The Drive (Companion piece to Brightest Night to Memory) By Jake Leech
Brightest Night to Memory is now out in the world to purchase and stream. It’s something i’m very proud of, which baffles me considering how much I tend to freak out over releasing anything. But there is more to the album to me and what it signifies is something I want people to understand. Here is my best attempt at capturing this, as well as a request.
This album represents a time and place. In the summer before 5th grade, I moved to Clayton, MO. Our first house was the upstairs of a two-family flat in the Demun neighborhood. Some people might consider this the suburbs of STL, depending on who you ask. But having just moved from the ‘McManisionville’ that is O’Fallon, this was definitely the city to me. When I say city, I don’t mean crime or scary things, but more that it provided the remote possibility of walking to places in town. Having just moved from O’Fallon, where the kids of the neighborhood would run about and just be outside, I would try to do the same in my new neighborhood. I would skateboard down San Bonita on to Demun Ave and ride to the laundromat to get a soda or candy of some sort. I always loved that the trees that made a canopy over the streets as I bumped along the rocky sidewalk. I felt like I was in a movie where Steve Martin would play my Dad in the 80’s. And even though it took me awhile to adjust to being away from all of my friends, a divorce and a new school, it ended up being one of the greatest things to happen to me.
I really loved the city at night. Anytime my mom or dad would drive us home from a movie, or later on in high school when I could drive myself to a friend’s house, I always noticed the night time. But there was always more there, a strangeness about Clayton. As a city, it’s so small that it could fit on Lambert Airport and still have room left over. If it weren’t in a metropolitan area, it would be a farm town. Clayton is also a wealthy town, but I thought it never showed, at least in the typical sense. Yes, there are fancy restaurants and nice cars driving around and big, expensive houses, but there’s a more organic aesthetic to it that I’ve never really been able to put my finger on. The houses are very old, but well kept. When inside them, most owners choose to keep some of the old charm while mixing it with contemporary amenities. But still, there is something strange about it.
At night, the streets are barren. There is no one around. The city always turns off the standard operations of the stop lights around 9 PM, leaving them all to blink red for the remainder of the night. The city also is always a sort of bronze color at night. Every street lamp leaves the town in a sepia glaze that causes everything to look very dramatic. It feels strange to be in a very safe, yet so eerily quiet area. You feel uneasy, as it’s silence is almost terrifying, yet it’s almost like you can do anything, since you have no fear of anyone seeing you.
I’ve always felt there was something more there. I feel I could blame this on the illusion of the ethereal experience that is being a teenager, but now being 21, it’s still not totally lost on me. Take Wydown blvd for instance: When driven down at night from it’s beginning at Hanley, all the way down to it’s conclusion at Skinker, you drift into what feels like a mystical world. It’s dark and silent with that sepia glow, as you drive through the very wooded area. The comfort of those areas bring me to a . There are many other streets within the confines of Clayton that I cherish and brings me to the ultimate mission of Brightest Night to Memory. I would like to present to you the meaning behind the track list and the sonic journey of what this album means in a real life, visual way. I present to you, The Drive.
The Drive is a thing I discovered on accident. A friend of mine and I were driving around these aforementioned areas and listening to an ambient playlist he had made. We suddenly discovered this house on Forest Ridge Pl that had it’s trees lit in the backyard with multicolored lights, but from the ground to the top. We couldn’t believe what we were looking at. These technicolor trees were like a uncovered secret out in the open. We couldn’t get over the fact that someone so wealthy in a town that wasn’t that creative would do something so interesting. The weird part about it is that you couldn’t easily see it from the street, you had to park the car and stare towards the backyard to see it. So the idea of having the lights on only for themselves seemed even greater. I have returned to this spot many times, and only intermittently have they been on, but when they are, it’s that much more fantastic. We drove heading west on Wydown toward Hanley.
One thing I have always loved about Clayton, is that one second you are in a nearly forested suburban area of 100 year old homes, and then suddenly, you are surrounded by a down town with large buildings and busy streets depending on the hour. Clayton stands as the county capital, as for it holds all of the official governmental seat duties of the county. Because it’s civic responsibilities, having to deal with the law and court systems, they built a jail. And for Clayton, that jail is a multi-floor complex within the building starting at the 6th floor. We have what I like to call a “jail in the sky”. You will see this building once you have passed through the first alley way.
The Drive also explores the alley ways of Clayton and brings you to what I felt was an exploration of the well known while listening to the like of Boards of Canada and K.C. Accidental. As you pass through the alley ways while listening to Brightest Night to Memory, you find your self end up in particular places such as Shaw park, as the song “Shaw Park” begins to play. As you drive down N Brentwood road, the song “Holding” begins, the opus of the album for me, you will see the location of the album cover on your left just after the parking lot of the bank. Even more is in-store as you drive along. Although it is not stated in the albums notes, this is the true concept and meaning behind the album for me. Motion. Memory. Light. Youth. Blur. I can only hope you get from this what I did, as well as have your own experiences.
Thank You. - JL
Brightest Night to Memory is also now free to download for this weekend only: