Attic & Cellar

by aeroplane, 1929

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about

Recorded from May to July 2009 and from March to May 2010 at Home in New Haven, Connecticut. Additional tracking done in a dorm room in NYU’s Founders Hall, in an apartment in Brooklyn, and in the Goldstein’s livingroom.

Engineered, mixed, and mastered by Jacob Eli Goldman with Alex Mazzaferro. Produced by Alex Mazzaferro and Jacob Eli Goldman.

Performed by Aeroplane, 1929.
Lyrics written by Alex Mazzaferro.
Songs written by Alex Mazzaferro with Aeroplane, 1929.

Illustration, “Attic & Cellar,” painted by Kelly Sullivan and photographed by Alex Mazzaferro. Art direction and design by Kevin Duquette. TST020

credits

released 01 July 2010

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about

aeroplane, 1929 Springfield, Massachusetts

aeroplane, 1929 is a band from New England whose members have spread to the greater northeastern US over the past six years. We slated our last record, 2010's Attic & Cellar, as our final one, but we can't be sure what the future will hold. Periodic live performances in MA, CT, NYC, and NJ are possible and probable, and we are always writing and recording in various configurations. ... more

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Track Name: Birthplace (Prologue)
Birthplace (Prologue)

My brother was born in a coalmine.
The blackest soot outlined the words drawn on his throat.
He said, “It’s all I know, and someday
I will die here when I’m old,”
and dust drove from his great lungs as he spoke.

My brother was born in an office building
on Wall Street, in a hail of tickertape.
He’s always spitting facts and figures
like a swarm of adding machines—
says, “I’d love to stay and chew the fat, but I’m running late.”

My sister plays dead for her husband;
he prefers his wife and home “traditional.”
She says, “I know there’s a lot I’d like to do,
but with the kids and all, I don’t know...”
So she bites her lip and she keeps folding his clothes.
She bites her lip and she keeps holding that pose.

Well I was born. I was born. I was born. I was born. I was born.

I was born in the sunshine ’neath our sprawling familytree.
I speak the language of the watchful malcontent hiding in the leaves.
I said, “There’s nothing to these politics or greedy handshaking.
I can’t hold my tongue and that’s why I’m all alone.”

Oh, I can’t hold my tongue so I keep writing these poems.

And I was born, and I will die. And I was born,
and I will die. And I will die.
_________________________________________

Credit

Jacob Eli Goldman – rhodes, keyboards, drums, modular synthesizer patches
Rob Hallberg – clarinet
Alex Mazzaferro – voice, electric guitar, piano wash, synth bass
Track Name: The Things My Father'd Done
The Things My Father’d Done

When I was young,
my mother took me out behind the house
and she told me of the things my father’d done.
She hissed in tones of tapped telephones:
measured, weighted, hushed.
I stepped back, held my ground as the world spun.

And I was afraid.

When writhing redness burned the west,
his marching dusky silhouette,
oildrunk, with slaves and scalps,
told spoiled oceans, nuclear clouds.
And sprouting tall as prairie weed,
I squinted, shuddered—still—to see,
with bullion rattle and baron sneer,
my story stalking ever nearer.

And I was ashamed.

I had a bad dream where you talked in your sleep
and your smokingblack secrets, you spilled them to me,
and I wept for the days before I knew not to breath in.
Now to wake or to sleep or to look or to blink are both treason.
It’s all treason.

I found the tree, laden with books,
pressed to mouth forbidden fruit
and took a look, peripheral,
at conquered ideas, stifled truth.
Then fire rent the fragile air,
and the crescent moon was hanging bare;
gods tumbled down the attic stairs
so I packed my things, lit out of there.

And I was okay.

But I had a bad dream where you talked in your sleep
and your smokingblack secrets, you spilled them to me,
and I wept for the days before I knew not to breath in.
Now to stay or to leave or to scoff or believe are both treason.
It’s all treason.

And I knelt beside the riverbed,
felt the dizzy wrens wing my fractured head,
gripped my bloodstained name in my cracked left hand,
chose a swirling mouth and I threw it in.
But the ancient thing floated to the top
of that watery sheet (history’s blot, unwashed)
so I reached back in and I snatched it up—
a genesis and a revelation.

_________________________________________

Credit

Tim Donahue – trumpet
Jacob Eli Goldman – double bass, bass guitar, marimba, crystal glasses
Noah Goldman – electric guitar, pedal steel
Rob Hallberg – clarinet
Alex Mazzaferro – voice, acoustic guitar, piano, electric guitar, marching bass drum, lead pipe
Wil Mulhern – drums
Sinai Tabak – flute
Track Name: Head & Foot of the Stairs
Head & Foot of the Stairs

A breathless sprint into sable night.
The dogs were out and beams
were scraping the ground.
An uproar at the citadel—
searching shadows, the doom downcome.

