An Obscure Presence was released in 1999. Except where specifically noted, all work was written and performed by Frederick Moore. Produced by Frederick Moore and Phil Calvert. Painting by Mark Christopher. Photography by Alex Graham and Phil Calvert.

  1. Silver Bell (3:38) 
  2. Sistine (3:46)                          
  3. Waves #3 (3:02) 
  4. Anarchy (4:34)
  5. Rain (3:45) 
  6. Working the Stone (2:30) 
  7. An Indigo Suffused (0:24)  
  8. Frugal (1:49)
  9. Toledo (3:59) 
  10. Unrequited (3:18) 
  11. Midtown Gothic (3:35) 
  12. Entangled (3:41)
  13. A Binary Stone (0:24) 
  14. Ajab (1:12)
  15. Junta Keystone (2:45) 
  16. Cold Wind Blow (3:01) 
  17. Nightlight Mary (4:55) 
  18. Happy Millennium (3:30)
  19. Bonus Track: Waves #2 (Phil Calvert & Frederick Moore) 

Prepared Guitar: Phil Calvert and Mark Griskey

Veterans Day, Fifty-Two, South Bay, CA./ It’s a day off at the plant,/ So Dinah and the girls bus out for the beach parade,/ But by early evening the crowds are dispersing./ They’ve got some time to kill,/ So they find three stools at the bar of the Rendezvous Room./ As Dinah pensively stirs her drink,/ She can feel the eyes from the dark corners of the room.

When Lester sees a girl who lights a match that shows her soft white face/ He makes a beeline for her, and he lays some money on the bar./ She smiles wry, exhaling smoke, suppressing mirth,/ She gestures to the stool beside her and he takes his place./ Lester plays the silent one who likes to smoke and listen. /He buys another round and slowly starts to speak to her in earnest.

Dead trucks in front yards, dim cells and red scars./ He seems familiar./ Cheap flats and shared rooms,/ Covered up in old perfume./ He wants to save her.                    

Time passes and the Rendevous is transposed to rocks and waves down by the docks./ It’s hot and it’s sticky./ Reckless now, she wades into the cool, dark surf./ Lester makes her laugh and laughter makes her daring so she dives into the water and he swims after her./ Walking out in her warm, wet dress,/ Lester’s arm supports her and it feels right.  

Lester takes her sorrow, compresses it to diamonds,/ And hangs them from her earlobes,/ It’s just the way he sees her. /Surrounded by the midnight sand, he feeds her fruit by hand,/ And he fills her cup. She drinks it all./ She feels a cool, dark, silver bell dissolve inside her warm and swelled./ And she thanks him as she sinks into the wet sand.

Awakened by defocused sun/ She can feel the tide moving beneath her./ A dozen other women watch receding shoreline/ Become more and more distant./ They slowly turn away,/ Their eyesfixed on their hands folded before them./ For a moment she imagines swimming home to hot sand,/ But her arms feel heavy and she too is moving slowly./ And the world quietly moves away./ A cool, dark, silver bell.

Venus, its clouds grow wide,/ They silhouette the lunar foreground, a mist of purple gauze,/ Dispersing its rays of harm upon an earth that lingers near giant fires./Inside walls grind hard against the other walls that crack the surface wide./ The mountains disappearing far into the ocean where they settle.

These are thedays of the world,/ And we are like moments tossed/ As mist in the waves of the sea./ We are the smaller fish who feed the ways of the world,/ But still from here we sense the larger timeline./ We do! It comes to us in waves.

“Lead us from here,” they chant in unison,/ “But feed us the world,/ For time and circumstance will beat us to bone/And nerve endings swelling wide,/ So read us your bleakest vision.”/ Meanwhile inside halls/ Surrounded by the walls sustained by laws/ Enacted in the halls wrapped tight by claws/ In uniforms that keep these gates from falling.

These are the days of the world,/ And these are the ways/ They call for things that they feel,/ That can fill an empty place inside whose walls are surreal./ So they try to fill the void with easy time./ They do! But still, they come to us enraged./ (They come to us in waves.)

