Salvage

by Thomas McGuire

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1.
04:07
2.
05:33
3.
07:49
4.
01:39
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6.
05:57
7.
05:50
8.

about

This is a collection of songs that I mostly made during a pretty rough time a number of years ago which I never managed to finish at the time. Partly due to a wish to close with some finality that part of my life, partly because the laptop on which it all sat threatened to shit itself at any moment, I made the effort to try to finish these songs off. With the help of a few friends I revisited this music and was able to conclude these unfinished songs and in a sense draw a line. It is not the music I am making now. It is a document of a time which is thankfully over, but nonetheless exists as a pivotal and powerfully important moment, as the lowest ebb. It portrays also the gradual path to convalescence. Be warned, it's almost all undeniably super sad. While I feel some apprehension exposing this, given it's personal nature, I think it's important that I finished it, and it might possibly have some value to one or two people.
The song "the sled" has a companion short story which I wrote, available as lyrics to the song or downloaded alongside. You should be able to read it during the playtime of the song, because it’s obnoxiously long.
Enjoy.

credits

released May 23, 2017

Mick McGee played drums on let me go, untitled and dropping bombs
Micah Johnston played drums on the sled
Martin Johnston (no relation apart from both being fucking killers) played drums on fast year
Mateusz Sobieski honked maniacally on dropping bombs
Tom Keren played flugelhorn on the sled
Mixed by me
Mastered by Stefan Celosia
Artwork by Auntie Elsie McGuire

