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Animal Companionship

by Advance Base

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  • Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    Second press limited to 500 copies. Released by Run For Cover Records.

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  • Cassette + Digital Album

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1.
In memory you’re 17 in your boyfriend’s Econoline at the Aquatorium in Gary A dress shirt & his favorite jeans His hair is long & smelling good The music loud & when he looks into your eyes It was true love Don’t ever let them tell you any different It was true love True love love A month after you left for school he crashed his van & he was killed He had your name tattooed you never saw it You got the call & didn’t cry You blew off class & got the bus They whispered when they saw you at the funeral that it was true love Don’t ever let them tell you any different It was true love True love love & now your dog has got his name You never tell anyone that His memory’s your one constant companion & it was true love Don’t ever let them tell you any different It was true love True love love
2.
I came to Indiana when I was 32 I didn’t know anyone but you I got off of the bus with the one bag I could bring plus the cash I got for the ring You were waiting at the station with a Thermos & some flowers I knew your jacket from your picture The streets were so empty you’d think it was the rapture Our midnight world Just me & you I moved into your apartment It was comfortable for two You let me paint the bedroom blue I started working at the bar You would drive me in your car & you’d come pick me up too Headlights down deserted roads looked like a lunar landscape Our midnight world Just me & you Jesse gave me the divorce when I was 34 I just can’t see the kids anymore That night after closing we opened up some good champagne & we slow danced across the floor That night the radio played Moon River in our midnight world for me & you
3.
Your Dog 03:45
Don’t go down Highland Street all that much anymore but I had to get my glasses fixed Right there in front of the old coffee shop was Walter just sitting where he’d always sit & he was staring in the window & maybe at you or maybe at whomever’s walking him to fetch your muffins & your Sunday papers the way we used to I don’t drink coffee all that much anymore When I do I fix it at home Don’t do the crosswords Sundays I can feel dumb other ways I could never finish them alone Sundays I ride down to the dog park on the other side of town just to sit down in the shade & watch those puppies running round I don’t miss feeling bad & dreading every call The constant screaming dialogue I swear that there were some days it felt like I was only coming around for your dog All those sunny days with Walter chasing squirrels around the park & the way he’d flip when he would see me coming like the way he did this morning with his big old Walter bark Bark bark Bark bark Bark bark Hey there Walter Bark bark
4.
Heater’s blowing in the car over the sound of a college game Don’t know the team names but it’s nice to have a voice on Didn’t mean to drive so far but you just had to get away Walked in circles round the house all day til you had to turn some lights on Stopped for half a tank of gas plus some Skittles & a diet Sprite Could’ve stared at the beers all night but you noticed the clerk was watching Gary’s beautiful at night by the lights of the refinery It’s like Christmas in Nightmare City It’s absolutely shocking What do you call what you are now Three months dry & gaining weight Wondering how long it’s supposed to take before you feel stronger
5.
Brian Wilson, 1960 and Vine Summer kisses In a Pendleton shirt, songs and gentle words Granted wishes When I look in your eyes, I go soft inside And the sound of your voice sends shivers up my spine And at the slightest touch we're in love You and me and the moon In a cool gay bar, where the people are Entertaining When the sun clocks in, we'll still be talking And champagning Underneath the strobe light, we can dance all night I'm a little bit shy, you're easy on the eye And at the slightest touch we're in love You and me and the moon When you look in my eyes, I go soft inside And the sound of your voice sends shivers up my spine And at the slightest touch we're in love You and me and the moon
6.
7.
Rabbits 04:57
Woke up late in a fog Took a pill walked the dog Down Levon onto Birch Heard the sound of the organ inside the church Floated on down to Vine we did a hundred times Felt the leash pulling hard towards a family of rabbits in your old yard The last that I heard you’d settled down in South Bend & married a girl whose folks own the bar that you tend Up above village square Saw some birds huddled there Chirping on power lines They seemed happy just to be with their own kind The last that I heard you’d settled down in South Bend & married a girl whose folks own the bar that you tend & you’d had a baby Maybe by now you’ve had ten But I want to see you again In the park there’s a pine with your name next to mine & the heart that you carved still surrounds us I feel it there always Lily + Michael
8.
Same Dream 02:28
You wake from the same dream where you get fat & to your shock you give birth to your old cat Your neighbor’s snoring Hear the parakeet Sit by the window & stare down at the street Sunrise Grey & orange streaks Thirty more weeks The morning train The crush & sound It’s seventeen stops before you get downtown Your stomach’s queasy with flashes of heat But maybe once that belly shows you’ll get a seat It roars & it creaks Thirty more weeks You check rental listings on your lunch at work You could have a real house if you just left New York A vegetable garden A white picket fence Closer to mom Reasonable rents A happy place for childhood memories Thirty more weeks
9.
Care 03:21
We woke to our neighbor’s cries The sting of smoke in our sleepy eyes & I said baby better get dressed Get the dog we can leave the rest By the time we got downstairs the fire engines were already there & you were shaking you were so scared I held you & kissed your smoky hair That’s when I knew that I could take care of you & when my best friend died from the cancer that ate him inside I got drunk & I stayed that way for several nights into several days For the times I was aware what I remember is that you were there You held my head & I cried & cried You called our jobs & you lied & lied That’s when I could see the way you take care of me
10.
Lily you are the one & only friend I have who in this technological age still has an answering machine You use it to call your dog when you’re away at work just to remind him that he is good & you will see him soon & you can tell that he really listens to your calls because when you get home you will find his toys laid by the machine Coz he loves you best

