Strangled Light

by Less Art

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about

QUEEN GERTRUDE
More matter, with less art.

LORD POLONIUS
Madam, I swear I use no art at all.

–Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2

Gertrude was telling Polonius to quit fucking around and get to the point, and that’s exactly what the members of Less Art have in mind.

Less Art is the alliance of brothers Riley and Ed Breckenridge of Thrice, Ian Miller and Jon Howell of Kowloon Walled City, and Mike Minnick of Curl Up and Die. On Strangled Light, these five veterans bash out their own new version of post-hardcore – "post-hardcore by post-youths" is how they cheekily describe themselves, but this music is dead serious. The musicianship is world-class; the perspective is world-weary; the sound is fresh and urgent and crackling with feeling.

Strangled Light's nine songs add up to a modern, muscular incarnation of the vibe set forth years ago by bands like Fugazi, Unwound, and Drive Like Jehu. Like those bands, Less Art rages – emotionally-charged and electrifying – yet also knows how to wield dynamics as a weapon. The lulls make the peaks even sharper.

Initially it was baseball that brought these musicians together: four-fifths of Less Art are the men behind baseball-themed hardcore band Puig Destroyer. Blasting through songs about bunting and stealing bases eventually led these four to want to start a "real" band – they enlisted Riley's brother Ed and Less Art was born.

The band name might be lifted from a line in Hamlet, but ultimately it is raw emotion that drives this band. Using blunt phrases and the realest of tones, frontman Minnick sings of self-destruction on the micro and macro levels – candid lyrics address his personal demons as well as the collective deathwish leading all humanity to the brink. "Pessimism as Denial," debuted today, plainly describes our species' suicidal path: "We're surrounded by prophets / Who think spilling their guts / Is the same thing as giving blood / We've eaten all the animals / We've burned down every tree / We've done so many wrongs... / This system doesn't work / The world is better without us."

Strangled Light was recorded and mixed by Kowloon Walled City frontman Scott Evans at Sharkbite Studios and Antisleep Audio, and mastered by Brad Boatright (Full of Hell, Mutoid Man) at Audiosiege.

Guest vocals on "Diana the Huntress" were delivered by Meghan O'Neill-Pennie (Super Unison, ex-Punch).

The cover art was created by Jacob van Loon, whose work adorned the cover of Explosions in the Sky's The Wilderness album.

Strangled Light is a thrilling debut – an entirely new, relevant vision from five men carrying decades of experience between them. Stand by for news of the next live shows.

credits

released July 28, 2017

Mike Minnick - vocals
Ed Breckenridge - guitar
Jon Howell - guitar
Ian Miller - bass
Riley Breckenridge - drums

Recorded and mixed by Scott Evans at Sharkbite Studios and Antisleep Audio
Mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege.

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Track Name: Optimism As Survival
My family, filled with grief
While I feel nothing but I try to help
Do I even belong here?
Does anyone even care?
Now I’m cleaning out his house
Blood still on the bedroom wall
Does my fear come from the same place as
His cowardice?

I’m too curious to kill myself
Everything passes, even doubt
What I can’t control won’t keep me down
I use optimism as survival

And I miss you (Dawn & Dad),
But I had to get away
Even though I left my best friend
And soon after she passed away
And I felt bad for you, Mother
But I didn’t give a fuck about him
What did he do to you
When you were young?

I can’t help but worry
Is that same blood in me?
I link the future to the past
Is that same blood in me?

These days it seems like there’s no escape
I only come home for tragedy
Like for instance,
A death in the family

So heatwave summer for freezing winter
Sometimes beautiful, but mostly bitter
It’s the same everywhere we go
Today will pass while we wait for tomorrow
And I’m here, cleaning out his house,
Blood still on the bedroom wall
Why am I thinking about this now?
Searching for answers that won’t be found
Where my grandfather put a gun in his mouth
Where some friends I know are still trying to get out
No matter how far we try to run,
We all end up in the same position

