Archives of the Natural World

by Odessa Chen

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05:11
9.

about

WRITING ABOUT ENDANGERED AND EXTINCT ANIMALS IN OREGON'S NATIONAL FORREST
-----------------
In 2006 I was fortunate enough to spend time in the Oregon wilderness writing the songs that would become this record. I wanted to explore different subject matter, while still writing about something I cared deeply about.

On my mind was the rapid extinction of species and our exploitation of nature for short-term gain. To address this in my songs, I knew I needed to educate myself further, and in the process face my own inaction.

In my research I discovered creatures I’d never known existed, like the gentle ten foot tall Giant Moa bird, and the tiny Key Deer. As I marvelled at them, the irreparable harm we've already done came into even sharper focus. Slowly these creatures made their way into my songs. I hope I was able to capture some of their magic in this music.

Since I started this process, environmentalism has reached further into the mainstream. Even so,
there’s still real urgency to act. Hundreds of species go extinct every year as a direct result of our choices, and our well being is inextricably linked with theirs.

In learning how these species became extinct,
I came to fully realize how my everyday choices affect the world. Frustrating as it can be to learn a new way of living, small steps make up every journey, and I know I don’t want to continue on the path as it’s been.

I don’t want to tell anyone what to think, but I hope this music inspires greater empathy for other species, and awakens the curiosity to learn even more about how we affect the world around us.

credits

released May 15, 2011

CREDITS
----------
This recording is dedicated to all the species (and all the independent musicians) still struggling for survival.

Thank you for purchasing this music and making future recordings possible. Please spread the word and share songs, but we ask that you respectfully refrain from sharing this recording in its entirety.

Access music, information, and events by joining our mailing list at odessachen.com. This CD was printed with soy ink on 100% recycled materials.

All songs written, arranged, and produced by Odessa Chen © P 2011, BMI. Vocals and electric guitar (all tracks), bowed guitar (track 7), keyboards (track 1-7), omnichord (track 9), and cello (track 9) written and performed by Odessa Chen. Drums and percussion written and performed by Rich Douthit. Bass written and performed by Devin Hoff. Electric guitar (except track 3) written and performed by Roger Riedlbauer. Piano (track 1) written and performed by Pete Commerford. Cello (tracks 5-6), french horn (tracks 2,7) and keyboards, organ, vibes, and hurdy gurdy (tracks 3-5, 7-9) written by Odessa Chen and performed by Nicholas Anton, Monika Warchol, and Matt Henry Cunitz.

Engineered and mixed by Jay Pellicci with assistance from Ian Pellicci at Tiny Telephone, except track 5, mixed by Ian Pellicci. Keyboards, horn, and cello recorded remotely by Jay Pellicci. Vocals, keyboard, piano, and cello recorded at home by Odessa Chen. Painting by Kelly Louise Judd, www.swanbones.com. Marbling by Galen Berry. Art direction and graphic design by Odessa Chen, www.swandivedesign.com.

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odessa chen San Francisco, California

Cinematic and spectral, Odessa Chen’s music is a journey, intimate as a long held secret. Each song, like a tiny rowboat maneuvering in the dark, transports us to the deepest part of the lake where the stars shine brightest. Through despair towards transcendence each snapshot in time speaks of the romance of heightened experience, pivotal moments, and the rush of love. ... more

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Track Name: Deer Perspectives
hang up your burning lights
hang up your miles of wire
hang up your hopes
like arms, or ropes around me

this sequence of streets
revolving doors
always wanting more

hang up your burning lights
hang up your miles of wire
hang up your hopes
like arms or ropes around me

where we move
they surround us
with their dark machinery and guns
will we fall
as the others fell?
with nowhere left to run

as we are driven, driven
into the woods, the woods
into the woods
as we are driven, driven
into the woods, the woods
into the woods
as we are driven, driven
to what remains of the woods
to what remains of the woods

hang up the sterling stars
hang up the miles of pines
hang up the night
with no arms, or roads around me
Track Name: The Wild Parakeets of the Carolinas
romance is dead
mystery we’ve killed her
thus devalued, she’s that much easier to claim

