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UPC: 643859196014
Format: LP
Release Date: February 2, 2024
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Eleven songs by J. Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines). Recorded at his Baltimore-based studio, The Magpie Cage, between 2021 and 2022 with the assistance of Brooks Harlan (bass), Darren Zentek (drums),  Gordon Withers (cello and guitar), John Haggerty (guitar) and Dave Hadley (pedal steel).

Front cover collage ("Turquoise Valley") and back cover portrait collage by KEELERTORNERO.

1. Automaticity
2. Exquisite Corpse
+ queue
3. Last War
4. Gasoline Rainbows
5. Not The End
6. Old Soul
7. A Ray of Sunlight
8. Deception Island
9. Sonder
10. Open Mind
11. Dead Eyed God
J. Robbins on Basilisk:

2020 gave us the pandemic, which despite all its awfulness also gave me a lot of opportunities to write and demo music - but everyone was terrified to get into the same room together to play. Finally, around February of 2021, I called up Brooks Harlan and Darren Zentek and asked if they be down to meet me at the studio and do a 2-day session and see how it turns out. Brooks and Darren were into the idea - we were all in full cabin fever mode at that point and dying to do anything - so I sent them the demos and we did it. The musical connection had always already been there, but the energy that came from all being in the same room doing this together - something we had just spent a year wondering if we’d ever get to do again - was wonderful. It felt like having been lost in the desert, and then finding an oasis. I’ve never been so happy with a session - both the results and the experience, and the outcome was exactly what I had wanted: something more stripped down and very immediate.

We were all fired up and we did a second session in March 2022. In the interim I enlisted some collaborators: Gordon Withers to add cello and second guitar to a few songs, Janet Morgan and her two sisters to sing some harmonies, Dave Hadley to play pedal steel on “Not The End,” and Chicago punk legend John Haggerty to add an actual blazing guitar solo to the song "Exquisite Corpse." And I went on working on vocals and overdubs at home. The lyrics were (as always) somewhat therapeutical: “Automaticity” came out of thoughts on aging and remaining present in a world increasingly going on auto-pilot; “Last War” and “Dead Eyed God” work out fears prompted by January 6th and the rise of neo-fascism. More personal matters were trying to work themselves out as well. Recurring childhood dreams ("Deception Island"), surrealist games ("Exquisite Corpse"), and trephination guru Amanda Feilding ("Open Mind") were also in the mix.

Another result of pandemic isolation was that I had also been working on more abstract, electronic based music (inspired by my love of film soundtracks, Peter Gabriel’s music, and by studio work I had done not long ago with the band Locrian), using granular synthesis, sampling, and software synths. So as Basilisk come together, I wanted to see if I could pull those sounds into the flow of the record, open up its vocabulary a little and still make something cohesive.

Connection has always been the whole point of music making for me. There are so many ways to come at it, and I don’t want to close any of those doors. Going forward, I only want to open more of them.

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