Common Water ep

by Common Water

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Common Water.

In August of 2012, Michael MacNeil and I decided to attempt a musical collaboration of sorts at a cottage in northern Nova Scotia. This cottage, perched atop a hill and encircled by pines, sits upon the craggy shores of the Northumberland Strait, the body of water which divides Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Between the two of us, we cobbled together what would become a workable amalgamation of instruments and cabling: a decent preamp, a fairly shitty laptop, a drum machine, synths and midi controllers, monitors, a bass, a guitar, a few ok mics and various percussive elements. I also brought a contact mic with me from Montreal that I bought at a music store in New York. I probably thought it was a pretty cool thing to own. It cost eight dollars. Perhaps I thought I could make something like a Matmos record if I owned something such as that; or, conversely, the next 'Vespertine'. This daydream, unsurprisingly, has yet to materialize.

Anyway, I think all we accomplished over the first night or two was reorganizing furniture to suit our new 'studio', and plugging some things into some other things, all while dyeing our innards a deep crimson with the boxed wine we'd purchased in a neighbouring town. Our 'house red' of choice (it was on sale) was called 'Copper Moon', whose namesake served as a fine substitute for Neil Young's 'Harvest Moon', if you chose to drink enough of it and belt out a vocal homage between swills. (We did.)

Jutting out from the cottage is a wooden deck, on which sits a glass-topped patio table and two green lawn chairs. This provided the perfect setting for sipping wine and whiskey throughout the balmy summer nights, until some daylight would creep out of the ocean and over the tree line, suggesting we finally go to bed. I think it was into the wee hours of the second night when Michael, during a meandering musical conversation, began banging out a rhythm on the glass table top. People have all kinds of ways of communicating music: written notation, numbers (tablature), hand gestures, colours, etc, etc. In our case, I suppose we took the primordial route, like a couple of grunting wino apes. Regardless, this rhythm got me excited, and I rushed inside to grab my contact mic and a sampling keyboard. I taped the mic to the glass surface, pressed record, and the two of us slapped our open palms on the table in unison. This was to become the beat used (with a little massaging) for 'The Awaking Sound'. We built the song around that sample the next morning.

On a different night, what became 'Furry Little Teeth' presented itself to us. From the wooden deck we heard carnivorous shrieks in the trees at the bottom of the hill, followed by intermittent rustlings. In all of my summers spent in that part of the world, I've never heard anything quite like it. It was unnerving. After much speculation (What exactly were these opposing animals? Fox vs. partridge? Hedgehog vs. racoon? A nefarious snake choking an unsuspecting house cat?), Michael recorded a few minutes of this audio on his phone, afterward layering synths and various found sounds.

The photos of us were taken on top of a triangular plot of land overlooking the strait as the sun rose. We'd found our way to the beach with a flashlight and climbed its small peak in the dark. Now in that exact spot there exists a very fancy cottage alongside an in-ground swimming pool. I wonder if the owners have ever looked past the pool from their windows and noticed the entire Atlantic Ocean, glimmering under the sun?

Unfortunately, before we could complete a final mix, my weak little laptop sputtered and stepped over that line beyond resuscitation. Being the extremely intelligent person that I am, I did not back anything up, and all was indeed lost. What we were left with was semi-complete mixes that I had already sent to Michael, which he then mastered, doing what he could with what he was given. No less, these songs and this time are both meaningful enough to both of us to justify sharing them with anyone who cares to lend an ear.

Thanks. xo.

-Michael Bigelow.


released March 27, 2017

Michael Bigelow

Michael MacNeil

Images by Nicole Aline Legault and Michael MacNeil


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Track Name: The Awaking Sound
I was somebody else when I woke up in your bed this morning
Staring through your mirror into infinitely empty space
I thought I saw your body standing just outside my window
It looked in my direction with a somewhat familiar face
All of the beds were turning upside down
Gold pastels and the awaking sound
But there was no one there
There was nothing there

I couldn’t move my hands when I felt it coming back around me
An amnesiatic breeze was blowing all around my head
Falling through the ceiling, running through the empty forest
Black inside of black inside of black inside of everything
A luminiferous aether on the ground
Outside in was turning inside out
Breathing the slowing air
The slowing air

I was somebody else when I woke up in your bed this morning
Staring through your mirror into infinitely empty space
I thought I saw your body standing in the closet window
It looked in my direction with a somewhat familiar face
All of the beds were turning upside down
Gold pastels and the awaking sound
But there was no one there
There was nothing there.
Track Name: Slow Air
I lit the lantern light in the river
and I saw you there upon its bank
You made a motion to come but I was already there
I slid my icy hand up the middle
of your paralyzing shoulder blades
I had been meaning to tell you but you would figure it out

We cut the night into earth and a morning made of
flower petal ornaments
I heard you laughing and knew we wouldn’t turn back around
The sky had opened right up the middle
and the face was white and permanent
It was under our feet, it was a blanket of sound
We were eloping in the slowing air

Calming water, soil and peat as our bed, as our home
We choose our own
We don’t need anymore
In your eyes I see myself
In your ideal selfless love
We don’t talk
We don’t need anymore

We are eloping
While the earth is loaming
We are lost in the slowing air.
Track Name: Someone Else's Morning
I know that you have thought of me
I appreciate your honesty
But I don’t know what I am or where I go
This morning I was quite ok
For several minutes then it came
I tried to write it down but I forgot
Forgot it all

Organs in my brittle shell
Quivering as fast as hell
I tried to slow them down but I could not
Alcohol and razor blades
Nip and cut and start again
I roll myself in dirt and sleep in the pines
And feel so odd

You pray for me and I will pray for you
Hold my hand and tell me it’s not true
Someday I’ll turn back into what I thought I was

All I am and will ever be
Sickness and anomaly
I tried to write it down but I forgot.
Track Name: Into The Aether I Will Go
Tell them that I got what I came for
Tell them they were right all along
Tell them it was worth it just to sit in the sun
And emptiness is all you will ever know

Tell them I was happy to be there
Tell them it was genuine love
Tell them that I found it but I left it alone
Into the aether I will go.

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