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Ghost Thresholds and Etudes

The sound poetry of Ghost Thresholds and Etudes by the Strindbergs will “haunt your face,” to quote “Kiss the Rough Things,” the first track of this astonishing album. This subtle and jarring poemusic lurks; it finds its way into the hidden recesses of your consciousness, and takes up permanent residence in the attics of your soul. The unexpected is the norm among these ghosts; bees are “arriving vectors of honey/ in the windows (“The Last Architectural Grasp of the Hive”) and “an assassin can originate anywhere” (“Reversal”). These ghosts are no friendly cartoons, but terrifying wraiths in a world where fire and flood may shift places at any moment, as “branches ignite and fuse / a flood will find you on the road” (“Kiss the Rough Things”). The music, by Chris Mansel, waxes and wanes with Jake Berry’s vocals like moon and tide. This insistent music, startling and plaintive, is featured in the album’s two instrumental tracks. The other eight tracks include The Strindbergs’ vivid poetry—chanted, dirged, and bardically sung—as dark and painful as the band’s namesake. Peopled with widows, birds, insects, angels (“Erosion is so simple –forever alive / in a sparrow” — “Angels on High Tension Cables”), this poemusic seeks the strange juxtaposition, the unexpected noun. It is music and poetry to return to often, for a needed jolt of the unusual. Listen at the peril of your comfort; listen for your fix of experiment; listen to hear your deepest fear and mirror. But listen. Larissa Shmailo (In Paran; The No-Net World; Exorcism)

The Strindbergs Ghost Thresholds and Etudes

1. Kiss the Rough Things (4:14) 2. Widow of Birds (3:57) 3. Reversal (4:05) 4. Threshold (8:21) 5. Instrumental No. 1 (3:20) 6. Angels on High Tension Cables (2:06) 7. The Last Architectural Grasp of the Hive (1:54) 8. A Distant Window (4:12) 9. Reckoning (3:31) 10. Instrumental No. 2 (3:02)

Chris Mansel – music, sound and effects Jake Berry – vocals, piano on Instrumental No. 2 all songs written by Chris Mansel and Jake Berry except Instrumental No. 1 – written by Chris Mansel Recorded, mixed and mastered in November 2011 Music, sound, audio tracks and effects written and recorded by Chris Mansel at Rabid Bear Studios, Florence, AL Words, vocals, and piano on Instrumental No. 2 written and recorded by Jake Berry at 9th Street Laboratories, Florence, AL Photographs by Chris Mansel This is a Complex Lemon Recording: Download this album at:

Kiss the Rough Things Kiss the rough things to forget their names. Christ haunts your face. If the branches ignite and fuse a flood will find you on the road half dead in a broken chair Kiss the rough things. to forget their names. Remember the weaving of fur and wire, a nest on the rails hungry for annihilation Kiss the rough things to forget their names. Some mangey cur abandoned in the woods barks a nation and demands the cities repent Kiss the rough things to forget their names. Christ haunts your face. Late Golgotha – a pile of masks goes slipping into a cold, rusty pool Kiss the rough things to forget their names. “Wait for it.” “Wait for it.” “Wait for it.” Wait. Wait.

Widow of Birds She leaves her mark on storefront glass and passes on down the sidewalk devouring birds and sprouting a chatter of beaks from her forehead The souls of the damned track her for mercy, attack her for fuel, wander in her concrete shadow, suck lice from her overcoat. Nestle here for a moment and feel thought erode. Bright yellow swamp sunflowers the few that survived the drought She leaves her mark on the seeds and petals blooming late, after the flood and still, they are thirsty How can death be so absolute and kind?

Reversal The reversal begins in terror. You are bound in a chair before a massive screen – impossible to turn away, impossible to close your eyes. It consumes, become all there is Then he cuts the power The darkness is immediate and absolute. Nothing saturating no one. Air, blood, electricity, needles scorched in coal oil from another room where they view your memories, laugh and offer them for sale to other pious victims All of it so perfectly tender and painless and mangled in strange kisses until redemption comes when the door is thrown open

and the remnants crawl out blind and blessed. Say, “Thank you.� after making a purchase. Smile and be courteous. Shake hands, walk away clean. Sit quietly at home happy in the silence or chaos or whatever comes. The letter arrives with its commands. After that only secrets matter. They make the body that completes the work.

Threshold It might have been a gun with insects in the chamber. It might have been those wiry legs scraping at his eardrum. An assassin can originate anywhere. The negotiations fell apart. Nothing more than a plumage of needles scattered out of the throats of men and drones. A scorpion etches black pain into white stone. This is the measure of law. Nothing more than a plumage of needles. 9:30 a.m. The attack begins. The white Mexican sky with bombs raining down The white Mexican night plundered for weapons and medicine while the torches took control of the bishop's rooms – and the moon spun like a jack knife in the belly of a cloud screaming for safety in the pines. “In the pines, in the pines where the sun never shines and you shiver when the cold wind blows.” An assassin can originate anywhere. They crucified a coyote. They crucified a mule.

Left them hanging until a girl came out of the convent and cut them down – sent them back into the wild. Nothing more than a plumage of needles. The signal hinge shattered memory and time fell away in an explosion of starlings rising out of Jacob's well. 7 years, 7 too many and the equation fell into place. An assassin can originate anywhere. Nothing more than a plumage of needles. Leave no fossil to account. The satellites will disappear and the curious faith of silence will infect us all. Nothing more than a plumage of needles. Nothing more‌

Instrumental No. 1

Angels on High Tension Cables Fuck or die. Inhale the chameleon. Choice is a lie – a lake twisting in the air. Her face turned up to die. This day as good as any other.

Fuck or die. Erosion is so simple – forever alive in a sparrow…

The Last Architectural Grasp of the Hive Arriving vectors of honey in the windows. The house loses its eyes. There are wounded animals that do not suffer. Across a broad and empty road the traces of claws no one remembers. Or surrendered to flight when metal and bone fail. The hive has no faith It's every leg a manic tool writing a sound deprives a city of its light and nerve.

Distant Window Is that a trick of the light? Is that a doll or a girl hanging in the window? A ransom for the eyes in Jericho made of shell, forever wide open The hammers begin in the orbits of the skull birds made him half dreaming

Outside: a car door slams right here, three blocks away in someone else's nerves It's always outside, it's always someone else beside the old lady whose hands shake in her purse

Outside: the man who speaks, the preacher. someone else he can't see whispering in his ear forcing the curse His books rot with age, lesions in his heart. The pills can't help him now. Outside is forever a breath away hung in a window, a weathered rag slapping in a hot windless day Gather your corruptions and make them sing

Reckoning Here is your reckoning Here is your reckoning Here's your reckoning, holy man The square root of corpse is a woman on her belly in the sand where false stars whistle and crash In Montana a man with gold fever coughs a slag gray bile and figures the sum of his name in the residue precise as the distorted tide of wet Mars rising Knowledge is a slave to pollen sacs. Deliver the graves and retreat to high ground.

Wild again – filthy, hungry and sick of the fire in your feet. Here is your reckoning Here is

Instrumental No. 2

Copyright 2011. Chris Mansel and Jake Berry

Words for Ghost Thresholds and Etudes  
Words for Ghost Thresholds and Etudes  

Companion volume to the CD by the same title by The Strindbergs.