Handing over the mic to artists/musicians who break down their new albums track by track/share the thought process behind the creation. Today we’ll hear from J. Moss aka The Modern Folk, whose latest album “Primitive Future II” is out now on WarHen Records.
More TBTs in our archives.
A01 – Essie & Lynlee – my brother and my cousin both had baby daughters at around the same time. This tune is for them, to welcome them into the world, and to welcome the listener into this album.
A02 – Apple Season – this song is about that period where summer starts to become fall, the leaves are bright yellow and orange, the air is blue and sharp, and apples are at their best.
A03 – Bad Traffic – like most of the playing on side A of this record, this song was at least partially inspired by the one-of-a-kind recording “Blind Willie” by Sonny Sharrock, from his album Black Woman. Despite the inspiration, my lived experience does not lead to a “Blind Willie”… it leads to bad traffic.
A04 – Grocery Store – before the pandemic, when this song was recorded, grocery shopping was one of my favorite things to do. This tune is a celebration of grocery stores and grocery shopping.
A05 – Why Bother – I believe John Fahey talked at various times about channeling his emotions, including deep depression, into his stately, mysterious guitar playing. This song is unlike a Fahey song… instead of a booming, nearly neo-classical formal composition this is a meandering improvisation… but the intent is the same, to exorcise depression through guitar playing.
A06 – Candy Man – I think I watched the movie Candy Man (1992) around the time I recorded this, which is an amazing movie… but I might’ve just been thinking of the folk tradition of the Candy Man, from earliest recorded examples like MS John Hurt to post-modern takes like the Grateful Dead, to Van Halen, who call him the Ice Cream Man.
A07 – Mowing the Lawn – like grocery shopping, mowing the lawn is one of those domestic chores I really enjoy… the pandemic didn’t put a damper on this one, but my lawnmower did recently die.
A08 – A Joke That Wasn’t Funny – this song is about the feeling you have when you know you are telling a joke out of desperation, and it turns out to be an insufficient poultice for the wounds at hand.
A09 – One Hitter – a song about smoking a bit of weed out of a one hitter, what can I say? But there is a progression to the themes here, and the mind opening qualities of the One Hitter might help with the journey ahead.
A10 – Oyster Mushroom – This song is about venturing out into the damp and mysterious mid-autumn woods that surround Wy’east (known in the language of colonizers as Mount Hood) to gather edible mushrooms. When I am in the woods the earth itself sounds to me like a synthesizer suggesting infinite melodies, with the percussion of raindrops and pinecones cascading from the needles and limbs of swaying Douglas Firs. Touching the organic duff that blankets the ground is like touching the keys and pads of a never-ending instrument that is constantly playing itself, and I am at once playing along and being played.
A11 – Lost Dog – Anxiety mounts, the feeling when an integral part of you, your family, is missing. Alive, but you don’t know where, or how they are. The throat swells, the world shrinks.
A12 – I’m Scared – Fear rises and descends at once until it meets itself. Panic scatters the senses across the horizon, comfort only exists in repeating old patterns until they wear deep grooves in reality.
B01 – Club Sequence – In this scene, the protagonist has wandered alone into a dark and pulsing nightclub, their senses and sensibilities assaulted by flashing lights, pounding music, beckoning fingers, occult symbols, and gyrating bodies. They are afloat in the crowd like a leaf in a boiling rapid, their agency diminishing as the scene envelops them. They are handed drinks, pills, powders; told secrets; their future, their past. They are hypnotized by the scene and its denizens.
B02 – Downtown Sequence – The protagonist stumbles out of the nightclub into the dark alley, their skin contracting in the cold night air of outside. Their breath condenses in lurid plumes. They stumble through the trashed-out alley into the grit and glory of downtown. Cones of light provide the stages for dramas of sin. Marquees beckon the viewer into untold realms of experience. Re-arranged faces leer out from dingy alcoves, begging for money, drugs, other things. The protagonist’s disorientation becomes inverted, but no less severe.
B03 – Chase Sequence – At once the protagonist must gather themselves, put the world into focus… underworld characters from the nightclub are giving chase. The protagonist must’ve seen something that was not meant to be seen. They turn and they run, every fiber of muscle engaged in this flight for survival. The lights of downtown begin to fade, but the clatter of footfalls from the pursuers do not. The protagonist leaps over a rail and rolls down a heavily vegetated hill, thorns and briars ripping at their clothes and skin. They come to rest in a dark grove, they seem to have lost the thugs that were chasing them. The trees hum with a sinister energy.
B04 – Haunting Sequence – The protagonist lies still in the dirt as images and suggestions from the grove begin to enter their mind… a primal world, beings that are not quite people, not quite animals, that are at one with their surroundings, blending with vegetation, melting and flowing across boulder fields like springwater. On the back of their eyelids the protagonist sees these beings gathered in a circle howling in unison in an indescribably beautiful and menacing song. The tops of the trees bend to touch the earth in rhythm with their screams and the clouds swirl in the sky. This happened here, in this grove.
B05 – Possession Sequence – The swirling clouds begin to descend into a fine point above the protagonist’s open mouth, filling his chest with a vapor that carries the song of the terrible beings. The pulsing and swirling grow in intensity and speed until it is one impossibly fast sensation, blasting the song through every inch of the protagonist’s capillaries. Their back arches, their fists clench and their toes reach, the sound blasts, and then instantly, it ends. After a few minutes, the protagonist gets up, and starts walking in the direction of Downtown.