Vallidiane

by Ben Scott-Brandt

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about

Welcome to my first solo record! How does it sound?

For most people, these songs might come across as love-songs, and in a way they are, but for me these songs are about suicide and stages of grief.

Valli Diane Brandt was my mother, a complicated being whose struggle with severe mental illness brought her to suicide in 2011. My mom was unsettling and unsettled, from moment to moment a vulnerable child and a menacing force, but she was also my introduction to music. I loved watching her drift off in her mind while playing the piano, and even as a child I was keenly aware of its calming effect on her. She gave me piano lessons, enjoyed reminding me to sing 'through the top of my head,' and let me borrow and destroy her poor acoustic guitar throughout my rambunctious teenage years. Now, after her death, I’m using these songs to actively calm myself, and as crude attempts to distill her essence from my memory and the air. (Flying shards of her wild mind continue to fuck with mine.)

This album is a solo record in the simplest terms: no producer, no label, no band, and no budget. I celebrated that freedom whenever and wherever I could -- writing, performing, recording, and mixing these tunes in my apartment while the neighbors were out and my kid was at school, and asking for help from friends when it seemed convenient. I tried to be open to new sounds and textures, and I learned a lot about some new software along the way, which has made this record a unique moment in my songwriting experience. I only have two microphones, and I did most of the engineering using clunky gear that I found, borrowed, or stole, along with some nicer gear that generous friends gifted to me. That help was crucial. I'd like to briefly acknowledge:

• my brother Jonathan for software, sample libraries, sharp ears, access to the family piano, and juicy details in a couple arrangements
• soulful buddies Erica Lee and MJ for coloring in my sound
• Matt at Amber Lit Audio for re-tracking many of my vocal takes
• Marci for singing in the dark
• Jane for singing amidst upturned mattresses and boxes of books
• Jeremy for the gift of an ancient pre-amp that refuses to die
• Chad for a digital interface and keen encouragement
• Dustin & Jess for lugging a Hammond M3 organ up my stairs
• Andy at Reed Recording Co. for the mastering
• plus many friends and family for their timely critical listening, curiosity, encouragement, and support.

Thank you for listening, for taking a little time to notice this record. It's been a couple years since it started taking shape, but I'm stoked to finally be able to share it with you!

xo
Ben Scott-Brandt
Grand Rapids, Michigan

credits

released January 1, 2015

Ben Scott-Brandt - songs, synths, samples, programming, organ, bass guitar, classical guitar, piano, tambourine, handclaps, vocals
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Jonathan Brandt - synths, programming, vocal processing
Erica Lee Walker - vocals
Jane Stancil-Steele - vocals
Marci Stembol - vocals
MJ - electric guitar

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all rights reserved

about

Ben Scott-Brandt Grand Rapids, Michigan

Ben Scott-Brandt is a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist best known for his work with Ribbons of Song and Bunkbed Nights. He has been releasing tapes and records since 1997.

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Track Name: Follow Close
Shape-shift on the water
Did you ever come here, Mama?
Did you ever stumble and think of me, Mama?
Shape-shift out on the water
Ripple ‘round your sons and daughters
Ripple ‘round the edges of everything
Follow me.

Could you follow close?
Could you follow close? To me?

Don’t back down.
Don’t back down.
Stay with me.

Could you follow close?
Could you follow close? To me?

Drift back underwater
Float out in the stars and comets
Float out in the Mother of everything.
Mama, I’m calling.
Ripple ‘round your sons and daughters
Ripple ‘round the edges of everything

Come on, Mama
I’m waiting for your shape
I can’t hold this
You’re a shadow in my way
Let’s get it over with
It’s over anyway
I can’t touch your hands
I can’t touch your hands
Come on, Mama
Let’s settle down
Stay with me

Could you follow close?
Could you follow close? To me?
Track Name: Helicopter Crash
A bitter rain’s coming down
Your eyes are bouncing light
Like the damp and trampled ground
This bitter rain keeps coming down
It’s drowning everything you say

All along your miracles were glistening in my hands
But I stood up and walked away
Oh I would love you like the water loves the land
But you’ve been lost out in the waves

Now I won’t speak my mind
‘Cause half the time you’re right
But half the time you’re flashing bright red
Crazy out of your mind
What do I have to say?
What do I have to do to make sense of you tonight?

Oh this moment, like a helicopter crash
When lightning shivers through our bones
Oh every hair on me is standing up on end
But your mind’s shattered ‘cross the floor

All along your miracles were glistening in my hands
But I stood up and walked away
Oh I would love you like the water loves the land
But you’ve been lost out in the waves
Track Name: Will We Shatter? Will We Shatter?
What you gonna do about me?
Because I’m trying to be all the things I said I would be
All the things I’ve been trying to be
What you gonna do about me?

