Bottomless Pit – “Shade Perennial
“Cast the future as the past,” Cohen whispers on “Full of Life.” With Bottomless Pit, you don’t really care if it’s future or past. You’re going to be happy either way. – Lee FowlerLee Fowler
out of 10
October 29th, 2013
Comedy Minus One
The two guitar solos in Silkworm’s “LR72” are simple. There are no buildups, they end when they end, they don’t floor you with technical precision. They don’t cap a crescendo-ing chorus with a soaring triumphant wail. In fact, there is no chorus. The song lopes along: verse verse solo, verse verse solo, verse verse out. The lyrics are part poetic reminiscence of a lost friend, part cryptic symbols. There are few rhymes, no consistent rhythms, and the word “beer” ends several lines with a clunk. You can’t tell if the band is winking or about to burst into tears. But what at first seems to be a confusing thrown-together throwaway track, on repeated listens becomes a masterful exploration of unorthodox musical form. You realize that there are depths of effect and meaning that can only be accessed with what seems to be a boring simple guitar solo. And sometimes, honestly, rhyming really messes things up. And sometimes “beer” is exactly the right word, despite its ill fit in the meter of a line. Like rap, the relatively simple music underneath allows the listener to consider the drawled lyrics over it. For this song, let’s forego the chorus and live in the verses.
Really, it’s hard to talk about Bottomless Pit without talking about Silkworm. Even though we’re three albums into Tim Midyett and Andy Cohen’s new band, it’s hard not to reminisce and compare their latest incarnation with their previous band. Unlike “LR72,” though, the songs on Shade Perennial are decidedly orthodox. But there are more Silkworm-like moments here than on the first two albums. There was a greater emphasis on guitar melodies and atmosphere on Hammer of the Gods and Blood Under the Bridge—and that’s still there on Shade Perennial—but there are moments of understated fury and aggression that I haven’t heard since Silkworm. The drums have gotten a little bigger, and back are those more angular, distorted guitar licks. “Full of Life” could have safely been on Libertine, and “Greenery” would have fit on It’ll Be Cool.
In the wake of Silkworm’s drummer, Michael Dahlquist’s tragic death in 2005, the resigned but steadfast wranglings with death in the lyrics of “LR72” always rang poignantly true. “Fleece,” the first track on Shade Perennial, keeps those thoughts in the forefront when Midyett sings, “We’re just grateful to be alive” and the song moves plaintively forward, melody, verses, and solos in tow. Truly affective music can simultaneously look forward and behind at the same time, and this album is a perfect demonstration of that. The shadow of Dahlquist is still there, but there is a fearless, misty-eyed determination to move forward. In the same way, the classic rock shredding on “Null Set” advances more than it hearkens to the past. Whereas the first two Bottomless Pit records were more contemplative, this one is declarative, offering firm but insistent assurance that things are, indeed, all right. And things are.
“Cast the future as the past,” Cohen whispers on “Full of Life.” With Bottomless Pit, you don’t really care if it’s future or past. You’re going to be happy either way.
October 14th, 2013 – Lee Fowler