A Mouth May Grow is the first full length album from red steppes. Helmed by songwriter and photographer Nika Aila States, recorded and mixed to tape at Tiny Telephone in Northern California, the songs are built from organic and felt performances, drawing their aesthetic language from the bounded period of long days and evenings in the studio, from the generous imitations of analog tape. Driving the album's musical exploration is a deep respect for folk music, age-old melodic traditions, and for the experimental and irreverent.
The songs saunter through mapped points on the Western coast of the US, explore growth and decay, and interrogate narrative tropes surrounding love, gender, and industry. Nika's wider artistic practice as a visual artist can't help but find its way into her musical work: a yearning for a sense of place, the positioning of botany and landscape as teacher and translator, and the pregnant silence of uninhabited places.
|May 11. 2018 7pm||
1429 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612
|Kelly McFarling, Danny Vitali||1429 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612||7pm|
|May 17. 2018
3636 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, OR 97227
|3636 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, OR 97227||7pm|
The dog’s eyes were blue
and so was her fat leather collar
covered in rhinestones. We sat there together
at the site of the self-immolation.
Ducks paced in the new blue water,
through plastic cones and wet cut flowers.
Her walker wondered: Did I know the dead man?
Had I seen it so deep?
Wasn’t it strange he came here?
Isn’t it queer where ducks will meet?
A flocked wind drew in clipped, subtle ripples
on David S. Buckel - did he succumb
or set fire to some of us?
There is sand in the diamond -
there is salt on the grid of the city
at such extreme cost.
Some lizard is sloughing it slowly, its
thin skin on linden: shivering
cvs bags and slack weatherwear –
Did it wear on him, too
like it wears on me?
Does it not wear on you?
Walking (scrambling?) up a somewhat secret Big Sur creek bed, I found a spot to watch the burnt columns of elder redwoods rot slowly into a carpet of Oxalis californica, the entire wide space delimited by canyon walls and canopy more like a big anomolous bay (full of drifting needles, spiderwebs, bugs, leafy dust all catching light in slow arcs and spirals, suspended with the hours in some fluid not yet seen or named) than anything I've known above ground. It put me in a good mood that was not to be tempered even by the next day's drive, or the radio program about China's awkward attempts to convince its populace (especially the female portion thereof) to settle down and procreate, or the article about otter attacks (mustelids falling toothily upon humans, rather than vice versa) on Florida's coasts, or even the de-riguer roll-call of political and environmental horrors throwing proverbial spitballs and literal nerve agents all over the world.
To be honest, China's mass match-making events and the increasing aggression of adorable sea-weasels might get a laugh out of me even on a bad day, but it's been nice to find a balm for the existential horror of the greater 24-hour news cycle. I've once again been going through all of my belongings, evaluating the relative merits of each memory and possible use ascribed to various tools, garments, books, records, etc. Though I've never lived full-time in one home for longer than a couple years, 2015-2018 has felt more like a series of relocations than anything else. I've been able, during this very liminal time, to better get to know Portland, Oregon and its surrounding environs – with special attention to the false hellbore on the slopes of Mt. Hood, and the cottonwood stands at Kelley Point Park (full of dense trails used, it seems, largely for illicit assignations and mushroom hunting) – and still spend a fair amount of time back home in the Bay Area.
I've spent those parts of this week not devoted to packing basically stocking up on long walks and the good company of mustard blooms, seafront smells, family, and various animals: Arlo, a shepherd-husky mix of unparalleled flatulence; Chester, the least evil (and greatest cute) of all cats; and my dog-brother Karl Barx the Zauberhund. Karl can usually be found begging for tomatoes, drooling profoundly, chasing hummingbirds and rats (poor rats), or walking between the legs of his loved ones, and I'm going to miss him and everyone on the West Coast terribly; next week I'm headed on a long drive through Tümpisa, the Rockies, and the Great Plains all the way to my new home in Brooklyn, from which I will be greeting you indefinitely. I'm excited to see what will become of me in such a concrete, horizonless place, expecially one so full of flesh and vigor and mercifully pedestrian vectors, and also to get out of the city as often as possible to explore the "unwest" – for me, sadly, so far only the vague notion of a place of softer hills and stranger smells. Over the last fifteen years I've experienced brief flashes of Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts, but have otherwise not ventured east of Wyoming, and I'm eager to better get to know that part of the North American Plate. Wish me luck, and let me know of any points of interest!
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