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About Faces

by Walrus Promenade

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- 1- Come on now you cave dweller, don't be embarrassed— as you sit there with dreams getting more and more garish— until they collapse under the weight of your hefty ambition, and the Muses say "chalk up another one!" Come on now, don't sit there and hope for miraculous fate. (There is no such thing as a legacy now.) Just get out your pen and scratch something down before it's too late. (We all just prepare for our time in the ground.) The sun is setting, (Make your peace with the void.) the hours are slinking away; (It's nothing that you can avoid, but still...) you need something to show at the end of the day. - 2 - Tie me to the mast! Don’t know how long I’ll last against this song! I got a good thing going, But I ain’t slowing till it feels wrong! It doesn’t feel wrong yet! I bet the problem’s that it feels real right! So I won’t plug my ears, not now, not here... Don’t let me go without a fight! I hear that sweet voice now! I made my choice now let me make it good! If I could snap these cords and sink into those words, you know I would! - 3 - Unconditional trust: what does that even mean? World of the living or bust, I’ve always felt in between. I pull you out of the ground, feels like the other way round. Who’s saving who here? I’ve got a new fear: Are you really gonna follow me out of this? You transmute me like an alchemist but I still got a tin ear. Your steps quiet down a bit. I don’t like the sound of it... but if I turn around you might decide to stay in here! I need to believe that you’re coming after me. Need you to free me from a life of apathy. You taught me things that matter, even recharge my battery when I need a jumpstart; beep boop, what heart? Some smart guys can have a really dumb part. And that’s me and my emotional cluelessness. You could quit at any moment, I know it, and that’s the truth of it. You got your song and all I can do is to get in tune with it and not let my stupid suspicion ruin it. I mean, what am I even trying to do with it? Catch you in a lie like a barrel of lutefisk? You’re a straight shooter and it’s not like we’re new to this. If something is fishy you’ll tell me where the barracuda is. I’m working on rewriting this ending. I know enlightenment’s pending, and I’ll be fighting defending our mending. Depending on what kind of life that attempting, I got the diamonds for spending, so let’s keep trying again and again and again and again and..
We snatch an hour between one job and another, then you’re back to work again. You're on the grind all day, I’m living with my mother; but you're in the same boat, do I don’t have to pretend I got it all figured out! I don’t have to act like I’m so cool, or hide my doubts. I’m not afraid to play the fool around you. So if you wanna turn this boat around and make a search for solid ground, we could use a change of scenery so I’m down! I just say, What’s one more about face? We put ashore in this lagoon but pretty soon we need something more. What’s one more about face? So hoist the sails, we’re setting out. It makes sense to come about when plan A fails. Yeah you can put your life down, flip it, and reverse it. I’ll sign my name on that X in cursive. Why wait for our little circumstance to worsen? Let’s go, you know I’m a reasonable person. What’s one more about face? What’s one more about face? What’s one more about face? We’re trapped against a dead end so we’re shredding the maps again. What’s one more about face? We’re stifling in this cul de sac so doubling back’s the right thing to do. We rent a van and pack up all our posessions. One thousand miles of countryside. I got no plan, it’s the middle of a recession, but I feel my life has opened wide.
Light up what I reveal to no one else. My trust, I deny even myself. Cause I’m a man, and men don’t hurt like this, I hear! But you can dig through the dust to find the fears between my ears, behind my face: the final frontier. I’m always honest, except for with my own stone heart. I might admonish, but don’t don’t don’t don’t let’s start. There might be giant expectations stifling me. But I’m defiant; whether that’s enough we’ll see before long. My crisis finding mind will lay my shyness on the line. I have no sure way to divine which thoughts intrude and which are mine, or if it is even well-defined. Lend me your ears, I’ll grow a spine. In this cathartic pantomime, I’m the android who learns how to hold someone’s hand behind obsidian walls that just crumble to sand. And you make me a space I can let down my guard. And we discover that touching bare wires is hard. But we can do it! I need to argue; I need to roll down in the muck. Don’t want to harm you; it’s just my instinct when I get stuck inside my own head. Like every man I’ve ever known, I’m fucking damaged by learning I should stay alone with my thoughts you pry out one by one; precisely what I needed done. I can’t quite say that this is fun, but: I don’t have my wisdom teeth either. So take me off the Goddamn ether!
Razor's Edge 05:14
My first great skill: finding the most hurtful thing to say. My second is choking it straight back down my throat like a razor blade. And you don’t deserve me! What have you done to deserve me? So when I slip up and allow that razor out to do its work, and your eyes narrow in disgust—you never knew I was such a jerk— I can say I didn’t mean it, but then why’d I even think it? Much less sling it with my tongue to slash you right across the face? Oh, I’m a master of the subtly sarcastic tone of voice that coats the edge with poison specially made to fill your veins with ice. Somehow I learned, at an early age, how to hone my words to cut like a razor blade. And it’s so easy! Yeah, now I do it way too easily. So if the thread that holds our love seems like too hard a knot to untie, I might just slice right through before you can narrow your eyes. And it won’t matter if I meant it, because a cord that’s cut clean through can’t just be mended. So now I live on a razor’s edge between saying what I think and believing what I said. And I probably couldn’t tell you whether I believe it or not, if you put me on the spot. So put me on the spot! Hold my feet to the fire! Make me stand behind my words or prove me a liar. Cause if that’s the case, then maybe we can hold our love in place with duct tape and chicken wire.
