All too often in the digital age, the stories behind albums are lost, especially those of instrumental albums. A key is pressed, music drops into one’s account, but there are no liner notes. The concept behind Adrian Copeland‘s latest release is worth sharing. If I Were My Body confronts the self-hatred many men feel about their own bodies, the link to patriarchy and oppression, and the measure against an unattainable standard of beauty. Few men speak about this (“Dude, you ever feel insecure when you watch sports?”), but the thought of the body as an instrument of “gentleness and love” is universal. Copeland seeks to reclaim his own body, restore his self-image, and conduct a healthier relationship with his physical self, inviting others to do the same.
Regular readers are already familiar with the artist’s work as Alder & Ash; this is his first release under his given name. Copeland acknowledges that much of the work sounds sorrowful ~ cello music has a propensity to bend in that direction ~ but he includes brighter tones as well. This being said, one should not expect tracks like “Rites of Sorrow” to be cheerful, and “Sons of our Fathers” is fraught with an emotional resonance that may be different for each listener.
The sweetness of the bow is often offset by the aggression of the thrum ~ an approach that serves the subject matter well. The body is both oppressor and victim, and here the cello serves the same dual purpose. “The Wither and Wane” is like an elegy for perceived loss, as yet unaware that what is mourned may not have been as valuable as one first believed. Our self-image changes over time, and age may push our regard toward acceptance or shame, reviving the pride – or fear – of youth.
Grander themes surface in the eloquent “Sons of Our Fathers,” as string lines harmonize with each other, slow and fast, urgent and patient, the instrumental descendant of Cat Stevens’ “Fathers and Sons,” sadness rising to the surface like unwanted tears. Thankfully, the track’s hopeful notes are too difficult to deny, finding a place in the field to stretch and grow. Enjoying this feeling of safety, the following track invites the listener to dance. As these tracks unfurl, one can sense Copeland’s internal struggle as he builds to a tentative resolution, first apparent in the crescendo of “Rites of Sorrow” and solidified in the peaceful closer.
If I Were My Body is also the eighth and last release in Lost Tribe Sound‘s Salt & Gravity series, another bright stretch for a label that has brought us so much compelling music over the years. One may still purchase the entire collection, or pick up the individual releases at a slightly higher price. We congratulate Ryan Keane on seeing yet another fine series through to completion, and we look forward to the unveiling of the next new project! (Richard Allen)