Mid-Day Music Blast: Joel Porter – “Amaranthine”

I admittedly didn’t know what an Amaranthine was, so I looked it up:

” The appellation is rooted in the Greek words “amarantos,” meaning “immortal” or “unfading,” and “anthos,” meaning “flower.” The word “amaranthine” emerged as an adjective of the imaginary flower and subsequently of anything possessing its undying quality” (Merriam-Webster dictionary)

So as a metaphor, it’s really quite beautiful. It is a flower that doesn’t exist, because it cannot exist, because the quality that defines it is immortality, and everything ends. Nonetheless, artistry explores abstract concepts that don’t have to sync up with reality all the time, and so Amaranthine can be as real as a song, an idea, a poem. The song itself backs up these poetic notions with it’s lyrical and atmospheric quality. Here’s my favorite snippet:

“Winter love and paradigm stoic
I cannot live like this
Strike the match to burn my pattern holding
Today I choose to live
Away from infinite (Someday I’ll befriend to death, there I’ll stay in Infinite)”

 

As someone who tries to take a stoic attitude toward things I cannot control (such as death in this example), I really connected with these lyrics. It seems that he is feeling the pull between trying to live stoically in the face of certain death (the infinite), and also that we as humans are passionate, we are not always meant to be stoic, and for a moment, maybe it’s best to light that passion on fire, forget about the inevitable end for a while, and hope maybe one day in the future he can “befriend death”. Whether that’s the literal meaning or not, it’s the message I needed to hear today. I’m very thankful that Joel Porter shared it with us.

Bio: Joel Porter is an ambient-folk writer, instrumentalist, and producer from North Dakota, now living in Nashville, TN. As an instrumentalist, he has recorded string and brass parts for Foreign Fields, Hembree, Matthew And The Atlas and Boom Forest. In 2017, with the guidance of producer Eric hillman (e.hillman – Foreign Fields), he introduced his intimate, ambient-folk solo project with the release of the nature-inspired Mountain Twin EP. Again in collaboration with Hillman, Joel recently released his heritage-inspired Hiraeth – EP on August 3, 2018. For the release, in collaboration with creative company Makewell, Joel created a pop-up gallery event featuring 20 different artists from the Midwest region. Over 50 pieces of art were shown, as well as the premiere of Joel’s album-length film “Hiraeth”, which told a visual story and further supported the themes and messages on the Hiraeth – EP.

A native musical son of Bismarck, Joel went to Nashville to find his truth. Along the way, he met other travelers seeking the same truth that he was. He returned to North Dakota and discovered that there were spirits hidden in cracks and crevices everywhere he looked. His simple observation could coax these beautiful truths out of hiding. His dreams of mountainside campfires and prairie oceans were full of them. And from these observations, he felt certain he was emboldening and strengthening the truths that he was finding. Making them richer and deeper.

-Caleb

 

Morning Commute – Culture Wars – “Bones”

Let’s get this morning started with a little energy. Culture Wars have such a great vibe to them that combines clean vocals with interesting alt. rock and synth elements. It reminds me a good bit of a band like Local Natives, but maybe with a little heavier vibe to it (see the short breakdown near 2:40 or so). One of my favorite things about Culture Wars is that they seem to lean into the creative process, without getting bogged down in the scientific way some modern music tech can halt your flow.

“We write the heart of every song using a couple of synthesizers just to get chords and melody. We’re not really technical guys. I still don’t know how to work half of these things; I’m basically just turning knobs until it makes a noise that I like,” Dugan explains. “We’re creating most of this on our laptops. A lot of our tracks have the appearance of a rock song, but underneath there’s all sorts of weird experimental shit going on. Like, we’ll strike a match and record that sound, and put it through a reverb plug-in, and stick it underneath a track so it sounds like a percussion instrument. Or we’ll record the sound of the rain outside on our iPhones, and we’ll put some reverb and delay on that, and use it as a texture.”

I think that’s a really cool way to look at all the new ways we can use technology in music. Use it, but don’t worry about doing the “right thing”, just keep playing until something inspires you. I know this song has me inspired to pull out my MIDI keyboard and play with effects all afternoon.

Bio: Leather clad Austin rockers Culture Wars “come blazing out of the gate with an addictive electro-rock sound and swagger” (PopMatters). Merging edgy, infectious song craft with inventive electronic textures, punchy guitar work, insistent melodic hooks and the commanding vocals of charismatic front man Alex Dugan, the band makes vibrant, bracing music that’s sonically adventurous yet effortlessly accessible.

 

Culture Wars’ self-titled debut EP (2017) saw its first taste of success, with their single ‘Bones’ rising to #43 on Alternative radio chart, meanwhile their previous single ‘Lies’ cracked one million streams. Culture Wars has quickly established themselves as a band with their own unique style and vibe, writing and recording both from home on laptops and in the remote setting of Sonic Ranch, located just 45 minutes toward the border outside of El Paso, TX. Alongside production by longtime friend and collaborator Robert Sewell, and mixing by Manny Marroquin (Kanye West, Imagine Dragons) and Alan Moulder (The Killers, Nine Inch Nails), Culture Wars have an extensively talented team behind them. The band return with their latest single ‘Let Me Down’ (2019), which Dugan says was created in “now-typical Culture Wars style, post-vodka and pickle shots at 2am at Sonic Ranch in Tornillo.”

-Caleb