Bloomistry, “All I Know Is the Skin of the Earth” (2015 Remaster)

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2007–2008 was an incredibly productive musical year for me. Recorded over three days (August 17–19, 2007), All I Know Is the Skin of the Earth was the 4th full-length Bloomistry album, following Late Bloom by only a few months. By the fall of 2008, a fifth album—At the End of a Difficult Day—would be finished.

Late Bloom was an album about returning to recording and live performance at age 40, after a long hiatus. All I Know Is the Skin of the Earth is a line from a Pablo Neruda poem. The working title, A City Like Me, reflected a growing desire to find a new place to call home. I was getting sick of Ottawa. Also, most of the songs for this album were written in hotel rooms, as was the case with Ca Marche and Late Bloom, adding to the album’s overall feel of restlessness.

All I Know Is the Skin of the Earth was made in a weekend marathon session and recorded to eight-track tape. That’s the best way to do it, in my opinion. The most focused and ambitious of my first four Bloomistry albums, it was self-consciously retro, featuring 60s instruments including most notably the combo organ. I imagined myself playing the soundtrack to a hip movie in 1962, kind of like Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Phil Bova mixed and mastered the record at Bova Sound, in Ottawa, on March 24–25, 2008. This remaster builds on this earlier version.

The album began as a series of stories told by characters (the pirate of “Sand and Sea,” the Casanova of “Bitter Sense of Melody” and the eponymous Undertaker) and in some cases real people that I knew. “On the Western Trail” tells the true story of an acquaintance of mine who was taken to Spain—kidnapped I would say—by the country’s poet laureate. “Higher Cloud” rehearses the sad story of Harold Funk, an attorney who suffered from mental illness and became a local legend by putting conspiratorial leaflets on the car windshields of Ottawa. There is an actual recording of Funk shouting at the US Embassy that I made on my walk to work one day and mixed into the song’s bridge.

All I Know Is the Skin of the Earth came closest to perfecting the post-punk, 60s-pop blend that was my aspiration. The next album would explore Americana, turning to lap steel guitars, banjo, Les Pauls and 50s amps and instruments. I regard this album as my best work. It was massive fun to make, and when it was done I had the best sushi dinner ever, at Wasabi in Ottawa.

Tracks.

1. The Found Cause
2. Via Maria
3. Another Other Life
4. The All About A Girl
5. Winter’s Summer Song
6. On The Western Trail
7. Sand And Sea
8. Mosquito
9. Bitter Sense of Melody
10. A City Like Me
11. Higher Cloud
12. Beatrice
13. With The Violins
14. The Undertaker

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