Track By Tracks: NAUT - Raise The Lights (2018)

Whilst the songs were written independently of each other, they were written at a similar time, especially the lyrics so there are several recurring themes throughout. This meant that arranging the running order of the EP was an interesting undertaking. For example, Frames and XVI have closely related lyrics, one feeding into the other, although not deliberately. All of the songs trace a process that went on in life at the time of writing the EP.

1. Disintegration:

The opening track is always such an important one, it sets the atmosphere for everything that follows, so we were sure to put some thought into picking one that had the right feel. With the slow build up of haunting keys creating the perfect rise, cut by the bells with their slightly ‘off’ quality it signifies what is coming over the next 24 minutes.

It needed to have just the right vibe, menacing but at the same time something with groove, kind of ‘accepting one’s fate but moving on with life regardless’, and when that first riff was written we knew we had it nailed, dancing in the face of one’s personal apocalypse. The whole song has a kind of dancey quality with the toms and bass driving it along and making you want to move.

To suit the lyrical theme the song needed to have a clear distinction between the verse and chorus, to reflect the duality of the lyrics. With the build up followed by a big chorus as a payoff, Disintegration certainly has that. The keys on the chorus along with the bass give an uplifting anthem feel, which really offsets the lyrics. A kind of triumphant melancholy. Head held high in spite of it all, looking on to a new, brighter horizon. Lyrically the song is about destruction and the beauty that can rely within this act, especially as destructive acts can be a catalyst for growth, a new entity rising from the ashes of the past. In particular it explores the destruction of identities and visions of the self, both within our own minds and others. The masks we wear for others, and how they often fail to hide the truth forever, are a theme, as well as how eventually, the character we play becomes too exhausting, the mask too heavy and it’s cast to one side, shattered like the illusions that were held about its wearer. The demons and hidden truths exposed, causing a great collapse in our worlds. This action often brings about great change and as a result opportunity, old ideals can be swept aside, old fears that used to bind one to a certain path no longer hold sway and a great vital energy returns to those who experience it, a weight lifted and a person restored. The ending of the song, finishing on the lyrical idea of a new dawn and new beginning, accompanied by uplifting sounds really help drive this home.

2. I’m Here:

From the start the vibe of the track is apparent with the driving bass line kicking into life. Pounding drums and the unsettling guitar gives the track an uneasy energy, a twitchy tension which suddenly drops into the verse. Here the clean picked guitar in the vein of John McGeoch’s playing for Siouxsie and the Banshees provides a bed for the vocals. The delivery style changes from line to line, again creating a sense of unrest and the false build up before the second half of the verse heightens the anticipation. This all fits with the lyrical content nicely and means that when the by now long awaited chorus kicks in, it hits home. 

The layered vocals add real power to the announcement that “I’M HERE”, all the instrumentation propel the chorus on at a pace and gives the chorus a euphoric lift, before returning to the tension of the opening riff. This middle section of the song again takes an unexpected turn, dropping in intensity, then down to almost silence before erupting into a second chorus.

The final, long verse is all about tense energy and build up. With a single chord strummed for its entirety while other layers of guitar and bass weave around it, the next 37 seconds build and build. The dynamic and frantic vocals support the lyrics they deliver and add desperation and a violent restlessness to the mix.

The double chorus that follows with additional leads and vocal variations delivers the release from the verse and again brings an uplifting quality to the music. With the final word delivered, the song takes an uncomfortable, unsettling turn with the drums running on unaccompanied except for the wailing feedback, like the ringing ears and thumping heart after a night of excess, denying one the rest they crave.

The music, lyrics and their delivery all work together to build a sense of nervous energy, an anxious desire for action. The lines of the first verses describe the bright lights and pounding music of a club with its dancing patrons shifting in the night, discarding their daytime personas to release the tensions of their lives. “I’M HERE” is the embodiment of the vital energy you feel when you are truly alive, announcing to the world that you exist and are burning bright. However, like any flame that does so, to burn bright is to burn for a shorter time, as referenced later in the chorus. The chorus is also about the desire to come alive and burst out of the mundane normality of one’s ordinary life.

The long verse describes the feelings, sensations and hazy fury of the night. The altered minds, deceiving thoughts and the euphoric senses it brings. To come alive by using all the tools at our disposal and shake of the apathy of our downtrodden world. Take control over your life, do what you must to be who you want to be, make the conscious choice of the path you take and examine yourself with different eyes. But above all it is a rally, don’t stay silent, let the world know “I’M HERE!”

3. Raise the Lights:

After the energy and faster pace of the first two tracks, it was time for something different. A little darker than I’m Here, a little more brooding than Disintegration. Opening with an almost Western feel to the riffs and the whispered vocals in reference to ‘Riders on the Storm’ by The Doors, there is a different energy to this song. A spidery, heavily chorused riff forms the verse which, as in the other tracks, gives way to a powerful chorus with anthemic synths hitting home, before settling back into the verse riff.