I’m too curious to kill myself
Everything passes, even doubt
What I can’t control won’t keep me down
I use optimism as survival
Track Name: Diana The Huntress
Two shots to the back of his head
And the wounded
Bus driver bleeds
All over his seat
Before dying in the streets
And then, on the following day,
On the same route,
It happened again
As the local paper
Received her message,
And this is what it said:

“You think we are weak
But we are strong
I am an instrument
For those who cannot speak
People know we’ve suffered,
Still no one defends us
We can no longer ignore
These acts that enrage us”

Diana the Huntress
She is an instrument
Of vengeance
To the monsters
That are men

Two shots
To the back of his head
And the murdered
But driver lies
In a pool of his own blood
And then, on the following day,
On the same route,
It happened again
And witnesses
Noticed the blonde wig
While making her escape
From the crime scene

Diana the Huntress
She is an instrument
Of vengeance
To the monsters
That are men

Where the police do nothing
In a city that doesn't care
She strikes the ego of man
Their blood runs through the street
And then she speaks
She says: I am an instrument
This is a warning to those that think,
We are weak
Track Name: Mood 7 Mind Destroyer: Guilt
This is not a tragic romance
It’s a guilty conscience
And I am a broken man
The kind of person who hurts no one
With a heart like a stowaway
On a ship without direction

My eyes see only black and white
These bones are weak and feverish
Bedridden but I never sleep
I’m abandoned property

And why is this the way it is?
Why is this the way I live?
I can’t stand who anyone is,
But what have I become?

I am a broken man
The kind of person that hurts no one
With a heart like a stowaway
On a ship without direction

My eyes are the vacant type
Each night alone is another fight
Throwing phones and slamming doors
I’ve never felt comfortable

So I pick at my face til the skin starts to break
But that doesn’t help at all
Body aches that burn the flesh
Itch at the skin like exit wounds
That come from poison arrows
I have a mind, but it’s not useful
And this is not a tragic romance
It’s a guilty conscience
(I fucking deserve this)

I’ll never marry or settle down
I’m a quiet room in an empty house
I always play dumb and never show affection
I want to be wanted but from a distance
My demons have gone hungry
While I slowly starve
If the body barely functions
Let it destroy itself
Track Name: Wandering Ghost
Okay,
These clean sheets are soaked in wet dreams
Stains as markers while I hold my position
Poison habits create numbing routine,
Providing comfort while offering defeat
Have I ever been more than a crush?
A scapegoat for the bored or unloved?
Well, I grew feathers when I shaved my head
Choked on the fumes from the fire and flesh

I’m sick, I’m sick from addiction
And I’m afraid, I’m afraid to love
I’ll never know how much I mean to anyone
Still I scream, I scream and I reach
With my claws, my talons, my teeth
Ruined voice, blood from my mouth
From where the words used to come out

You see,
There’s something inside of me
My fear of death, a defense mechanism
Doubt gnawing at me like a nervous reaction
I am the protester’s burning body
I am patiently waiting in place
I just need to know, before I’m a wandering ghost

I’m sick, I’m sick from addiction
And I’m afraid, I’m afraid to love
I”ll never know how much I mean to anyone
Still I scream, I scream and I reach
With my claws, my talons, my teeth
Anything to keep it together
Reborn from death to become the fire
I avoided growing closer
I don’t want to miss growing old
The cliche of drifting apart
Desperate and alone
Cause I’m sick, I’m sick from addiction
And I’m afraid, I’m afraid to love
I”ll never know how much I mean to anyone

Since we’re born,
We’re built to die
So let us move away
And die of old age
With our dogs
I just want to get past,
Past all the shit
That gets in the way
So, where can we go?
Will we ever be
Who we really wanted to be?
Track Name: Pessimism As Denial
Why don’t we ever help those we have hurt?
We’re so concerned with what we think we deserve
We all hate each other and no one gives a fuck
Even though we know it won’t do us any good

We’ve reached a point where the idea isn’t important
Where the currency is worth more than the purchase
And our opinions come from the cheap feelings of convenience
That’s just how it goes,
There’s no sign of hope

