Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
So much of who we are is the equivalent of what we could be reduced to, isn't it? We scurry around, keeping ourselves busy, befriending people, kicking others to the curb, bringing new life into the world, stressing out about all of the littlest things and concerning ourselves with everything that seems to matter and it's all just fodder. It's mostly the kind of stuff that we'd never write down in a journal at the end of the night. Or, if it were to be written down, it would be the most boring depiction of a day, were anyone ever to sit down and read it.
Smelted out, we would be reduced to a small pile of accomplishments or proud moments that could stand to be recollected or offered up by those who outlived us as the marks of the man or the woman. We would have but a small number of such proud moments that were unique to us and no one else, when all was stripped away and we couldn't argue on our own behalf. It's a terrifying feeling - like the thought of what's going to happen to all our books and records, all the clothing that we wore out, that looked best on us, when we die. What will our loved ones, or the people tasked with clearing out our living space do with all of the things we cherished? More interestingly, what will be the things that they put in the Do Not Discard pile?
The songs that Kelley Deal and Mike Montgomery make under the name R. Ring make us think about such things - such fragility and helplessness. They make us think about the days when we're unsure about so much - days that feel like they overwhelm us some weeks or some months.
There's a melting, in a 100-dollar heat, that Deal chronicles here and there's a constant sense that the characters in these songs are neither here or there, but more gone than they are present. It's not that they want to be. It's that they can't help it. We're usually barely here. Montgomery sings, "In a city full of steam/Heaving with machines/You live here like a ghost/I feel but never see/You and I belong to the steam." It's a thought that tackles a claustrophobic existence and boils it down to where everything's just a puff of exhaust, or the outline of a remnant. Deal offers the line, "To be alone, as God intended." This is melted, this is broken down like an old refrigerator box. This is with a quietude that insists that noise could be made, and once was. This is with the lightest evidence left that we were here.