And I had meant to make east (retrograde)
but the weathervane was whirling,
and my compass was busted,
and I was all in a panic
like the time our horse broke her leg
and had to be shot.

And I had paused on the threshold—
the head and foot of the stairs.
Inbetween in the vestibule,
I’d spent a moment too long there.
And I was writing down the first line,
taking a last look at that old house,
and “Heaven” and “Hell” didn’t
seem the right terms to use at all.

I’d lived so long in all that pomp and loft
with all those lights on for fear of the dark—
a hawk’s perch exalted above,
a fortress to keep the peasants out
(and to veil the fertile soil soaked with blood).
And I’d ingested all that binary bunkum,
patted my belly fat and carefree and full;
but that night I wretched by the roadside
and threw no final fleeting backward look.

This is an honest attempt to bespeak myself
in this slipshod and bankrupt tongue
in the fading light of a dying empire
on the lam from what I’d become.

My mind was making like an engine.
My legs were pumping like pistons
(amid all those bones rounding out of the dirt).
A voice inside said to be brave
as I split the town
and so I chanted a new psalm,
“...up for down, heel for crown.”

_________________________________________

Credit

Frédérique Gnaman – violin
Jacob Eli Goldman – bass guitar
Michael Ljungh – cello
Alex Mazzaferro – voice, acoustic guitar, piano, mellotron, rhodes, electic guitar, keyboards, shaker
Wil Mulhern – drums
Track Name: Cage of Canaries
Cage of Canaries

A century in a desert.
The heat had burned up the days.
Groping ’round in a warren, my wounded knees.
Then parting curtains of tall grass—
cicadas buzzing harsh and electric—
to a raw dawn metropolis, desolate and strange.

And I’m wandering, maundering, pondering my place.

Exhausted folks in a ravaged landscape,
death-obsessed and hemmed in by desire,
a gnawing spirit, content with illusions—
the drowsy masses, the disenfranchised.
I saw the language had fled them, but I was nothing alone
so I kept my collar up and my black brute heart cold.

And I’m muttering, stuttering, fluttering clipped wings.

The city fathers assembled. I met its daughter outside,
a self among the anonymous with chestnut eyes.
I’d bundled my blues in a
handkerchief on a broken broom.
She’d locked hers away in some
dresserdrawer in a yellowed newsprint
tomb and stayed mute as a ruin.

But now they’re profiting, gerrymandering,
slandering to keep me away.

I walked alone by the factories.
Warm concrete wash underfoot.
A barren road had diverged
and I’d tried to stay to the fork.
But compromise has worn out its welcome;
I’ve no solongs in my mouth. Still,
if what I know doesn’t kill me,
what I don’t surely will.

And so I’ll hesitate, vacillate, and falter,
unfledged, under all that dead weight.

The ghosts all rattle their chains on the sidestreets,
and what I need is a miner’s lamp, a cage of canaries.
See, I got turned around—lost the trail of crumbs
I left for myself on the journey out.

_________________________________________

Credit

Frederick Chu – cello
Frédérique Gnaman – violin
Jacob Eli Goldman – laptop, piano, reverse
Rob Hallberg – clarinet
Alex Mazzaferro – voice, acoustic guitar, typewriter, floor tom, electric guitar
Wil Mulhern – floor tom
Sinai Tabak – flute
Track Name: Le Loup-garou (No no no...)
Le Loup-garou (No no no...)

I pivot and pirouette
on a grave and perilous precipice—
half boy, half beast.
I take stock,
photograph myself once a day
to see if I can see it happening,

and I howl to the milky moon (no no no...),
and I cry to the sun at highnoon,
“Where do I go? When will I be there?
and how will I know? What price salvation?”

And I grow fitful and chaotic as the Market.
Copper coins smell of dried blood:
a savage transaction.
Well, I exclaim to passersby,
“I built this house, locked
the Devil in the cellar but he escaped

and I quailed, lost heart,
and I flinched, lost faith
in clean gravity and the one times table,
in the dictionary and a silverlined tomorrow.”

Now my chest beats a frantic tattoo
and my fangs grind, euphemistic...
progress, expansion, maturation ::
corruption, destruction, deformation;
oh, ambitious, enterprising, patriotic up-and-comer ::
predatory, avaricious, jingoistic opportunist.

The bottomline looms large above (laissez-faire...),
and I watch as my hands do what they want.
I got these chewed collarbuttons,
and I don’t know where they came from.
I got this dark place in my mind
where I’ve seen just how it ends.

And this machine is unstoppable.

