Release Date: October 17, 2018
Where To Buy:
CD OR VINYL: Right here.
DIGITAL DOWNLOAD: Bandcamp (lossless / master quality with liner notes) - $10.00
1. Moderate to Severe
2. Let's Get Infected
3. More Null Than Void
4. You Took It All
5. For Good
6. Midlife Sonata
7. The Comfort
9. Yesterday I Woke Up Dead
Moderate to Severe
Dry mouth. Night sweats. Moderate to severe. Chest pain. Hair loss. Your doctor knows just what to do. Here’s a prescription for you. For qualified buyers or very good liars this limited time offer is selling out quick. Hurry in to your dealer or state-licensed healer to see if Cosmicity is right for you. Headache. Fever. Rarely resulting in death. Nausea. Tremors. Your doctor knows just what to do. Here’s that prescription for you. Seek medical attention for increased affection or allergic reaction to feeling so good. Consult your physician or well-trained magician to see if Cosmicity is right for you. Swallow it down. Digest it good. You’ll soon forget just as you should. Eat what you want and you’ll still lose the weight, though these statements aren’t backed by the FDA. Remission is possible, though maybe not probable. Still, you’re desperate enough to have listened this long. Consult a professional, or a friend who seems rational, to see if Cosmicity is right for you.
I decided to open this album with the almost title track (I was THIS close to calling the whole album Moderate to Severe) because, for my money, it's a one-of-a-kind song. Someone once told me that the best music an artist can make is music that no other artist could possibly have made. This really feels like one of those songs. I'm not trying to pat myself on the back and declare this song better or more original than other songs - I'm just saying that it feels very unique to the way I make music. I don't think anyone else would ever craft a song quite like this. First of all, it's minimalist synthpop in 6/8 time. An electronic lullaby, if you will. It features my signature rising arpeggios, a straightforward drum machine kick and clap pattern. Add to that lyrics that are built from - and transformed to point out the lunacy of - the disclaimers of automotive and pharmaceutical television commercials, and I believe you find yourself with a song that no one else would ever think to generate. I'm really proud of this song, so I decided early on that it should lead the marketing for the entire record. (Side story: As prep work began to create the initial designs, album cover, and music video in late 2017, Eminem released a few billboards to tease his upcoming album that were also based on the look of pharmaceutical ads. I thought it was all over - that he would come out with an album and videos to follow that were on this same theme, and therefore I'd probably have to start over and do something else. But ultimately that didn't happen. Those few billboards were it, and hardly anyone saw them, so I stuck to my guns. I'll always wonder if anyone on my team had inadvertently leaked my concept to him or his people - we both live in the Detroit area and work with some of the same folks in town. Perhaps my concept was stolen for those billboards? Probably not... probably it was just two creative people seeing the same thing in society at the same time and both wanting to make a statement about it... but the timing will always make me a little suspect.)
Let's Get Infected
Let’s get infected. Know what I mean? Let’s get infested. Flush with disease. We’re going down, down, down… Let’s go get corrupted. Vitals interrupted. Do it because change is always good. Let’s get conditioned. Clean out our heads. They’ll make decisions for us instead. Just let it go, go, down… This will make things easy. Who cares what they’re feeling? We don’t have to pretend anymore. Let’s get disgusting and disfigured - steeped with lies or truth rejiggered. Let the poison be injected. All that’s broken gets corrected. Let’s get infected. I think we should. Let’s be digested. It feels so good. Let’s ride it down, down, down… Now we’ve got it easy. Who cares if they’re breathing? Kindness doesn’t matter anymore. Let’s get infected until we’re doomed. Let’s get digested. Let’s be consumed.
