The concept of “vanitas” in medieval art refers to the juxtaposition of macabre symbols of death with material ephemera in order to illustrate the impermanence of earthly things. What struck me about this was not the representation of death in a macabre/morbid way, but rather that very sense of ephemerality and impermanence. Reading an article about the history of ephemera in art led me to the concept of vanitas, and I wanted to find a way to pivot that in a more, well, hopeful direction. But these paintings force us to bear witness to the contrasts of life, death, and impermanence, and if 2020 has taught me about anything, it is this concept of “bearing witness” both on a personal and political level.
With these new songs, I really just wanted to create a sort of mood board for where my head and soul have been at the last few months. The sound dissolves into another sound, the image into another image. Time passing, transience, change. Although “static” means lacking movement, static sonically is almost the literal opposite: it is transience, noise, change.
—William Tyler, August 2020