“Take this rose of flesh,” she whispers softly./ “Fill this cup, perfumed and soft electric./ Sparse but furnished rooms can be replaced/ By flowers worn but giving.”/ This fast pace slows down to lulls/ That punctuate our gaping needs, that I anticipate/ While groping forward to accommodate my bleakest vision.

These are the ways that we know,/ And we are like moments/ Tossed as mist in the waves of the sea./ We are the smaller fish who feed the ways of the world,/ But still from here we sense the larger timeline./ We do! It comes to us in waves.

 

There is a city, it’s formed of straight lines./ The streets they all go north, south, east and west./ The people drive their cars. They come to traffic lights./ They take their turn then they wait for the other guy./ Out on the sidewalk, they walk far to the right./ They get to where they’re going then they take their place in line./ But in my neighborhood, it’s really not like this./ We know a shortcut so we cut through the neighbor’s yard.

But they don’t really mind, cus they don’t really care./ We feel at home in a place called anarchy./ It’s just a neighborhood, where I can be myself./ I go to pray in the church of anarchy.

There is a garden, it’s always pretty warm./ The days are sunny and a soft rain falls at night./ The flowers all grow tall. They stand in straight rows./ They are divided by a path where the gardener walks./ His flowers are all clean. He sprays them every day./ It’s done as soon as the landscaper rakes the ground./ But in the topsoil, when you look very close/ You sense the presence of the wormholes and weeds that climb.

But I don’t really mind, cus I don’t really care/ For colored roses that look so sanitary./ I really can’t abide, a world of straight lines./ I’m quite at home in this garden of anarchy.

We wake at six o’clock. We leave the house by eight./ We drive the same route so we know that we won’t be late./ We hit the same lights. We see the same things./ We make good time cus we know where the arrows are./ We do the good thing. We fight the good fight./ We do our time then we head for the exit door./ Out on the sidewalk, the air is soft and warm./ I feel a chill as I head down the side streets.

I don’t really mind, these dirty neighborhoods./ They give to me what the whole world dissipates./ I hope that you don’t mind, that when you live with me/ In my life I need a large dose of anarchy./ Still I don’t really mind, if you need holding up./ When you’re bruised and thirsting I’ll be your water cup./ I’ll light some candles, I’ll burn some incense,/ But in the end I’ll need your warm kiss of anarchy.

I’ve come to pray in the church of anarchy./ I wanna live in the good state of anarchy./ I’ve come to pray in the church of anarchy./ I come to you with a warm kiss of anarchy.

Marked in mud, footsteps forlorn,/ Embroidering soft the foam of the water’s edge./ A morning softened haze eyesore,/ Beyond the docks you can feel the river churning./ Glazed, a soft emblazoned yard,/ The skies upturned like frost inverted shade./ Swollen, wet, indented bits of ground,/ Receive the seed of smooth, caressing waves./ Patterned lines, abraded rails of track,/ Their quiet engined streaked in dirt./ Cold wind and rust encrusted gates/ Soft wind blows through in mute concern.

And the wind blows down soft in the rain./ Like waves of evaporating light,/ They move through his hair like a ghost./ And their words slowly melt into his skin/ When the wind blows down in the rain.

Knee-high fences frame brown yards./ Milk trucks slow along the puddled curbs./ Wet newspapers thud as they hit the stairs,/ Discarded gloves of garbage men,/ They’ve gathered now and they’ve found a home in small abandoned lots.. Stray dogs roam the alley’s ends./ The tavern backdoors hang ajar,/ Releasing their scent of wine-soaked wood and perfume./ Clouds befall the snows and the mud./ Time dissolves in words that slur but rhyme./ Water washes blood from sidewalk cracks./ Towns dissolve in time occurred. 

