Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs from local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole is “Don’t Let The Darkness Gather ME” by Sebastian Blanck from the 2010 album Alibi Coast on Rare Book Room Records.
Painted collages, lyrical passages that lead to an imaginary world, harmonies that recall a timeless journey, and a life fulfilled by remarkable experiences are all part of the work and philosophy of Sebastian Blanck. Although he was a founder member of the experimental group Black Dice, Blanck left the group early on to pursue a successful career in art, showing his paintings and complex paper collage work in galleries around the world. All the while, though, he had been writing songs that he shared only with his friends and family — among them, his brother Toby, whose relatively recent loss prompted Blanck to craft this beautiful, gentle folky debut. The songs of Alibi Coast are often quite personal, reflecting on his brother and other elements of his life — he’s son, who was born the same year of his brother’s death, his wife and fellow artist Isca Greenfield-Sanders, and so on.
The melody of today’s song of the day, “Don’t Let The Darkness Gather Me,” evokes an everlasting lullaby, yet the lyrics, sung with Lavender Diamond’s Becky Stark and Violens’ Jorge Elbrecht, could be read as either a reflection and mournful remembrance of his brother, who drowned, or of the unknown future of his three year old son — “could you have a sun / deep within your lungs.” As the song repeats the phrase, rather lovingly, “How can I leave the darkness with the night?” you wonder whether he’s pleading for release from loss or suggesting that such release is impossible, that life and loss are inseparable. It’s this complexity in a simple seeming gesture that defines much of his work, visually and musically.
To find more about Sebastian Blanck’s visual art and music, visit his official website and blog. According to his MySpace page, he will be performing Brooklyn’s Union Hall on July 28 and the Wassaic Project Summer Festival on August 14. For now, here is the video to the first single, “I Blame Baltimore,” from Alibi Coast:
Fun fact: Lou Reed officiated his wedding!