Published Aug 20, 2013Now that we've all had a chance to hear No Age's An Object, fans have probably already passed judgment of the duo's latest album. But as the band's Randy Randall points out, there's an in-depth concept behind An Object that occupied the group's thinking during the album's making.
"There was a lot of lyrical inspiration for Dean [Spunt], in a lot of ways, when approaching this record," asserts Randall in a recent Exclaim! interview. "I can't speak directly for him, but I think the idea was that he was really turned on by this idea of physically making something, the idea of production and almost architecture and sculpture; how things can be created that would fall in upon themselves. The song as a structure, as an object, a physical thing, with a bridge; really taking physicalization to the furthest, most grotesque, outlandish reach of that."
The twosome posed themselves questions to consider: "What does it really mean to create something like a song? Is it like creating a building? And if it's a building, it's a space that can be inhabited and destroyed. Then, can you abstract out this idea of the construction of a song? Or constructing an album? These things became lyrical content and production notes within the creation of the album that, at some point, would feed back upon itself."
An Object wasn't, he concludes, "a clean, glossy album. It was a very rough, naturalistic sort of construction." But, of course, that doesn't mean the album is academic — "It's still, for all intents and purposes, a record to be listened to; we wanted to make fun songs and a fun album," maintains Randall — so the duo refrained from explaining their methods in in-depth liner notes.
"This wasn't a homework assignment, where the album needed to come with all the notes explaining where everything came from. We talked about that, but we kind of felt like the listener's imagination... they didn't need to know where everything is exactly."
He cites Beefheart: Through the Eyes of Magic, John French's tell-all account of working on Trout Mask Replica, as an example of too much information that, he says, "really bummed me out. Actually reading his account, as someone who was there, it just got really depressing. It soured me on so much on the idea of hearing it directly from the source. There's something nice about the mystery of an album. Things can come across your plate and you can just go 'What the hell was that?!'"
Instead, he and Spunt kept the insular details to themselves: "It's only interesting if you care," he explains. "Dean and I both care, and we've been nerds to the point where we've both worked in record stores and have collected records. So to go through the whole process, there was a lot that we learned. It gets into industrial design, [like] the millimetres of the spine. We had the same spine for the CD and LP package: how do you shrink those impressions down so that it would fold right and not flip back up? Really getting into it. It was fun for us to get our hands dirty. It was nice to understand the magic of how it's all made."
An Object is out now on Sub Pop. Listen to it below.