Great Headless Blank

by Makeunder

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1.
I’m waiting for an escape to unfold in my favor while I’m sound asleep I’m waiting for a rarer luck to sow its seed I am the great headless blank, slowly losing shape, erased and all alone I’m waiting for another soul to hear my plea I’m waiting for an escape to unfold while I dream While I am asleep I’m waiting for the hole to mend me And make it all better Impossible hold - in my struggle - electric unknowing only eight hours away But you don’t see me struggle in my present state Here I wait in the darkness of day, when the night lingers well past the dawn With time running blank, well the waiting will make you crazy I’m waiting for an escape to unfold while I dream While I am asleep I’m waiting for the hole to mend me And make it all better Well, you can try I’m waiting for an escape to unfold, but escape’s not the remedy I need But it’s too late, the light is dim, and I am weary There’s no elation, no great sigh of relief, but a quiet nod, and a casual walk away For all the wild wanting, was it worth the waiting? I’m waiting for an escape to unfold while I dream While I am asleep I’m waiting for the hole to mend me And make it all better But I was wrong - Blank for so long That you could never see That I am struggling
2.
Now here we are - the van canters down an uneven road Connects to ten, the rear view crying out to the sea My daddy was made from these mountains, all lilac and scree Sacked out in the back, he earthbound and thrown We drive in shifts, no splendor, all cut-through and grass Out through that pass all interstate dust and sun We stop for gas - hypnotic flatness - brother lights up a smoke He sits outside the station with his head in his hand But it makes no difference Now I begin to speak faintly Hands grasping in the air for feeling Now my grip wears over the highway And I begin to speak faintly Hands empty under the resting moon and stars Far from the sober west Before we left, utterly desperate, we ask the sage “Drive east for treatment if you want to be saved” Now I wake up from distant stillness - all direction the same I will haul ass, cross a thousand miles hence But it makes no difference Now I begin to speak faintly Hands grasping in the air for feeling Now my grip wears over the highway And I begin to speak faintly Hands empty under the resting moon and stars Far from the sober west Let me tell you one thing that is true But its no use - I’m broken down like a wind-blown wire woven fence Makes no difference, move in once place, break loose, but no escape It’s no use One day I will be earthbound too All filled with dust, all existential I’ll be the picture of a truncated end It makes no difference what I say or what I do It’s no use But let me tell you one thing that is true Now we are lost, we are helpless My hands empty But I’m still breathing The stellar’s jay, the mountain quail They call from the edge of the earth Broken down He, earthbound and thrown.
3.
Well, these walls turn gray Paint each room and every hall The oven clock repeats itself Now, this frozen midday Fixing the home that I grew up in Sing to a pile of boxes I am beside myself Stuck in the home that I grew up in I can’t stand a lonely room All my songs are frozen in time So what would you have me do? Well, she sings so softly Window-mounted frigidaire Keeps my company, but the filter’s dead I wish that I could describe the place where I lived And O how I wish you could know Wooden family, painted in color I am beside myself Orange and red is the home that I grew up in Now all the walls are gray There’s no trunk, there’s only roots So what would you have me do? I sing alone If midday floats away from this home Will my songs be unfrozen? Well, I will turn gray I will keep my mellow heart With error in my engine I am beside myself Gone is the home that I grew up in I brought back a few simple songs And I can’t wait to show them to you So what would you have me do?
4.
If you follow me I will show you the place where in my memory where I want to be The rest of me is there Where the sorrel spreads On the hems of your streets If you follow me You will see all the reasons never mattered The wandering year Woven into and out of the image Like a climbing plant That reaches back toward a single end You can’t escape this inevitable conclusion Now that I am awake and my head is filled You can’t escape this inevitable conclusion I know what I need, and I hope you need it too You can’t escape this inevitable conclusion I’ve been waiting for so long for a truth I knew but wouldn’t say You can’t escape this inevitable conclusion I can’t escape this inevitable conclusion If you follow me I will take you in my arms, lift your worry from the presence of your skin The rest of you is gone Your eyes say it all And the reasons linger on Well I never felt I belonged Out of sync and out of place with existence But I don’t want to stay Asleep on the back of a distance that I never made Leads me back to the conclusion that you are what I need You can’t escape this inevitable conclusion Now that I am awake and my head is filled You can’t escape this inevitable conclusion I know what I need, and I hope you need it too You can’t escape this inevitable conclusion I’ve been waiting for so long for what I knew and wouldn’t say You can’t escape this inevitable conclusion I can’t escape the truth That I am coming home to you Yes I see it clearly You don’t have to wait any longer for the end of my sorrow Yes I am coming home It’s too much to bear My head carried by my feet But the rest of me is already there Where the rain hits your yard The sorrel grows on your street Deeper than memory I’m coming home to you You can’t escape this inevitable conclusion I know what I need, and I know you need it too You can’t escape this inevitable conclusion I’ve been waiting for so long for what I knew but wouldn’t say You can’t escape this inevitable conclusion I can’t escape this inevitable conclusion But you tell me I repeat the same song That I can’t recover what is lost Or thrown to the sea You tell me this won’t be my home That it’s been a troubled year I belong to nowhere and nothing But you could follow me
5.
When I first met him He looked me straight in the eye He was all grinning teeth He let himself in where my grandfather napped On that faded sofa in the tv room Course, we expected him to go soon O Plain Tendency! We meet again - I’ve met you too often I don’t know what to do When I see your grin You hollow me out from within When I next met him Only three months more When he took my daddy too My halfshut eyelids withdrew to the floor As they moved his body to an unmarked van The silence hung upon the walls of the den Until it roared O Plain Tendency! We meet again - I’ve met you too often I don’t know what to do When I see your grin You hollow me out from within So now I sit still I will wait ‘till nightfall When my head turns blank I am at ease with his swiftness with my kin But I can’t forget the face I invented and placed in my recollection - Yeah, I regret the day I met him I sit and wait for this Plain Tendency - My heart is full With a grief so elemental It can be split no further By distraction or whim So I ask you as a friend - When will I see you again, again, again?
6.
Hold your breath a little longer Close the garage door and wait as the sawdust Settles on the ground The morning brings an estate sale Everything from wooden rafter to concrete floor has to go Pay the liens on our mother’s home so she can move out Whatever it takes to sell this house Get rid of it all - the books, the furniture, the cabinets If that’s the price to pay Whatever it takes to sell this house Get rid of it all - the memories, the ghosts, the feeling of home Now breath until tomorrow ‘Cause you’re gonna sell all these things These things that you know Nothing about A well-dressed old man smells the asters Your mother arranged. He asks her About the lovely bandsaw “Yeah, your father was a good man And I’m sorry he passed … “ Whatever it takes to sell this house Get rid of it all - the books, the furniture, the cabinets If that’s the price to pay Whatever it takes to sell this house Get rid of it all - the memories, the ghosts, the feeling of home Thank you strangers for your sincere sympathy Watch as the pick through our family history Time present sways in the wind Your breath becomes ephemeral Your last breath will bring you close to the soil Your last breath reveals the smallness Your last breath before you fade reveals that nothing remains A last breath to pray in vain For a flood to wash away Tears, debt, and all We have to sell this house - Whatever it takes

