Abiding Island (2018)
For ABIDING ISLAND I invited contributions from some of my oldest friends and favorite musical collaborators, who graciously tolerated a deluge of text messages and Google Drive uploads to lend their efforts to this project.
This album's theme, abiding, means sitting with the things in our world we’re powerless to change. More specifically it is about global catastrophe, climate change, intractable discord between corrupted interests, systemic injustice, and the ever-tightening stranglehold capitalism exerts on the weakest among us. So, you know, lighter fare.
At the outset of this album’s creation last spring, I was speaking with a colleague who told me about her volunteer work with prisoners serving life sentences—people who have no choice but to develop some means of abiding with both their past deeds and present circumstances. I spent a lot of time after that trying to imagine what kind of strength one would have to possess in order to do that without going insane.
Around that same time, I was growing increasingly depressed about climate change. A visit to Iceland over the summer reminded me how fragile and tiny a species we are, and how our best hopes of undoingour own extinction are probably behind us. The sea will rise, many or most of us will be displaced, the cruel will profit while millions die, cities and states will fall, resources will dwindle. Things will get worse before they get better, IF they get better, and who will be left to see it?
But my feelings weren’t limited to despair and surrender; there was also acceptance. This acceptance is different from the rapturous fatalism, despondent resignation, or cynical accelerationism I also occasionally indulge. Abiding is something apart from all that. It's not surrender. Because at some point we must move from abiding to fighting. We can and should fight as hard as we possibly can, whenever we can. But in the liminal moments before, throughout, and beyond the fight, the skill of abiding becomes crucial.
So, the title’s abiding island might be Iceland: a tiny, resilient place whose history of struggle has presently yielded to something of a renaissance, which itself is fragile and probably temporary. It could also describe, obviously, an island where one abides. Or it might be the metaphorical human island that perseveres, often in isolation, sometimes in solidarity with neighbors in an archipelago.
To seek hope and happiness in today’s world resembles lunacy, but we persist in being lunatics. What’s happening now in our homes, our country, our world, is neither wholly good nor bad; it defies categorization, induces cognitive dissonance, sustains irresolution. Hence the tension, which I hoped to communicate in these songs, between rage and equanimity, between apocalypse and respite, between playfulness and solemnity. The oceanic imagery in this music also expresses that duality; the rising sea is an agent of beauty and, someday, our destruction.
Released January 12, 2018
Recorded at home by Jake Mohan, June - October 2017. Mixed by Stephen Lawson and mastered by Tom Garneau.
Performed and recorded by Jake Mohan, with help from:
Jenny Case: Bass on "Tourbillon" and vocals on "All Boats Rise" and "The Sea Came In At Midnight"
William Hoben: Bass on "Abide"
Maureen Koening McFarlane: Vocals on "How We Die"
Amanda Mohan: Vocals on "How We Die"
Phil Moore: Vocals on "Abide"
Mark Paulson: Guitar on "Abide"
Ethan Rutherford: Vocals on "Tourbillon" and "Second Pulse"
Thanks: Amanda, Jenny, Maureen, William, Ethan, Steve, Tom, Joe, Jonathan Larroquette & Seth Romatelli, Karín Aguilar-San Juan, and of course Wally
Words & Music ©2018 The Dependent Clause
Available now on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, Google Play, and more.
XL Remixes (2017)
As the title implies, these are remixes of the songs from XL. My favorites are "No More Heroes (Face the Sun)", "Snow on Sparrow Hills", and "Exit 182 (Colfax-Mingo)".
Released July 15, 2017
Recorded at home by Jake Mohan, January - June 2017. Mixed and mastered by Jake Mohan.
Performed and recorded by Jake Mohan.
Words & Music © 2017 The Dependent Clause
This is my debut album as The Dependent Clause, released on December 19, 2016.
XL is a collection of instrumental songs that draw on over twenty years of my musical and personal experience to address such hot-button topics as life, love, death, turning forty, socialism, my dad, nostalgia, epistemic violence, and children’s television programming.
December 19 was Wes Phillips' birthday. I’d been working on this for a few months when Wes, my best friend and first musical collaborator, died in May 2016; suddenly this project, whatever it was, took on a fresh urgency and clearer shape. I’d been assuming that he would eventually hear it, engage with it as only he could, and give me the feedback and encouragement I’d come to depend on over the past thirty years. While my attempts at composition beyond the drums were rare, Wes greeted every endeavor as the most exciting thing he’d ever heard while providing honest feedback about how where to go next. I knew he’d do the same for XL when he heard it.
Now he never will. But he’s all over this album (in a few cases literally). I loaded it with musical in-jokes and samples and allusions that only he would get. I’ve employed production techniques and compositional tropes and drum fills I originally learned from him when he pointed them out in the music we both loved. The result is a far cry from his ingenious and prodigious output, but it’s my humble offering.
Wes was always hungry for new, unique sounds, and became ecstatic when he found them. If you collaborated musically with him or knew him at all, you surely absorbed at least some of that contagious zeal. My request to you is that, if your time and inclination allows, you’ll indulge me and celebrate Wes’ birthday today by listening to this music with that same enthusiasm and intensity, since he no longer can.
Released December 19, 2016.
All tracks written, performed, and recorded by Jake Mohan except:
“Can Beauty Save the World?” based on an idea by Maureen Koenig McFarlane, Jenny Case, Eli Stone, Jake Mohan, and Marshall Bolin. “The Fear” contains vocals by Jenny Case and Maureen Koenig McFarlane.
Created at home, January - September 2016. Mixed by Steven Lawson. Mastered by Tom Garneau. Additional mixing, mastering, and tampering by Jake Mohan. Photography and design by Jake Mohan.
Thanks: Amanda Needle Mohan, Wally the dog, William Hoben, Ethan Rutherford, Dino Balocchi, Neil Stone, Mark Paulson, and Seth Romatelli.