Dark Hearts Can Radiate White Light

by The Mark Inside

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about

In late January of 2012, The Mark Inside convened at singer/guitarist Chris Levoir's cavernous and run-down loft space at 652A College St. in Toronto. Chris and his roommates were facing imminent eviction: the space was probably only semi-legal to begin with, and the landlord was planning major renovations.

A plot had been hatched: assemble every relevant piece of recording equipment in our possession, set up the drums in the warehouse-like middle room, guitar amps in the adjacent bedrooms, and channel more than a decade of recording experience into making our band's third LP, the follow-up to 2011's Nothing To Admit. After many frustrating years spent in label & music industry purgatory, we'd decided to take matters into our own hands and record our music with the same fire and urgency with which it was written and performed.

The recording sessions were almost derailed after the first take, on the very first day. We knew from the beginning that we were running the risk of pissing off the neighbours; sure enough, the moment drummer Reade Ollivier's cymbals stopped ringing, there was an insistent knock on the door. Apparently, the customers at the cafe below couldn't hear themselves speak, and we were told to stop. We laughed and apologized, but were genuinely worried that our plans were dead in the water. Chris, however, very calmly suggested that we break for an hour, and then he would go down and speak to the cafe owners. He must have worked that strange charm of his to perfection, because he came back up with a smile and a nod. We were good to go: we'd simply started too early, interfering with the cafe's lunch rush.

Recording continued almost daily for the next few weeks (working title at the time: Exile On College Street). Reade finished all of his drum tracks, 18 songs in total, after the second day (playing through a very painful thumb injury, to boot), with Chris and bassist/vocalist Geoff Bennett playing ghost tracks along with him to ensure the songs retained a live feeling. Reade's work speaks for itself: he plays with a musicality and controlled fury that brought out the best in our songwriting. From there, Chris and guitarist/vocalist Gus Harris dutifully dialed in their alternately filthy and beautiful guitar sounds and set to work meticulously adding layers of melody and noise. After it was discovered that there were intonation problems with Geoff's bass guitar, he came back a few days later, picked up a borrowed bass, and re-recorded his parts on all 18 tracks in one evening; business first, and the beers were getting warm.

While there was a palpable sense among the four of us that we were creating some of the best work of our illustrious career, the sessions were infused with an unsettled poignancy and a haunted quality. Chris' roommate and friend, Daniel, had passed away quite suddenly in his bedroom a month prior. We were all deeply affected by Daniel's death, particularly Chris. He used music as therapy and catharsis, and immediately wrote the Dark Hearts track "Don't Wake Daniel" in tribute. The sense of anguish and urgency that permeated all of his performances was audibly amplified and refocused. Most of Chris' vocal tracks were recorded, at his insistence, by candlelight in the room where Daniel had died. This could certainly be read as a questionably morbid move, but it was simply a genuine gesture of tribute and cathartic release for his fallen friend. The proof was in the digital pudding: those throat-shredding screams Chris was known for were downright terrifying on some takes.

Chris was the Mark Inside's lyricist and voice, and with Dark Hearts he continued to expand on the themes he'd been working with for over 10 years: fear mixed with bravery, victory after defeat, pain and pleasure, love, sex and music. All with an eye toward simple human behaviour, extracting the profound from the mundane. He used to say that he didn't have it in him to write a happy song, though his energy, particularly while performing, was generally boundless. He certainly found personal joy in all music, regardless of its subject matter.

Musically, Dark Hearts Can Radiate White Light is the sound of the Mark Inside at the peak of their powers. The addition of Reade behind the drums brought a powerfully fierce and nimble backbone to the songs we were writing; Chris' and Gus' guitar work is as beautifully snarling and intertwined as ever, and Geoff's bass sails along underneath it all with measured intensity and secret hooks. While a lot of our music has come from improvising and texturizing over simple two- or three-chord progressions, the past few years have seen a much heavier emphasis on songcraft and arrangement. Dark Hearts tracks like "Whatever Doesn't Kill You Can Still Leave You Crippled" and "Balloons" are almost exclusively focused on melody, structure and hooks, without sacrificing the meaningful lyrical prowess to which Chris had dedicated himself from day one.

Needless to say, there are dark and tragically ironic parallels between the recording of Dark Hearts Can Radiate White Light and the sudden, shocking and untimely death of our best friend and bandmate, Chris Levoir, on June 1st. However, he was immensely proud of this record, warts and all. We're all proud of it, and we hope you enjoy it.

credits

released 04 July 2013

Dark Hearts Can Radiate White Light

All music by The Mark Inside
Lyrics by Chris Levoir

Produced by: The Mark Inside
Engineered by: Adam Fujiki
Mixed by: Alphonse Alixander Lanza III at Parkdalian Sound Space
Mastered by: Milan Julius Schramek at Lacquer Channel

Recorded at 652A College St., Toronto (January - February 2012)
Additional recording by Chris Levoir at Horny Goat Studios & Gus Harris at Golden Egg Studios

Listen, enjoy, remember.

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Track Name: Shark Attack (I Can See Them Circling)
I can see them circling
Under the water
They're getting closer
I back myself against the hull
They pick me clean
Leave me with nothing

The heavens hang high over me
Feeling no envy
Watching this ending
I see the teeth and try to scream
Where is Van Helsing
To kill these demons?

No flag to wave no last goodbyes
The curtains calling
The trumpets sounding
Poseidon comes to take me down
To the locker
Where I'm going

I can see them circling
Under the water
The circles closing
I watch in horror the rolling eyes
Oh how their teeth gleam
Here comes the feeding
Track Name: Whatever Doesn't Kill You Can Still Leave You Crippled
Away from everything the view from buildings show
I'm high above the scene scratching through my clothes
The net is thrown at undertones that bring the world to me
Flying so high and sweet
With heavy wings that fan

But you've got it man, the joke's right here, the master plan
And that's just it, you see I quit

Either way it is just how it is
Try to look past the piss and shit
And see the sun where it does shine
Hiding behind the blinking skyline alright
Pieces on the board inside the universal gist of it
You clean yourself the best you can
And stagger through the rest of this shit

I find myself at loss for wording that could show
As generations go and what is left you know
You lucid dream and still can't shake the beast of reasoning
Like knots tied in your brain that needs some severing

But on with the show
Don't drop the ball, scream at the globe
Don't break the spell or kill the ride

You see suspense and riptides occupy my mind and knock me down by clothesline
Watching you as I break down my mind and chew right through all my ties
Stabbing at my sense of pride you hurl down this here pipeline
Catch me at some other time I'll see you all on the other side
Track Name: Don't Wake Daniel
I wish I knew
Everything about you
If I did I'd hold true
And release it
As it is I'm stuck in shit
Staring in at your door frame taped in
We all change
Day to day
At least we think we do

Can't start over again
As the blood sinks in
To the bed that you did lie in
I can't stand the clocks
That roar with hands
Away from your separating
Another lamplight
Another day end
Harming the walls of the beating
And what it is to live is to know you'll die
And not to stave off the end

(If you were here I'd hope you'd say)

All in all, it's been a good time
And I'd still choose to get high
Don't feel bad, for things I'll never have
You don't understand what that means
I don't hate, I don't bleed
Life is more than what you see
It's who you are and what you do
And where you are pointing
Track Name: Dead Heart
Anywhere you go or what you do
My dead heart and I can follow through
Surface once again when you've got the blues
My dead heart and I got nothin' to lose

And the choices that you've made are taunting you
Things that you thought were dead are haunting you

But my dead heart and I got nothing to lose

Treat an open window like an open door
My jaw dropped down and shattered on the floor
My eyes popped out and my brain blew a fuse
But my dead heart and I had nothing to lose

And the choices that you've made are taunting you
Things that you thought were dead are haunting you
But my dead heart and I got nothing to lose

Nothing to lose
Track Name: Pangaea (Before The Split)
Thunder clap flashing lights
Shocks you back to control
Now there's death in your eyes
And regret in your soul

But it's exactly as you planned
Because you just couldn't stand
Your answer to hold your head in the sand
But it will only let you see what in defense you believe
How can you not see
You're just a flash in the plan

Punch clock shooting you down
With bottles lining the walls
So I can perch near the ceiling
And can't believe this is all

Isolated alone
With too much time on my hands
Detecting a glass house stone throw
Wings descend from on high
Stalling blood through my heart
Don't want to remain
Just a flash in the plan

Apocalyptic cattle prod
From the guide that's absurd
But you follow their word
With your head in a trough

Great carcass in the sky
Is the sum of rot dreams
And I have learned to hate
The greasy sheen of us beings
Upright and shitting the bed
Soul escape when I'm dead
Don't want to believe I'm just a flash in the plan
Track Name: The Heat
Maybe I've imagined what's really there
The forecast the beeline and that deep seated stare
That comes and hits me square
Even though I know it must be wrong to feel this way
I know that I'm hanging on

Castrate the minutes of every day
So I can hold on to every second of the pain
And you in my veins
Even though I know it must be wrong to feel this way
I know that I'm hanging on

And I can feel the heat
I can feel the heat heat
It's burning up inside of me
I can feel it coming off of you
Like a dragon breathing on to me
Like the sweat pouring off of you
I can feel the heat
Yeah I can feel the heat heat

I can feel the heat

You know it's wrong but I can feel the heat's on
Stringing me along but I can see what's going on
Divide me wide and break me right open
Lead me to the source of honey dripping thighs
You know it's wrong but I can feel the heat's on
Track Name: Coming Of Age At The End Of Days
Can't stop at all
Street light stumble into dawn
We are caught in cross hairs
As we brace ourselves in this millennium

Coming of age at the end of days
At the end of days

And I----
I can feel the end of time
Am I----
Nothing but a lemming march into line

Coming of age at the end of days
At the end of days

We all just shut our mouths and masturbate until
It all goes away
You come on out of houses just to realize
You're still locked in, in a cage

Coming of age at the end of days
At the end of days
Track Name: Balloons
The mannequin she passes the torch
And her world goes dark of course
No light sinks in to plastic
Anything that you drop trickles down
I'm doing the best that I can

As the bird flies it touches your ears
And the violence made it perfectly clear
But you don't believe it's in you
Anything that you drop trickles down
I'm doing the best that I can

I am gonna let go of the strings
That are holding down balloons
Like so many nightmare dreams

Don't toss that coin, don't put it in doubt
If you need a hand gimme a shout
Until shadows can't follow
Anything that you drop trickles down
I'm doing the best that I can

Oh me oh my I'm so far from home
Let me head into my dreams all alone
Where the whole world is with me
Anything that you drop trickles down
I'm doing the best I can

I am going to let go of the strings
That are holding down balloons
Like so many nightmare dreams