Life is an equation. And the Denver band, The Life There Is swims in all its parts. In larger units – we call these parts days. Smaller and tougher to digest we sometimes call the parts hours or seconds. Whichever unit of measure you use – every moment builds atop one another in one seemingly linear, streaming manner until they all equal: Here. Now. Today.
The Life There Is, Jim Cleveland (Bass, Sample Beats) and Larson (Guitar and Vocals), have managed to find a way that keeps them here, now - in those small moments. For both of these musicians, life is not entirely complicated. It is simple. It is about moments. And in music, you find this notion's easiest analogy.
As the here and now is the sum total of its miniscule historical parts, so too is the expansion and cultivation of the loaded and varied facets that comprise The Life There Is. Having spent a lifetime creating practices that have culminated in their musical explosion project, The Life There Is is an outfit that is not shy about spanning all spectrums, from electronic beats and electric guitar, to the organic – in composition and instrumentation.
But as we're striving for clarity, let’s state the necessary caveats: Cleveland, nor Larson, are mystical gurus intent on preaching about the practices they have implemented. Likewise, The Life There Is does not take themselves too seriously. In sitting over a table of several drinks with them it’s not difficult to come to the understanding that these two guys are interested in the simple things: In staying true to their word and staying away from anything that smells like bullshit. However, don’t take their raw humor or wild smiles for the misunderstanding that they don’t take their music seriously. On the contrary, The Life There Is creates their textural landscape with an earnest and solemnity that is at once refreshing and powerful.
In all, The Life There Is presents an authentic sampling of the self in momentary eclipses.
The best illustration of this idea of a fragmented dimension to daily life can be seen in how Cleveland and Larson share responsibility for the songwriting duties. Literally they break down everything into seconds, minutes and hours to see how each is different. And it is in their songwriting where the alchemical manifests itself, enabling the band mates to capitalize on the fluidity and flux of the given moment. Everything, from the spatial compositions to the textures and layers to the lyrics and vocals are all created with the fuel of presence – that kind of drive which is dictated by what is coursing through them in that particular instance – when the lyrics need to be written, when the guitars need to be laid-down.
Don’t misunderstand. For just as life’s equation and subsequent conclusion is drawn – there is nothing haphazard about The Life There Is.
And you can hear it. The band’s compositions and lyrical content are thick. And while brilliantly simple in essence, The Life There Is will give you every expression of a layered geologic band of textures in a way that is uncommon. To draw the analogy in clay, it’s as if Cleveland and Larson take a mold and contort it into every possible amalgamation, taking snapshots along the way – saying, this is what it means, “Ok.”
And while their music is complex and hearty standing in your face, its aim is simple. Often, Larson repeats vocal phrases, beating them in succession like drums on the final curtain call. Here, the analogy of simplicity and base creation is exemplified in the band’s song, “Ok”. A tune that is the band’s staple – a gorgeous, swirling flame shunned in the face of a torturous windstorm – it was also the first song that the band wrote together. And like the flame that won’t be beaten back by the wind, or anything else, it too has endured and remains one of the most alluring pieces that the band performs.
Several years into it now and the band has evolved from “Ok”. Its sound is more aggressive, not with the overtly machismo misunderstanding of what it means to be hard and tough with tattoos – but rather, Cleveland and Larson have a much more complicated understanding of how to draw-out a notion of aggression through everything entirely beautiful and without presumption or pomposity.
Listen, and you will be okay:
This is personal. This moment. Here and now. If you wandered off between then and this - you might have missed the most important thing that you have ever faced.