The Carl Wilson Lake Mystery

Posted on November 28, 2011

Hear it again, for the first time!

Maintaining this here blog has been a shocking 180 degree turn from my previous stance with respect to public relations; now I’m a one man minstrel show, utterly dead inside!  No, not really…  But this recent turnabout, coupled with my usual quantity over quality productivity means that I have a whole lot of good stuff in the archives that has sat covered in obscurity’s dust for some time.  Indulge me, then, as these things see daylight.  Today I have for you perhaps my favourite thing I’ve ever been involved in making:  The Carl Wilson Lake Mystery by Touching Earth Made Of Steel.  Of all the stuff I’ve done, it just might be that of which I am most proud (and usually the cruel passage of time leaves me cringing at older stuff, for what it’s worth).  I’ve recently uploaded it to my Bandcamp site, so you can listen to it in its glorious entirety for free, or buy it for stupidly cheap.  I hope you give it a listen.  My favourites are Haunted Lake, Advice From Plants And Animals, Guide To Edible Flora, Wendigo, and Left Behind, but really I like them all a whole bunch.  The Bandcamp site has the story, and also features the lyrics, for those interested.

The cover

Touching Earth Made Of Steel is my “band”.  It features me, Andy Cant and Brian Martin.  Andy programs the drums and sings, and plays the odd instrument.  Brian plays the bass and most of the guitars, and unwittingly writes the better part of the songs.  “Brian, we’re pressing record in five seconds, come up with a part”.  “Okay”.  They’re the best possible musical collaborators one could conjure.  Why?  Because they come up with and say yes to every stupid idea, and then they make those stupid ideas awesome.  Isn’t that all we really want of our associates, in every sphere of life?  I think so.  Say yes, damnit.  Here’s the gang:

TEMOS getting down at Raw Sugar (L-R Martin, Cant, Latta). Session players Saso and Deline not pictured.

We put together an album called Occupational Hazards a few years ago.  I’ll write about that some time, if you like.  We needed a killer follow-up album, and found inspiration in one of the best places on this planet: Algonquin Provincial Park.  Brian and I took a punishing canoe trip there one summer.  We pushed it, hard, and the park damned near broke us.  The water was low.  We dragged a canoe through an endless, cold, shallow stream.  We carried a canoe straight up into the evergreen mist.  We burned every scrap of tinder on hand.  Something happened to us out there…

If you’ve never been you have no option but to arrange to visit at the next opportunity.  Trust me.  Something might happen to you too.  We came back half destroyed but filled with some kind of north woods mystical energy, and so we were all but compelled to put together the album in question.  What is it?  It’s a concept album.  Okay.  It’s a concept album about a couple who disappeared in Algonquin in the 1970s.  They were never seen again.  Each song tells a little piece of their story, some based entirely on speculation.  Here are some of the promo materials we made, which will fill you in:

Highly effective poster

And here are some popular mini posters:

We went all out with this one, goddamn.  Oh yes we did.  See how those promo materials are building a narrative?  Yeah, that’s right.  We even bought a record of field recordings from the Park, and laid it underneath/between all of the songs, to establish a little ambience.  And musically this sucker is pretty awesome, in my humble opinion.  Hard rocking.  Banjo crooning.  A cappella weirdness.  Crazy effects.  Understated sadness.  Synthesizers galore.  Nutso drumming.  It’s got it all!  And yet (and maybe this is what I’m still so pleased with) in spite of it being completely all over the place, it hangs together beautifully.  Or at least I think so.  And I’m pretty much completely unbiased.

I was convinced that we had concocted something special, and secretly hoped that this would be the one.  The thing that got noticed out there in the world, somehow.  Yes, I entertained that particularly mid-aughts fantasy of just putting something out into the ether and letting its evident greatness speak for itself.  And so I cannot lie and I must confess that I was pretty happy when we improbably managed to get reviewed in a couple of places, and really good reviews!  It seemed like finally our rather unique vision had found its time.  It could only go up from there.  But it didn’t.  Because we didn’t know how to do anything with our three glowing music blog reviews except retire (note: bad strategy).  Don’t get me wrong here, faithful friends, I’m not griping.  Maybe lamenting my own self promoting incompetence, but not griping.  Naw, it’s just bugged me that this thing we made peeked its head out from shadowy obscurity and then disappeared almost completely.  Why?  I guess it feels like this album, above everything else, might speak to somebody, or make them smile, or wonder, or something, and it seems a shame that it’s been sitting around for a couple of years.

So here it is.  Again.  If you have never heard it, give it a shot.  Or tell a friend.  Or leave a comment telling me how much you hated it.

Posted in: Music