“If that isn’t the best record I’ve heard in ten years, then I don’t know what is.” – Noel Gallagher of Oasis in 1997 on Cotton Mather’s “Kontiki”
Robert Harrison of Cotton Mather as photographed by Valerie Fremin.
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Hear “Life of The Liar” from Death of The Cool by Cotton Mather at The Big Takeover or via the links below!
Austin! See Cotton Mather live at Waterloo Records on Sept. 8th, 2016
Stream three songs from Cotton Mather’s Death of The Cool, and a total of 13 songs from the I Ching project now!
Hear “Life of The Liar” via The Big Takeover, “Child Bride” via NPR-affiliate, KUTX, and “The Book of Too Late Changes” via Texas Monthly. Listen and learn more by visiting ichingsongs.com to hear TEN additional tracks not found on Death of The Cool, and to read commentaries on each track by Robert Harrison.
“Kontiki gave me something to shoot for.” – Britt Daniel of Spoon on Cotton Mather
It didn’t take 15 years for Cotton Mather’s Austin-based main man, Robert Harrison to write the 64 songs (64 songs!) that comprise his latest musical vision: one song for each hexagram (or reading) of the I Ching. That’s actually the amount of time that has passed since the last full-length album of new Cotton Mather songs was released. With so much new material on deck, it seems like Harrison is making up the difference.
Thirteen tracks from this treasure trove of new tunes have already been posted one-by-one in “real time and real weather” as Harrison describes this creative process, and now the first of several albums that will ultimately contain much of the entire song cycle, has been announced.
Arriving on July 29th (with a limited white vinyl edition scheduled for Sept. 9th), the eleven-track Death of The Cool contains another nine of Harrison’s pure pop meditations on Chinese philosophy.
Along with the album’s three currently available tracks – “The Book of Too Late Changes” (based on I Ching hexagram #24: The Return), “Child Bride” (based on #4: Youthful Folly), and “Life of The Liar” (based on #6: Contention), Death of The Cool brings the total number of I Ching songs available to 21, representing approximately one third of what will eventually be released.
21 songs deep into revealing such an ambitious undertaking, Harrison reflects, “These are my reactions in song to illuminations from the I Ching about life unfolding. Some of the songs directly reference the text and others use the readings as a starting point. Until I started this project, it had never before occurred to me to seek counsel with respect to songwriting, but after I turned to the I Ching for artistic guidance on several occasions with nice results, I thought ‘Why not go for the whole cycle?’”
Harrison’s commentaries about each of the songs can be found at the website for the project, ichingsongs.com.
“Each song’s commentary at ichingsongs.com reflects how a translator traditionally shares thoughts on the reading,” Harrison says. “However, I will limit my commentary to the readings themselves, and let the songs enjoy a free-range lifestyle.”
For anyone thinking that 64 songs written around a single theme can’t possibly maintain a standard of quality, then welcome to the unlikely world of Cotton Mather.
Founded by Robert Harrison in Austin in the early 1990’s, the band initially had an experimental sound, but soon evolved into a guitar-driven pop group defined by accessible melodies, strong vocal harmonies and lyrical wit. Cotton Mather released its debut album Cotton Is King in 1994, but it was the follow-up album Kontiki, famously recorded on four-track cassette, that drew praise from critics and rock-stars alike.
Uncut Magazine gave Kontiki five stars calling the record “music to smile yourself to death to.” Mojo said the songs were “brought to life with daring vitality,” and in its own five-star review, The Guardian called Kontiki “a bewildering, dizzy thrill.” On our shores, the bounce back of influence from across the pond was finally felt with Britt Daniel of Spoon being just one artist to say “Kontiki gave me something to shoot for.”
Death of The Cool, the first of several anticipated albums comprising Robert Harrison and Cotton Mather’s endeavor to write and record 64 songs for each of the I Ching’s 64 hexagrams is set for release on July 29th, 2016 (limited edition white vinyl on Sept. 9th) via The Star Apple Kingdom. Ten additional non-album tracks can be heard now via ichingsongs.com with additional non-album tracks forthcoming.
Robert Harrison of Cotton Mather is available for interviews. Contact Josh Bloom at Fanatic for more information.
Death of The Cool
(The Star Apple Kingdom)
July 29th, 2016
02. Close To The Sun
03. The Middle of Nowhere
04. Candy Lilac
06. The Land of Flowers
07. Never Be It
08. Queen of Swords
09. Waters Raging
11. The End of DeWitt Finley
Cotton Mather Links
Contact Josh Bloom at Fanatic Promotion
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