    I have a friend who refuses to own a vacuum cleaner. He has never considered one to be a cost effective purchase.  His house is so small, and he so rarely has visitors that the state of his carpeting does not often concern him.  On those occasions when someone is to visit him at home, he pulls out a thick roll of industrial tape and wraps it around his feet with the adhesive on the outside.  He then proceeds to walk around the carpet.  With each step he collects numerous hairs, toenails, food crumbs and miscellaneous particles of dirt, dust and skin.  He cleans house so infrequently, that he has to repeat this process 15 or 20 times before his carpets are sufficiently clear of debris.  It is far from perfect, but in my friend’s estimation it beats the hell out of buying a vacuum cleaner, and after all his house is so very small.

Spent the fall around Toledo,/ Found a room up by the lake./ Played a dive, the “Club Machismo”/ With sets till two, sometimes later./ Started slow but things got better/ Till three weeks in I found my ride./ Crooked smile with hunters eyes,/ Black raven tattooed on her thigh./ She slowly cooked my skin/ Lit cigarettes we placed between our arms./ With two-inch burns of flesh we merged our lives.

My band friends really knew me,/ Still their first reactions threw me./ But her voice did something to me./ “Tune me!” she said “Tune me!”/ She counted three ex-husbands,/ In between she’d done some hustling,/ But she still seemed kind of trusting./ “Choose me.” she whispered “Choose me.”/ I know it! .../ My friends all did their best by me./ I know it! .../ There were some things I wouldn’t see.

Split the band in late November,/ Angry falcon burns the nest./ Stole a van outside of Woodville,/ Changed the plates and headed west./ Made it out just south of Reno./ She turned some tricks outside of town./ We lost the money playing keno,/ Blowing lines and living hard./ She slowly cooked my skin/ Lit cigarettes we placed between our arms./ With two-inch burns of flesh we merged our lives.

Scarred our lungs with clouds of passage,/ Scorched our veins with acid wine./ Filled our heads with lightning/ Till my raven fell from liquid sky./ Curled into a fetal ball,/ She slowly sobs her stifled call./ Toledo, she needs to be in Toledo./ In the glass casino door,/ She sees an angel of the Lord/ and he’s whispering to her,/ “You will go to Toledo.”/ She wants to be redeemed./ Paintings on the restroom wall,/ Voices rising from the stalls,/ Toledo, I’ll take her home to Toledo./ I’ll find some kind of work in Toledo./ I’ll pump gas or something in Toledo.

Electric Guitar: Phil Calvert

At present he is unattached. A year ago he ended a relationship with a woman who had worked temporarily as a file clerk in his office. He discretely waited until her last day before asking her out for an after-work drink. She accepted, and together they walked to a nearby pub.

Three margaritas and two soft tacos later he drove home basking in her chemistry and a level of conversational intimacy rare in his experience. Two days later he called her at home and within a week they were spending most of their evenings and nights together. He was so overwhelmed with pleasure and gratitude that at first her one eccentricity barely registered: You see, she would never allow his to kiss her mouth. When their lips met she would immediately avert her mouth and pull his face into her neck or shoulder.

In all other respects her responsiveness was more than he could hope for, but after a few weeks he began to think of this with some frequency. When he first brought it up she simply denied that this was the case at all. We kiss the time she said. Another time when he pursued the question she laughed evasively and changed the subject. After every such encounter he would back off, saying to himself, "What's it matter? It's just the way she is." But after a few days he would once again focus again on this aspect of their relationship, and he would wonder, "What does it mean? Do I repulse her? Do I not rate in some way, or is it my breath?" So around and around in his head these questions would bounce until he felt a compulsion to approach he once again, and each time her response was enigmatic and evasive, but also increasingly impatient and resentful. So much so that he feared his persistence would strain things to the breaking point. In order to avoid this he resolved to drop the matter entirely, and so,though he never again raised the subject, it was always there for him just beneath the surface. And every time their faces came together he would hope that for once she would not turn her face away, but invariably she did, and never once did their open mouths meets.

During the day his mind wanders from one thing to another, but at night he dreams his sweet, dark dreams.