about

Owen Ashworth’s albums have always been about the human condition, and his latest is no exception. That may sound strange, given that it’s called Animal Companionship, but it’s as human as anything he’s done before.

After hearing problems forced the end of his electronic pop project Casiotone for the Painfully Alone in 2010, Ashworth started making quieter music as Advance Base, releasing A Shut-In’s Prayer in 2012, Nephew In The Wild in 2015 and a slew of tapes and 7” EPs in between. After releasing a 2016 live album, In Bloomington, the prodigious songwriter shifted his focus to his label, Orindal Records, and put his efforts into helping other artists release their music.

This break from songwriting gave him time to explore not just how he makes music, but why he’s driven to do so. “I spent a lot of time thinking about why I write songs and what I get out of writing songs,” he said. “It took a while to get back to writing for myself, unselfconsciously.

“The reason I’ve always made music is because it’s therapeutic for me,” he said. “It’s a way of processing my feelings and understanding my subconscious. I love the ritual of writing a song and performing it over and over again until its meaning reveals itself. It’s the closest I get to meditation.”

The meditative nature of Ashworth’s new songwriting process can be heard in Animal Companionship’s spacious arrangements. Blissful drones and lush synthesizer textures envelop soft electric piano arpeggiations and spare drum programming, creating an almost hypnotic backdrop for Ashworth’s lyrical narratives. And the lyrics themselves have found a new focus: dogs.

“There was a while last year when a bunch of different friends of mine were having problems with their dogs,” said Ashworth, “and even though I don’t have a dog, suddenly I was giving all of this dog advice. I was just thinking and worrying about these friends and their dogs all of the time, and dogs just started showing up in my songs.

“When you explain the relationship you have with a pet, it can sound crazy. We all tend to anthropomorphize the animals we love, talking about them as if they're children, siblings, even spouses,” said Ashworth. “I wrote these songs to help myself understand what pets mean to their owners, how those animal relationships affect our human relationships, and vice versa.”

Unlike the previous Advance Base albums, which were made at home on Ashworth’s trusty 4-track tape machine, Animal Companionship was mostly recorded at Palmetto Studios in Los Angeles with Ashworth’s old friend and former Casiotone for the Painfully Alone collaborator Jason Quever. Animal Companionship still sounds like Ashworth, but Quever’s production adds more depth and clarity than you’ve ever heard from an Advance Base or Casiotone album. The album opener, “True Love Death Dream,” is full of warm synthesizer textures and lush drum machine tones, the kind that sink deep into your soul and take root there. It shows how much time and consideration Ashworth put into Animal Companionship, and how Quever knew exactly how to capture it. From the pedal steel atmospherics of “Dolores & Kimberly” to the densely layered oscillations of “Rabbits,” every movement beautifully frames each song’s narrative. Animal Companionship’s production is expansive but always deliberate, allowing Ashworth to speak volumes through subtle, emotional gestures.

Taken as a whole, Animal Companionship is not just a step forward for Advance Base—it’s the culmination of everything Ashworth has been building for the past two decades. It’s a record that’s gentle in approach and endearing in practice, the kind of thing that only Ashworth could create.

credits

released September 21, 2018

All songs by Owen Ashworth (BMI)
except "You & Me & the Moon" by Stephin Merritt,
published by Gay & Loud (ASCAP)

Owen Ashworth- pianos, synthesizers, samplers, sequencers,
drum loops & singing
with:
Howard Draper- lap steel on "Dolores & Kimberly"
Peter Gill- pedal steel on "Dolores & Kimberly"
Gia Margaret- upright piano on "Christmas in Nightmare City"
Jason Quever- drums on "Care"

Recorded by Jason Quever at Palmetto Studio, Los Angeles, CA
except for “Walt’s Fantasy,” Howard’s lap steel & a few synths
& drum loops recorded by Owen Ashworth in Oak Park, IL
Peter's pedal steel recorded by Francis Lyons in Philadelphia, PA
Gia recorded her own piano at Soundhole Studios in Chicago, IL

Mixed by Jason Quever & Owen Ashworth
Mastered by Matthew Barnhart at Chicago Mastering Service

Dog painting by Jessica Seamans
Lettering & design by Dan Black at Landland

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Advance Base

Melancholic electronic story songs made by Owen Ashworth in his basement

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