New Release & Video: Will Stratton – Black Hole

Photo Credit: Josh Goleman

With his new album The Changing Wilderness due for release 7th May, and having previously shared the tracks ‘Tokens’ and ‘When I’ve Been Born (I’ll Love You)’, Will Stratton has now revealed an intriguing video for his new single “Black Hole”.

Of the track Stratton says: “I wrote Black Hole shortly after our last president took office. I had spent the morning of the inauguration staring at a sculpture, a neon wall by Dan Flavin in the basement of a local museum. I tried to capture the energy that I felt staring at the green light in the dark. The song is about fascists and authoritarians of all kinds, how hard they are to completely shake once they take hold in the public consciousness, and how they tend to warp the minds of everyone in their proximity, even their opposition.”

Of the video he adds: “Donald Borenstein asked me if he could direct a video for one of the songs on this record almost a year and a half ago, and we became good friends. After some deliberations, we filmed the video over a chilly weekend last October, on the outskirts of the Iron Mountain data facility in Rosendale, New York, an underground complex full of meticulously stored corporate secrets and a whole wing of unused, cold war era hotel rooms built for use by executives in the event of a nuclear war. My partner Blair very generously agreed to act in this video, playing the role of a hiker who gets taken in by a mysterious force in the woods. The concrete mines of this area supplied much of the material for the Brooklyn Bridge and the base of the Statue of Liberty, and the visual phenomena left in the concrete’s absence makes for lovely late afternoon light. Thanks to Donald for working so hard on this over many months, and to Zappa Johns for putting many hours in on the visual effects, which were generated using textures made by the painter Bee Ebben.”

The 10 tracks on the new LP came about from an intense four-year period of soul-searching and change for Stratton, where he knew he needed to change the way he wrote songs. “I was just really sick of introspection,” he says. “I had to write music that felt like it was engaging with the outside world, rather than focusing on what was going on in my own life like on my earlier records.” With the 2016 election, Donald Trump’s Presidency, and rising right-wing extremism on his mind, Stratton set out to interrogate his country’s present crises. Like the best protest music, these songs aren’t didactic or preachy. Instead, they ask more questions than claim to have answers with Stratton’s lyrics taking a scalpel-like approach to the very worst of human nature.

Stratton engineered and mixed every song on The Changing Wilderness from his home studio in Beacon, NY, but he recruited a sizable ensemble of old friends and new collaborators to flesh out the arrangements, including vocalists Maia Friedman, Cassandra Jenkins, Katie Mullins, and Eamon Fogarty, as well as electric guitarist Ben Seretan, upright bassist Carmen Rothwell, saxophonist and clarinetist Justin Keller, and drummers Sean Mullins (Wilder Maker) and Matt Johnson (Jeff Buckley).

Though Stratton initially sought out to avoid personal song-writing on this LP, his arbitrary rules became untenable as he got deeper into the writing process. “Over the past four years as the world around us got progressively more screwed up, it became impossible for me to write something that wasn’t somewhat introspective,” he says. The Changing Wilderness operates in dichotomies: darkness vs. light and processing your own personal struggles through the vast and seemingly insurmountable problems the world is facing.

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