Today sees the release of On Account of Exile Vol. 1, the first new album from Trevor Sensor in four years. With his poetic voice and eye, Sensor takes us on a spiritual road trip across America, into the forgotten towns and unknown parts of the national psyche, resulting in something equal parts romantic and haunting.
While Sensor’s creations leave plenty to be interpreted, there is audibly a great deal of weight and care that he has put into each song – something that we wanted to know more about. Graciously, Sensor has provided us with this characteristically compelling track by track guide to On Account of Exile Vol. 1.
01. “Twilight of Idols”
While drifting both spiritually and physically across America, I took with me this slim volume of Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols and The Anti-Christ that I read and re-read obsessively. Something struck me about the relationship between Nietzsche prophesying the end of a world epoch and my own feelings that an era of my own life had definitively ended. Somewhere in Europe or the deserts of Nevada I’d died and was now laid up as this empty-self at a friend’s place in Vail, Colorado reveling in sloth and confusion. Eventually, the song that sprung from all that was a reconciliation with pain along with accepting that a whole lifetime was over.
02. “Madison Square Garden”
I’ve had World War Three visions for a couple years now equivalent to standing on a frozen lake that’s beginning to crack. You can’t see it but can feel the ice shifting — hear the creaks and cricks of doom in the ominous silence. It’s a challenge on the horizon that most folks got their backs to because nobody wants to believe they’re part of significant history. I often think of New York City as America’s great Rome on the eve of destruction. To live there is to live dangerously — to be always on the threshold of cultural revolution or impotence, subconsciously aware that your home has a big target on its back. The song is just a manic pontification on how we lose ourselves in the delirious night while death hovers over our heads—the whole show waiting to end on a single push of a button.
03. “Chiron, Galactus”
I’ve mentioned elsewhere that this tune was inspired by the film Mandy. To elaborate, the song isn’t exactly about the film itself. Rather, the film functions more or less as an allegory of how people who can’t master themselves feel the need to master others to compensate for their personal failures. It’s something I’ve always found reprehensible about people whether experiencing it in person or reading about it from the past. I believe it’s the source of all conflict and turmoil in this world. For every solitary man or woman there’s always someone there who attempts to intrude, and it’s those very intruders who are the worst of us.
04. “Days Drag On”
For about five years, I’d found myself experiencing most days in malaise. The mornings were the easiest, especially after a routine of cooking breakfast and exercise was established, while the rest of the day was spent waiting for the night to set in. These late morning to early evening hours were spent lounging about, reading, trying to sleep to melt time, or taking long walks in the nearest park or cemetery. Nothing brought me solace. A demon had worked its way into my brain I couldn’t shake, and I often supplemented my woes with dark bars or nocturnal solitary rumination. I can’t say that I’ve completely rid myself of this demon, but the song derived from this period of exacerbated mental anguish is a gem of subconscious spiritual expression I’m thankful for. For the song came to me in a dream written in full, and only later did I find a quote by the aphorist Emil Cioran that best summed it all up: “What do you do from morning to night? I endure myself.”
05. “Sawdust Chokes the Wind”
An old steel mill sits rusting in the sun along a river that divides two towns. The mill is a relic of America’s past — the result of typical politicians’ work. The towns were built upon this mill and the jobs it provided. The citizens who peopled the buildings and rail yards were constituents of those very politicians who screwed them over. The latter with their fake tans caked on for the cameras, the former earning theirs through giving their bodies to the heat of the sun and steel. At a certain point in my childhood those bodies could only be found in the dark — sipping beer and smoking cigarettes while exchanging stories of the past. On that very bar strip there’s a mural of presidents painted on a worn down building smiling at the broken street. How I wished to deface that portrait of our gods!
06. “These Dark Days”
In a Nashville motel room with a broken AC unit, I sat on the floor writing out stanza after stanza of prophecies and delirium in a mad sweat. The tension of the nation has been bad for so long now it’s hard to know when it began. The birth of the 21st Century most likely being the fall of the World Trade Center, a new epoch has emerged that’s kept everybody on their toes. Twenty years of days growing darker, the sun is setting on the Western World. Anybody I’ve talked to says they’d be surprised if a war doesn’t break out by mid-century. I basically wanted to musically express the world blowing up.
07. “Another Zodiac Killin’”
I wasn’t listening to music when this song was written, outside of jazz. It was close to seven or eight months where I just couldn’t listen to a pop tune of any era, it just made me too depressed to do it. It reminded me of my failures and how I’d basically flung myself in the ditch. A collection of tunes were eventually written — slowly and with care — and this was one of them. I’d just read about a story of some Indiana father shooting his own sons with no explanation given, and it planted this seed in my soul that was only reaped after having a spiritual experience with a Sant who was going door to door for some reason I can’t remember. Oddly enough, I’d been reading texts like the Bhagavad Gita at the time. The song was ripe within my spirit and was the easiest to tease out amongst the new material. I took it as a sign to make it a keeper.
08. “Somewhere Like Vietnam”
I’ve come across too many people in my life now who appear to be living expressions of that Thoreau warning of “leading lives of quiet desperation”. I ponder how they get there — how a lot of us end up in our 40s or 50s heading over the hill with only a subtle recognition that we’ve wasted our lives. So many of us are not truly free, but can’t muster up the courage to give up the ghost and start anew while there’s still time.
09. “I’s Hads Me Revelations”
We capped this volume with a blues jam that sums up all the bad nights I’d had for the past couple of years. “On a stump of gold I’ve wept my tears, cause nothing’s worked after all these years.” I can’t think of a more direct line of how I used to feel about life. It’s difficult to put into words as to how I feel about it now, but that sense of defeatism has left me. Time and conversations chip away at us bit by bit, and who we really are calls to us from the infinite inwardness of our souls. Self-overcoming is the key. The revelation here is that we’re the ones that have to die when it’s our time to die — what we do with that knowledge, and how meet that challenge, is solely up to us and nobody else. I want to make a poem of my life.