Would it surprise you to discover that this lusty electronic song is swimming with highly political lyrics? It is. How many listeners will I lose over it? I don't care. I have to write what I'm passionate about, and I am extremely passionate about this. The lyrics in this song were written in 2017 - about 6-9 months after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. What I was observing at that time - and am observing even more as I write this now in late 2018 - is an abandonment of logic, common sense, and decency so pervasive that it almost seemed impossible. It almost seemed like it couldn't be real. I was even observing massive swings in behavior among friends and long-time fans who I previously knew to be quite caring and rational. None of it made sense to me AT ALL, and I began to imagine that something was actually going wrong with people physically - that they were becoming infected with a virus that was actually impairing their judgement somehow. But then I thought, no, it's just that not caring about anything or anyone is easier. It's SO much easier. And the concept for this song was born. If there were a music video, it would be one friend who's already discovered the joys of turning off his brain and his moral center and just letting Fox News and Breitbart tell him what to think, what to chant, and who to hate - telling another friend that he should join him in his bliss. The line "do it because change is always good" refers to all of the people who would tell you they were voting for a vile reality show host POS like Donald Trump... (we all knew he was vile - we all heard him saying he grabs 'em by the p--sy, and we all saw him making fun of that disabled reporter clear as day) ... they were voting for him because it's time for a change. (He's human garbage, but he's different, and change is always good, right?) "Who cares if they're breathing" refers to the we-don't-care attitude of many Republicans as the Affordable Care Act was dismantled and people with pre-existing conditions like Asthma were facing an inability to get healthcare. The list of references goes on and on. And the song, well... I think the song writhes and grinds and puts a delicious beat to airy vocals that speak truth to evil.
More Null Than Void
I’m writing this song in a Target parking lot. Just 20 minutes alone - that’s what I’ve got. Spit out a few words - pretend they’ll be heard. Keep propping up this fantasy to deal with my reality. No one knows me anymore. I don’t matter anymore. Did I ever? Or was it never? I can’t believe I still don’t know. What’s she supposed to tell me - that she hates what I’m making? When she hears me sing now it kinda sounds like I’m faking? What once was so charming is almost alarming. Her dreamer, as he ages, has gotten lost between the pages. No one knows me anymore. I don’t matter anymore. Did I ever? Or was it never? I can’t believe I still don’t know. Every step I’ve taken is that pointless sort of effort that goes nowhere - like a treadmill. All I ever wanted was to have a voice that mattered but I failed. Completely failed. My life is just fine by any typical measure. I have regular things. There’s occasional pleasure. But I’m an inaudible man. I wear an invisible suit. More null than void. More stem than root. No one knows me anymore. I don’t matter anymore. Did I ever? Or was it never? I can’t believe I still don’t know.
I feel sorry for myself a lot. I know I shouldn't. In the scheme of things, I'm okay and surely better off than many. But I do. II feel lonely a lot. And I feel really sad a lot. Again, more than I likely should. But that doesn't change the facts. This song is a very sober look at how that goes down. When I have a few moments of spare time, I do actually just drive to a nearby Target parking lot and sit in my car - parked way in the back far from the other shoppers - with a laptop to distract me. These lyrics were actually written in that Target parking lot, as well as the initial sketch of the music. And these thoughts are exactly what goes through my head. All I wanted to do with my life was to do something that mattered in the world. I don't feel like I ever hit that mark. And at this point, I'm not sure that I accomplish anything that actually matters in any given year. I know what I must look like to my wife as I continue to dump so much time, money, and energy into making these synthpop* songs that are only ever heard by a handful of people. Undoubtedly pathetic. But she would never say so because, without the creative outlet, I might actually break. *This song actually has a fairly 80's-sounding synth pad in the choruses - does that mean I should call it synthwave?
You Took It All
I have wasted my life so devoted to you. Carving off pieces of my soul has taken such a toll. Don’t you understand? That love was all I had to give and now it’s gone. My love was all I had to give. You took it all. My voice was never heard. You didn’t grasp a single word. And this has done no better. Each phrase falls like a feather - weightlessly. That love was all I had to give and now it’s gone. My love was all I had to give. You took it all. The love we have is a finite supply. If it isn’t returned we wither and die. Here I am starving. I’m dust and sand. I know you see me crumbling right where I stand. My love was all I had to give. You took it all. That love was all I had to give. My love was all I had to give. You took it all.
