Hotel Neon – Context
Release Date: 01.05.17
This album was written as a way to test how well a song’s intended meaning translates to a listener. We’ve received many comments on the personal impact our music had on many people…at a certain point, I began to grow curious of the translation that was taking place. Many opinions and interpretations were offered for the same songs – that’s fascinating to me. A song can be written in the deepest depths of sorrow; and yet, a listener might interpret it to be celebratory, joyous, etc. I grew fascinated by the concept of “intended meaning” and “translation” in music, as well as the reasons behind a listener’s interpretation of a song. What was causing such a variety of interpretation? The only thing that kept popping into my mind was the word “context.” Context is arguably the only thing that gives a song its meaning in the mind of a listener. No matter how utterly gut-wrenching a song may be, if it is played before an inherently happy or optimistic person, it runs the chance of being interpreted as “emotional” or “epic” or the like, but it won’t resonate the same way it did for the writer. Further topical investigation led me to the writings of Walter Benjamin; specifically, his essay “The Task of the Translator.”
Benjamin argues that “no poem is intended for the reader, no picture for the beholder, no symphony for the listener.” While I can argue certain facets of this claim, and am not entirely convicted one way or another about how true it is, especially in our “social media” age so infected by audience-centric thinking, what I can’t argue is Benjamin’s subsequent claim: that “even words with find meaning can undergo a maturing process. The obvious tendencies of a writer’s literary style may in time whither away, only to give rise to imminent tendencies in the literary creation.” The more I mulled this over, the more it resonated. Just as words, prose, and literature undergo a fundamental change and maturation over time, so does note and song. Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” sparked riots at its debut in Paris, but today it is lauded and respected as a cornerstone of modern music. Varies, Boulez, Stockhausen, Malec, etc… all of them have more or less transitioned from revolutionaries at inception to historical place markers in the grand scheme of musical history today. Time, place, language, and an enormous amount of other factors directly impact the translation of an artist’s message to the receiving party. Context might be the only universal truth in music.
And so, in the spirit of honoring the power of contextual cues and lenses on the musical translation process between artist and listener, we set about the task of creating an album as open to context as possible. This is a theme we had previously explored with other projects (i.e. “Forms” by The Sound Of Rescue), but never with so much awareness and personal experience driving the endeavor. “Context” is an intentionally minimal experience and although the intensity of the tracks ebbs and flows, it is equally at home in the background and foreground. This is an album ready to be enjoyed and appreciated in any circumstance or setting, and we await the interpretations. – Andrew Tasselmyer
Music written, recorded and produced by Hotel Neon
Textures and arrangement on “4:10 AM” by Takahiro Yorifuji
Vocals on “6:59 AM” and “8:30 AM” by Lacey Tasselmyer.
Mixing and additional production by Matthew Kidd
Mastering by Taylor Deupree
Artwork by Nieves Mingueza