You can also hear some tambourine in the background of the verses and outro, that particular tambourine was used by The Cure live and was caught by our bass player at one of their Shows, so we must get extra goth-points for that. The guitar accents the vocals and helps support the delivery before the second chorus, with the flanger providing a real watery quality which helps differentiate the feel from the chorus that follows. In both choruses the layered toms provide real punch to the song, despite the slower tempo. The outro of the song, announced by the cry ‘fall’, with the thick keys and interwoven bass and guitar riffs provides a nice pay-off for the song, giving it a feeling of achievement matching the ending sentiment of the vocals.

Lyrically, it discussed the fear of failure, particularly in relation to creative endeavours and performance. The song has references to theatre, being in the spotlight and the nerves that this can bring, but also how overcoming them is essential and how one can fall in love with the rush of it all. The ‘fall’ is double edged - it could either be to fall apart and falter, or to fall in love with the thrill. It was written when I was less confident in the material and where everything was going, but I knew that I had to persevere if I was to reach the goals I had set. All this meant that the title of this track was the obvious choice when it came to selecting the EP name.

4. Frames:

Another track with a slightly slower feel, the hypnotic almost dreamy rhythm alludes to the transfixing nature of the lyrical muse, but it is also driving in its own way, giving a sense of movement. The big chorus that punches through is again here and important from a lyrical standpoint as well as offering a powerful counterpoint to the long intro and verse. The dramatic, almost film-score quality of the synth is also fitting. One of our favourite moments of the EP happens in this track with the harmonies between the keys and guitar in the lead section, this is again not your typical ‘goth’ riff and something which we feel really works with thetrack, giving a sadness to the music but maintaining a certain beauty, a ‘Hollywood film-star dead in the dressing room’ feel. The warped guitar under the last verse, along with the different vocal delivery, giving a desperate, distressed feel reflects the cognitive dissonance in the lyrics, the feeling of when the drugs won’t work anymore.

Finally, the sudden break before the finale kicks in is the moment of clarity before seeing the error of one’s ways. The overall theme of Frames is self deceit, especially with regards to attempting to escape one’s problems by preoccupying oneself with other things, hoping it will go away. 24 frames is a reference to the old standard speed for shooting film. There are also numerous other references to film and tv as being an escape and a remedy to escape one’s problems, viewing this as another form of self-medication. The ease of becoming wrapped up in entertainment and failing to move on as a person is seductive and a powerful spell to break, offering an easy fix to troubling thoughts and emotions. However, it’s ultimately hollow, failing to offer any true relief or reward. Which leads us neatly onto the final song on the EP.

5. XVI:

Build-up, tension and release. That is the feel and theme of the track, the baseline and constant pounding of the drums all work to create this feeling of building up to a single moment, whilst the guitar and keys give movement to the track and work with the vocals, accenting the delivery and matching the lyrics by adding a drama and emotion of their own. Even the big choruses that punctuate the tension building sections of the song don’t really relieve the tension, in the same way that a thunderstorm doesn’t always break the oppressive heat of a long summer. The feeling of building up and up ever higher matches the lyrical content and plays upon the central ideas of the track, reaching its zenith in the long drawn out final verse. This section contains all the elements that havegone before, moving on at greater pace underneath the increasingly frantic vocals before the final double chorus and outro that delivers the payoff.Again there are harmonies running across the bass, guitar and keys in thefinal section that takes inspiration from bands like Blue Oyster Cult, rather than the more typical sources of influence for the genre. Also the 60s occult rock feel to the chorus is a departure from genre norms and reflects some of the lyrical ideas, such as tarot and spiritualism.

The song title is a reference to the Tower card in tarot, numbered 16 in the deck. The card depicts a tower being struck with lightning from an all seeing eye and this imagery is prevalent throughout. The significance of the card is the idea of destruction and the freedom that can bring. Additionally, the tower imagery in the song is a reference to the tower of Babel and how it was an attempt to reach heaven, before being struck down. In this case it is brought low by realisation after a finally listening to a slow creeping doubt, rather than a vengeful deity. The lyrics chart the creation and construction of a false paradise through diligent labour away from the reality of the world, before the realisation that this isn’t a paradise at all but a gilded cage of one’s own creation. The realisation is used to shatter the false dream, just as the lighting breaks apart the tower. The choruses are a call to action, now is the time to set things right and forge the life you truly wish for by following one’s will. The final call of the chorus is at last answered with the dramatic outro of the song, after all of the tension and build up, transforming the energy into something melodic and beautiful, just as one transforms the energy and anger released from an epiphany into steely determination to reset ones course.

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