Living in times as busy and bleak as our own, the pursuit of music and art can feel redundant, extraneous to the pressing moral concerns in politics and culture. For those who are drawn to continue writing and creating, the question then becomes centred on the role of the artist in such times. Should they provide escapism or cultural critique? Be comforting or challenging? There might not be value in picking over the bones of darkness when gloom is the accepted view of the world, but then to turn to a whimsical alternative feels privileged, tone deaf or else outright phony. Perhaps then, the answer lies somewhere in between—facing up to reality, but looking for the beauty within it.
The recording project of Boston’s Cole Kinsler, Space Mountain has long been a vehicle for such endeavours. From 2015 debut Gargantua through 2016’s Big Sky, Kinsler explored the confusion and sadness intrinsic to life not through all-consuming melancholy or melodrama, but rather a considered search for the sparks of compassion and connection within this dark, deadbeat existence. The style was further developed on Supermundane, released on Forged Artifacts in 2017, an album which sought to celebrate the simple mercies of life, Kinsler’s distinctive baritone serving as a kind of knowing counterweight.
Space Mountain is back with a brand new album, Togetherness, and, as the title suggests, this time Kinsler is forthright with his intentions. “The record is really about remaining compassionate in spite of the overwhelming sadness and fear in the world,” he explains. Again, this is balanced by the vocal style, any earnestness matched by a world weariness that ensures the songs never become sentimental or trite.
Today we’re delighted to share the lead single ‘Cloud’ as a taster of the new record. Building on the confidence of Supermundane, the track is patient yet probing, the spacing and timing of the emotional peaks as affecting as it is assured. “‘Cloud’ is kind of about acknowledging that fear within myself,” Kinsler says, “and looking for a way to deal with the absurdity.” If an answer is found, then it exists within the confessional yet outward looking tone, dwelling on personal fears not as some exercise in self-absorption but instead a channel for empathy and solidarity. Being human might be difficult, but that doesn’t mean we should lose our humanity.
Togetherness is set for release on the 8th March and you can pre-order it now.