a unique way to promote this album. I’ve always struggled with self-centered promotion and there’s only so many ways to say “hey, please listen to this”. So, I’ve been thinking about what other content I could create. When I played with my folk band, The Bolt Weevils, I’d often introduce songs on stage and talk a little bit about how I felt about them or give some backstory. One of my objectives with Still Unstill was to get rid of stage banter completely. I wanted to inhabit a deeper musical flow and take on a different aesthetic. But it’s always felt a little incomplete to do that. I do want to provide some context to these songs for those who are curious about them. I just want that to happen in a different time and space than the performance. That’s why I’ve decided to do a bit of writing about the album, to promote it in a way that works for me and to provide that context to listeners. I’ll be writing short segments about each of the songs on the album and then posting them on social media and my websites.
I chose the album title “this night, from above” for several reasons. First, this was one of the first songs I wrote on piano and probably the earliest song that I’ve written that I still play. Second, the song itself serves as a microcosm of the entire album. The song reminds me of a Murakami book, After Dark, which I read half of while inattentively substitute teaching in Cleveland Heights. The first scene of the book describes a camera zooming around a night scene in Tokyo, capturing different scenes of characters’ lives. This song captures something similar, a stormy night on my college’s campus and several different scenes, real or imagined, that happened there. The entire album feels similar with different scenes of my life strung together by some narrating sonic connective material. The storm also feels like a central image for this album and the Still Unstill project in general. I’ve always found tremendous creative inspiration on stormy nights – the tension of still, static, disruption, thunder. However, “this night from above” is not the first song on the album and the track entitled “intro” also holds a large significance for me. This simple ostinato pattern actually was the source of much of the textural style of this album. I actually first used it while in college, playing with another band and then recorded it on my self-recorded solo piano album as “Storm Song I”. The tension between structure and improvisation in this recording are repeated through the rest of the album. This song also captures the density that I try to come back to throughout the album. I always told the band, “pretend like this is heavy metal”. Even though it obviously isn’t, I wanted to try to bring that minimalist heaviness to this and other sections of the album.