I know on the surface this song looks like a fairly straightforward breakup song. But the fact is, though our marriage certainly has its struggles, my wife and I are still very much still together. So what is this song really about? Well, there was this person about a year and a half ago that absolutely lost their mind at me on Facebook. They realized that I was not a Trump supporter - and I had told them that I wouldn't allow Trump rhetoric / hate in the comments of my Facebook posts (though I did not delete what they posted, nor did I block them) - and they just absolutely flipped out about it and said everything they could possibly think of to hurt me in one insanely mean post. Not political things. Nothing on that subject at all, oddly, since that is definitely what caused them to flip out. No, they just really hurled all of these personal things that were based on all of the details of my life that I lay out here and in my lyrics for everyone to hear. They knew specifically how to hurt me. To be clear, this is not someone I had ever met or known personally. But it was someone who had written me occasionally over a lot of years as a fan of my music. A really big fan, it would seem, because again - they knew an awful lot about my life to be able to target my weaknesses so directly in this cruel tirade. Immediately after doing that, they unfriended me and that was that. But it got me thinking... if they'd been listening to my music for so long - had paid attention to my lyrics so closely - and that is what they did with what I put out there, well then... perhaps I've truly failed. Perhaps they're not the only one - maybe no one is actually hearing or understanding anything I'm putting out? Perhaps I'm not saying anything of value, or at least not saying it in a way that's really connecting with anyone else, and I truly have wasted my life? The lyrics say it all from there.
I’ve thought about it and I’ve waited long enough. One night soon I’m gonna give you up for good. Can’t be without it, but you just won’t fight for me. One night soon I’m gonna close my heart for good. It breaks my heart when you politely ignore me just killing time until you head up to bed. Sometimes I think that you just slightly deplore me. With just a touch you seem to fill up with dread. How many times have I made my plea? No, I can’t believe you still don’t know what I need. I’ve thought about it and I’ve waited long enough. One night soon I’m gonna give you up for good. Can’t be without it, but you just won’t fight for me. One night soon I’m gonna close my heart for good. Don’t get me wrong. I want to stay. You own my soul so it’s not easy to just walk away. But I’m in pain. And this is key: If you can’t show your love you’ll lose my heart entirely. Don’t you see that there’s a forcefield around you - pushing back every gesture I make. Why can’t you ever let affection affect you? Why don’t you even try to reciprocate? I’ve spent so many days begging down on my knees that I’ve worn perfect holes in every pair of my jeans. I’ve thought about it and I’ve waited long enough. One night soon I’m gonna give you up for good. Can’t be without it. But you just won’t fight for me. One night soon I might just close my heart for good.
This isn't an easy one to write about. It's very personal, and it's very real. I don't want to paint an unfair portrait of my wife, but I also didn't feel I could write this album without addressing this subject a bit. In fact, I even address it again a few songs later with the track "Geometry". So let me begin like this: One of the pieces of advice I was given shortly before Sara and I were married was that whatever our problems were right now - whatever things we already struggled with - those would be the things that we'd struggle with for the rest of our lives. I remember thinking "well, that works, because we're managing things just fine right now." What I didn't see is how those types of issue can feel like they multiply over time. In many things - most things - Sara and I are an extremely complementary pair. But when it comes to expressing love and affection, we are hopelessly unbalanced. Arguably, we are upside down when it comes to the traditional gender roles. I am very open emotionally, and very expressive about my feelings. Sara is... not. At all. This can't be overstated. I can't remember a time when she has ever just sat down next to me on the couch or purposely come over to give me a hug. To grab a phrase from the very first song I wrote about her: wanting her is pure frustration - indeed. All of the emotions are bottled up and she's not interested in thinking about them or discussing them. They're there, but good luck hearing about it or seeing an expression of it unless you're on your death bed. At least, I think I'd see something on my death bed. So this seems like a pretty terrible picture, right? That is until you see the rest of the picture - where she makes everything in our lives so good and beautiful... when you see how well we balance each other. It's a very rare and special thing that we have. And, of course, as I started off by saying - this issue wasn't so bad at the start of our marriage. There used to be the occasional expressions of caring coming from her, and I found that I was doing just fine with that smaller amount. But the situation has gotten much worse as the stresses of time, and adulting, and particularly those of raising our special needs (severely impaired) daughter - have weighed on us. The expressions of love became non-existent. So now this issue that we were managing just fine at the start of our marriage has become much, much harder to cope with. I sometimes find myself feeling so lonely and desperate to feel love that I can barely function. So this song (and the song Geometry) are my pleas for help.
