Press Release for ‘ganglian’ by al Riggs, written by al Riggs
I don’t know about what happens when you google “asperger’s” but one of the first things that popped up when I googled it was “can a person with asperger’s feel love?”
I’ve written about mental health sometimes but saved more of the more obvious ones for a rainy day, usually writing them and filing them away (read: putting them in a box and forgetting about them for years). When my partner (now fiance) and I moved I put all the lyrics I had into a 10x10 wire box that just barely contained all of them. One day a few weeks ago I started digging through the box and found some of the songs that were more explicitly about my own frustrations with the stigma of mental health, specifically how autism has been viewed in this country.
There were other songs too, about other things; elderly gay men being forced out of their town due to increasing rent (“silver bears of the northern states”), a parent coming to terms with their child’s sexuality when they finally meet their partner on christmas eve (“frank capra”), someone shutting themselves away to “work on things” and then revealing that oh no it’s been a cult all along (“real repent”), etc.
These songs were put together to form a song cycle/mini-album/ep/what have you called “ganglian”. A lot of the words on the record surround people dealing with a new change in environment or personality.
When you’re given a reason and a medical term for what you once thought was just normal weird-kid behavior, it changes a lot about how you act around other people, and how other people have always acted around you. “Thousands” goes into the practice of mindfulness being exploited and warped, being used to cover up any real problems, being handed pamphlet after pamphlet advertising quasi-therapy over the kind that works.
The album ends with “Fall Risk”, a song about people with mental and physical health issues that, regardless of public opinion and questions about whether one of them could or not, fall in love. It’s a bit cheesy but I feel necessary as well.
The dialogue surrounding mental health is changing. It needs to continue to change. I’ve been asking audiences mid-set recently how many of them have been to therapy. Nearly 80% of the room’s hands shoot up into the air. We all want honesty and we all want rooms to be honest in, with people to be honest with.
The Great Work Continues
Phil makes sometimes quiet, sometimes ear shattering, always pretty and dense records and this one is no different. As big as all outdoors and as small as a small wooden shack, as to be expected. al Riggs
Dance to this all night and then the morning and then the afternoon until your legs turn to noodles or the landlord starts a-knocking on your floor/their ceiling with a broom. Whichever happens first. al Riggs
Landlady live is a force of nature, on record they are just as gorgeous and anxious as they are in the Flesh World. More Nervous Energy for those who like tremendous drumming and proper earworms. al Riggs