the skin, the sea, the sound

by Joshua Stamper

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about

OUT ON GOOD BEHAVIOR

'Peel Past the Starry Scrim' video: vimeo.com/97111266

"It's the type of music where every note matters."
- Greg Saunier (Deerhoof, Mystical Weapons)

"Beautiful modern lieder from the moon.”
- Aakaash Israni (Dawn of Midi)

"...he seems to inhabit two or more contradictory planes at once. It’s a bit unsettling, but also intermittently beautiful, as emotive pop and austere experiment glance off one other, affect one another and communicate, without ever becoming the mush in the middle." - Dusted

"...surrounds a core of longing so earnest it might make you blush—if it weren’t accompanied by the blank terror of the cosmos." - Image

"The kind of album where every single bar of music seems to evolve from the last. With 'the skin, the sea, the sound', Stamper takes cues from prog-jazz, indie rock, and totalism in equal measure, but creates something entirely new, weird, and beautiful."
- Lushlife

"...sneaks up on you with its import." - The Blue Indian

"Don't waste your time putting a label on this album - really, just let yourself move into the songs and simply be." - Step Tempest


Joshua Stamper’s music has always been about the contracting and expanding nature of space, be it the distance between two grains of sand or the dilating and diminishing expanse between one person and another. This concern is no less central in his newest album, 'the skin, the sea, the sound', but its focus on space is decidedly outer. Stars and planets screech past each other, skidding along their orbits on beds of asteroid dust, while light-years-tall nebulae stand sentry at the edge of a galaxy. Curiously, as Stamper has turned his attention to celestial wonders and terrors, another cosmos has emerged—one intensely personal, internal, intimate. The liminal spaces between waking and dreaming, spirit and body, earth and heaven, are no longer classroom discussions in an Intro to Philosophy course; they are the waves of one universe lapping onto the shore of another...


'the skin, the sea, the sound' was supported in part through grants from the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Composers Forum and Lincoln City Fellowships / Speranza Foundation.

credits

released 01 April 2014

Paul Arbogast: Low Brass
Mike Cemprola: Woodwinds
Jon Rees: Woodwinds
Ruth Naomi Floyd: Vocals
Thomas Bendel: Drums
Emil Nikolaisen: Effects, Electronics
Joshua Stamper: Vocals, Guitars, Synths, Compositions

Recorded at Malabar Studios, Oslo, NO, and Familyre Studio, Clarksboro, NJ, by Martin Bowitz, Emil Nikolaisen, Daniel C. Smith
All other engineering by Joshua Stamper
Mixed by Brian McTear at Miner Street Recordings, Philadelphia, PA
Mastered by Jason Ward at Chicago Mastering, Chicago, IL
Artwork by Ben Stamper

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Track Name: O Glowing Hunter, O Lover of Beasts
Planets move and brows are smoothed
and night leaks from the sky
Spiders glance and moth wings’ dance, dew leaves begin to dry

Rise up, fall down above clock faces' rigid regime
Marking your graceful glide, units of sixty degrees

One thousand planets shake
One million atoms break
You outpace the wind, all other terrors will bend

Unrelenting as the sea
But will you find me, O Star from the East?
O Glowing Hunter, O Lover of Beasts...

Rend the skin and bend the bones
dust rusted webs and fray
Light, breathe through the ladder rungs of this brittled frame

I’m rendered by shapes and a shadow that's softer than snow
undone, immobilized, only one life left to go
Handshakes that obligate
I'm mute till it's too late
I'm felled by the breeze that gently kisses the trees

So kill me, O Lion, mend me, O Lamb
Purge me, submerge me, oh destroy the dam

One thousand planets shake
One million atoms break
You outpace the wind, all other terrors will bend

Unrelenting as the sea
But will you find me, O Star from the East?
Track Name: etching sticks click ice brick thick
Eye blinks
Stone sinks
Doors shut
Tongues stutter
You look like you are a bit cold, dear
You are cold here

Etching sticks click ice brick thick such
Ledgers keep while fountains sleep
Scores are frozen, sides are chosen
Lattice frostwork, woven hauberk,
Foxes close cold tails to nose
You look like you are a bit cold, dear
You’re still cold here

Fingers felt and snow banks melt
Crimes acquit by fires lit
Lockstep precepts’ resolve dissolves
Ledgers broken, fountains woken
Foxtails flash red through the wooded bed
You look like you want to be warmer

Eye blinks
Tree drinks
Walls end
Breeze bends
Fleeter feet new ground entreats,
“Warmer, you’ll be warm here”

