Long before I started writing music as City States, I thought of myself not as a songwriter or musician, but more narrowly as a bass player. The bass was the first instrument I ever purchased—a black 4-string Ibanez Soundgear, which I still own—and almost everything I learned as a teenager about playing in a band was filtered through the lens of that instrument. As you can imagine, I took a shine to groups who prominently featured the 4-string, starting with Flea's work in the Red Hot Chili Peppers; later I developed a fascination with Holger Czukay's odd whole-note minimalism via Can, as well as the jagged art-funk of Talking Heads' Tina Weymouth.
And I loved the band UI.
As it turns out, I stumbled upon the group when I was fifteen or sixteen for somewhat non-musical reasons: I came across Sidelong on the shelf of a local record store and recognized the wonderfully peculiar art of Melinda Beck, whose work I knew from Quicksand's excellent 2nd LP, Manic Compression. Thinking that I discovered another band with a similar aesthetic to Walter Schreifels and company, I bought the CD, only to take it home and find that it wasn't remotely close to the post-hardcore I has anticipated. Instead I was astounded to hear a band with not one, but two bass guitarists, an array of synthesizers, and not a single power chord to be found anywhere.
Sidelong's emphasis on rhythm over riffage echoes throughout Geography, particularly on the dueling bass motif and dub-infected drum treatments of "Willing." Though the verses remind me most of Talking Heads—especially in those twinkling keyboard arpeggios, a not-so-subtle nod to Jerry Harrison's synthesizers from "Once In A Lifetime"—it's hard for me to listen to this song and not be reminded of the influence that Ui had on how I think about the bass. And if I had to choose a song from our debut that will offer a point of departure for our second record, I think that this would be the one.
It also contains my favorite lyrics on the LP. After a trio of songs that deal more pointedly with the passing of my father, the album's theme of death and loss stretches into murkier territory: that we live in a world which is destined to break down, and that the landscapes we see around us are simply not going to last forever. That notion—one which is reinforced by this song's caustic, Tim Hecker-inspired coda—is peppered throughout the record, but I'm not sure I say it better than in "Willing"'s final line: "tied to the ocean floor in long exile / are landmarks erased from view / and homes sunken for suspended lives."