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If and Only If

by soso & Maki

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1.
in a world of diminished certainties (493) nothing you can say or think means very much (384) the shadow of old absolutes (404) however impossible (299) They exist somewhere between yes and no (448) gestures and almost touchings (273) of what exists and does not exist (485) a quantity of something I can’t describe or measure or prove or disprove (536) —to see everything and realize the best and worst of everything is to love and not forget (520) and music fills the darkness holds me there listening (460) caught in the act of dying (563) edging toward eternity (567) all the way to the world’s edge all the way home (450)
2.
Undone 03:45
Every sweet pastoral scene conceals some untold violence Another world comes undone, there are other words for oblivion (amnesia) The silence of everything pressing in and down and all things continuing on Our homes all built on bones and small unpretending blue flowers A tuft of hair and words dare not whispered A rare but unforgotten language, listen. There are other words for oblivion Another world yet to become In red or rouge, in blue, in black This is not someone else’s magic You cannot put it back Another word comes undone, there are other worlds for oblivion Never been on the wrong end of the sharpened stick 40 some years old and I’m still grasping for that carrot Although I know this failure is mine to own I know I’m not destined to wear it I don’t even know where to begin to repair something so broken but just hope that one day it will all be worth it. And know, I’m acting helpless on purpose when things look totally hopeless I hope that you know this. I won’t hold you accountable nor do I want anything from you. I can’t expect you to know anything at all let alone anything at all about what we’ve been through. Another world comes undone. Listen to the old sayings. Find a way around everything. But know, some days it just won’t rain. In some corners of the world it’s not safe to be born a girl. I hesitate to say that it’s not that way here, either. Lucky for me I got Lucky Lager and 25 cent chicken wings when my brain needs to take a breather. Push pause. There is no need for applause. There is no one here to applaud. There is no one here to even uphold the laws. Forget about basic human dignity. The world will bring you down. You can count on it: it’s physics not philosophy. But when gravity gets too real I won’t let it get the best of me. You’ll find me grasping the bed rails until my last gasp and my heart fails like my grandfather before me. And until then, not knowing when to say when, I’ll just keep walking until my legs are heavy. And my feet my are sore and I’ve worn all the sharp edges off this jagged anxiety. Another world comes undone.
3.
And Yet 04:08
It was almost a beautiful day. And I forgot what I wanted to say. It is not me who is cruel, it’s life that is that way. And I forgot why I wanted to stay. Never wanting nothing more than this. It’s almost five years to the day. Don’t forget it was you who wanted it this way. It is not you that is cruel just things turned out that way. You always get what you want anyway. Always wanting something more than this. And we are haunted by this lifelessness. And I am not a violent man, man hands are clenched in fists. And yet: is this all there is? Listen. I know how easy it could be to just close your eyes when you’re driving down the highway and your eyelids are getting heavy. I understand all too well the allure of just forgetting and the impulse to let go. Just let it go already. The striving, the working worry, the dumb yearning, it’s never-ending. This pretending to be well, it’s own particular path to hell. Albeit one of my own making. Where I go, I go alone. I won’t be taking you with me. Always wanting something more than this. And we are haunted by this lifelessness. And I am not a violent man, my hands are clenched in fists. What have you done?
4.
Is our humanity only a problem to be solved? I wonder. We kind of act that way. There’s no depravity or violence we can’t rationalize away with a clever twist of logic. What’s not to love, I mean really? It was modernity that gave us the Hot Pocket, intercontinental ballistic rockets and R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet. If I sound weary, I am. Weary of painting. Wary of poetry. Creative human achievements, they’re all so petty. Moving a little further along an already dreary road. I’m sorry. I can’t be happy for you, bro. And we all think we’re so interesting. No. Fuck all the striving I’d rather be done with the hard trying, secretly crying on an airplane and not caring about my cousin dying. “Don’t worry about me. I’m fine,” said pretty much every fucked-up person of all time. But I mean it. I’m probably fine. I imagine this is how sensitive and intelligent people feel pretty much all the time. 90 seconds from now this will all be over 12 hours from now you’ll be sleeping in your bed This time tomorrow this will just be a memory This time next year you won’t remember what was said A few minutes later you’ll realize it doesn’t matter And you’ll just go back to doing whatever it is you do But many years from now, when you are much much older This may very well haunt you 60 seconds from now this will all be over 12 hours from now you’ll be resting in your bed This time tomorrow this will just be a memory This time next year you won’t remember what was said A few minutes later you’ll realize it doesn’t matter And you’ll just go back to doing whatever it is you do But many years from now, when you are much much older This may very well haunt you 30 seconds from now this will all be over 12 hours from now you’ll be resting in your bed This time tomorrow this will just be a memory This time next year you won’t remember what was said A few minutes later you’ll realize it doesn’t matter And you’ll just go back to doing whatever it is you do But many years from now, when you are much much older This may very well haunt you 10 seconds from now this will all be over 2 1
5.
Wolf Willow 04:06
We had lived in a dream where everything went right (179) On the disappearing edge of nowhere (24) once white with skulls and bones (99) In the shadowless light before sunup, no disappointments or failures show (301) The limitations of sight We see only what we can see (12) And this is not a beginning, not a new thing, but a stage in a long historical process (29) of crossing that uncrossable discontinuity (53) And an emptiness, which is total, almost frightening (3)
6.
My movements cannot honour this land. I must make myself still. Small. I must make myself smaller still. To not to seek to fill this space but to be filled by it. I know there is no destiny to fulfil. It was a lie. But to try to find graciousness and gratitude in my own graceless movements. I must make myself still. It all looks very different from the sky. Water fills every shallow impression. In every scratch, in every scrape you can trace the path retreating glaciers made. The slow scrape of time upon time. Forces on a sublime scale that are impossible to define. What does 23,000 years feel like? A lifespan fleeting by like the first bike ride of summer. One day, we’ll be gone from here forever. 20,000 years later and it may still be winter. I am a speck of dust, a spot of blood to be rubbed out, a sweet little nothing, a whisper, gone without so much as a whimper. It’s like I wasn’t even here. I don’t want to die on some god forsaken hill. I don’t want to die if I can’t see the sky. Promise me. Promise me. When the time comes, you’ll burn my body and put my ashes in a slow-moving river in Saskatchewan. Put them in your mouth, rub them in your eyes, in your nostrils, under your arms and other places that are warm and convulse with ecstatic sorrow and sleep until tomorrow comes.
7.
What makes a person take their own life? At just twelve years old, that little girl already too old for this world. I mean, it’s not like I haven’t thought about it myself: white people like a good tragedy, like white people like Ikea kitchen cabinetry, like white people don’t like to think about what it’s like not to be white. Like white people like their justice like they like their little lies—white. But this is not an indictment of lightness of skin—in itself it’s not a sin—but this whiteness is a sickness or condition we are living in. Or under. It’s no wonder some are moved to drastic measures or chose to lose themselves in temporary but toxic pleasures. It’s a wonder we can even be together. Now is not the time for a measured public response and empty political gestures. Another ineffectual forum or platform for discussion: a conversation that always revolves around a centred white position. As if it were always that way, somehow natural or inevitable, like a planet that just keeps getting a little less hospitable, a little warmer, a little harder. And in some places people will always be boiling their water. What makes a person take their own life? At ten years old, another little girl already too old for this world. And it’s not an uncommon occurrence, sadly. This was just the latest in a series of tragedies. And with increased frequency does it by definition cease to be so? I hope, for all our sakes, the answer is no.
8.
No way of knowing where we went on those long journeys (291) just guessing your way ahead (561) I keep walking as if something ought to happen (101) which is as much as any of us can do (196) in this grey land of lost time (366) somewhere between nowhere and what might be someplace perhaps (284) where everything that ever happened is eerily still happening (366) where sequence is trapped in creation, before possible things converge (228) the improbable world (297) held there a moment in a man’s cold mouth the edge of our loneliness (160) Sometimes there was a whiteness as of snow that obscured everything (291) another silence within silence (163) Time speeds and slows moves in the altering shapes of stillness (517) and what happens next? (427) when time divides into before and after (491) and witness give brief testimony then move on elsewhere into a morning more or less like this one (331) I am an intruder here on someone else’s grief (212) Let me be quite forgotten (510) and make a continual whisper (480) until no returning is ever possible and time closes over (427)
9.
All In 02:41
Sometimes what looks like a dead end is just a bend in the road. The thing is you need to follow it along without knowing if you really want to see where it goes. And no one would blame you for stopping or turning back or trying to find an easier path. Know there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, to move anywhere with certainty can look a bit like insanity and just being alive in this world requires a kind of bravery. And younger me tells older me: I’m sorry. And older me tells younger me: Try not to worry. And much older me says: I’ll be here when you get here we have all the time in the world. There is no need to hurry. And tomorrow we celebrate your birthday. And this fall we mark our fifth wedding anniversary. And if the world doesn’t come to an end, I’ll spend this Christmas with the family, once again. And if the world has always been coming to an end—as my beautiful and intelligent wife contends—there’s no reason not to go all in. And whether this is the beginning of the end or somewhere in the middle or the end of the end, I say: you’re right. I’m all in.

