A Delicate Motor’s enchanting ‘Fellover My Own’ is an immersive and expansive listening experience that challenges us to open our minds to something new.
Cincinnati’s A Delicate Motor offer the perfect kind of musical submersion: The band’s ambient experimental pop presents familiar sounds and feelings to us through a stirringly unfamiliar lens, provoking us to consider our world at a distance, looking at life as if from a bird’s eye view. A Delicate Motor’s enchanting sophomore album, Fellover My Own, is an immersive and expansive listening experience that challenges us to open our minds to something new.
Sonically reminiscent to some of Radiohead and Glass Animals‘ work, Fellover My Own is a world of its own. Self-released June 29, 2018 via the band’s own SofaBurn Records, the album finds creator and frontman Adam Petersen expanding A Delicate Motor to a full band project as he brings the sounds in his head to life.
Ambitious and far-reaching, the music itself could be classified as a sort of progressive jazz, or as an equally progressive strain of pop: A Delicate Motor’s unbridled embrace of the weird and the interesting promises to always keep listeners on their feet. In addition to the standard – pianos and keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and percussion, instruments such as the kalimba and a bicycle are listed in the album notes. A Delicate Motor blend these sounds seamlessly into one another, using loops and other recording methods to build soundscapes that are at once massive, but also intimate – thanks largely to Petersen’s evocative singing.
Rising out of silence and rushing back from a roar, Fellover My Own beckons us to dwell in its otherworldly state, only to reveal – surprise, surprise! – that we are merely seeing another side to the world we already knew! “This album is an invitation to fall in love with who I am becoming,” Petersen writes in the record’s notes, “to bring genuine interest and tolerance to my relationships with others, and to cultivate compassion and celebration for humanity in their effort to evolve according to what is true and good. In power, with grace, I hold my dear self wholly.”
Experience the full record below, and peek inside A Delicate Motor’s Fellover My Own with Atwood Magazine as vocalist Adam Petersen provides his personal take on the music and lyrics of this fascinatingly unique album!
:: Inside Fellover My Own ::
Do For Self
Do For Self is the oldest composition on Fellover My Own. I began writing this music internally during a solo trip to Yellow Springs, Ohio in October 2014. The basic cells of this piece demonstrate the playfulness of polyrhythms, layering rhythmic patterns of three [keyboard], two [kalimba] and four [voice]. The melody was originally written in solfege [a syllabic system of expressing tones in music] and the lyrics derive directly from these syllables [‘sol-do-fa-me’ becomes ‘so i do for me’]. This composition marked a shift into a new era of songwriting for A Delicate Motor, in a season of deciding to redirect my attention to my self. “when my light louder, make my world childer, then my life wilder.”
Fall Out came into being shortly after Do For Self. It has matured beautifully and has gained recognition as one of ADM’s most significant pieces. Featuring the sounds of the bicycle of my deceased childhood friend, this track is one of the most intimate and intricate on the album. The chorus lyrics are somewhat a microcosm of the message of Fellover My Own as a whole. The message here is a gentle reminder for the listener to allow themself to fall away from the thoughts and feelings that perturb them, to make time for light to imbue them, and to reveal to themself the path towards their own individual truth. “fall out, make time, grow light, you’ll find your way, fall out, more light, give all a way.”
Bottom as a piece of recorded music is heavily constructed by drummer / producer Ben Sloan. The production makes significant use of a tape machine, along with hand bells and various percussion instruments to create an ethereal soundscape that dresses the music in contrast with its decisive guitar and bass work. Bottom speaks of the journey of living and dying as effortful and extensive, and suggests that inevitably we return to unity, we return to ourselves. “you will cry a lot… you will try a lot… you will die a lot… until you get to the bottom of this tune.”
Man on Fire
Man On Fire derives from living experience, from inward turmoil. It is a sober acknowledgement of how raw emotional reaction can reveal the ugly shadow being within each of us. This piece reminds me to be patient and gentle with the shadow, the inner child, whom although he sometimes flares, needs to be held and loved. “I find it colder than a man on fire making stupid faces, pardon my explicative guile, I’ll shut me down for a little while.”
Middle, as a composition, is relatively progressive, and rhythmically complicated. The piece features two distinct sections, marked by a wild metric modulation. The kalimba in the beginning establishes a decided meter, which is then later superimposed by percussion, using the shaker pattern as a pivot. The cryptic lyrical content suggests more of the intent of the album’s message – to dedicate time to one’s own living condition, to be mindful of one’s choices, to tend a harmonious garden. “if you allow the words to fall in places, single cycle will light your aching conflict, follow fallow plots in your garden, maker, take it only if you will make it, faker.”
Durham delivers refreshing momentum, right in the middle of the album. The piece comes from an improvisation with drummer Ben Sloan, rendered live at an intimate house concert in Durham, NC. Stems from that original improvisation are incorporated into this track’s production, and the latter half of the movement is illuminated by the guitar work of Stephen Patota. The lyrical content culminates from a quiet place of grief for the ailing of humanity, and the corruption of our planet. “there’s something in the water that’s poisoning our children, and I don’t want my daughters to know what really happened… it wouldn’t be a lie my friends to say I’ve galvanized, but I’m terrified.”
This piece is the crest of the album, and intends to be the greatest swell of expression, sonically and emotionally. It has always struggled to render as broadly as it wants to be, and the expansive scape of it can sometimes fail to contain is powerful movement. Follow is a claim for individual power, the kind in which we may stand, full of love, and sense of purpose. We stand in the tension between what has been done and what is to come, and look to balance the load by shedding what inhibits and gaining what serves our worth. “and even if you let it go, then even though you are left with an echo, you would prefer to make it so, then, even though it would hurt, you will grow.”
The featured instrument here is a Critter & Guitari Pocket Piano, which renders a steady and pleading arpeggiated harmonic progression. The feeling here is a bit distressed. Sages is a further plea to break with what no longer serves the individual. “how long will this last, all we’re doing is fearing the past, let it all wash off in the stream, save your self, you know what i mean.
Often opens with the sound of Cincinnati train whistles, a signature of Henry Wilson, recording engineer of all A Delicate Motor albums. The call in the beginning of the piece derives from Ghana, and is an homage to the beautiful ululation of West African vocalists, and with respect and admiration for music from these peoples. The words translate as a blessing, for the child who is born. The movement is a final forgiving of the self, for inhibiting his foresight, for losing her way, for being a human, and subsequently it is an invitation to acknowledge and admire the intrinsic divine nature of humanity, individually and collectively. “fall in, I wouldn’t mind, come and behold your own divine, that said, you’re only but a soul incarnate, misstep in stride, alive inside.”
All of the pieces of Fellover My Own harbor messages for the listener, and it is the listener’s own prerogative to determine what those messages indicate for their own living experience. As much as these messages are intended for any listener, they are meant for me to hear. In ephemeral moments, they reveal to me glimpses of truth, of clarity and wisdom. More and more, Carry Us – the final and single solo performance on this album – is a love song. It is an invitation to fall in love with who I am becoming, to bring genuine interest and tolerance to my relationships with others, and to cultivate compassion and celebration for humanity in their effort to evolve according to what is true and good. In power, with grace, I hold my dear self wholly. “just sit alone and be quiet, you didn’t mean anything by it, fell over my own.”
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photo © 2018