Briars of North America ~ Veins and Arteries

Veins and Arteries

Released on December 21, 2023
CD, Digital

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  1. Veins and Arteries
  2. Dhalgren
  3. Bellow
  4. Jonah
  5. Private Music
  6. Liza Jane, Part 2
  7. Oh How Wide


Originally released September 25, 2015

Briars of North America’s album veins and arteries is folk music from an apocalyptic future. The songs weave together mythologies, biblical verse, and dreamscapes of temporally distant worlds. They ask questions about where we come from and where are we going.

We had envisioned this album as as a collection of allegories and fables, retold by bards from an apocalyptic future, casting the present moment in a mythical light. Each character sustains a certain grim and holy virtue amidst the collapse of decency and hope. i.e. Future Boy (who lacks veins and arteries), the despondent visionary Liza Jane, the hapless prophet Jonah, the keeper of the Fire in “Oh How Wide”

Some might be tempted to call it post-Americana. The narrators of these songs might sound like Christian Zionists. However, we don’t buy into either philosophy.

As I re-listen, though, I do realize that the song-myths on this album achieve what we set out to do. They carry that essential will to survive as civilization crumbles, that sense of carrying an ancient torch forward into the gray and beautiful unknown.

I wish I could say the world feels the same as it did a decade ago. In fact, it feels worse. Back then, we sang about the apocalypse. Today I sometimes wonder if we’re living through it.
— Jeremy Thal, December 15, 2023

Here is our song-by-song guide:

VEINS AND ARTERIES The first song—Veins and Arteries—was originally called Future Boy, a child in a robotic or digital, cloud-based future who no longer has blood or bones, and doubts if he is really real, but still seeks love.

DHALGREN Dhalgren is a reference to the 1975 dystopian sci-fi novel by Samuel R. Delany, but the story isn’t really related to that book. Instead, it’s about a “dream of a dream” in which some end-of-the-world shit is goes down. I’m still not sure of the details. For me it’s sung to a queen, perhaps from the point of view of her son, amidst great calamity, and ten years later, these lines resonate:

I watched as the armies of good and evil… A force of metal fills the sky Putting out any idea of peace, why

BELLOW Bellow is a portrait of a wandering hobo, following in the footsteps of Jesus–not the mute Jesus stuck in churches, but the unruly wandering Jew of the gospels and apocrypha, one who appreciates the “use of the useless” as would one of Zhuangzi’s wandering Daoist sages: Now many men might scoff and say A hobo’s life is throw away But what is the price they’d pay To have his sense of awe?

JONAH Back to the old testament, this song tells the story as it’s narrated in the book of The Prophets.

Jonah gets contacted by the Big Guy, and is told that he has a gig being a prophet, to which he replies “Hell no, the prophet life isn’t for me.” So he escape from his duties by jumping on a ship from Jaffa, leaving for a far-off place called Tarshish.

Sure enough, escaping from God is harder than he had thought, and El Señor sends a big storm Jonah’s way. Realizing that the storm is going to sink the ship and kill everyone aboard, and that it would be a lot of bad karma, Jonah asks the other sailors to toss him into the sea. The sailors are reluctant to throw him overboard, because he seems like a nice guy and all. But the storm keeps getting worse and eventually they agree and toss him into the sea.

Immediately the storm ceases.

Jonah thinks he’s a goner, but sure enough, a big whale swallows him, and he’s somehow able to breath just fine inside the its belly. He figures he might as well accept the prophet gig before more bad shit happens. Then the whale spits him up on land, and Jonah proceeds to complete his prophet assignment in Nineveh (in present-day Iraq), where he spends the rest of his days…

PRIVATE MUSIC Private Music is an interlude in H’reh, aka Gideonese.

LIZA JANE PT 2 This song reintroduces us to the mythical figure Liza Jane who we met as a child in the “Liza Jane” song from our first album, Orisis. In this second tune, she is older, suffering, but still luminous. It’s sung from the standpoint of someone who loves her dearly, but is powerless to help her.

OH HOW WIDE The last tune tells of yet another mythical character, a woman who lives in the wilds outside the collapse of the modern world, and tends a fire, keeping a place where the weary can seek shelter.

All music and words written by Gideon Crevoshay and Jeremy Thal. We made the recordings surrounded by forest in the Hudson Valley.

Basic tracks were done at a friend’s family old house in Ancram in New York’s Columbia County. It was recorded mostly live with drummer Tommy Crane and guitarist Simon Jermyn filling out the band. For the sessions, Simon’s guitar amp was placed out on a porch where we had it both close mic’d and mic’d a few feet back to get the resonance of the valley. After recording for a few days, a neighbor came by to congratulate him on his playing.

It was then completed between two friend’s studios in Brooklyn, where the band was then based. The record feels like a well-crafted ensemble creation, and we like to think the surrounding environs were part of it.

Jeremy Thal: guitar, voice, electric bass, organ, French horn, trumpet, trombone, synths, baritone ukelele, wine glasses
Gideon Crevoshay: voice, piano, Wurlitzer, Rhodes, Oberheim OB-X, harmonium, synths, chanter, wine glasses
Greg Chudzik: upright bass, electric bass, banjo

Tommy Crane: drums, percussion
Simon Jermyn: electric guitar, electric bass
Nathan Koci: additional French horn and trumpet

Recorded at Ancram House, The Honey Jar, Signal Corps Recording, and found sound nation
Produced by Gideon Crevoshay, Arun Pandian, and Jeremy Thal Engineered by Arun Pandian with additional engineering by Devin Greenwood
Mixed by Arun Pandian at Signal Corps Recording.
"Jonah" mixed by Devin Greenwood at The Honey Jar.

Mastered by Griffin Rodriguez

Artwork by Hannah Devereux

Thank you to everyone known, and unknown, who inspired and helped us create this music.