A great, expansive album with a kind of geographical, earthy thread running through it’s various moods. Great guitar and vocal textures, contrasts of rough and smooth, rolling rhythms and contemplative stillness.
Viking Moses's album "Jahiliyah" (an Arabic word meaning, "the age of ignorance") is a deeply contemplative work. The narrative, mythical at times, employs cinematic desolation as motif and follows a character who, harnessing his instinct, challenges his upbringing. We watch his struggle to influence by ideal, his abandonment of community, and his submission to a great unknowable beyond. As he traverses this beyond, we share in his fearful obstacles, courageous discoveries, and inspirational boons.
In "Jahiliyah", Massei unleashes his most expressive work yet, with 10 dynamic full-band tracks that are epic while heartfelt. Dramatic melodies are stabilized by Massei’s rich tenor, which cascades at times to near-whisper.
Each Viking Moses release has etched a progressively weightier musical trench, ranging from the acoustic "Crosses" (2005), to the euphoric slo-pop of 2009’s "The Parts that Showed", to the markedly rocking "The Conquest Night" (2012). These releases laid serious bedrock that has won Viking Moses years of acclaim. "Jahiliyah" digs beneath this bedrock. A set of songs crafted out of the subterranean, "Jahiliyah" is unassuming, as though it has been happening before meeting the listeners’ ears and will continue to crank away for evermore.
"Jahiliyah" will be released on Epiphysis on May 27, 2014 on CD, LP, and digital download. Limited edition LPs will be available with deluxe die-cut gate-fold jackets and color vinyl.
released May 27, 2014
Brendon Massei: vocal, electric guitar, piano, bass, organ.
Spencer Kingman: organ, backing vocals.
Jacob Soto: drums.
Otto Hauser: additional backing vocals on "Providence", drums on "Blush In The Unsteady World".
Michelle McWhirter & Ryan Thurber: additional backing vocals on "Providence".
All songs written by Brendon Massei*.
*except "Jahiliyah" written by Spencer Kingman (originally titled "Joseph Smith").
"Blush In The Unsteady World" written by Adrian Orange, recorded and mixed by Kris Poulin in Chicago, IL.
Recorded by Kris Poulin in Las Vegas, Nevada**.
**additional recording by Kris Poulin in Chicago, IL and by Brendon Massei in Baltimore, MD.
"Migrating Birds" and "Passed Through The Bones", recorded by Brendon Massei in Peekskill, NY.
Mixed by Brendon Massei in Baltimore, MD.
Art layout by Ryan Thurber.
Mastered by Alex Saltz at APS Mastering, Astoria, NY.
Were we brought here by the Lord? They said, "No dear, our Lord left us before, there's no Lord here." Then what will we put in our name? And how are we stood in our name?
"Stood? Well, are we not good?" And I say, no Sir, we're good, but where we belong, we were not born here.
I'd sit in the sand at the foot of the day, letting a fly play on my legs 'til they told me, "No," and they shooed him away.
"We're forced into a maggoting corpse!" So lay your tools down, because we're already tourists in our own town. "And we'll only be tourists in our own town, here!" So let's go back to the lands we worked with our own hands, so what if they know there were bones here!
"Then what will we put in our name? And how are we stood in our name?" Then what will we put in our name? and how are we stood in our name?
Track Name: Morning Compromise
THE MORNING COMPROMISE
Hold out for the right meal, we can live for days, hold on out, and we'll do fine. It beats the pushing for it, the forcing of ourselves, hold on out and we'll do fine.
Don't they know we'd tear our best shirt, just to fit it right, that we'd razor up our skin? We'd know right where to pull grins, the forcing of ourselves, to keep their figures coming in.
While my inveterate day is long, somebody else is all done and gone, and she, happily there, moves along under a moon and bursting with song.
Someplace else someone's boy lies, strung, and the top of his head is gone, so they die, Lord, they all die strong, who they're against, and who they're among.
Track Name: Providence
We owe for what we love, for what we have, and what they know, but if we go, weakness will show that we cannot make it on our own.