What’s one more about face? I found grace. You don’t need to doubt me; I’m straight laced. Who would I be without you? There’s no way I’ll stop believing in you now. Oooh, I know you've been wrong before. And we can never be sure what life has in store for us. But oooh, I know your mind is glorious! It’d take much more to destroy my trust than one more about face. I haven’t tried to hide my doubts. But when I see your side I know that I'll find out how to be the type of guy you confide in. One with that fixed devotion. Gets some ocean. A real Poseidon, wield a trident: a three prong song to pull the coast into the dry corners of my psyche. I might be ready to let the cold wave baptize me, and hold your right hand despite me being what I am: a kite with no immediate flight plan. I been a real comedian my whole life span, but now I’m serious about retrieving you from the fry pan. So come on in the water with me, unless you wanted to see how hot it can be: I believe that you could handle this autonomously, but if you take this about face at your own pace, I’ll be as patient as I gotta be. That’s my word. And you can rest assured: I’m’a take every move that you make in stride. I’ll be along for that entire ride.
You let the tears flow. They turn to icicles before they even hit your chin. It’s seven years though: you’d think somewhere along the line I’d learn to let you in. But I’m a ice king! My crystal castle keeps me safe above the noisy scrum. It’s not a nice thing: I tell you, heavy hangs the crown that makes my brain go numb. Now I see you sliding down: scrabbling for purchase on the glaciers that comprise my face. I know you’re frightened now, but there’s no escape for either of us from this place. So feel your best intentions frosting up your throat! You make a bid for my attention, better pack a coat! Did I neglect to mention that you’d have to cross my moat? So bring your skates too. Chill in my antechamber here until I’m ready to face you. So here I come now. Soon we’ll finally see if your petition actually gets through to me somehow. Or if we’ll be stuck in this position till your face turns blue as these walls that are cold and hard as sapphire glass. I fra-fra-fractaled them into being in an instant. Now I shuffle in, shoulders hunched; our eyes meet, and a single drop of water falls to land at my feet.
Three Moods 03:11
You've been spinning wheels for cash and prizes. I been spinning my wheels too. You blew me off when I was in a crisis, and wonder why I seem so blue. But you can’t know how I feel ‘bout these things; I’ll never tell. So I’ll just continue my silent descent into hell. Cause I never thought you had a clue. I never really trusted you. Now I see that younger me knew all too well! You organize your life in rows and columns and wonder what I add up to. You think I don’t have any real problems, because you think I’m just like you. But that’s just a mask I wear to keep your judging me at bay, and escape from the fretting and dreading what you're gonna say. Cause you’d squash the turmoil in my head Into a single number marked in red If I told you that I’m really not OK. So I’m cutting you out. I don’t need the way you disapprove and amplify my doubts. I guess I’m the problem child: the sullen black sheep girl. But you got too much wool over your eyes to see into my world. And conversation with you's like being tangled up in conspiracies. But I don’t want to play your games no more! I just want to know you’re hearing me! But you’re not. I don’t know how I can get through to you now. So I guess I’m through with you. All I can do is try to get my truth out, And hope that that can see me through... I’ve never been so good at knowing what you really face. I write my little songs, imagine myself in your place, but there’s so much to learn that’s better left up on the shelf. So after it’s your turn, I find a way to make it about myself. I’ll probably never understand you like I’d one day hoped and planned to. But that plan has proved itself— as plans so often do— a younger person’s naive dream, unreachable in the extreme. There’s never been a way to know another person’s whole entire truth. But I have seen your true face.
What’s one more about face? You think everything’s ruined, but you’re doing what you can with what you have, and that’s enough. You and I both know your life and see the thread that’s running through it, and one more about face isn’t going to do it any harm. What’s one more about face? I’ve never been more certain: you’re drawing back the curtain on a version of yourself I’m the first in line to see! So you deserve no worse from me than a sturdy place to stand and plan one more about face.
אמת 03:51
Well, it’s not your job to teach me to acknowledge what I’m feeling. And it’s not your job to teach me how to be a human being. But ooh, in thirty years I never learned it on my own. Well, I just kept pretending I was made all out of stone, not flesh and bone and a brain that’s too electric to be swayed by math alone. Well it’s not your job to soothe my jealousy. And it’s not your job to convince me you won’t leave me. You don’t have to keep me happy all the time. And if it’s anybody’s job to make sure I’m good enough, it’s mine; at least it ought to be. So I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this one thing about you— and I’ll reciprocate just as much as I still know how to— you just don’t tolerate anything less than finding out what’s really true. But it’s not your job to talk me down when I can’t handle the truth. And it’s not your job to do the work that I can do here in the booth. Yeah, sometimes I feel so clueless, but I’m not. And it’s not your job to be my cue list when I lose the plot. No, you don’t need to light my stage or free me when I lock myself away. Being flesh instead of clay is a decision I can make. So if I tend to self-delude and need a shot of something true, it’s not on you. Yeah, I can write that word on my own forehead. I’m not bound by what my hapless father would or wouldn’t have said. He erased that first letter of his label himself, but I’m gonna keep mine as long as I’m able. So you don’t have to love a stone just cause it’s cold, or warm it up. And it’s obviously not your job to fill my cup. But it runneth over with a grace I sometimes feel I don’t deserve. But that’s not how grace works.


This is an album about:

• grappling with turmoil when the life of someone you love doesn't go the way you expected—and, on some level, maybe hoped—it would
• shedding beliefs and habits that you as a man learned, explicitly or implicitly, from society about how to deal with your emotions after you realize that those beliefs and habits are at best harmful and at worst literally, actually fatal
• learning—haltingly, uncomfortably, hopefully, awkwardly, joyously, excruciatingly, fearfully, transcendentally—how to be a good partner, or at least a better one


released April 4, 2019

everything except as noted below: Ian McCowan
drums on "Where No One Has Gone Before" and "Masquerade Party": Colin McCowan
"Masquerade Party" samples "Falling Mask" by Prurient


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Walrus Promenade Seattle, Washington

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