Take one full-blown midlife crisis, pour it into a synth-driven sonata, and voila.
The face in this mirror looks tired and fat and grey. I feel sorry for the owner in a well-that’s-not-me sort of way. I move through my morning - thunder and storming. Under crashing clouds of denial, I’m soaked with the truth for a while. I hate the money that bought this house. I hate my office. I just want out. I hate the comfort. It makes me numb. I hate the person that I’ve become. I know it’s wrong, wrong, wrong to think financially. But I can’t control the fear that’s taken hold of me. We need our air conditioning. We need our 4K programming. The risk of change is way too high. I really just can’t disrupt our lives, but… I hate the money that bought this house. I hate my office. I just want out. I hate the comfort. It makes me numb. I hate the person that I’ve become. And the worst part is “they” say I’m doing it right. I’m a living example - all shiny and bright. I’m that upper middle class with the car and the toys, but tonight I’d give it back for some lust, sweat and noise. I hate the money that bought this house. I hate my office. I just want out. I hate the comfort. It makes me numb. I hate the person that I’ve become.
Coming right out of Midlife Sonata is the song that most clearly paints the picture of my midlife crisis. When I back up and look at what I'm doing, what I've done with my life, I am not happy with what I see. I actually think the lyrics are quite successful at laying it all out, so I won't go on about that any longer. What I WILL say is that, on every album, there is at least one song that I can not fully conquer. On this album, The Comfort is that song. I know it's a good song at its heart. I really like the lyrics. I like the monotonous but somehow still hooky chorus. I like the tempo. I like the chords. But I just couldn't get this song to mix together. I did it and redid it countless times. I changed the drums and the bass sounds over and over. I put a bunch of different synth parts in, then I took a bunch of parts out. I mixed it 100 different ways. In my opinion, this song just never became what I know it could have become. I ALMOST cut it from the album, but I decided (just barely) that it still had enough to say that it was worth keeping. If ever there was a song that could benefit from a remix (by someone else who could fix it in their sleep like Marsheaux or Class Actress), it's this one. And when someone finally does walk up and drop on some new drums and suddenly this song works perfectly, I'm probably just gonna break down and cry - because I lost months of my life trying to do exactly that.
I crave. I lust. For just one word. I burn. I thirst. For just one sign. I pine for truth, or a version you believe, so I can know relief - at last. Add it up. Is it real? Can you quantify how you feel? Show your work. Find the root. What’s your formula? Where’s your proof? I’m starved. Deprived of just one touch. One prompt. One cue. One simple clue would do. Don’t you want more than the monotony? Let’s break down our geometry - at last. Add it up. Is it real? Can you quantify how you feel? Show your work. Find the root. What’s your formula? Where’s your proof? Your surfaces and lines. Your angles changing all the time. I wonder, are you really mine? Or just a tangent or a sine that says goodbye? That reads farewell. That means so long. That shows we’re done. That claims you’re gone. Add it up. Is it real? Can you quantify how you feel? Show your work. Find the root. What’s your formula? Where’s your proof?
