Downpilot (USA)Booker: Sebastian Tim
For the follow-up to the acclaimed They Kind of Shine (including songs featured on television series "One Tree Hill"), Hiraga sequestered himself on Seattle’s nearby Vashon Island in a spacious woodland studio and set to writing and recording, far from the distractions of the city. Although several Downpilot alumni would later make cameos, the feeling from the start was that this would be a more intimate, solo-style album.
With his arsenal of self-made recording equipment and surrounded by an extensive collection of vintage keyboards and other instruments, the multi-instrumentalist recorded ideas in a spontaneous, stream-of-consciousness fashion. After a solitary week the foundation was laid for the 4th Downpilot LP: New Great Lakes.
Time and distance function like a filter, obscuring some details while bringing others into sharp relief. Time might heal all, but we always, inevitably, find ourselves back where we started.
Why isn’t an issue.
Whether you can go home again or not is actually an issue, because there’s an inherent need to revisit the past at some point in our lives. The landscape itself may have altered — the landmarks eradicated or erased or at least redecorated — but there’s a part of ourselves that will always see the skeleton of what was there back when; a part of our soul that needs to process the journey; a longing that we might never find the words to identify but persists nonetheless.
Home. Whatever that means.
It’s here, and yet it’s inescapably there – and it creeps up on you in the strangest ways. It certainly does on Downpilot’s latest offering. Singer/songwriter Paul Hiraga may not have set out to revisit his Midwestern roots, but if you listen closely you can hear the wind whipping off the great plains, or the desperation of the industrial rust belt. The disorienting sights and sounds and sentiments of displacement, made all the more profound because you never expected to be displaced (or distanced) from the place that you disowned.
And yet hopefulness somehow inexplicably prevails. Forward progress is a human impulse — we just forget that sometimes we need to stop and consider what got us to our current vantage point. You can run, as they say, but you can never, ever hide.