Stream: Geographer, ‘Slave to the Rhythm’

Geographer (Photo by Monica Reyes)

Like a lot of artists, the coronavirus threw Geographer’s plans for a loop. Mastermind Mike Deni announced Friday that his new opus, “Down and Out in the Garden of Earthly Delights,” will be released Dec. 4, rather than this month.

In April, Geographer teased the album by starting at the end, unveiling “When Will I Belong,” a song he originally wrote for a TV show and one that figures to appear as a bonus track on the “Earthly Delights” vinyl release, beyond the album’s 15 tracks spanning 57-plus minutes.

On Friday, he unveiled the transportative album opener, “Slave to the Rhythm,” a tune that begins minimally with Deni’s soaring vocals before a fusillade of biting guitar, chopped vocals and saxophone riffs materialize as accelerants. Recorded with James Riotto in Room B at John Vanderslice’s Tiny Telephone studios in San Francisco (where he lived before a bout of wanderlust landed him in L.A.), the song’s guitar was recorded to tape, which Deni then manipulated by “slowing it with my finger, or removing it from the contact so it skipped a millisecond, giving it that exciting off-the-rails feeling.”

In the album announcement, Deni held forth extensively on the track:

“I think this song is about being an artist, a creator of consumable emotions, a performer. ‘You light the fire, they just watch it burn.’ You have the special thing, but they decide whether to receive it or not. You’re like a bible salesman, surprised that anyone could turn away the gospel?? How could someone not want to listen to this beautiful thing I made?

“But then I compare being an artist to being in love. You have a beautiful thing inside you (love) but it can only be shared with someone if they accept it. And they have to accept it over and over again, in every moment. Just like you can’t live off one good album—you have to get better and better with every one—you have to keep that love alive or they cast you out.

“I think audiences are even more fickle than they have been in the past, and so are partners. Maybe it’s systemic, maybe it’s the content culture, maybe it’s the celebrity myth. Who knows. But ‘you gotta give it to ’em every night,’ cause they have the power to ‘change your life.’ These gatekeepers, however, also have the power to ‘make you mine,’ to turn you into a product that gets consumed (destroyed) in the minds of others. You give your power over to the audience in the same way you do to a lover. They have dominion over you, and often use you like a toy or a meal.”

||| Stream: “Slave to the Rhythm”