You look like you are becoming warmer
Track Name: We're Not Dead Yet
Cradling the careful egg
the damaged head
the bruised bed
Gently press the rippled brick
the quivering drip
the halting lips
Hold the cloud, hold the sand, hold her fingers in your hand
Drink the brine, trace her spine, take the bread
Take the wine

Time between the in and out
whispers and shouts
the faithful doubts
Empties down the rusty grate
evaporates
too much too late
Hold the cloud, hold the sand, hold her fingers in your hand
Drink the brine, trace her spine, take the bread
Take the wine

To the one-winged sparrow, to the bone without marrow
You whistleless kettle, you field choked with nettles
To the mute allegorist, to the stump in the forest
O bow without arrows, O window too narrow
Your time will come, your time will come

Needle pins will split the skin
will enter in
will drain the sin
Time between the in and out
whispers and shouts
a shoot will sprout
Counting breaths, hedging bets, broken bones must be reset
Fill these lungs, songs be sung of battles waged
and battles won
Track Name: A Better TelescopE
A leaf is a world and its flag is unfurled,
and an ocean is dropped from the sky.
Splintered suns play inside watery walls,
with the pitch and the shift of a pearl.

I'm trolling the trill of the tiniest sounds,
while six-legged citizens bustle and build.
Dip oars in the dirt, create eddies of earth,
sail past skyscrapers under the ground.

O but Pattern maker, Pattern breaker,
you've gotta grip, you've gotta grip around my heart.
For you, I need a better microscope,
O you, you are off the charts.
My instruments break, my readings won't take
I want to be with you.

My eye skirts and rims the vault's colorless lid,
and spinning larks sing and fling light at the sky.
I race and I reach for the whirling whipped wake,
the trail of a star’s peel and skid.

Pattern maker, Pattern breaker,
you've gotta grip, you've gotta grip around my heart.
For you, I need a better telescope.
O you, you are off the charts.
My instruments break, my readings won't take
I want to be with you. I want to be with you.

For you, I need a better calculus,
With you, the math no longer works.
My equations are drained, a picture-less frame,
You’re terror, you’re grace, you are rest, you’re the chase,
you're the notes on my page, the wild with no cage.
I want to be with you.
Track Name: I Feel the Dust of the Moon Beneath My Feet
Gently break
Gently break the smooth skin
of a swollen note’s head
Tender night’s yolk spills across the paper peaks

(And the music gets everywhere)

Lay my head on a pillow of sea
Slipping under the skin

(Diving deeper, striving steeper, dive, dive)

Whales are watching me breathe
You turn my head to see that bolder place

What was I before fire spoke my name?

(Naked you’ll go)

It is laying me waste
Seared by the heart of a star, my eyes have died
I feel the dust of the moon beneath my feet
Tell me the name of this color that I see.

(You’re falling through
You’re falling through the sky
The trees have moved
The trees have moved to catch you
And when you reach the ground I will tell you the name of this color that you see.

You’re falling fast
So very quickly, fall
Rest
Fall)
Track Name: Peel Past the Starry Scrim
Peel past the starry scrim to find
Peel past the starry scrim to find, to find me

Dig down, a righter rain will fall

inside me

Reach round the drowsy din and cut a key

Please find me, unwind me

Peel past the starry scrim to find
Peel past the starry scrim to find, to find me, to find me.

Under the skin, the sea, the sound
O Lover of Beasts, O Star from the East,
Will all things soon be found?
Track Name: I'd Like To Be Like You
I'd like to be like you
who take tea with lions winged and angels of fire
You who spin the stars, cradling the hills, waking whales beneath the sea,
you who walk the wind

I'd like to be like you
measuring the distance from one hair to the next
Gathering your clouds, the rainy diamonds fall, plumb lines dropped to calculate
the center of the earth

I'd like to be like you
Wind inside the sail
I'd like to be like you
Respite from the gale
I'd like to be like the sun that gilds the sea,
The dead bolt turning key
The pardoned prisoner's plea

I'd like to be like you
Wind inside the sail
I'd like to be like you
Respite from the gale
I'd like to be like the sun that gilds the sea,
The dead bolt turning key
The pardoned prisoner's plea

I'd like to be like you
speaking skies, birds black with downy wing cleave the air
Whistling for the morn, your whisper shakes the earth
The same that balms the reedy bruise, and woos the weary wick,
It's you who spins the stars, who wakes the whales beneath the sea,
it’s you who walks the wind