Life’s A Gasp

by Alpine Decline

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about

Alpine Decline’s seventh full-length album is a love/hate letter to their adopted home, the band’s deepest trip yet into Beijing’s dankest corners. “It’s the price you pay to feel alive” they say early on (“Dying to Be Here”) as they speed through four vinyl sides of sonic future shock, crushing & cruising psychedelic jangle that simultaneously zips light as air and smothers like smog too thick to see. It’s their cautionary postcard to friends back in their native Los Angeles. (“It’s the price you pay for something to say.”) They prove once again that there’s beauty in the bleak processes of progress that color this city every shade of gray (“Wasteland Repeated”), in the twisted metal rat race of Beijing gridlock (“Mistake on the Capital Expressway”), in the poisoned food and bogus booze (“220/110 Burnout Blues”). Life’s a Gasp is a rending confessional, stuck halfway between the Temple of Heaven and hell on earth (“Aftertaste of Gold”). It’s a coda for a new beginning, an artifact of vintage psych-burnout ennui crash-landed in a shimmering, gauzy craft of unknown origin.

The sound of Life’s a Gasp zooms in from another world. Gone is the band’s previous obsession with disintegrating tape delay, replaced by a blinking, thinking modular synthesis dashboard. The album’s synthetic, ethereal thrum is held to the ground by a solid bass turn from legendary Beijing artist Yang Haisong, leader of veteran post-punk band P.K.14 and tireless promoter/producer of an entire rising generation of Chinese art rockers. As a trio, Alpine Decline will release Life’s a Gasp far and wide across China, cycling through, once again, the bitter and the sweet, the transcendent and the recidivist, the slow-burning enlightenment one gets staring at the sun through cancerous weather. Life’s a Gasp and then you die, repeat.

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released May 1, 2016

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Track Name: Pre-Columbian Artifact
There’s a hole in the skull for the sunlight to fall from the visage of God to a place in the sod, blood flows.
Well I’m lying in bed with a hole in my head, but the vessel is filled pharmaceutically chilled exposed to the sun.
"New PreColumbian Dream." That’s all we’ve been told.
I’ve been dreaming of gold, of the bounties untold, like a mystical savage lusting mythical ravage by crows.
While your glory is fading they’ve been patiently waiting for the era to die and their future arrive or so we’ve been sold.
"New PreColumbian Dream." That’s all that we know.
Track Name: Dying to Be Here
“Take a break.”
“Alright.”
“You’ve had too much.”
“I know.”
“Escape.”
“Alright.”
“Before it’s too late.”
“I know.”
Dying to be here
There’s a guy
I know
He’s not too bright
And so
He lives a life
with no
No selfcontrol
And then he crows:
“I’m dying to be here.”
It’s the price you pay to feel alive
It’s the price you pay for something to say
Track Name: Hitchhiking North
I hailed a ride from the back of the mission, headed to the north. It was a warm, still night. As we drove the moon rose up and sat upon the road. I felt I did what’s right. Driving towards that light, I felt I was alive.
The driver spoke about his troubles, I listened dutifully as we sailed through the night. In this car, I’m what I want to be; I have no history. I chose to do what’s right. Leave in the middle of the night. I headed to the north. I chose to do what’s right. Committed to the north.
Track Name: Wasteland Repeated
This is modernity and these are its rules. These are its problems and these are its fools. I’ll be inconstant and rupture with fire, but I will deliver you across the wire and When it tears: I’m not scared. When it wears: I’m prepared.
Then it tears, and I’m not scared. Then it fails, I’m not there.
A dream of a shopping cart left in the street in a desolate wasteland is stuck on repeat. I’m coughing up blood on the ashcovered snow, but I will deliver you on down the road and When it tears: I’m not scared. And when it wears: I’m prepared.
Then it tears, and I’m not scared. Then it fails, I’m not there.
Track Name: New Syndrome
Our lives are like an open shutter. As more light comes in, at the edges thing start to fade.
They call it “death by exposure,” it’s not a new syndrome. Forever more open lives… forever more wide.
Elevate it to the crux of my life. This is the place where I’m defined.
We went to the water to cleanse our minds. Like glacial runoff, blank spiritually.
Do you still want to be this kind of free?
Track Name: Annihilation (What No One Told You)
What no one told you:
-the problem is biological in origin.
-(and) these expeditions, well they’ve gone on much longer than you’ve been told.
-(and) since the start: hypnocontrol, with sets of words to make you calm and phrases to make you agree, and if need be: ANNIHILATION.