gild all gods and angels
forget from where you came
thus elevated, we aren’t animals at all

instead of flying
and with no defenses
instead of flying they did not leave
the tethered sun
unwilling witness

the wild parakeets of the carolinas
shot down, every one
we don’t even know they’re missing

instead of flying
and with no defenses
instead of flying they did not leave
the tethered sun
unwilling witness
witness
witness
witness
Track Name: Horses are Knowing (don’t wake the dawn)
don’t wake the dawn
I am yours and wish to sleep
cradled at the base of your throat

at the quiet intersection of those fragile bones
at the quiet intersection of those fragile bones

don’t wake the dawn
she breaks, easy as the rib cage of a bird
the quiet intersection of those fragile bones
at the quiet intersection of those fragile bones

in remembering
all our archived dreams break free
a stable of bright white horses
horses pure and right
I’m remembering a wonder pure and right

the day will come
but for now, for now this page
one corner folded down
its crease is like a scar
its crease stays like a scar
at the quiet intersection
of those fragile bones
Track Name: First a Wolf, Now the Wind
the binding knots
dismantling clocks whose arms
hold where the time went

you are the flanks of horses
as they run, as they run…

for there is no, there is no deeper
there is no, there is no deeper
than what we are

we are a pair
thread and needle
I hear you whisper
in handfuls of dirt

you move so easily
from form to form
first a wolf
and now the wind

for there is no, there is no deeper
there is no, there is no deeper
than what we are

you are the plain, you are the sky
I am the ax, and the pine
first a wolf
then the wind, oh!
first a wolf
then the wind, the wind...the wind
Track Name: Lesser Creatures
like you, I had plans, my intentions
so nothing could go wrong

it’s too easy to fall apart
at the sight of crushed birds and doe
on the sides of the highway

I free fall
while the others fall
into the hands of the lord
to reach a place so far removed
that I’m not bothered by it anymore

we sleep deep
and have no dreams
rest our heads upon the backs of geese
and other lesser creatures

maybe we never made it home…
instead, lay back silently as leaves
upon the glistening lawns
so alike, so symmetrical
like eggs that never wake
or like graves

the sky is a wishing well
scattered coins
I’m wishing now, now, now
when I close my eyes I see
clockwise arches and blizzard wings
when I close my eyes I see geese,
lesser creatures
flying
Track Name: Oh, Atlantis!
oh! oh! summer birds are flown
and the fields are burning
hear them heed the call
of our season’s ending

oh no, no, no, Atlantis, oh no, no
oh! oh!

summer rains don’t fall
where the lamb are kneeling
the places where they crossed
unrecognizable or gone
no no, no, no

and we did not stop
and we did not stop
until the sea
until the sea
gathered in it’s fold
all the edges of our world

oh no, no, no, Atlantis
oh no, no, no, Atlantis
oh, no no no
Track Name: The Mercy of Sound
the clouds taken down
the mercy of sound again
return of the birds

and in the air
a subtle shifting like sand
warmth rising like bread

the holding patterns of dusk
retrieves my heart
sunk like a stone inside me

the soft beating of moths
meeting with milk white bulbs
when all the voices, when all the voices
when all the voices, when all the voices
when all the voices, when all the voices
stop.
Track Name: Cinders
the sparks come down
arms flung out and falling

embers and other beauties we see
afar distances, oh
that can’t be touched or known
and therefore can’t be at all

It started out with wanting
and wishing on the moon
or other beauties we see

afar distances, oh
that can’t be touched or known
and therefore can’t be ruined
oh….

cinders that strike our minds
so bright the whole place burns right down
all that’s left is me
all that’s left is you
and memories of light and sound
were do we go from here…California?
Arizona’s gone
it all seems like a defeat of sorts
or what comes after
and I’m too young
I’m too young for salvation
I’m too young for salvation, I’m too young
Track Name: Archives of the Natural World
oh, oh...what could be contained in a box
held in place with pins, a paragraph
a single photograph, a single photograph
silent, laid silent

oh, oh...what will remain then
an exquisitely cataloged cul-de-sac
a single photograph, a single photograph
when after all, what could I have done