A visceral percussive rhythm beats the opening bars of “I Practice Dying (in the Spare Room)” by Half Shadow. It’s not the jungle; it’s not a Caribbean beat; it’s not even a rock intro. That ambiguity of genre echoes the boundary-erasing theme of this new single: life, death, birth, the afterlife—they’re all interconnected.
“My body traces my body beyond my body,” Jesse Carsten chants in noisy, broken, and enthralling patterns. The liminality straddling past, present, and future beaten into the repetition of “body” builds into an existential meditation. As Carsten states, the whole song is meant to make us “wrestle with the mortality in the moment.”
That “mortality” isn’t decay. Carsten sings of “my body in the weighted womb” while Jem Marie and Julian Morris provide an ethereal vocal backdrop. “Mortality” and “mortal” share a root—the Latin base mort, meaning death. But to have death, you must have life and birth. It is neither a sad statement nor a happy one, just one that is.
Even as Zach Burba blows a blues tonality into the sax, his conscious exclusion of blues notes bits into that same emotional state of neither happy nor sad. It’s strange and dazzling—a carefully thought-out reflection of being.
Stream “I Practice Dying (in the Spare Room)” below.
Ben is an advertising Madman who spends his days with words and music. When he’s not writing for his supper, he’s eating it at some of NYC’s most interesting restaurants.
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