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Reflecting on Creeping Pink's 'Glass Castle' with Landon Caldwell
Posted September 29, 2016 by Greg Lindberg
WRITTEN BY
Greg Lindberg
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September 29, 2016
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New Creeping PInk lineup (photo by Landon Caldwell)

Tape Glam returns. After somewhat of a hiatus of frequent MFT visitations, I returned around the time the psych scene started to blow up in Fountain Square. I started the indulgence through the few tracks on MFT at the time from Crys, Learner Dancer, Vacation Club and Creeping Pink, just to name a few. The latter though is why we’re here today, and thank god we’re here.

Landon Caldwell, to whom the Creeping Pink project belongs, is a blessing to Indiana music. After leaving for Los Angeles and returning, Caldwell continued his prolific nature with several releases in 2015, including Mirror Woods. On October 1, the new Creeping Pink album, Glass Castle, will be released, and later in the month will be a tape release show at State Street Pub on October 13.

I recently was reading about Jeanette Walls memoir, The Glass Castle, and like a day after I listened to the tracks available for Glass Castle. Maybe that’s destiny. And, though Caldwell says he didn’t know of that book until he did a quick Internet search months after deciding on the title, he did have a concept for what Glass Castle meant.

“All my artistic output follows a story,” he reflects. “At a point, a few years back, the events in the story began to bleed over into my life and vice versa. This album is the spiritual follow-up to Mirror Woods. At the time of recording Mirror Woods, I had set up a mirror behind my 4-track, and would stare for long periods of time into the mirror while I worked on the record. It's pretty psychedelic, if you haven't tried it. The idea is to find a spot in the woods of your mind and sit there on the ground. You've got to be naked, let the grass touch your thighs. That is where I wanted to be at the time.”

Caldwell shows just how deep you’re about to get into it all before your first listen. This is just the title, folks! But it’s all much more than that. In everything Caldwell does, he embraces the emotional tyranny of his own personal experiences, memories, and thoughts. For example, Caldwell mentions he wrote “float like a soul as it drifts from this realm” (from Mirror Woods) after being told his grandfather passed away. It’s the quick, timeless impulse embraced that you may need to prepare your mind and heart for before giving a good listen to Glass Castle.

Speaking of his grandfather, Caldwell says, “He was a real cool guy. He bought me my first guitar.” But beyond that impact, Caldwell also says that around this time, he injured his back and came close to a mental breakdown. “Mirror Woods is a very personal and internal album," he explains. "It's a reflection of myself as an artist and a man looking for escapism.”

So even though Mirror Woods is a specific journey and predecessor to Glass Castle, many of the tracks on Glass Castle were recorded before Mirror Woods was released. To complete the spiritual follow-up, Caldwell needed to intuitively return to that spiritual place — the woods of the mind. He also needed to, in a way, reinvent the process of the production as a whole.

“Half the album was recorded in El Sereno, L.A. with Mark Tester on his 1/2" tape, and the other half in Little Flower, Indianapolis on an Otari 1/2" tape machine John Dawson loaned me," he says. "One thing about Glass Castle was that I wanted to be more transparent, more vulnerable. As a sophomore album, I knew there would be a few eyes on it. You start to think about people's expectations, etc. I've always enjoyed the idea of playing with people's expectations.”

So where does Glass Castle derive from? Caldwell found an entryway into his new story when coming across the Thoreau quote, "If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."

Landon

After a few listens to Glass Castle, it’s undisputable that the structure was thoughtfully prepped and organized. Caldwell spends a large amount of time in the brainstorming process, both by him and with Creeping Pink collaborator, Mark Tester. For Caldwell, the process is chaotic, and ultimately, he allows for the music to come together and piece itself into the story it belongs to. Though, sometimes, for example, closer track “Plastic Bird” has the gravitas of a closing track, and Caldwell felt that one would be closer from the beginning.

The articulation of feeling is prevalent on Glass Castle throughout, and there appears to be a maturity on this record when it comes to the pacing of all the various elements. At this point in time, Caldwell isn’t too introspective on what Glass Castle means to him. Instead, he’s on to the next exciting curveball. “I get bored with music pretty easy,” Caldwell says. “I don't like doing the same thing twice. Isn't it maddening for people? Doing the same thing over and over? I'm not afraid to fall on my face. If people hate Glass Castle, it doesn't bother me at all. I've got another record being mixed now. I HAVE to do this, like I have to eat.”

One thing that’s typically consistent for a Creeping Pink record (with Glass Castle being no exception) is that the tracks are short and to the point, but they still manage to take you on this long journey. Some of Caldwell’s past music has included long, extended jams, but Creeping Pink manages to be the antithesis of expectations when it comes to a sect of psychedelia.

Of course, since the beginning it’s been hard to specifically categorize the sound of Creeping Pink, and Glass Castle expands on a multitude of inspirations, musical and otherwise. Krautrock is definitively at the core of inspiration, and Caldwell says Krautrock is something that has stuck with him since he was 19.  Besides that genre, Caldwell comments that the spirit of exploration is what resonated with him the most. Musicians that helped instill explorative ideas for Caldwell were Faust, Cluster, Eno, and the Beatles use of the studio.

“Eno really kind of took it to another level for me,” he says. “I realized at some point imperfection is good. Life seems more full with imperfection. Humans are imperfect. Nature is imperfect.” And this Zen realization is the comforting aspect resonating with each play of Glass Castle. Tracks like, “The Country Has Not Changed,” seem reflective on current events, but Caldwell is less concerned with the noise than the calming countryside in relation to time and experience.  

“It's a dream of the countryside,” he says. “How fast the cities change and how you can always return to the simplicity of the countryside. I grew up in a small town so the endless fields of the Midwest are like a comfort blanket. Moving back to Indiana and finishing the album here launched an obsession with the Hoosier experience and what it means to be an artist from a fly-over state.”

Caldwell concludes with thoughts that simplify the essence of what Glass Castle represents. “I try to write about my experience and perspective of the human condition,” he says. “It's meta-political. In the realm of Glass Castle, I see a world where technology and nature operate in unison and man has evolved beyond politics, hate, crime, pollution. Beyond good and evil.”

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