Why don’t we ever help those we have hurt?
(We’d rather have our hands around someone’s throat)
Everyone hates each other
and no one gives a fuck
Even though we know it won’t
Do us any good

We’re surrounded by prophets
Who think spilling their guts
Is the same thing as giving blood
We’ve eaten all the animals
We’ve burned down every tree
We’ve done so many wrongs
Any excuse for these awful things

While the armchair activists and contrary fanatics
Fight over who cares more about caring less
And some say, a peaceful protest
Is nothing but a white flag,
While others claim they aren’t racist,
Say it’s just the way they were raised
And they carry on and on this way
While we all remain enraged
And nothing fucking changes

This system doesn’t work
The world is better without us
This system doesn’t work
We are better without us
Track Name: Shapeshifter
There isn’t a way
To make this stop
It’s inescapable
This goddamn disaster
Of being anything
More than temporary
We have the company we keep
And the shit we choose to do
To one another (or to no one)
And that’s not going to change
No, it won’t go away

I’m a shapeshifter
I’m a broken compass
The fool in clever makeup
I’m the violent Buddhist

That’s tied to a life
I’ve never led
(I’m only passing through)
And on my deathbed,
Will it be what I’ve done
That flashes before my eyes
Or will it be
What it didn’t do
I was afraid to try
And if I can’t finish
Anything I start
What will I do when I die
Since that’s how it ends?

Will I find liberation?
I don’t want this to end
I can’t lose, anyone I love
I’m a shapeshifter
I’m a broken compass
The fool in clever makeup
I’m the violent Buddhist
...so help me do better
Anything to keep me
From unraveling
And fucking it up,
Before I am done

I’m a shapeshifter
I’m a broken compass
Track Name: Crushed Out
There is a motive
Of men past their prime
Doing wrong because they can
Without consequence

To them, the world must be won
Our freedom used for war
Who gives a shit what is good
When it’s so exhausting?

There’s a quiet violence
That exists in my head
These words form a weapon
And we’re onto you now

People are beat down
Their hope crushed out
Your American Dream is a fucking nightmare

They take, dismantle and they break
And offer nothing in return
To a country that has given them,
More than enough
They eat the flesh
Of the ones they claim to love
Bears a perfect smiles
The meat still between their teeth
Wearing crowns like they’re kings
Letting the rest fight for scraps
But you have been wounded,
And we smell the blood

People are pissed off
They won’t back down
Your American Dream is not for them

You are not for them
You are not for them
You are not for them
You are not for us
Track Name: What Is It In Man
What is it in man
That takes the idea of God
And turns it into something it’s not?
Can someone explain?

What is it in man
Makes him think he’s a saint over sin?
Control women or kill innocents?
He’s a fucking hypocrite

Who else has a gun?
Which school or church
Will be the next target?

What is it in man
That takes the idea of God
Turns it into something it’s not?
Can someone explain
Or sound the alarm?
There’s another building on lockdown
With an armed lunatic
On the move
Again

Who else has a bomb?
Which mosque or clinic
Will be the next target?

After years of searching
And finding faith,
You’ve used killing
To shape your way of life
So when you’re finally there,
Staring God in the face
Will you see the devil
Looking back?

What is it in man
What is it in man
What is it in man
What is it in man

Who else has a gun?
Which school or church
Will be the next target?
Track Name: Strangled Light
We’ve walked through
The black door
We’ve entered the age of loss
We all end, forever
Not everything can be saved

The sun and the sea
Only remind me of what’s gone
And we sit here,
Like strangled light
Waiting for what?

Son of Osiris,
We’re in mourning
Pleading to you and your father
To protect those we have lost
Since they can’t be brought back to us

The sun and the sea
Only remind me of what’s gone
And we sit here,
Like strangled light
Waiting for something
We didn’t want

These cold rooms with white walls
Filled with bad news about the truth
And we sit here, like strangled light
Waiting for all the things we didn’t want
I know I must keep living,
Though there will always be,
Something missing

No one comes back from the dead

Please
Make it so, we don’t need
These sore throats, from singing songs
About the pain of living and losing
Someone

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