Aquariums

Aquariums

BandFolkAcoustic

This ambitious collection of experimental ambient acoustic music comes from the heart of Music City USA and the body and soul of one man: Martin Schneider.

Biography

Aquariums – a collection of ambitious and intense personal songs in an experimental/acoustic style

I have been playing the guitar since I turned fourteen and in bands nearly as long. Aquariums, my first solo endeavor, started almost two years ago. Conceptual Realizations is a collection of songs written and recorded from January 2006 to July 2007. Some of them took over a full year to reach their final form contained herein. From the start I chose not to employ a defined genre in which to write. Instead I chose to focus on composing songs based around emotions and events that deeply affected me. So if stylistically the songs are not all congruent, there is a thread that ties all of them together: emotion.

I recorded the entirety in solitude at the various houses and apartments I have occupied in the past year and a half. The genesis of the collection, ‘Aquariums’, was written while reading The Aquariums of Pyongyang by Kang Chol-Hwan translated by Pierre Rigoulot. This haunting memoir details the tribulations of North Korean, Kang Chol-Hwan, and his family who were imprisoned in a hard labor camp in North Korea. Mr. Chol-Hwan languished there from the age of nine to eighteen. I wrote ‘Aquariums’ about his life prior to his family’s imprisonment. Reading about the cruelty of the people that surrounded him, even the children, was very disturbing. ‘Escape’ takes place after his release from the labor camp, and is about his journey out of North Korea into China and eventually to South Korea. Reading this book kick-started the creative process and is where the name for the project originated. The remainder of the collection, written to capture different emotions that I have experienced in the past year in musical form, includes ‘1991’, ‘Lovely Mother’, and ‘Love of a Brother’.

Looking through the contents of my grandfather’s dresser drawer and thinking back on the December that he passed on moved me. Later that night, while wearing his watch and feverishly etching out lyrics on the inside foil of an empty pack of cigarettes, ‘1991’ was written. I wrote ‘Lovely Mother’ in much the same fashion. My girlfriend’s mother had just taken a downward turn and my girlfriend was devastated. It was painful to see her suffer. I wanted to write her a somber, compassionate song to show her how I felt. I knew how it should sound, but the lyrics would not come. While visiting my brother in Savannah, I explained to him how I was feeling and what I wanted to express in verse when the lyrics finally came to me. Once I came up with the lyrics, I knew the song had to be in two parts: the first expressing how I felt and the second conveying the relationship between my girlfriend and her mother. These lyrics were written in one sitting and I was less concerned with rhyme than describing a complete emotion. ‘Love of a Brother’ came after a late night conversation my brother about my lack of a relationship with God. After he went to bed I could not stop thinking about what he had said and could not fall asleep. While awake in my bed, with my guitar, I wrote down some words to a melody I had been playing with earlier in the day. When I awoke the next morning the first thing I did was play him the song.

This is a very personal album and it has taken a long time to come to fruition. Recording it alone gave me the opportunity to experiment and explore instrumentation and sound without being pulled in a different direction by another’s influence. The songs were, for the most part, written in a similar fashion. None of them were complete before they were recorded. Many of the songs were allowed to grow through the recording process into something impossible to replicate alone in concert. The lyrics were regularly the final part of the song to fall into place. They were often written separately while either out of town or on the road and then adapted to fit the song. I find it very helpful to remove myself from Nashville and familiar surroundings in order to clear my head and actually get something done.

Lyrics

Conceptual Realizations

Written By: Martin Schneider

CONCEPTUAL REALIZATIONS:

Recall the Times: Come on in and have a seat. Sit back and listen you’re in for a treat as your mind wanders to some other plane. We’re born then we die. In between multiply till we suck all the energy, suck all the life in this world and recall the times in our minds and say, “it’ll get better.”