I covered the topic of this song pretty thoroughly in the write-up for the song "For Good". This song is on the same subject: begging my wife to show affection for me in some way... any way... so I don't feel empty so much of the time. But here's where it gets even more surprising. Last year I had the verses for this song written, but I had about a half dozen different ways to handle the chorus lyrics and I was having trouble deciding if I really wanted to lock it all in to this mathematical theme. I showed many of those options to her so she could help me narrow them down, and she's the one who suggested I should lock in on the option that went "add it up. Is it real? Can you quantify how you feel?" What's so crazy about that? Well, this song is about her. She knows it's about her. (The math theme works particularly well because she has a degree in Accounting and works in Financial Analysis.) And she definitely knows that the whole thing is a plea for affection. But she said nothing of it. To this day there has been no response. How's that for emotionally detached? (My guess is that, if forced to respond, she'd argue that she shows affection by doing exactly what she did - by taking the time to help me with something that is important to me. And she'd be quite right. I know she loves me. But it doesn't change the fact that I long to have her just say it.. or reach out and just do something... put her fingers through my hair... rest her head on my shoulder... tell me I look nice today. Something.) Musically speaking, I really enjoy this song. It feels very Cosmicity... a synth ballad with rising arpeggios, a punchy drum machine, and a juicy bass sound. Yeah. It was not an easy song to get sounding right - the mix of the drums was particularly difficult - but I think ended up with a cool sound.
Yesterday I Woke Up Dead
Yesterday I woke up dead. It seemed like life, but only in my head. When I’d parse out situations I could see the degradation. The love was artificial so my death is quite official. Yesterday I ceased to live. I found that I had nothing left to give. I just could not make a difference in this time of no forgiveness. My shouts dissolved to silence. Words of peace were changed to violence. I couldn’t call that living so I just accepted death. I checked with the officials. They agreed that this was best. Yesterday I failed to thrive. I’d say it’s ‘cause I’m not alive. You can see a mortal’s purpose - something more beyond the surface - but in my case it’s quite glaring: they don’t see past what I’m wearing. Yesterday I woke up numb. Right away I knew that I was done. When I tried to use some reason I was cast out for the treason. Put to death without a trial. Pulled the lever with a smile I no longer live here. There’s no reason to exist. I’m incredibly well-rested. Truth be told, they quite insist. I’m no longer breathing. I don’t bother anymore. I’m no longer valid with the assholes keeping score. With those assholes keeping score. With those bastards keeping score. With those bastards keeping score.
This is the last of the somewhat political songs on the album. I feel like the lyrics are very clear, but in case they aren't, they are an attempt to capture the hopeless feeling that I feel permeates everything and everyone since the rise of President Trump. Where did so many of these angry hoards of Trump-loving Republicans come from? Why do they hate kneeling athletes but rally behind neo-Nazis and Putin? Why do they embrace mindless propaganda over facts, logic, and reason? None of it makes any sense to me. It began to feel like even the mildest efforts to help were pointless. If you ask someone to try to find peace or common ground, they will shout you down and twist what you said to sound like you were hostile toward them. If you point out the clear facts of a situation, and they contradict what they want to believe, they will often simply cut off all communication with you. This is both observable to anyone - Trump cutting off media outlets when they report facts about him that he doesn't like - and also observable my personal experience: people "unfriending" me on social media for posting indisputably factual information. So I decided, for all the good my existence is doing these days, it's possible I'm actually dead and that is why everything seems so irrational and nothing I say or do has any affect on anything.
Stay calm. Don’t freak out. It’s just your life. Each day - each bargain - at such a low price. You heed what they tell you and buy what they sell you. The ease has compelled you to stay where you are. You’re smart. You get it. Act like you’re dumb. Live safe. Be certain. That’s how it’s done. You’ll say that you’ve made it, but your dreams have just faded. So you’ve become jaded and settled for this. Your days when compounded just leave you dumbfounded. You didn’t quite know it was as bad as this sounds and, well, now it’s too late to become someone great, so you’ve settled for empty - declared that it’s plenty. You say life is lovely. You’re making good money. The future’s so sunny you can’t see a thing.
