Graffiti Welfare are on to a very real personal phenomenon with the song “Volume.” It’s something that could only happen from the late Twentieth Century onward but reflects an aspect of human psychology and culture that goes back to our most ancient of days. The shimmering tone and ethereal vocals with some fairly funky bass, synth drone and expressive percussion cast a dreamlike quality on the song and the lines “Turn the television on while I get some sleep/Leave the volume up, man it’s the same to me” that open the song expresses how familiar sounds and energies can soothe our minds so that we can get adequate rest. Not everyone but the kinds of people who maybe in ancient times had the habits of being aware of environmental sounds and when those sounds and sense of movement remain familiar their nerves could relax some but when that normalcy is interrupted they shock to awareness. “I’m scared the volume will cut out/While I’m asleep/Next day no voice on the street” speaks to that ancient mindset adapted to a modern context. Even when a television station will broadcast different programs there is a kind of constancy and predictability to the sound level and dynamics that is not unlike the fires going on, the sound of wind in grass, the regularity of water lapping at the shore and so on. On another level the song articulates what it’s like to have a survival mentality where maybe you feel like you have to be hyper vigilant and pin your ability to relax on these unconventional cultural tools that might actually agitate people not saddled with those sensitive instincts. Musically it’s like a psychedelic, moody synth pop song that fans of Nation of Language and Lake Trout might enjoy. Listen to “Volume” on Spotify and follow Graffiti Welfare at the links below.
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