Christopher Douthitt & the Glyphs

Christopher Douthitt & the Glyphs

 Austin, Texas, USA
BandRockSinger/Songwriter

Christopher Douthitt & the Glyphs: a striking voice, inventive songs, a band of musical shapeshifters. Moving in the peripheries of traditional folk, avant-garde classical, lyrical pop, and country music, they conjure walls of shimmering dissonance one moment and driving barroom rock the next.

Biography

ABOUT CHRISTOPHER DOUTHITT & THE GLYPHS
The Glyphs formed over the spring and summer of 2012 to play the songs from Christopher Douthitt's debut album, "Un'Aura Amorosa." They quickly developed a musical identity of their own, infusing the songs with bleeding horns, vocal harmonies, and romantic bursts of noise. After a year of intense live performances, the Glyphs have carved out a sound that is musically complex yet emotionally direct, taking inspiration from bands like Remain-in-Light-era Talking Heads, Street-Legal-era Bob Dylan, Jim O'Rourke, Portishead, Grizzly Bear...the list goes on.

Each member is active in several projects in the Austin music scene. Christopher Douthitt is the principal songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist. He is also an active composer and electro-acoustic performer, currently studying music at Mills College in Oakland, CA. Mike St. Clair plays horns, keyboards, violin, and auxiliary percussion. He also plays with Okkervil River, the Polyphonic Spree, and My Jerusalem, as well as writing and performing his own songs. Yamal Said plays drums and percussion. He also plays with John Wesley Coleman and Slowtrain. Todd Pruner plays bass. He also plays in The Foundries and composes found-sound collages. Cass Roberts plays saxophone and sings backup. She also performs her own songs with a rotating band.

The Glyphs play as often as they can, given the challenges of managing such a busy roster of in-demand musicians. They are currently working on an EP with engineer Erik Wofford at Cacophony Studios in Austin.

ABOUT CHRISTOPHER DOUTHITT
Christopher Douthitt grew up in eastern Washington, where he discovered poetry and music in the the dry, rolling steppes and river-cut pine forests. He graduated from Princeton University first in his class, with a degree in music. While at Princeton he studied composition with Dan Trueman, Dmitri Tymoczko, Steven Mackey, and Paul Lansky. On scholarship at Northwestern University, he earned a master’s degree, studying with Hans Thomalla. In 2006 he founded the Chicago-based band the Howling Poppies, playing regularly at venues including Schubas, Double Door, Subterranean and Metro, as well as around the Midwest. In 2010 he moved to Texas, where he recorded his debut album of songs, put together the Glyphs, and honed a live sound in the clubs around Austin. He currently splits time between the Glyphs in Austin and Mills College in Oakland, where he studies composition and improvisation with Roscoe Mitchell.

ABOUT "UN'AURA AMOROSA"
On October 31, 2011, Christopher Douthitt released his debut LP, Un’Aura Amorosa—the result of two years of intensive, secluded work. Over the course of ten tracks, the album is catchy, darkly comic, intimate, apocalyptic, and always prodigiously lyrical. In these songs, love is a knife hewn by a girl with a gigantic, watchful-eyed butterfly tattooed across her back—and then it’s the restful shade of a cypress tree. A father is a broken-down countertenor spitting up blood—and then he’s old Adam himself. From song to song Douthitt speaks in many different voices, each of which finds truth in strangeness, and the strangeness that’s always lying behind every form of truth.

Of Douthitt’s lyric-writing, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon has said: “Here at last was the combination of directness and depth, simplicity and substance, which is the mark of so many great songs.”

But for all its startling imagery and finely wrought language, Un’Aura Amorosa never loses its infectious pop edge. It moves from the Basement Tapes rave-up of “Butterfly Knives” to the playfully Lennon-esque ‘50s pop of “My Old Man (Un’Aura Amorosa)” before delving into a three-song suite that anchors the album in rich strings and woodwinds—sometimes swooning like late-Romantic chinoiserie, sometimes charged with moments of dissonance that recall the work of mid-century avant-garde composers like Krzysztof Penderecki and Giacinto Scelsi.

Still, Douthitt is most deeply rooted in the long American counter-tradition of subversive singer-songwriters. His influences range from art-pop writers like Joni Mitchell, PJ Harvey, and Cass McCombs to the the fringe voices of composers like Scott Walker and Harry Partch.

Lyrics

Butterfly Knives

Written By: Christopher Douthitt

Adults in this city lead interesting lives
I fell for the girl who made butterfly knives
We’d kiss and we’d cut and we’d close down the dives
Sharing similar goals at the time
Her knives were like heirlooms, and beautifully worn
Handles carved out of black buffalo horn
And edges that curved into tips sharp as thorns
Dangerously unadorned
I’d bike to her studio where she’d be alone
Sparks flying off of the grinding stone
“Don’t turn off your furnace babe don’t send me home—
I called in sick and my apartment is cold.”