A brown snow was slowly falling./ A frozen sun was hanging low./ The foam-streaked river’s soothing blackness,/ Across the way a figure strolling, and I watched her./ Her hands were red cold./ I could see her breath floating./ She shivered lightly./ Her arms were wrapped in self-embrace./ Her collar closed upon her cheeks./ Her mouth was moving, her eyes were closed./ The wind exposed her singing softly./ It never even dawned on her that someone might be listening./ I quietly pushed my boat into the dark water./ And so I cross the river./ In the evening guided by her song. Half way! Now I’m the one who’s shivering./ I found my prey in old midtown.

And so I followed slowly,/ She cut through some warehouse yard./ It was here I moved in closer,/ Short of breath, I felt my heart beat quicker./ As she turned a corner,/ I stepped into the moonlit night./ With fear her eyes dilated/ Her skin was pale, her lips bright red,/ Her arms were frozen at her side./ Her face was warm, the air was cold,/ She moved her mouth across my throat./ Paralyzed, there was nothing I could do but look up at her./ And by the time I could move again she had walked off into the city./ So now I cross the river/ Caressing my first scar./ Ten years, but still I wonder/ Who found who in old Midtown,/ I wonder, who found who in Midtown.

He still hasn't bought a vacuum cleaner which hadn't been a problem  until today. You see, he met a woman a few weeks back and things had been going very very well, and she was to have visited his house for the first time today. About an hour before she was to arrive he realized, to his horror, that it had been near a year since he had last cleaned his carpet, and he just knew that their present condition would destroy the positive impression he had worked so hard to create. Time was short and he knew that his usual method of wrapping his feet in industrial tape would never be quick enough, so he devised a variation. He took a thick, new roll of tape and placed it over the heavy coat-hanger, thereby converting it into a large spindle. By slowly turning in circles, he was able to wrap his entire body, including his arms, in the adhesive, In this way he had transformed himself into a giant ball of flypaper, rolling around his living room, snagging up every bit of distasteful debris that had accumulated during the course of the past year. 

Things were going well until he overshot the weight bench and rolled into the closet where he became wedged between the wall and a large cardboard box. He laughed at first, but in the next thirty seconds or so it became sickeningly clear that he would not be able to extract himself. Sweating and wrapped in the filth from his own carpet, he spent the next thirty minutes struggling helplessly. 

When at last her heard her knocking at the door, he still hadn't decided what to do. He could remain silent and later claim that he had expected her at another time. But what then? How would he ever get out. It dawned on him that it was actually possible for him to die like this, but the thought of Her finding Him trapped like This seemed worse than any alternative, so he remained silent and listened as she walked away. Overcome with self-pity he wonders, "Will I ever become disentangled?"

Sometimes I think I’d like to run away and start a life from nothing, with no conception of what I’ve been./ But now I’ve said some things I can’t take back,/ My words are pressed in memories, but they’re words I can’t remember./ Let the cold wind blow./ Take me to some other place where I can sleep and I can dream and start my life anew./ Let the cold wind blow./ Take my tired things away./ Let time and loss of memory bring strength to start again.

Sometime I know I’ll have to start again, find warmth where there in nothing from one who isn’t here./ But now I only know I can’t look back./ Her memory chills my mornings, bare flesh against the wind./ Let the cold wind blow./ Take me to some other place where I can sleep and I can dream and start my life anew./ Let the cold wind blow./ Take my tired things away./ Let time and loss of memory bring strength to start again.

I load the empty chamber with bullets lipstick smeared./ It’s barrel aimed at me exudes metallic baby’s breath./ Harpsichord fingers flick the safety disengaged./ Flesh and metal gently lean into my chest./ Like muffled rain her weapon gently discharges.

And in the moment the lights go off,/ Her darkness magnified breathing stops./ I slowly stretch my arms out wide./ As though I could gather up her blood soaked tears / into the palms of my scabbed and blistered hands.

