Free of Free WIll

7 Traps: For about 6 months, we struggled with a rat infestation. It’s not that we weren’t pro-active, it’s just that lots of other stuff was going on… especially in my life, including some complicated travel in the middle of the pandemic. My partner can do nothing about rats other than run to a room where he thinks they can’t get him and stay there. Not to say that this song was inspired by the rats, but on the day I was searching for a title, I’d set 7 traps. I kept track of the number of traps I set to make sure I picked them all up before our dogs might be around. This started out as an orchestral piece, that then got mangled.

Satisfied: Working with adolescents and young adults, I sometimes am asked cavernous personal questions… like, “Are you satisfied?” Thankfully I can say something like, “Words are so ham-fisted. The word ‘sunset,’ for example, does nothing to convey the experience of a sunset.”

100 Percent: About 21 years after I began to abstain from all “psychoactive substances,” I had a beer. A few years later a friend offered me a few cookies with cannabis in them. At the beginning of the pandemic, I went to a cannabis store for the first time and bought some items that were a mix of THC and CBD. The day I started to work on this song (which has a base of tonal, percussive bleeps from my friend Jason Riis), I tried a tincture that was 100% THC.

Momentum is King: This song started out as an instrumental. I wrote and recorded the lyrics between cooking things all day on October 17 (which I can surmise only because I remember excitedly listening to it the next day as I drove to the US Embassy to renew my passport so I could fly to California in early November to be with my folks as my dad got some major surgery). I was excited because it felt like a departure from my recent 4 albums… which I liked (and still like), but from which I was happy to move on.

Lynch Node: My friend Jason Riis composed the ambient piano bones of this song in early December 2021. I didn’t start my mind-meld with it until around New Years, calling it “Node.” As I noodled with it, Jason’s sister (and final living immediate family member) passed away. Her last name was Lynch.

Back to Solipsism: I came to view a certain period in my life as a “solipsistic” time where, whenever something happened, I admitted that I couldn’t prove I wasn’t just imagining it (thus blunting any meaning and therefore any disturbance it might cause me). A lot of shit was going on and as I wrote the lyrics of this song, I observed myself leaning on solipsism to get through it all. Probably, I mused, that period isn’t and never will be over. Life is a big thing, not a coming and going.

Project 58: The first and last songs on this album were the last two to be composed and both have a BPM of 85. With how mangled 7 Traps ended up, I don’t know if one can still discern its BPM. As I composed them, I wasn’t feeling like the rest of the songs I’d been working on were coming together into an album, so actually I was considering making a full album of songs at 85 BPM, thus where the “Project” came from, and initially the file for this song was called “Project 85” (I transposed the numbers when I decided these two songs would complete a nice album sandwich). This song also had lyrics at one point. The lyrics have been removed, but the song wouldn’t have become what it is without them.