Grasping everything it sees
Absent life and absent dream
Let there be
Angels toil and crack open scrolls of ancient dreams
Countless worlds of his
Brilliant stars and breath and stream
Let there be (light)
Where there is darkness
Let there be light
Where there is nothing
Let there be light
Behind the Song:
The beginning of any album, poem, film, or book can tell you a lot about the work as a whole. This work begins with a tribute to the beginning itself.
It was a fun experiment to attempt to paint a musical picture of the beginning of the universe. Lisa and I had tried several ideas for this song before she finally came up with the right vibe. We liked the idea of building the song from nothing to everything with the climax being those ancient and famous words, “Let there be light.”
From our perspective, the Genesis account of creation was probably not intended to be a literal scientific description of the beginning of all things, but rather a grand poetic gesture of worship to the Creator. Taking our cue from this interpretation, we didn’t try to be too scientific or literal with the description of these primordial conditions, but rather sought to create a tension of this “darkness” and “void” becoming light and being. In penning lines like “angels toil and crack open scrolls of ancient dreams”, we are even venturing from the original poetry of the biblical language largely to demonstrate that this is simply an imagining of an event of which we only have vague notions. Simultaneously, it could be used as a prayer for more practical circumstances, speaking light into darkness.
Musically, we basically tried to score the story of the song. It begins with formlessness and void.
Pretty much everything else on the record is intentional musically, and generally makes some sort of sense theoretically, but in playing those intro parts, I truthfully wasn’t thinking anything. I just played formlessly to Lisa’s singing, trying not to be too obvious about the idea or be so dissonant as to detract from her words, but still vaguely void of rhythm and proper harmony.
I remember hearing Damien Rice’s “9” album years ago and enjoying how his wasn’t the first voice that you heard. I thought that for this album, people would be expecting my voice when they pushed play for the first time, and I liked the surprise of hearing Lisa’s first. It is only a few lines into the song that the voice changes though. It is into the chaos that the voice of God begins to appear, bringing some direction to the chaos. I went back and forth a bit with who should sing as the voice of God, whether it be Lisa, or me or someone else. We ended up with a boys’ choir to appear in the first chorus as the voice of the Genesis God, who says “let us…” I liked the purity of the boys’ voices as well as their plurality. As their voices enter, the band begins to have some sort of unity musically.
As the arpeggios begin, we were trying to create that tension that must have been building before everything burst into space and time. Whatever the beginnings of movement towards those first moments were, we are left to imagine, but as the violin slowly fades in with that tension, we have expectation that something is going to happen here.
When the words are finally spoken, “Let there be light”, the creation begins to breathe for a second. The air is inhaled into the lungs, and what is exhaled is everything that is the creation. So we gave that musical “big bang” everything. There are quite a few tracks going right there… Big drums, strings, horns, boys’ choir, gang vocals…etc. If there’s ever a time to get a bit indulgent with “yeah, add another track”, we felt the creation of the universe was the time to do it.