Nightlight Mary scarcely sleeps through open eyes./ Her body rigid stands, her arms are held out wide./ And in the quiet night her hum is like a sigh.

At the beginning of her third year in high school she had a falling out with her stepmother, and so she moved into a second story place near the river where at night she could hear the factory workers coming in for the eleven o’clock shift.  For weeks she wandered from class to class, always present but apathetic.  The one exception was her world literature class which was taught by a Mr. Cash. 

NowMr. Cash was quite attuned to the concerns of his students.  He was conversant with the music they listened to and with the drugs they experimented with.  It wasn’t long before she began to crave his approval.  She became very vocal in classroom discussions and when it came time to write an analytical paper, the topic she chose was “Albert Camus and His Women: How They Influenced His Work.”

For weeks she worked tirelessly into the night, speculating on how each of Camus’ known lovers might have influenced his writing in one way or another.  She turned it in and when at last Mr. Cash returned it, she found a short note written in red ink.  It read, “Kathy, I need to know more than this.” 

“What was it about these women that most affected Camus.  Furthermore, how might you have influenced him had you been one of them?  Had you seduced him on a given morning, would certain passages from ‘The Plague’ have remained unwritten, or would such a thing have made for a much lighter Stranger? Kathy,  I need to know these things.”

With you would he have become an embittered Hollywood screenwriter?/ And for you would he have stopped smoking all those nasty cigarettes?/ And on his last ride would he have taken a limo instead?/ Like muffled rain I gather up her blood soaked tears / into the palms of my blistered hands.

Nightlight Mary scarcely sleeps through open eyes./ Her body rigid stands, her arms are held out wide./ And in the quiet night her hum is like a sigh.

Her wine-stained nightgown keeps her good and warm./ Infotainment gently pulls her toward the surface./ She already knows what she’ll watch tomorrow evening.

Your life has come to this./ You think of the time when you still felt beautiful/ When you know for the most part that is  over./ What remains is less than time so recently passed./ In the mirrors that hide your walls / You can see yourself getting older;/ Still you remain aware of the millions of people/ Whose lives are but an optimistic impression of your own./ They are less beautiful than you./ They have no money and they are less clever than you./ Still, as they catch the early morning buses/ It dawns on many of them to think,/ "Day Came This Morning."

This is Frederick Moore. Happy Millennium.

Frederick Moore: Voice and Electric Piano                                                                             Phil Calvert: Guitars and Bass                                                                                        Mark Griskey: Drums

Venus, its clouds grow wide,/ They silhouette the lunar foreground, a mist of purple gauze,/ Dispersing its rays of harm upon an earth that lingers near giant fires./Inside walls grind hard against the other walls that crack the surface wide./ The mountains disappearing far into the ocean where they settle.

These are thedays of the world,/ And we are like moments tossed/ As mist in the waves of the sea./ We are the smaller fish who feed the ways of the world,/ But still from here we sense the larger timeline./ We do! It comes to us in waves.

“Lead us from here,” they chant in unison,/ “But feed us the world,/ For time and circumstance will beat us to bone/And nerve endings swelling wide,/ So read us your bleakest vision.”/ Meanwhile inside halls/ Surrounded by the walls sustained by laws/ Enacted in the halls wrapped tight by claws/ In uniforms that keep these gates from falling.

These are the days of the world,/ And these are the ways/ They call for things that they feel,/ That can fill an empty place inside whose walls are surreal./ So they try to fill the void with easy time./ They do! But still, they come to us enraged./ (They come to us in waves.)

“Take this rose of flesh,” she whispers softly./ “Fill this cup, perfumed and soft electric./ Sparse but furnished rooms can be replaced/ By flowers worn but giving.”/ This fast pace slows down to lulls/ That punctuate our gaping needs, that I anticipate/ While groping forward to accommodate my bleakest vision.

These are the ways that we know,/ And we are like moments/ Tossed as mist in the waves of the sea./ We are the smaller fish who feed the ways of the world,/ But still from here we sense the larger timeline./ We do! It comes to us in waves.