about

"One of the most outstanding and challenging new bits of music I've heard this year [...] I was simply fascinated by a sound filled with choral harmonies and influences that could include Béla Bartók or Ornette Coleman or Talking Heads." - Bob Boilen, NPR Music



Great Headless Blank recounts the troubled years after frontman Hamilton Ulmer’s father died of lung cancer, leaving a wake of tragedy and instability. Each song encapsulates a ghost acquired during the period - people, homes, memories lost, youth wrested. The EP is full of confusing joy, unabashed grandiosity, and abrupt seismic shifts, as Ulmer patches together swarms of guitars, horns, strings, voices, synthesizers, and a plethora of found percussion to build a sonically rich landscape upon which he depicts a family suffocated by its verdant grief.

credits

released July 17, 2015

HAMILTON ULMER - vox, guitars, synths, samples, bass, percussion, clarinets
DANIELLE REUTTER-HARRAH - backing vox
AMY FOOTE - backing vox
VAN JACKSON-WEAVER - backing vox, guitars, bass
TRAVIS ANDREWS - guitars
MATT LINDER - guitars
MARIO GODOY - soprano, alto & tenor saxophones
CAROLYN WALTER - baritone saxophones, bassoons, bass clarinets
ANDREW MEYERSON - kit & percussion
DOUG MACHIZ - cellos
KEVIN ROGERS - violins
SASHA LAUNER - flutes

PRODUCTION - Hamilton Ulmer & Justin Sachs
MIXING - Hamilton Ulmer & Justin Sachs
MASTERING - Piper Payne
RECORDED AT - Studio SQ & Hamilton's project studio
ALBUM ART - Gabriel Schama

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Makeunder Oakland, California

Led by songwriter Hamilton Ulmer, Makeunder wrestles diverse tastes - from Renaissance motet, to art rock, to 90's R&B, synth pop, soul, & modern orchestral music - into powerful songs about death, survival, migration, & loss.

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