You know I’m trying to be me

I’m trying to get over this!
Trying to get over this fear, like
Will we shatter? Will we shatter?
If everything falls apart
Windshield smashed out and the wheels fall off
Your mouth is all talk
“Shut up, ‘cause we’re fucked!”
Does it even matter?

I'm trying to shake this chain on the ground
Sand in my mouth, waiting around to get crucified
St. John-style: my head on a platter, beaming
Mama, come on and stop teasing
Slap my face for no reason?
Why does my blood and the things I love
Always end ass-up on the ceiling?
Pull me apart and keep peeling
I’ll bite your hand while it’s feeding
You could twist my arm; I could cut you off
I’m trying to get over this feeling
I’m trying to get over this!

I’m trying to get over this fear, like
Will we shatter? Will we shatter?
You said it would be alright
But God, I feel like a shit-hole after
I’m trying to get over this feeling
I’m trying to get over this

It’s not gonna work, you and I
All turned around, teeth and knives
Wheels in the dirt, turn it up
Making a muck, shit’s fucked
Monster Mash
You and me, like a car crash

Turn my words into cowboys, bleeding?
Make my face a contestant, screaming?
I’m trying to get over this
I'm trying to get over this

Alright, you said it, you said it would be
Track Name: No One Knows Our Names
When we walk along the waterway
No one knows our names
The wind cuts holes
Shakes our shadows, babe
Draws lines across your face
Smears your color on the lake
Set your feet against my footprints, babe
Let the ripples peel away
We could just give in
We could throw ourselves away
There’s nothing here for us to save
We can bend until we break

Here
Right here, babe
This is where I want to stay
Here where no one knows our names

Now
Right now
Could we let ourselves be here?
No matter how rough it starts to feel, babe
No matter how rough it starts to feel.
Track Name: Salty Sweet
I wake up kissing sheets
Pillow lines all over me
I can taste you in my dreams

Salty Sweet
(I’ve been calling you by name)

I wake up kissing sheets
Pillow hands/lines all over me
There’s nothing
You’re blowing in the wind

Salty Sweet
(I’ve been calling you by name)
Track Name: Flying Forever
Hey, can you see that hawk in silhouette?
She leaves her shadow out in the valley
And she carries on her back the sunset
This glorious stillness

The moon and stars
The moon and stars
The moon and stars
The mother holding her sun-child

They're up there flying
Floating by with no effort
I wish I could be flying up there
Flying with no effort

With the moon and stars
The moon and stars
The moon and stars
The mother holding her sun-child

Can you see me flying?
Can you see me flying up there with no effort?

We could both have wings
We could float up there forever
Hold on to me with your body
Hands and fingers

Like the moon and stars
Be the moon and stars
We'd be the moon and stars
You'll be the mother
I'll be your sun-child.

We're still up there flying
Can you see us flying
Flying forever?
Track Name: I Keep My Hands Up
I have a dream of you every night

You were there, crawling through the sky
I put my hands up
I close my eyes and everything goes white
I keep my hands up
Track Name: Be My Water From The Lake
Brush your hand across my cheek
I’ll forget all my mistakes
Let me look up at the stars, Mama
Let me look into your face

I’ll be squinting at the sun
Letting go of my mistakes
Leaning back into your arms, Mama
Leaning back into the Lake

Pull your blanket ‘round my back
I’ll forget all my mistakes
Let me lean back in your arms, Mama
Let me lean back in the Lake
Track Name: The Great Pretender
How long have I been the Great Pretender?
With a smile for everything
While the pain from which I’m running
Keeps a-coiling around my feet
I try to hide but it swallows me
And it folds my happiness into its teeth

Dangles true love, just out of reach
Dangles true love, just out of reach

Yeah, well, sure, true love could flourish
If I could trust a woman’s hand
But I won’t trust in love if it won’t come back
And my love is stubborn
It remembers every bruise
Love writes its own truth
Tell me when am I gonna convince
My love to trust somebody new?

O my cold love, lay your head beside me
‘Cause you’re the only one I need
Love, I’ll scrub you clean
But, first! I want you to turn
From bitter back into sweet

Be my true love, not just a tease
Be my true love, between my teeth
Track Name: Five Miles Long (There's A Place)
There’s a place that I go when I want to be alone
And it takes anyone
There’s a place in my mind I go when I want to be alone
There’s a place out on the water
Five miles long

Did you ever wanna burn it down, just let it all go?
Maybe we could just walk around in the sand and stones

There’s a place where we can fall apart
There’s a place, it’ll take anyone
There’s a place I’ve got to show you, so good
There’s a place out on the water
Five miles long

Did you ever wanna burn it down, just let it go?
Maybe we could walk around in the sand and stones