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    Rhea 2:54
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    Bloom 5:02
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Characters managing disappointments, catastrophes, and existential puzzles with varying degrees of success. Some are resilient. Others, stuck and angry. This metaphysical geographical region, Witch's Grove, is a strange and insulated place. Kind of a forest, kind of something else. Here, a compass will stop working. Instruments malfunction. It's perpetually overcast and foggy, but not that foggy. It's cold, but not that cold. Nothing extreme enough to galvanize action. Nothing comfortable enough to feel good. You don't end up in Witch's Grove of your own volition. Although you'll want a magic potion to get you out of this place, there is no spell that can extricate you. No map, no shortcuts. Just you left to deal with what's there.

Musically, an eerie dream-like, dark music box quality. A sense of being trapped in the gears of a clock. Something machine-like and static at once. Post-punk was an influence for this: early Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division. The record opens with Broken Artifacts. (It doesn't, but it should. My mistake.)"Under the floorboards". Existential distress. Sometimes you survive by metaphorically crawling underneath. Sometimes being under the floorboards is a literal survival. The horror stories of life as Jews in Soviet Russia before, during, and after World War II were a normal part of everyday conversations growing up. Ultimately though, the song is an account of psychological paralysis and hyper-vigilance. There are countless ways a person can arrive at trauma. What do you do with this frozen panic and fear. How do you negotiate this state. Emerald City is an obvious reference and also perhaps a not-as-obvious reference to the nickname for Seattle. "I said my goodbyes, I left the Emerald City behind me" was a line scribbled down on a piece of paper somewhere in the middle of Oregon on the rainy drive southbound. I went to Seattle looking for magic but found a core part of myself instead. You don't need illusory ideas when you have that. Good Ideas mirrors this sentiment. You can try to escape into a Grimms' Fairy Tale, but life is always more complex. "But independent of all these things is life’s grim realities ... Is in me the ability to rise above buoyancy?" A question for anyone stuck in Witch's Grove for the first time or the tenth time.

Rhea and Guillotine are inspired by Rhea of the Cöos (a witch) and Susannah Dean (a black woman with dissociative identity disorder from 1964) from Stephen King's The Dark Tower book series. I did my best to give Susannah's song a Nina Simone flavor, both being Civil Rights activists and all. Whereas Pictures of Hope and Clinic seek meaning by giving hope to others, Change and Sandbox chronicle the disillusionment and disappointment that can result in withdrawal and isolation. Therapist's Office has the added sting of someone making themselves vulnerable enough to get help, but not finding it.   

Near the end of the record, Soundbyte introduces a sense of whimsical acceptance to a tough situation. Frame a narrative, stitch it together, and move forward. Bloom, how I should've ended the record, is the natural counterpoint to the paralysis of Broken Artifacts.   

I can’t bring back the fallen  
I won’t bring back the dead  
I can no longer be so nostalgic  
for a time that chose to not exist instead  
The obviousness hits you, a world it opens up  

It can take a lot of work and time and stumbling around in the fog before an insight hits, but those moments are invaluable windows that become portals into the world beyond the strange perimeter of Witch's Grove