My friends, to lose where we land, is to make do with what we can, but if we go, weakness will show that we cannot make it on our own.
And why do we hate this place we're in? Is it on account of them? Well then, if we go, weakness will show that we cannot make it on our own, and everyone of you will sing, "Then what do I do for it, I know damn well that I should, but I can't, and O, I want my providence back, and O!"
And everyone of you will sing, "Then what do I do for it, I know damn well that I should, but I can't, and O, I want my providence back, and O!"
And what to do for it? I know damn well that we should, but we can't, and O, we want our providence back, and O!
Track Name: Migrating Birds
The Gods have abandoned us, they've left us like migrating birds. now we reach in vain to grip their words and ditch what we deserve.
So we dig up little balls of clay and fashion them the smoothest way. I've learned to make my script so deep and true to what they say.
I've been given thoughts to hold and to believe, to make ourselves as pure as gold and light as leaves, but the sands that come are cold and broad as seas, and they'll bury all we know.
Into the Underworld I'll march and steady go, and cross my family and others that I know, but with the poorest stitch and still the barest toe, I must not greet them, instead pretend not to see them.
I must transcend all time and space, blind as how I am to find a soul by face, and again, two more to take our place, eternally, below.
Track Name: Jahiliyah
My God, young Lord, I saw it with my eyes. My God, how long to take into these hands? These years will only expand like dough, I buried them in snow.
My God, young Lord, what did I ever know? I can't go back now, everyone's so old. But I will never get old, I cast my face in gold!
And ooh, how it rolled down my chest and off my clothes.
I got struck dumb, and froze into my spot. My eyes felt black, my throat was very hot. Every cell in my skin got stuck. I gave my body up.
(words by Spencer Kingman, originally titled "Joseph Smith".)
Track Name: Passed Through The Bones
PASSED THROUGH THE BONES
I passed through the bones of my first true love and followed her home in the conjugal back seat, enthroned, the land covered in snow, and still, we barreled on, but them days are gone, trapped under miles of sand that time had piled on, and so I sift through the night, blindly, until dawn, lest some light of the sun reveals what I'd done, then all Hell would come, at first, one by one, then quickly become too great to run from, and it won't be undone with weapons or some attempt to conceal it like some sort of secret made Holy by God.... Don't you dare, don't you dare, don't you dare hold on!
Track Name: Dig & Scratch
DIG & SCRATCH
Chase the day, head off into it. A headless snake, head off into it. The blackest lake, head off into it.
Strolling on, dog gone, been far too long since the days you made your little chairs, and the little dolls with the parts that showed for all. Lay me here, and break the day in two.
Good Lord, here's earth under my back, no board or stone is closing in, no turning wheel moving me fast, just shake these leaves, shake, shake on over me.
Dig and scratch, who's that under my back? A little girl! A slow and moving stone! I want to know what goes on in your little shell, apart from bare skin, and things I shouldn't know.
Don't tidy up, invite me in! How sweet, and thanks, but no, I'm much too big. Come crawl and play inside my shirt!
Track Name: Blush In The Unsteady World
BLUSH IN THE UNSTEADY WORLD
Don't cry when your roof falls in. This world is inconsistent like sand, like snow or dust. It whirls around; it's a world!
Only in a breath, heartbeat or blush is it safe to place our trust.
(words by Adrian Orange.)
Track Name: Toss & Roll
TOSS & ROLL
"Don't mind the guards, how they're standing. Would you stay if I said I was asking, and roll through the smoke of the evening? Toss and roll, toss and roll, toss and roll!"
"Dance, Moses! Dance! Show me your moves! You know the one where you start like a camel fearlessly charging to battle! Toss and roll, toss and roll, toss and roll, roll roll!"
Love, did they ask? "Well, no, they didn't. They don't have the first clue where you're hidden, so come, let us roll in the linen! Toss and roll, toss and roll, toss and roll, roll, roll!"
Miss, take this kiss, and just listen, my love, my lands, my people wait in the night. "So let's not make this about wrong or right, because it feels right, it feels right!" Yes it feels so right!