This here is the last of the midlife crisis tracks on the album. It's written from the POV of the voice in my head, because that voice considers itself a separate entity from the rest of me and really enjoys laying down some aloof judgements on my life choices. What you hear is what the voice says to me. I do realize that, by doing it this way, these lyrics will probably sound to others like me laying judgement upon them, but I still felt like I had to write it exactly as I hear it. Some listeners might be wondering where I've landed on this whole thing... if I'm so unhappy with my life (as described in detail in More Null Than Void, The Comfort, and this song) what am I going to do about it? That's the thing about a midlife crisis - you're often realizing a lot of things about your life that you actually and truly can't change. That's the crisis. You're half way through the years you've got, you're not where you want to be, and you've learned enough to realize that you don't actually have a path to get there anymore. That's why I think a lot of people run toward buying big material distractions - shiny cars or boats or whatever it is they can tell themselves they've always wanted and can now afford. (Thus far I have not really done any of that stuff, but is that only because I've never had a taste for cars or boats? Perhaps.) In my case, the "trap" is that - given the needs of my daughter (who I've mentioned before has a serious neurological disorder, suffers daily seizures, and requires 24 hour care to do everything) - I don't feel that I could ever safely change my day-job career. The money and the stability are critical for her, and I just can't... I won't risk it. I just love her too much. So... for the music, I wanted this song to build to kind of churn, a cruel unraveling of truths, until we reach the part that starts "Your days when compounded just leave you dumbfounded." I wanted that section to be dry and sobering. A slap in the face from reality. And then I wanted it to really pulse toward the end as it's all driven home. A final 4-on-the-floor stab through the heart. Accomplishing this was a really tall order for a "pop" song, and it was not at all easy to stitch these different stages together. However, in the end, I think it worked. I believe it quite accurately captures what's going on inside of me.
I feel your fingers as they brush my hair. I hear your whisper - your breath upon my ear. Ooh. Ooh. So warm. As I move closer I feel you sway your hips. That move destroys me, so all resistance slips. Ooh. Ooh. So warm. Time just melted. We both felt it. All I really need is to be loved like this. All I really need is to be loved like this. As we’re touching god is blushing. All I really need is to be loved like this. All I really need is to be loved like this. I’m moving slowly. I need to make this last. Stockpile the feeling before it’s in the past. Ooh. Ooh. So warm. Stars are falling. Comets crawling. All I really want is to be loved like this. All I really want is to be loved like this. Time is nothing. Death is bluffing. All I really want is to be loved like this. All I really want is to be loved like this. Everything is amplified. All my fear is nullified. If your love is suicide bring on the cyanide. Ooh. Ooh. So warm.
I loved the music for this song from the very first 30 second demo of it that I created 3 years ago. I think this song sounds like the title: warm. And even though I knew I loved it from the start, I almost cut if from the final album. I just wasn't sure that it fit with the sound of the other tracks on this collection. To my ears, it is a song that hails from Cosmicity's roots. It reminds a fair amount of "The Moment", as well as some songs from Isabella. At the heart there is a rich pad sound generated by the Korg Wavestation - the exact synth I used for those pad sounds on Isabella. The rest of this album is decidedly not warm and pad-driven, so this really seemed like the odd one out. And then there's the lyrics. All of the other songs on this album are about: a midlife crisis, a strained relationship, and the current political climate. Then here comes this love song... it just doesn't fit! And yet, here it is on the album, right? What changed my mind? Well, they say you should put the change you want out into the world, right? This is the change I want. So I decided to optimistically end the album with it. Hopefully it finds its way to becoming a reality - and that triggers me to write many more like it in the future.