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Thomas McGuire Glasgow, UK

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Track Name: Untitled
Nie dam rady,
nienawidzę się
Track Name: The sled
He suddenly starts to become aware of his situation, to perceive the predicament he finds himself in. Suddenly, but not abruptly, as though he has in fact been aware in some sense for some time, but has been restrained in his awareness by some unknown blockage. In his newfound clarity he surveys his surroundings. He finds himself on a sled, in motion. Rapid motion. He lingers on the wind whistling in his ears and whipping his loose clothing. It seems to come from all directions although still giving the impression of forward momentum. This is not a hospitable environment. He looks to the ground and to the sky and struggles to define a difference in their shades of thick, heavy grey, meeting at a hazy, barely perceptible shroud of horizon. This is not a hospitable place. Yet he is calm, as if waking from a deep sleep. He looks forward. “What is this? What pulls this sled with such force?” he thinks, as inquisitiveness begins to emerge with the increasing awareness of his situation. He is inexplicably unsurprised to find that this sled contraption is being pulled by a pack of large, black dogs, the type of which he has never seen before. They are big. They have stocky, powerful bodies and they run with a seemingly furious intensity, their coats glistening with perspiration, their mouths and vast flanks and back exuding a thick veil of vapour. He cannot see their faces or eyes, and he is thankful for it, for they are most likely terrifying, and now, though still calm, he begins to feel the seed of that which will soon be terror.
He looks at his hands and notices that they are coated in a fine layer of grey grime. The ground all around him and as far as he can see in this flat, grim light, seems to consist of some kind of ash, fine grey ash which, in the wake of the sled and the relentless pounding of the dogs’ feet, is thrown into the air and hangs ominously for a moment before settling. His unease grows as he thinks once again- this is not a habitable place. With his growing awareness, now disquieting, comes further inquisitiveness. He senses that he is but a passenger in this strange situation “I am not in control here, who is?”
Looking to the dogs again, he sees that they are reined, and the reins lead back to the body of the sled, where they are held by the sled driver. Although he wonders why he did not notice the Driver before, he again is not surprised. He feels some faint recognition for the Driver. Though he cannot pinpoint exactly what their relationship is, he has a strong inclination that it is an important one. His unease still grows, with the fragments of context of his situation dreadfully slowly becoming apparent and with the cloud of half consciousness lifting he begins to inquire of himself further -Who is this? Where are we? Where are we going?- With each new question a fresh wave of awareness and with it unease engulfs him. He feels the first licks of panic as each question is answered with a uniform- This is not a hospitable place.
He appeals to the driver, “where are we going” with an intuition and irrepressible sense of dread that the true answer is something very bad indeed. The driver does not respond, and only fleetingly glances the passenger’s way, an almost involuntary and seemingly unintentional acknowledgement of his presence, only to return impatiently to the task at hand, grim faced. Again he asks, “Where are we going? What’s going on?
The driver responds this time, sharply, abruptly “We are going, just going!”
and returns to the reins once again indivertible from his vague mission. With the sound of the driver’s voice, the passenger is overcome finally with the fruition of the burgeoning dread which has been growing since he became aware, all the while tiny fragments of memory and consciousness returning to him. He does not know from where, but he knows that the course of the sled leads to death. He acts on his impulse to appeal further to the driver. –`Stop this sled, if only for a moment. I have a very strong feeling that we are heading in a very dangerous direction, this is an inhospitable place and I know that we are heading only deeper into it. Please!-
The Driver whirls round in a rage, and shouts, spittle flying-No I will not stop! But in the drivers eye, through the mask of bitter hostility, the passenger perceives a great sadness, a great palpable sadness from which the passenger is suddenly certain- though he knows not from where, through instinct or intuition, some fragmented memory - from which he is certain this whole incredible and terrifying situation stems.
The passenger looks forward. The horizon ahead of them now seems darker than from where they came, he even thinks he can see a lightening bolt, a violent storm, although he has no way to be sure. He also perceives something else, though with which of his senses he is unable to establish. Something he can’t understand but which flushes him out and fills him with impending doom. Eternity. Up ahead. The dogs pull on relentlessly, faster even than before.
He pleads with the driver, now with a stronger feeling of their previous relationship to each other. They had been very close, he is sure of it. But how had they come to be in this situation?
-Please! Just stop, or turn away. Can’t you see what is up ahead?
The driver stares on, eyes steely, fixed on the terrible goal ahead.
-Listen to me! Stop this sled, have those dogs stop!
-Shut up! I can’t stop. We have to keep going.- the driver screams, furious. The passenger is momentarily stunned at this salvo, such is the intensity, but for the briefest moment before turning back to the reins, the passenger registers again the glimpse of great sadness in the driver’s eye, and it seems to permeate into the passengers very soul.
The passenger glances ahead, becoming ever more agitated, and sees the dogs, still pounding away, not letting up, the power in their taut and lean bodies transferring to the ground, propelling them and the sled unstoppably forward. Perhaps the dogs won’t stop. Perhaps they are too powerful. Thought the passenger.
- If you indeed cannot stop then steer away! You hold the reins. You are in control or them.
-We are going this way! This is the way I am going
There is no way to get through to the driver. The sled appears to be visibly closer to the black mass, the passenger is unsure if he imagines that he feels the ground shaking, that he hears great rumbling sounds from the sky and deep cracking sounds from below the ground, as though the very earth was disintegrating. Although at this point he is sure of nothing. He feels compelled to do something. The driver may not be able to stop the dogs, but is unwilling to change this disastrous course. The passenger continues to attempt to reason with the driver, who he feels an affinity and love for, their connection still unclear, but his appeals continue to go unheeded. He struggles for a solution, some way to get through to the driver, to understand the thoughts of and thereby convince the driver to turn away but to no avail.
-What makes you think you know best.
-You don’t know the right way to go
-Who are you to try to drive my sled?
The landscape is only becoming more and more brutal, as the sled descends further and further into the unknown indescribable darkness. Exasperated, he finally attempts to force the reins from the driver and steer away himself. There is a brief struggle, as both passenger and driver wrestle the reins from each other, but the driver seems to be too powerful and manages to strike the passenger in the temple before effortlessly throwing his stunned body from the reins. He reels from the blow before regaining composure. The Driver returns to the reins and gazes forward again, unperturbed. Recovering from the blow, the Passenger is stuck by a sobering realisation, another moment of clarity. Whatever the origin of this strange journey, whatever the circumstances surrounding their both being there, he was supposed to be the driver and the driver the passenger. Somehow at some point they had switched. The Driver, at once so weak, displayed in the deep sadness in the eyes, and at once so strong, unwilling to relinquish control, able to overpower his companion easily, but not able to control the dogs.
-I was supposed to be the driver, I can steers these dogs in the right direction!
Exclaims the frustrated passenger, but the driver drives on, staring ever forward. Only muttering with the slightest, most subtle lilt which betrays again the momentous sadness and weakness beneath.
-I don’t trust you to drive.
With that, the passenger leaps again onto the back of the deranged driver, but the Driver is too strong and it seems too driven by the bastardised conviction to drive this sled into the unknown doom ahead to relinquish the controls. Once again he is easily overpowered and stuck hard, this time in the chest. He feels his sternum break. The driver’s strength is unbelievable. The passenger reels, gasps for breath, and yet the sled rides on.
It is hopeless. He will not assume control of this doomed journey. He now sees that the driver, who was once his close friend, companion, partner, is too strong, will always be to strong, but at the same time so weak. He pleads once more.
No
In a last gasp attempt, the passenger holds on to the side of the sled and digs his heels into the ash. The pain in his chest unbearable, yet he digs in. it is futile, the ash gives no purchase and the dogs pull on, relentlessly, dragging him helplessly further and further into the dark.
The dust in the air is getting thicker, the rumbling deeper and the unexplainable unseen shroud of despair more palpable. He realises that it is hopeless; there is no choice but to jump from the sled, to save himself. He pleads again. Let me take the reins, to steer us from this path.
I will not.

