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Lawrence English & Lea Bertucci - Chthonic LP

Lawrence English & Lea Bertucci - Chthonic LP

American Dreams Records

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For people on visa in the United States during lockdown, it was impossible to leave and re-enter the country without permanent residency. During that time, my partner’s mother was diagnosed with cancer. My partner could not go home if they wanted to return. We had already decided to get married, but the cancer diagnosis spurred the timeline. One saving grace – our saving grace – was that, with a finished green card application, it was possible to leave and come back. As soon as possible, my partner took off.

In 2022, we got the all clear: remission. To celebrate, we had a party, inviting friends and family, international or otherwise. My mother-in-law had always wanted to see the “American West,” so we planned a trip through several National Parks: Arches, Canyonlands, the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion. At an outlook in the Grand Canyon, I took in the stratification and striation – dear one, I’m coming. And yet, in the face of deep time, in the face of slab upon slab for millions of years, I was most moved by cancer in remission.

Chthonic is the result of long-distance collaboration and mutual considerations. Lea Bertucci and Lawrence English met in 2019 at the Novas Frequencia festival in Rio de Janeiro and quickly became friends and collaborators, driven by musings on geological scale, movements – tectonic or otherwise – of the Earth, and subterranean density and pressure.

Within seconds of first track “Amorphic Foothills,” I am back at that outlook. Cavernous percussion, tension by way of wind and string, duration – something shifting underneath – so much moved, pushed, prodded to get here. Remission. Continental divide. Remission. Strata. Tectonic plates moved before the first cancer cell reared its head, before the coronavirus started thumbing rides at airports, before someone tried to organize sound.

It’s all here – the emotion, the scale, the density, the fear, the wonder, the dirt. I’m at that outlook, groping rock and gray matter. This is excavation. Let’s enjoy this blip.

– Jordan Reyes, 2023