Track By Tracks: Aeons - The Ghosts Of What We Knew (2024)

1. Noose:

The album opener is a story of the old American West; Of greed, lust, violence, reckoning, and retribution. The narrative unfolds backward, starting with the protagonist killing and burning the body of his unknown victim. Then we regress to find he hunted this man down for killing a young girl who came out west with them, on an innocent search for her own future. We then discover the protagonist and the murderer rode together out west, following their own dreams, and that he fully knew the nature of his companion and the evil that he brought with him.

As the refrain of the introductory section begins, we find the protagonist upon the gallows, a noose around his neck. Caught and sentenced to death for the killing of the other man. The girl’s life is irrelevant; this is the justice of the 19th century so skewed from our own to be almost unbelievable. He makes peace with his god – he knows he must pay for his sins and “take my place in hell”. But he’s free of all the other terrible things he and the man he killed had done before.

2. Home:

We have always looked up to the stars and wondered what is out there. Are we alone? Is this the only island of life in an infinite nothingness? Now, as technology allows us to tread further into the vast unknown we need to ask ourselves some searching questions before we leave our planet. Are we prepared for what we find? Do we have the capability to deal with new fundamental ideas of the cosmos and our place within them? Is it right we carry our earthly theology with us as we transcend? Surely there could not be – should not be – a place for our simplistic ideals of “god” out there in the universe.

We cannot carry the scars of our world with us, far from home.

3. Blood:

This is a simple concept but probably the most difficult of the album’s questions. All too often we hear two opposing sides to a subjective political or sociological argument literally at each other’s throats for no good reason other than an implicit understanding that the “other” person’s argument is garbage. Whether that is right or wrong, the problem is not in the sides of the argument but in its presentation. Too often we draw increasing divides between us that simply don’t need to exist if we can address differences with respect.

I call it “to disagree with decency.

And the sad truth is that if you try to do that, the other hand will continue to bite, like a cornered animal. Words will not be kind. There will be blood. We have to keep at it until calmer heads and cooler tongues prevail. Or that divide will keep getting wider until it is unsurmountable. There’s just no time to continue as a species if we don’t. Because otherwise, someone will do something stupid we will all suffer for, and all it may have taken was some dialogue of consequence to prevent it.

4. Circles:

An easy one! A pretty simple story of a relationship where one of the people involved behaves one destructive way to their partner but is a completely different persona to everyone else. But the aggrieved partner can see the demons within and knows what they foretell. At face value, there is a sense of release in the chorus as they free themselves from this scenario. A vengeance – but not a physical one. The circle will close as they show their partner a mirror of their behavior; The poison is in their blood. But after vengeance is done they will be just a ghosts in an empty shell of what they used to be.

The moral? While this song sounds like the voice of one character, the chorus is actually the words of the other partner. Don’t become the thing you revile, or you will end up hating yourself and then the circle will truly be closed, and no one will be the better for it.

5. Thanatos:

Well, we here at AEONS do like our Greek mythology and ancient stories! This continues the tradition we started on “A Tragic End” with “Vengeance” about Spartacus, continued on “Consequences” with “Hades and Persephone” and now “Thanatos.”

I was attracted to the character of Thanatos as a tragic figure. He is essentially the Angel of Death but he does not enjoy his work. He merely guides those who have passed over to their afterlife. What they deserve is not up to him – he is not the vengeful kind – but be very clear that he WILL do his job.

And while “This is the end for you now, this is all the time we allow,” if you have spent your life well there is nothing to fear.

6. Cascade:

This track is fairly simple in premise. Inspired by a particularly harrowing event in one of the best videogames ever written, it tells the story of a young girl whose life is marred by tragedy from her very first breath. Witnessing the horrific events that lead to the death of her best friend, she struggles to contain these awful memories lest they consume her. But years later, after another tragic loss, she finds herself alone and haunted by the visceral flashbacks of those events. Whenever these dark episodes come to the fore she reflexively remembers a happier time, a time when she still had hopes and dreams for a better future. The consequences of failing to escape her bleakest thoughts will only lead down one path.

7. Ghosts:

The title track had to be something epic and what is more profound in proportion to all of us than the climate of the only place we all call home. There are so many great songs warning about the dangers of climate change and the undisputable fact that we should be doing more to prevent global warming. So we didn’t want to just add our voice to this already prodigious catalog. Instead, Ghosts ( The Ghosts of What We Knew ) presents a future history where we have succumbed to inaction and the world is broken beneath our feet. Yet we are surrounded by the ghosts of past voices pleading with us to have changed something.

We “Sat in our ivory tower and waited for the kiss that never came.” Yet - “like the desperate pleas of the drowning man” - all we can do is cry “Save me!” … It’s too little, too late for those ghosts. For that’s all they are. Just memories of what should have been, but somehow was not. The light burns low. We were the monster. And nothing can save us now.

We should never let it get that far.

8. Machines:

I wrote this for a friend of mine who was about to suffer a tragic loss in his immediate family from a terrible illness. It nearly broke him and was a wretched thing to see someone go through. While I did not want to directly reflect this adversity – as that would be crass – I took the concept to a different story and a different protagonist, much removed from his own experience. In this story, the storyteller relives how their partner was dying, in a room full of machines that kept them alive. Unknowing, clinical machines. And that their partner passed when they were out of the room, so the partner died alone, with just the blinking lights of the devices that were meant to keep them alive for company.

The character tells this as a lament, but in the telling finds the memories “that ache like scars” and the wishes that they should have done more, could have done more, would have found more in life to share had they had just a few moments more. “Goddam these wasted years…” But there is also some hope that their lesson has been learned and that their own life – and the lives of all around them - can be better going forward.

9. Collapse:

I do love a historical epic as much as a mythological one. I tend to get engrossed in the depths of some internet research on fascinating topics and get so lost in them that I start to need a creative outlet so they might live outside of my own thoughts. On Consequences that was the story of “Evelyn” and the 6 months of my life where I just could not shake that tragic biography. This time, an even bleaker, even larger tale: In 1521, Hernán Cortés and several hundred Spanish soldiers – running directly against the orders of his superiors – defeated and collapsed the Mexica civilization of Tenochtitlán. It took him just 2 years to spill the blood of nearly a quarter million indigenous Central Americans, all for the lustful pursuit of gold, under the banner of a Catholic God. You may know the Mexica by their modern name – The Aztecs.

The whole track is sung in two voices – the clean vocals are that of Moctezuma, the Emperor King of the Mexica, pleading to their gods to save them from “these men of iron knives, pale skin, and hungry eyes.” The dirty vocals are the inner monologue of Hernán Cortés - “The enemy that knows no fear, the eyes that shed no tears” - as he plunders and despoils his way to victory in the ruins and ashes of a whole civilization.

There is a deep thread throughout all these stories – and they really are a collection of stories – and that was the original album title and also the last line of Collapse and thus the whole record. “Gods and Monsters.” We had seen these songs as tales of Gods and Monsters and the consequences of their games on mortal human kind.

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