What no one told you, what no one knows: where this thing stops, where this thing goes. So is this just a fantasy of preservation? Of control?
What no one told you, what no one knows.
It all feels like a tasteless joke.
When it’s all ending, with the last word spoke (or sputtered out): ANNIHILATION
Track Name: After taste of Gold
When I was younger, walking always before you up to the summit or tangled in crowds. All that’s left over is the aftertaste of gold.
We changed together. Walking slowly beside you through cancerous weather, disillusioned with God. And then when it’s over just the aftertaste of gold.
And then it’s the present and I’ve fallen behind. I grope for your shadow I’ve long since gone blind, and all that remains is the aftertaste.
Was it the Temple of Heaven or the Temple of Earth? Was there rain and me singing or was it warm and I cursed? All I remember is the aftertaste of gold.
Now I can’t remember. A fog wraps around you. Why can’t I remember? Why can’t I recall?
Track Name: A Sympathetic Man
A dignified man. A sensitive man. A generous man. A positive man. A thoughtful man. A shameless man. A filial man. A fearless man. A predictable man. A humanist man. An original man. A defensive man. A vengeful man. A giving man. A whining man. A loving man. A passionate man. A TROUBLED MAN. An embarrassed man. A delicate man. A dedicated man. An angry man. A narcissist man. A dangerous man. A genuine man. A cynical man. [Crossing the street it caught me in the chest it struck my chest like thunder.] A fatalist man. A humorous man. An aging man. A dying man. An honest man. A simple man. A grating man. A considerate man. [Was it a bullet? A heart attack? A bomb blast? A terrorist attack? I wonder.] An important man. A handsome man. A selfless man. A meaningless man. An amusing man. A gluttonous man. A needy man. A typical man. An invisible man. A SYMPATHETIC MAN.
Track Name: Mistake on the Capital Expressway
With hands still soft, though stained with tar (one nail grown long for when I go home), I turn the wheel as if displeased and double up the customers’ unease their dread.
I hear them talk in a foreign tongue (as if I could mistake their tone!). Some rich boy tries to cut off me. I deal with him with a burst of speed — then dead.
And what a disappointing thing: my final sound these foreigners’ screams. They hit the seats, the scene completes, I finally sleep along the street bled.
Track Name: Wider Than the Frame
A thing we cannot name
Wider than the frame
Sitting in my chair
I feel the absence there
And it’s hell.
Knowing of your flight
Brings paleness to the light
The days are washed with bleach
The nights are without sleep
Beyond my fragile reach [“To the future blindly”]
Beyond my gift for speech [dragging you behind me]
Something I cannot name [Then the touch of turpentine]
Wider than the frame [everything turns serpentine]
And it’s hell.
Track Name: 220/110 Burnout Blues
220/110 Burnout Blues: smoke, battery acid, poisoned bottles of booze.
You’re panicked and gasping you’re so confused. 220/110 Burnout Blues.
You panicked that’s fine. I panicked too. The 220/110 Burnout Blues.
220/110 Burnout Blues: choked, your faith is flaccid and your ego abused.
Bad air, acid oceans, and poisoned food but, complaining, y’know, can spoil the mood.
220/110 Burnout Blues: smoke, battery acid, poisoned bottles of booze.
Track Name: This X Ray
First we scraped the sky --
Soaked the landscape in synthetic dye.
A bridge,
A synapse,
A drug,
A spectacular trap

Erodes

This Xray,
This white line,
Is a bridge the drug formed in your mind.
It disrupts
Understanding
Of how in the future you’ll start to

Erode
Track Name: Future is Open
Boxes taped. Empty blessing. A car out on the road.
To remember… too distressing. My nerves are blazed with gold.

When the glass breaks, no more mistakes: future is open.
Future is wide. Future is bright. Future is open.

The cold wind clears the toxins and opens up the sky.
My fears are like a toxin spreading through our lives.

When his first breath breaks, no more mistakes: future is open.
Future is wide. Future is bright. Future is open.
Track Name: No Tears From the Dead
It’s alright it’s alright it’s alright if you lose your head.
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright: “No tears from the dead.”
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright when you start to believe.
The familiar becomes so confused that you seek reprieve. Then you know it’s real….
“It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright,” said a voice in your head.
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright: “No tears from the dead.”
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright to give in to a scheme.
It’s alright if you choose to believe in the dead men dreams. But you know it’s real...
Track Name: You Hear a Sound
Then: you hear a sound.
Then: in the corner of your eye.
Then: someone passes by.
Then: more people in flight.
Then: the danger feels close.
Then: you are a ghost.
Track Name: Broken, Mistaken, Confused
That’s about all I can do about it.
Cave to you shamelessly praising your wit.
Come to you destitute easily ripped.
Suffer your temper and temper your fits.
I’ll pretend you’re not broken, mistaken, confused.
And that’s about all I can do about it.

That’s about all I can say about it.
There’s nothing left here for me to admit.
Tear up my ego and burn up the strips.
Bury the blame and lock up the crypt.
It’s because I’ve been broken, mistaken, confused.
And that’s about all I can say about it.

Don’t pretend you’re not broken, mistaken, confused.
And that’s about all that I’ll say about it.
Track Name: I've Been Hit
Ghost sitting on my window sill beckons me to join in the kill.
Cryptic words are like suicide speak the truth if you’re really alive.

I’ve been hit

It’s a gamble when you spring the trap three steps to freedom and you’re running back.
Are you ready to be demeaned? Are you ready to be attacked?

I’ve been hit

Coming down to the borderline I saw myself in the mirror of his eyes and I looked tired from driving up to the pass. And drugged by the future in fiberglass trains sweeping through cities with unrecognizable names at high speeds, the moment was pregnant but the future was blank and our history was fabricated and we made up new names. We had kneejerk reactions that we labeled “decisions” and some miscalculations that we labeled our “passions.” We had moments of clarity we soon had forgotten and in moments of insanity we allowed in all that was rotten.
Track Name: Cleaning Up
Bright, morning comes quickly and sets on fire the broken memories of last night’s violence.
They’re fading, keep the devil waiting, it’s safe where it’s bright, it’s safe in the morning light.

In a previous life let’s say, “forgotten” I too took a gamble and I lost it all. Fated, I kept myself sedated, complete surrender, it’s best if you don’t remember.

I sweep the broken vodka bottles and ash from the kitchen table. In the other room I hear voices muffled. Faded, keep the devil waiting, whatever I’ve created, it’s safe in the morning light. Faded, keep myself sedated, quick sense of doom, as you walk into that room.