A THOUSAND PLATEAUS
Tales of homecoming after considerable periods away have long found resonance within our psyches, and classic works such as The Odessey, or more relatively recently, The Lord of the Rings, work with such themes to great effect because they touch upon something we can immediately relate to. What draws us back home varies; perhaps a need for comfort or security, or perhaps an urgency to finally make right. In the case of A Thousand Plateaus, which represents a reunion and homecoming for the late ‘80s cold(ish) wave band About the Poets, it is the desire to rekindle a torch that never really went fully out. Like its first “ATP” formation, which arose in and through a period of cultural and political turmoil, A Thousand Plateaus also finds itself emerging in a moment of even greater social and political unease and unrest. We have a feeling that this is no coincidence. However, we also know that we may not fully understand the circumstances which have brought us back together for a long time. A Thousand Plateaus presents an outfit we feel has withstood the test of time. And while we are no longer the wistful and idealistic 19-year-olds that made up the first ATP iteration, we neither have lost that shared sentiment (passion, angst, anger) that first brought us together. The world is just as fucked up as it ever was, but let’s face it, artists often find themselves compelled to draw energy from the flames.
We present our self-titled album to you as a portrait of a band that still dances close to the fire. However, with age we have found that fire to be as internal as external, and several of the songs we provide here could not have been written during our earlier iteration. A bit more commentary on some of the songs, and our take on the album as a whole…
As above, lyrically “Even the Sun has a Dial” and later “November Snow” draw upon life experience, and serve somewhat as lessons from our “now selves” to our “then selves”. As such, those lyrics could not have been written in 1988. Nevertheless, there is a fullness of sound in these songs that draws (at times quite heavily) upon that period. We think this also shows in “The Night will Open,” which harkens back for instance to the 4AD catalogue of the mid-80’s. “Sabellian,” an ode to lost peoples and lost languages, and by extension, a lost way of seeing things, is also a statement against empire (in this case Rome, but not much of a stretch to spell it differently), and so we believe pretty fitting for the state of screwedupness we presently find ourselves in. Like “Sun Dial,” the song is forward and played with urgency. So too is “My Purchase,” which comments on the denial of science in the face of the undeniability of scientific fact. The listener may be steered in the direction of Covid here, but hell, one could also just step outside and consider climate change. “I Have You”, a song written from “the point of view of death” (heavy, we know), perhaps is another that maturity has enabled, particularly as we also find it so sweetly melodious. Throughout the album, we try to keep our tunes consistently big and bold. At times the music is frenetic and insistent, and at others measured and paced, but it is always unafraid, and without affect. We are who we are. Fortunately for us, some things don’t change about home.
A THOUSAND PLATEAUS is:
Bruce Collet – vocals
Robert Kudrle – guitar
Kevin Lian-Anderson – bass
Chris Weise - drums
About the Poets
In the year 1988, America was immersed in Reagan era conservativism, Cold War paranoia, and new depths to which members within the ruling party would lower themselves to exert their influence and power (most notably as manifested in the Iran-Contra Affair). The country was hurling toward a post-industrial economy and an uncertain frontier, and the clashing of the old and the new lay thick in the air. The punk and “post-punk” scenes, with their strongly anti-authoritarian and anti-corporatism stance, and committed DIY ethic, held out a mirror as well as presented a reaction to society’s ills of the time. Within this ethos, the relatively short-lived but nevertheless impressionable foursome About the Poets (ATP) formed from students in the freshman class of the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire. As a regional college town in close proximity to Minneapolis, Eau Claire was uniquely positioned as both a conduit of and contributor to the midwestern alternative music scene (when the word “alternative” still meant something), and young listeners and players were well steeped in the music of such seminal acts as The Replacements, Husker Du, and Naked Raygun.
ATP’s sound and lyrics were indeed steeped in their musical, social, and political time, but they were also fresh and bold. The band quickly found venues to play in Eau Claire, Minneapolis, and Madison, and before members went their separate ways recorded seven songs on a reel-to-reel in a makeshift eight-track studio cobbled together in an empty gas station on Water Street in Eau Claire (like so many other structures from the era, that building is now gone, replaced by a “public-private” venture that surely owes its existence to the neoliberalism that Reagan and Thatcher brazenly imposed upon the world). We believe that those seven songs, recorded in just one evening, and in just one or two takes, have withstood the test of time. We offer a sampling here for your exploration and enjoyment.