_________________________________________

Credit

Frederick Chu – cello
Jacob Eli Goldman – piano, bass guitar, drums, synthesizer, hand claps, noise
Noah Goldman – electric guitar, pedal steel
Alex Mazzaferro – voice, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, mellotron, rhodes, hand claps, trash can, television, noise
Wil Mulhern – drums
Track Name: Muzzled, Maddened
Muzzled, Maddened

Your camera eyes,
my typewriter mouth...
It’d finally happened:
I was stifled and gagged.
The Old Guard’d bound my maw up

with all that indirection
and pissing where we drink.

And it burned on the tip of my tongue
as I tried to look in all directions at once.
There was so much that I had wanted to tell,
but thorny asterisks had blacked me all out.

Hushed and suppressed
amid criers and catamarans,
dotted and dashed,
muzzled, maddened
by the prattle pouring out—

perverse as two facing mirrors—stranded at
sea in a surge of white noise.

And it burned on the tip of my tongue
as I tried to carve out a new idiom.
There was so much that I had wanted to tell,
but dead translation was impossible.

I’ll hum a trammeled lament,
broadcast it any way I can.

_________________________________________

Credit

Jacob Eli Goldman – drums, bass guitar, rhodes, synthesizer, tambourine
Alex Mazzaferro – voice, electric guitar, rhodes, mellotron, keyboards, shaker
Julian Veronesi – voice
Track Name: Blood Brothers
Blood Brothers

Word spread like prairiefire:
a sit-in, a draft riot. I
reclaimed the thunderous voice in my gut
and called for a slowdown, a strike.

And I don’t need the fear of God to keep me good.

We roused the sleepers
playing possum in the basement,
checked and balanced. “Brokers
have broke us for the last time.”
Stockstill and blearyeyed,
the upright caused a downtick.
Bayonets clashed,
striking sparks—a synthesis.

And I don’t need the rule of law (to keep me good)

’cause we’re huddled close like blood brothers
burning paper, cutting fingers.

A conscious crowd
gathered in the townsquare:
men and women who’d readily
trade places with the dead.
“The ‘Commonwealth’ rings
hollow as the Liberty Bell,”
I shouted from a soapbox.
“So take a coarse hand in your own.
This only works if we’re all in...

if we’re huddled close like blood brothers
burning paper, cutting fingers.”

Press and pulpit
were worked into a frenzy,
sputtering swill and moonshine,
cant and partyline.
And the bigwheels, the magnates
held a blacklist filibuster—
loud yellowbelly bragging
followed fallout of our barnstorm.

We wiped the record, spoke in argot,

and we marched out proud like blood brothers
burning paper, cutting fingers.

And the Man said, “Remember, boy,
every dog has his day—and his dayafter.”
But we stood up tall like blood brothers,
burning paper, cutting fingers.

_________________________________________

Credit

Jacob Eli Goldman – synthesizer, drums, voice, hand claps, modular synthesizer patches
Chad Jewett – programming
Alex Mazzaferro – voice, rhodes, piano, mellotron, organ, keyboards, electric guitar, bass guitar, marimba, bass drum, hand claps, drones
Track Name: Soothsayer Said
Soothsayer Said

A greyhaired man
wincing down the dirty sidewalk
into the teeth of the wind, muttering glossolalia

at the ragged newspapers blown by.
“You will make your mistakes,” he cried from the
washedout place behind his blind seer’s eyes.
“Yes, the Mark of Cain is still tucked away inside...”

(You can’t go home if you want to;
you’re too choked to say when you first knew.)

So the soothsayer said
and I gripped your hand in the phonetic torrent,
all damp and trembling—a painful prophecy, a poisonous portent:

“...like a pigeon who, hovering and shuffling wild
under tarpaulin like a deck of cards, grew proud
and thought he was a hummingbird, gone haught,
and believed he could escape the curse of his kind.”

Well, it was just as he said. The villagers
were coming out with pitchforks and torches,
resolved to burn a witch—hissing, hungry, for an execution.

“The flames will dance and lick our feet and thighs.
It will hurt at first but will pass like nightmare nights.”

“No, we’ll run again from these rituals and rites.
Like two brokedown birds we will make our frenzied flight.”

_________________________________________

Credit

Frederick Chu – cello
Frédérique Gnaman – violin
Jacob Eli Goldman – bass guitar, rhodes
Trevor Johnson – voice, radio
Alex Mazzaferro – voice, piano, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, tambourine
Wil Mulhern – drums
Track Name: Twin Con
Twin Con

[Instrumental.]

