All songs written, produced, mixed and mastered by Kevin Ramroop
"All the Pretty Horses" and "Scandals & Animals" produced by Gray Rowan
All songs recorded in my basement
Created with the generous support of the Toronto Arts Council and Ontario Arts Council
Before the Spanish colonizers dubbed it Tobago, the Kalinago people native to the small island off of Trinidad referred to it as Aloubaéra. This name hearkens the monstrous snake from local myth with a giant all-seeing red eye in the middle of its head that was said to live in a cave on the island of Dominica, known as Alloüebéra or Oloubera.
As fleeting as the unwritten folklores from our past can be, so too has the storytelling of our time seemed to follow the same transient path even in an unheralded age of digital preservation. If that wasn't apparent before this year, where time now seems to suspend in air like an old fog that hangs just out of reach, then this pandemic would have finally served as the moment where all notions of temporality, permanence, purpose, and equanimity have all been thrown for a loop.
When I dropped Tropic last August, I was already planning to follow it up with a larger project within the calendar year. Those plans had changed multiple times even before the start of the pandemic, so when the whole world fell still, I finally had a chance to listen to some unwritten, transient stories of the past.
I found mythologies originating from the Caribbean and Indian lands my parents came from, and where the Mississauga Nishnaabeg, Huron-Wendat and Seneca roamed in the forests of Scarborough that I now roam. I found new meaning in sound synthesis, listening to Maurice Ravel's piano animate the water nymphs dancing along the lake in "Ondine" and Baka women conducting a full concert integrated into everyday life using only their voice and the river as drums. I found lectures from James Baldwin and Toni Morrison in the 1970s, dissecting the social injustices of their time with enough contemporary relevance to feel like they were addressing events from today.
I found a cassette, the only recording of video or voice that exists from my family before the 2000s. On this particular night in 1994, my parents just happened to decide to record over a tape titled "Calypso '91" to capture myself singing for them and my brother before bed. This flukey, one-off recording stuck around for 26 years and was sampled for the first song from Aloubaéra. The ensuing tracks somehow follow this same type of enduring spontaneity, mainly comprising one-take recordings or freestyled, off-the-grid arrangements. Sampling a diversity of sound sources from the Greenland Inuit people in 1906, to live field recordings from the Rouge Forest chopped up into drum kits, to myself and my family when I was about 2 years old, this project defines the form and ethos I wish for my art to carry. So much so, that the concept of ephemerality even bled into the marketing and release for this project - in that there was no marketing or release for this project.
I imagined the follow-up to Tropic would be my "official debut album", capitalizing on the noise we were able to drum up last year with the EP and videos. And then, when the world went silent, I remembered that old philosophical cliché, if a tree falls and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound? If an album drops and no one makes an Instagram post about it, does it still make a sound?
The truth is, if a tree falls and nothing is around with the auditory capacity to perceive the vibrations of air left by the tree hitting the ground as sound, then it doesn't make a sound. But it still pushes the air for the forest to feel not only in that moment, but for echoes in eternity. Lost levels always make waves.
Copyright © 2021 Kevin Ramroop - All Rights Reserved.