Aquariums: Surrounded by images of a perfect life. Believe in us or suffer their plight. Bred on deceit and fear. Watch out someone’s near. You wouldn’t want to make them mad. He thrust his hand into the water. We watched as his blood grew hotter and hotter. He did what we all wanted. Kill it now he’ll never flaunt it. Nothing so beautiful can exist in another man’s cage. Wicked child you’ll be a wicked man. Then the cycle starts over again. Endlessly frustrating; never content, never elating. All you know is what you’re fed; lies upon lies until you’re dead. Just outside I see the truth, to let it in dispels the ruse. You must find it for yourself across three miles of barbed wired hell. Plucked from life at the age of nine, made to die slowly over time. Waste away desensitized. Nothing’s real. Nothing’s real. “It can’t be true.”

Escape: Their eyes they glisten. To the pulsating waves they listen, shrouded by linen in the dark. “Be quiet. Don’t make a sound.” Don’t want to arouse suspicion in this town. Soon you’ll come to know the look of a friend from the gaze of a foe. Soon you’ll come to know the mast is broken the hull has sprung a leak. Floating dead water until we sink. Step out carelessly falling like lemmings into the sea. It won’t be easy; no one must know. Leave across frozen water hidden by snow. Cover our tracks, but threats arise. Must leave in search of friendly skies. On a merchant’s vessel far out at sea, radio for transport recklessly. “Identify yourselves.” Let us just hope that all is well.

Two Hundred Seventy-Five: Goodbye palm trees, Goodbye ocean, Goodbye city; I’m now in motion. The morning air is cool. I’ll be in a pool of humidity. Close your eyes and breathe in. Once more; then begin. Two hundred and seventy-five days left counting down to your death. What are numbers? Values assigned so we can understand. Why count down? Why count up? The end will come, and then what?

Ghosts: The voices resonate from below with word of ideas and concepts I’ll never know. Conversations on world affairs emanate from under my stairs. There’s jelly on my counter and spoons on my floor, a box in the attic with no locks on my door. Look in my window and peer through the shades. There’s not much in here and hasn’t been for days, just the box in my attic and spoons on my floor. Come on in there’s no locks on my doors.

Nineteen Ninety One: The year nineteen ninety one; that December, your last. I never really knew who you were and I apologize for never really crying. I did not fully grasp the concept of dying, but now as I look back I understand the feelings they had. Fifteen years later I go through your drawer. There are so many things still left to explore. Locked on my wrist, is a memory of you slowly passing time.

Lovely Mother: To see you weep it breaks my heart, as I lie next to you blanketed by the dark. When you wake in my arms you feel a comfort that nothing can harm. Feel it beat from in your chest. Closing in feeling compressed. Everyone is so well dressed. Lovely mother she knows best. “Lay your hands upon my breast.” It beats twice no more, no less. “I’m here for you don’t second guess.” And I can’t begin to pretend to comprehend you and how you must feel. I’ll be right here ever near never further than an arms reach. ‘Cause at times like these I know you need me and I will seek to keep you from being weak. The future’s not nearly as bleak as you might think. She knows she has your love. And I’m sure when the time comes she’ll be looking down from above in sweet admiration and adoration of her little girl. Lovely mother I know you are leaving. Don’t go away before I get the chance to say goodbye.

Far From Home: “When I was a young girl I had a nightmare.” Lost in the forest “I’d never been there.” Have we ever ventured this far before? I’ve never been more than three steps from my door. Those earthly hands reach up with their claws to pull me down into their jaws. And bite at my legs and tear up my flesh. I cry out to above. Lay your hand in mine, I’ll lead the way. No time wander. No time to stray. Lay my hand in yours, you lead the way. No time to wander. No time to stray. We must hurry to make it out alive, I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to die. Our feet leave the ground, we start to take flight. The sun’s going down, it signals the night. “No don’t close your eyes.” Just fight off the rest. I promise that we’ll make it out of this. Far from home.

Make Believe: You are not alone in this land of make believe. You wail and you moan and weep tears of disbelief. We paint the landscapes of a brighter tomorrow. The end is

Discography

FTP-001: 'Conceptual Realizations'
FTP-002: 'Live on 91.1 WRVU Dec. 6th, 2007'

Set List

Aquariums
Escape
Make Believe
An Answer
1991
Lovely Mother

A typical set runs about 30-45 min with original material and usually one cover song. I like to perform different arrangements of Nick Cave, Tiger Lillies, and older Rock n' Roll songs.