_________________________________________

Credit

Jacob Eli Goldman – piano, modular synthesizer patches, field recordings
Alex Mazzaferro – keyboards, effects
Track Name: The Frontier
The Frontier

We couldn’t stop our jawing about the Frontier.
Up all night, dreaming up an “out there.”
Romanticized a space and time
and told ourselves it would get better;
our raw youth overspilling the sides,
we drove that boundary westward.

We never even noticed the current pulling—
dragging us through shallows thick with reeds—
until we reached the estuary
of that wild, pacific sea.
Then we scratched our heads and gazed back at
the smoldering paths we’d fought to exceed.

What have we done?

Sometimes I wonder how we could have expected
anything different to come.
I dug your grave with my bare hands
and then I climbed down in there with you.
The soft earth warm and moist around...
we’ve finally reached an ending;
we’ve finally hit the horizon;
we’ve finally breached the Frontier.

Fullcircle globe: the New World was old
before it ever was born. And my favorite tales
are the ones that we wrote and then forgot that we wrote.

Tarot and ouija told it all before—
twin con: nostalgia and hope. And my favorite tales
are the ones that we wrote and then forgot that we wrote.

_________________________________________

Credit

Tim Donahue – trumpet
Jacob Eli Goldman – piano, double bass
Noah Goldman – pedal steel, electric guitar
Alex Mazzaferro – voice, acoustic guitar, cymbal swells, harmochord
Wil Mulhern – marching bass drum
Julian Veronesi – voice
Track Name: Paused On The Threshold
Paused on the Threshold

All’s grey. I'm paused on the threshold. Feels familiar and foreign, damp and desiccate, empty and crowdedfull. It's all about to happen. Neither passed nor yet ahead. Neither here nor there, now nor then. And we’re just waiting, unanxious, inbetween.

It’s all about to happen—been so for a while now. And I know I’ve got a choice, and I know it doesn’t matter. I’m backed into a corner, and I’m bucking on the dirtfloor, and I’m kicking through the stall. It’s all before been written, and yet the book’s in my possession. And I’ll come up with my prediction once I see it proven right.

See, I was standing at the yawning gap between what’s said and what is, laid out bare before me. And when I saw you, I knew that you knew too.

I suppose we got taken in. Somebody selling snake oil, hocking nostrums—a pair of shills waiting in the wings. He talked real smooth, but nothing would grow. Just tare and vetch and darnel and fool dreams: a look cast back or shot forward, but never aimed humble at the momentary ground we stood on. And now our bones are bleaching out there in the sun.

Someone needed to stay behind, but I couldn’t.

Life’s an obligation owed, and we’ve paid our deathdebt. And I was glad to do it by your side. And now I’m glad to be static, suspended, hiatic—and I’m glad not to have to choose. It’s funny the things I haven’t forgot: a ship in a bottle and the smell of rain and the echo of my voice down our well. Can they be so far? Can you not still hear them breathing?

Out beyond the dappled haze of this neutral waste—dark and light—I believe I see, in infinite row’d fields, a million amaranths sprouting. And now I can’t remember so good, and we’re lying down again, and I’m nodding off with a head full of liminal blues, setting to spark whole spectrums of color that leap dizzy against the black curtain of my mind...

And I am not me, and you are not you. And I’m glad not to have to choose. And from the first moment I saw you, I knew that you knew too. I knew that you knew too.

_________________________________________

Credit

Jacob Eli Goldman – drums, piano, effects
Alex Mazzaferro – spoken word, piano, prepared piano, marimba, delay
Track Name: When We Dead Awaken
When We Dead Awaken

Returning to that house,
a crisp reborn morning.
Heaps of ash around,
a nail to snag your clothing on,
broken glass, battered frame,
cracked links in the Great Chain—
that glorious Decentering:
attic and cellar made one again.

Collapsing on itself,
the superstructure razed,
topdown and bottomup,
restored to some original state.

And it broke through to the cipher,
to the zero, to the end,
to the first day, to the last one,
to the answer, to the question.
And the ground was finally levelled,
and the halves were reconciled;
and the straightlaced ladders buckled,
and they met there in the middle.
And I’m so glad we could do this,
could come back here to this place,
could pay penance and remembrance
to our forebears, to our history.
It was holy to bear witness
to the uprise and downfall—
restitution, revolution,
ascension, demolition...

And we walked that scene together,
resurrected in our love,
and the Epilogue was calling,
but Time’s hands were, briefly, bound.

And as the whirlpool walls rose and fell,
and as the foundations grew new all around,
and as that house sunk in on itself,
a raven and a dove spiraled out.

Turn the page. It’s okay.

_________________________________________

Credit

Frederick Chu – cello
Jacob Eli Goldman – piano, bass drum, bass guitar
Alex Mazzaferro – voice, acoustic guitar, piano, electric guitar