Deep in View is the debut album from former Ought members Tim Darcy (vocals, guitar) and Ben Stidworthy (bass) alongside Evan Cartwright (drums). Titled after philosopher Alan Watts’ anthology of the same name, the record is built on a foundation of elegant guitar grooves and knotty rhythms, offering commentary on modern life and technology through curious lyrical vignettes, where quotidian objects and scenes are never just as they seem. Deep In View is equally a product of introspective songwriting as it is a consideration of the abstract landmarks of an increasingly media-mediated society. It also presents the most concise and melodic songs Darcy and Stidworthy have written to date.
“I love when I find a record that has many different angles from which it can be approached,” Darcy explains. The band’s affinity for polysemy is first-and-foremost a chord struck in the name Cola, which most obviously is the fizzy beverage that Darcy deadpans is ”bound by laws older than man to poison most ordinary life on earth” in closing track “Landers”, but also can be traced back to a term in poetics as well as an acronym about social security that refers to “Cost of Living Adjustment”. Cola is also about drinking in the endless crispness of a streamlined (and streamed) world, and the often unsettling sense of satisfaction and emptiness that subsequently sets in. Fundamentally, this record is about passion and what happens to a person when they find themselves increasingly encountering a passionless landscape of consumption. This peeling back of layers is integral to both Cola’s mindset as well as their worldview, which despite a claustrophobic time in the making sees them joyfully exploring new realms as musicians.
Cola started collaborating in fall 2019 when Darcy and Stidworthy, both formerly of Ought, reached out to their friend Cartwright, who they had frequently met on the road while he was drumming with various other projects. “It wasn’t the post-Ought band right off the bat,” Darcy says, “we really just took time to enjoy the process of collaborating and writing songs together.” The band’s organic chemistry solidified quickly after a few sessions of jamming in-person. Then, as the pandemic began, they were forced to decamp and write songs separately. Working in solitude ended up becoming a “defining color as well as a barrier” to the album, says Darcy. He notes that he wrote the lyrics to “Fulton Park” as a “dream landscape”, a sort of alternative to the frustration and depression he was experiencing at the time.
The imposed isolation of writing at home led Stidworthy (who helped compose the album’s guitar parts and plays the piano on “Landers”) to “create little worlds with the songs”. The keen brushstrokes of all three members combined feels languidly tactile, replete with profound meaning that is almost archeological in its sense of economy and personal touch. This sense of relaxed exploration could only occur because of the mutual trust between the trio: Stidworthy adds, “I could go really far in cultivating a mood for a demo and send it to them and know that it could only improve.” Meanwhile, Cartwright (who also plays guitar on the project and coded Supercollider synth parts in the studio), found that he was subliminally incorporating drum ideas and patterns from when he first started playing as a teen, embedded deep in his muscle memory.
The resulting record delights in its aversion to superficiality. Although Darcy’s characteristically wry voice remains front-and-center, shifting from decisive to distressed and detached, his lyrical invocations remain only the first key to a much more intricate universe of sound and longing. Individual tracks often feel like small revelations, and each element contributes to a streamlined and yet poetically expansive set of meanings, as the rhythms of the punchy and exuberant guitar parts, urgent basslines, and unexpected drum patterns all tangle with each other in an elegant dance. Much greater than the sum of its parts, Deep in View is an album of artful and energetic post-punk that sparks novel interpretations with every listen, like an object that takes on new shape with each angle from which you hold it.