There are those of us who question the depth of our own constructed realities and the limits of time and space that can be stretched into slender and brittle opinions. Opinions forged in insecurity, fear, and isolation. As domesticated realities thrive, the truth of our vast existence and our sharing of space with dissimilar dimensions gets lost. Ignorance may be the caveat for our forgotten lives. With our awareness of subtle omens misplaced and the forewarning, compounding effects of the choices we have made looming, the pathway that we choose ultimately becomes illuminated. Or is it the path that chooses us? A wise voice speaks softly, ‘The quieter you become, the more you can hear.’ As sage storytellers that have come before, Skyway Man too speaks in a language of profound sincerity. The veracity of James Wallace’s voice rings out with humble brilliance.
Skyway Man, the moniker of Oakland-based musician James Wallace, and the enigmatic near-futuristic character at the heart of his cinematic sci-fi-psych-folk saga The World Only Ends When You Die, is sharing the album’s 5th, 6th, and 7th chapters together today. Beginning with the slowly building, lush, and striking, “Common Void”, which sonically brings Skyway Man out of the near-death experience and deep sleep we last left him in. As our character awakens, we’re introduced to the beautiful soft slow jam “The Rise of the Integratron”, whose ethereal strings and soft choir vocals rise and fall as the words of famed Ufologist George Van Tassel ring through, an otherworldly dispatch as our protagonist floats away from earth. As Skyway Man is ripped back to the underworld and lifted back onto the speedboat on the River Styx, the upbeat and infectious rhythms and alien organ flourishes complete “Don’t Feel Bad About Being Alive”.
Skyway Man’s The World Only Ends When You Die was recorded between a shed in Oakland, Wallace’s own Huge Planet Studio in Nashville, and the Spacebomb studio in Richmond, VA. The album will be accompanied by illuminated manuscripts written by Wallace and illustrated by cult-cartoonist Kevin Hooyman. The manuscripts, along with the ever-evolving story around the time-traveling, death-defying, Skyway Man, are driven by Wallace’s vision of a character whose journey dips into science fiction tropes, depression, the end of the world, the metaphysical and the spiritual. Featuring the Spacebomb House Band and The Lostines, The World Only Ends When You Die is an immersive and expansive album, a multifaceted voyage, self-described as cosmological country sci-fi gospel blues. It will be released on October 23rd via Mama Bird Recording Co.
Today Glide is delighted to premiere Common Void, The Rise of the Integratron, and Don’t Feel Bad About Being Alive. Chapters 5, 6, and 7 from Skyway Man’s forthcoming psychedelic sci-fi triumph The World Only Ends When You Die. A poignant soundtrack for pandemic times. It is here with a calming voice, distilled guitar tones, and lush harmonies that Skyway Man grounds us into an honest world, where chances are taken and vulnerability is preserved. In our darkest times we know there is something greater working, moving, grounding us to this realm and to the boundless worlds beyond visible light.
Wallace explains the inspiration behind the “Common Void” and “The Rise of the Integratron” :
Common Void – Ages of nothingness drift over our character. Eventually, a dust mote grazes an eyelid and, in the span of a twitch, all of that nothing turns inside out. Two clear visions appear: a moment in infancy during a spell of night terrors; and another in middle age during a period of languishing malaise. These things seem less horrifying when viewed from above. They instead seem rooted in a place of wonder and hope. Hope converts to lift. We begin to rise.
The Rise of the Integratron – The ascent of our character sparks further dim awareness. We now see ourselves floating in space with Earth in a distant view. A thought enters our brain: “We’re riding on this planet, it’s our ship.” Mouthing these words gives us purpose and weight. Gravity takes possession of us. We’re pulled quickly down towards Earth, and shortly after that, we’re fully submerged underwater.
Wallace explains the inspiration behind the “Don’t Feel Bad About Being Alive” :
Don’t Feel Bad About Being Alive – A skeletal arm pulls our character onboard. We’re back again on the boat with Death. However, this is not the same stoic Death from the River Styx. This is our own Death: our second spirit guide. No tricks. Only clear, commanding tones. He peels back the branches, guides us down the river, and beckons us to lean guiltlessly into this strange new age. This message, while similar to that of our previous guide, carries a different tone. We look up and Death has again killed the engine. Death disappears completely. We sit alone, rocking aimlessly under the stars, wondering, “Where do all the feelings go?”
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Photo Credit: Aubrey Trinnaman