‘How We Breathe’

I watched the College Football Championship game last night, sort of, doing the thing where I mute the teevee and smoke a little bit of cannabis and play music in my living room. Clemson played a hell of a game.

Last night, it was Pinback’s seminal and attention-grabbing Autumn of the Seraphs, which I picked up on vinyl at My Mind’s Eye Records over the weekend (along with some Coltrane, Mingus and DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing…, which I’m setting aside for a brilliant, gray, rainy spring morning). I love this album.

I discovered Autumn of the Seraphs probably in 2008, shortly after it was release, while working on a journalism assignment in the Mac Lab in the basement of Alden Library at Ohio University. No one ever seemed to know about the Mac Lab; it was one of my top-three hang spots at the library back in those days. You could also go to the seventh-floor stacks and wheel a chair over to the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Ellis Hall and the pedestrian traffic flow across Park Place. Everyone running from class to class, social blips buzzing always. It was a great spot, and, again, no one ever seemed to know about it. I could crush books, slam stories, listen to countless hours of new music up there.

What I like about Pinback is just how thoughtful and totally chilled-out their music is. I admit: I could take or leave the first album, but everything from Blue Screen Life through Information Retrieved is stunning, polyglot string rhythms and esoteric, airy lyrical depth. (I saw the band once before they broke up, probably around 2011 or so, and I wasn’t feeling it at all. They played everything way too fast. That, to me, is the sign of some miscommunication between band and audience in any live setting. Why speed through your art like that? I’d also interviewed Rob Crow before the gig, and, despite being a fan, I just couldn’t get into our conversation. He was reticent, and I appreciate that, but it was a very difficult interview.)

But the music, more than a decade on now, remains a hallmark of my calmer hours.

The song that I stumbled upon in the Mac Lab so many years ago? “How We Breathe.”

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