But she wouldn’t look at me, she’d sharpen her cutlery
If I so much as muttered she’d send me back fluttering
A knifepoint at my throat

Because lovers who fear no hesitation
They’re cold and even-tempered just like folded steel
So fold me in the flames of mad devotion
Build me up and grind me down and make a stabbing mess out of me

I’d sit near a scrap pile of discarded jade
And stare at the butterfly tattoo across her shoulder blades
Like two eyes watching every move that I made
Like strangers at a masquerade
Well evening would come and then I’d wander home
Palming the handle of my own balisong
Hoping for once for something to go wrong
But nobody ever came along

But I knew that she’d come for me, my key turning silently
And just as I fell asleep she’d wake me up violently
A knifepoint at my throat

Because lovers who fear no hesitation
They’re cold and even-tempered just like folded steel
So fold me in the flames of mad devotion
Build me up and grind me down and make a stabbing mess out of me

‘Cause I thought we agreed
To stop before we made each other bleed

I. There's a Pond

Written By: Christopher Douthitt

There’s a pond not far from where I live
All the crows drop their feathers into it
The heavens drop, the clouds pour down
A thunderstorm for the only town around
There’s a hill where the radio lights shine
All the homes there remain unoccupied
The mountains melt into the sea
We will offer ourselves willingly

At your feet we sank, we fell, we—
We lay down, at your feet we bowed
We fell where we sank, there we fell—
At your feet, there we fell down dead

I stayed home and I waited patiently
The farmers started planting flower seeds
We asked for water, you gave us milk
This county’s stuck with scabs of rock for silt

At your feet we sank, we fell, we—
We lay down, at your feet we bowed
We fell where we sank, there we fell—
At your feet, there we fell down
Oh my soul, have you crushed strength?
At your feet there we fell but—

I stayed home to listen
I stayed home to…

Jelly Sky

Written By: Christopher Douthitt

I used to count the lights
Tumbling from their places in the sky
And that was fine
I had clean blood in my veins and bright eyes
Hair parted neatly to the side
A little short of breath
Medication in my pocket when I left
And that was fine
I had not yet felt the needle in my spine
Or let the numbness paralyze my side

Does the hand not impeach the heart?
Does the heart not unnerve the eye?
Do I not fade away like jelly from the sky?

The pictures of my head
Are tacked upon the roof above my bed
I can explain
The pattern of my blood through my brain
The meteor that’s burning through the rain

Does the hand not impeach the heart?
Does the heart not unnerve the eye?
Do I not fade away like jelly from the sky?

Sad Lazy Dad

Written By: Christopher Douthitt

In a plastic water bottle
We’re mixing bourbon with champagne
And calling ourselves entertainment
We can rest our swollen ankles
In the nineteenth-century wing
And sleep it off on the train
We got no girls to chase around
Got no kingdom, got no crown
And we’re joking with ourselves

Saying, “Don’t you be a sad, lazy dad…”
“Don’t you be a sad, lazy dad...”

And circa 1500
In red chalk on tan laid
It’s Adam and his woman Eve
Cain on the ground and Abel on the knee
They’ve been wandering, wandering
And I turn to my brother and he turns to me
Tomorrow morning we’ll be heading east

He says, “See, I told you, don’t, don’t you be a sad lazy…”

My Old Man (Un'Aura Amorosa)

Written By: Christopher Douthitt

My old man, he’s a fervent machine
He treats his women like they were magazines
He chokes when he murders his meat
Squeezes salt from a sugar beet
Comes home at night with a makeup mask
Do I complain? Do I even ask?
He’s in the corner with a fork in his fist
He’s blowing me a kiss

While my soul is envisioning its creeping death
My old man sends me his loving breath
When I hold his kisses deep inside my lungs
He has to hold his tongue

My old man used to sing for the crowds
Falsetto arias in an evening gown
Till he sputtered in a heap of rage
Spitting blood onstage
Now he wakes up in fever dreams
He rips his clothes off, tears at surgical seams
I find him lubricated with wine
Singing through his old lines

Un’aura amorosa—is that supposed to be his closer?
Un’aura amorosa—he can’t remember the composer
Un’aura amorosa…

I take abuses like a cat takes milk
His forty lashes—they’re the touch of silk
I take my beauty with a spoonful of lust
And drink it in disgust

While my soul is envisioning its creeping death
My old man sends me his loving breath
When I hold his kisses deep inside my lungs
He has to hold his tongue

Discography

Untitled EP - in progress at Cacophony Recorders, Austin, TX; expected release early 2014

Live at KUTX Studio 1A - live EP, recorded for on-air broadcast at Austin's KUTX, January 28, 2013
http://christopherdouthitt.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-kutx-studio-1a

Un'Aura Amorosa - full length debut LP, released October 31, 2011
http://christopherdouthitt.bandcamp.com/album/unaura-amorosa

Set List

Glyphs Rag
Butterfly Knives
Sad Lazy Dad
Snake Charmers
My Old Man (Un'Aura Amorosa)
Javelina
There's a Pond
In March the Basement Floods
I've Been Out All Night
Ornamental Belly
Caterpillar Silk
Ocotillo Eyelashes
Tampico Texaco
Duchess (Scott Walker cover)
It's a Wonderful Life (Sparklehorse cover)