With that the passenger turns and leaps from the back of the sled. Hitting the ground, the tough coarse ash rips at his skin as he slides and rolls and eventually comes to a halt. As he looks up, broken, he sees the driver, his friend, his companion, his partner-he is still unsure, looking back with that great sadness, only now it is not so thickly veiled behind hostility and anger, it is plain to see, a great, hopeless, impenetrable sadness that drives the sled onwards into the dark. Once again, from his position prone in the ash, the passenger shouts an appeal to the sled driver. But it falls on unhearing ears. What little influence he once may have had with his old friend, it has gone. What little power he once had, now it means nothing. He must watch as the driver, and those terrible black dogs ride on. Onwards they ride. As he watches them slowly vanish, he picks himself up, longing for some outside factor to steer the sled away, but knowing that they are doomed.
He watches the horizon in the direction of the blackness for a while, then turns to face the opposite direction. He sees that there is a slight lightening of the greyscale landscape in the direction from where they came. This is not a hospitable place, and he has been dragged along far into this strange wasteland of ash and nothing. Despite his broken body, he must begin to walk. It will take him a long time to return to a land that is not like this. Will I make it? He wonders, "Will I be able to cover all this distance under my own power?" Surely I will starve. Again he is unsure if it is his imagination, but as he walks, he perhaps feels he is able to notice a barely perceptible diminution of the unspeakable shroud of despair that they, the driver and he, had been heading towards. And yet, somewhere in that direction, the dogs relentlessly drag that sled, and the driver endlessly towards its goal.




Find yourself on a sled
pulled by black dogs into hell,
This strange sled driver was once your friend,
pays no heed to your appeals to turn away
So you dig in your heels; the ash gives no purchase.
No choice but to save yourself.
All your power means nothing, means nothing, down here.

Onwards they ride, they ride,
What power you had is gone.
Onwards they ride, ride on
What power you had is gone.
Track Name: Dropping bombs
Dropping bombs is so hard to do
When you love the target your flying to
You can keep them all in your bay,
But they all will go off in your face someday


Made some mistakes and I regret,
Made a fool and I hurt, one I respect and love
Because of tendencies,
for walking on eggshells, with the nimblest of feet.


This hangover, rolls over and over me.
and the cowards says:
"Keep it quiet, don't say a word,
words can do no harm unsaid and unheard.
Pick your battles, bide your time,
if your time never comes, just keep it inside"
where it proceeds to caustically burn
like the bridges once crossed so hard to return.
That would lead you to the ones who are dear,
and all thanks to such rational fears.

I would promise not to do it again
but the system's hardwired to prevent the end of the world
at the hands of the slightest upset
that fragile existence is hard to forget.
Track Name: Fast year
The sun dips aways, so fast,
a year drifts away, so fast,
life pours away, as the sand in a glass
that which is solid will not last.
I can see it in his eyes, that nothing can amaze
after wandering in the dark, for nigh one thousand days
want to tell him that he'll make it, with a little time
I can see it in his eyes, those ayes which once were mine.

One step forth, step back, it's the same
what have I lost or gained
looking back, on the man that once was
I sought joy, and to banish pain

Obliterated in the shroud, those small problems of old
with the coming of the dawn, they return tenfold
of what it is that thought comprises, when it forever slips away
But I remember how it was, he'd be glad to get here someday

Another time round the sun, another time round the sun, another time round the sun
Track Name: Shhh...
Mind your own business.