“Paternal” C20 (Nailbat Tapes)


The dad in me relates to this big time. What parent hasn’t encountered some terrifying event where their child is in danger, at risk in some way, the results of some medical emergency a distant unknown in the face of the unknowable? I’m lucky. I haven’t experienced anything TOO bad. Now let me find some real hard wood to bang on for as long as my knuckles retain their skin.

Matthew Sullivan’s been there. Gone deeper than me, I’m sure. So it should be no surprise then that his daughter, who is now just over two years old, and who experienced “a medical emergency that put her life at risk” the night she was born, is the source material for “Paternal.” Her pulsing in utero heartbeat forms the basis of side A, which is manipulated and imposed upon a tense backdrop (as is the Red Boiling Springs way) that harnesses the emotions of a strained and frazzled extended stay in the hospital. In fact, most of the sounds we’re getting throughout both sides of the tape originated from Matthew’s daughter within the body of her mother, and it must have been an unbelievable task to return to these recordings and work through the events. That he’s able to fashion something like “Paternal” for his daughter is remarkable, and hopefully he can tell her the story in the future while presenting her with the tape he made to honor her.

“Paternal” is joyous, harrowing, bracing, and ultimately tranquil as the danger passes. It’s a fascinating study of a father’s love for his daughter and the unusual expression that it takes. Highly recommended.

Red Boiling Springs

Nailbat Tapes