“Born to Lose/Born to Leave”
(Antiquated Future)

This collaboration between Sister Grotto, aka Madeline Johnston, who conceived it, and Braeyden Jae, who provided “additional instrumentation,” could only have gestated in the dark places where despair lurks. That’s right, this is not an uplifting journey, kids, across landscapes where on the other side you’ll find redemption. This is the unfortunate, sad path blazed by those who have loved too much and met with only tragedy for their efforts. This is long-form experimental catharsis, where loss is channeled into texture and stretched until the continuous cycle of human misery resembles a fuzzy blanket made out of guitar tones.  Are you a glutton for emotional punishment? And if you’re not, why on earth would you listen to music in the first place?

Make no mistake, this is masterful work. “Born to Lose” is minimal and melancholy guitar cloaked in static, representing confusion and turmoil in the face of having to constantly move forward to survive. The mere suggestion of the title that we’re on our own and there’s no way out of the endless wretched cycle of our lives reflects the pensive nature of the track, and the periodic chord resolutions only underscore the heartwrenching drudgery of our travels. There’s no way to win. And there’s no way we can stay here.

Which is where “Born to Leave” steps in, and builds a cathedral of sound to escape. By its midpoint, it’s clear that the point is to get out, to get lost, to give up and burn and rise in a final arc of spiritual glory. It’s time to leave Earth, leave people, leave everyone we’ve ever loved and disappointed. We’ve died, that’s it. Or at least listening to it feels like passing over to the other side, something so truly final that there’s never any going back. Or maybe that’s being a little too dramatic (which is almost impossible given the nature of this tape). Maybe it’s just meant as a paean to leaving in general, moving on, changing, adapting. Even though it’s catastrophic to experience, at least there’s closure. There’s always fucking closure.

The point is, why wallow in misery? This tape, while sad, is also a reminder to live life, and “Born to Leave” blooms majestically over its last seven minutes or so to underscore just that sentiment. It’s a reminder to grab every moment and embrace every second you’re with people you love. Don’t worry that it’ll likely all end in tragedy – such is the nature of life and death, I suppose – you gotta make like Dead Poet’s Society and carpe diem, baby, even though that reference makes me sound like a boring undergrad. Whatever. You shouldn’t buy this tape because you enjoy lengthy guitar drone workouts; instead, buy it because you want to feel again, and then turn it around and make something better of your life.

--Ryan Masteller