about

If and Only If is the latest project by Canadian indie hip hop stalwarts and long-time collaborators, soso and Maki.

Over a period of two decades, soso and Maki have been charting their own unique course, operating at the edges of the hip hop genre to develop a distinctive and personal body of work that helped define the prairie hip hop ethos.

On If and Only If, their first album in seven years, Maki has crafted a delicate and evolving backdrop for the contemplative lyrics that established soso’s reputation as one of the most unique voices in alternative hip hop. Drawing from noise, drone and other forms of electronic music, Maki sets the tone for an album imbued with the pressing political issues and social tensions that have characterized the past five years. The album was certainly not rushed. It is well-considered, deliberate in pace and intent. This is winter walking music.

If and Only If will be released on limited edition vinyl though Canadian label Endemik Music in partnership with Mism Records (Switzerland) and Audio Recon (USA) and on cassette through Hello L.A. (France).

credits

released March 31, 2021

Lyrics written and recorded by soso (Troy Gronsdahl)
Music by Maki (Maki Kypriotis)
Produced, mixed and mastered by Maki

Artwork by Breanne Bandur. Design by Troy Gronsdahl.
All the way to the world's edge, all the way home and A morning more or less like this one are comprised of excerpts reconfigured from Beyond Remembering: The Collected Poems of Al Purdy.
Wolf Willow draws from Wallace Stegner’s prairie memoire Wolf Willow: A History, a Story, and a Memory of the Last Plains Frontier.

Endemik Music in partnership with Mism Records and Audio Recon

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Endemik Music Montréal, Québec

Canadian independent hip hop and experimental label since 2001. Originated in Halifax, NS and re-located to Montreal, QC.

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