Hermitofthewoods is a hip hop and spoken word artist based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Since 2004, energetic live shows have been complimented by regular appearances at political rallies and demonstrations, and by facilitating youth workshops exploring social justice through hip hop culture. Hermit’s self-produced debut album, The Woods Are Burning, was released in 2007. His second self-produced album, 2009s Love’s Dark Season, was nominated by Music Nova Scotia for Rap/Hip Hop Recording of the Year and named by The Coast as one of the year’s best local albums. A three-time member of the Halifax Slam Poetry Team, Hermit has competed at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in 2009 and 2011. He has also featured at the TD Halifax Jazz Festival (2009), on CBC Radio’s All the Best (2012), and co-curates Halifax’s Oral Tradition poetry series. In 2011, Hermit started to work with Scott Da Ros (Triune Gods, Deadly Stare) on a project that would become Land of the Lotus Eaters. This new album brings together hip hop, spoken word, folk, rock, and primitive signal coding in a collection of songs about a man caught up in an invisible revolution.
“Those who ate the honey-sweet lotus fruit no longer wished to bring back word to us, or sail for home. They wanted to stay with the Lotus-eaters, eating the lotus, forgetting all thoughts of return.” – BK IX 63-104
Land of the Lotus Eaters lives in a world where reality is obscured by fantasy and everything is thrown into question. It is about televised talent competitions getting more votes than the people who rule over us. It is about intelligence being synonymous with arrogance and mediocrity being celebrated at every turn. It is about the trumpeting of religion over reason because science is complicated. It is about opinion pushed as fact in popular debates. It is about celebrity having more value than integrity. It is about pickpockets at the fireworks and con artists on the campaign trail. It is about breaking free. It is about choosing to do better. It is about hope and possibility. It is about all of us. Land of the Lotus Eaters is available through Endemik Music.
released May 14, 2013
Produced and mixed by Scott Da Ros
Vocals and lyrics by Hermitofthewoods
Music by Hermitofthewoods and Scott Da Ros
Recorded at the Hermitage Brewery, Halifax, NS and Spaacemoon Snoowcaat, Montreal, PQ
Mastered by J. LaPointe at Archive Mastering
Artwork layout and design by Migwel
Photography by MXBX
Michael Feuerstack (guitar on 2, 10 and bass on 5, 10)
Paul Vienneau (bass on 2)
Tim Crabtree (vocals on 3, 10)
EMC (vocals on 3,8)
Kyle Cunjak (bowed bass on 10)
Brendan Rutherford (water pipes on 1)
Breagh Potter (vocals on 4)
It was a Glorious Revolution, a passionate age. Everything connected correctly and we made our own way. Luck changes, and it all faded away We felt blameless when there was a price to pay. We were aimless as one last click - stayed lifted - Bullshit aristocratic attitude, it got us twisted. We kicked its ass once with Rock and Roll, acid bodhisattvas, Castaneda’s soul. It was a hold up, hands reach for the sky, so desperate, high decibel; The type you don’t wanna mess with. Sepulveda gets away with everything these days. It’s He say She say, tease the release date. He who pays the piper calls the tune. We dance either way, the music consumes. Just move. Don’t let the bastards get you down. Faster and faster until we heard no sound. The ground shifted rippled, lost in smoke signals. The numbers started changing, doubled, tripled. We acted like everything is ok. Bad mood rising, this insistence on dismissing brothers and sisters. Don’t want to let go, can’t stay here anymore. Still surviving, this subsistence, in our lines for our prescriptions. Don’t want to let go, can’t stay here anymore. We’ve got to go. Got to go, got to run from it. Got to stay awake. Got to take the summit. Got to go, got to rise above it. We’ve got to go now before the angels blow their trumpets. Top of the world, twenty first century morning: invincible by principle, shot without warning. Even the stars die it’s so subjective. The alignment was always just another perspective. Parallax era to the very last decimal. Infinitesimal. in the blood vessels. Any song that needs to play, the jazz machine will pound away. This is the land of the lotus eaters. Emotional creatures, believers in devotional teachers. The leaders evoke the speech that provoked their first thoughts. We’re all taught something, but there is always something we’re not. We’re locked into one direction. Even the odds for your own protection. It’s all knife hand tango and the Tennessee two-step. Dancing for the answers cause we haven’t learned the blues yet. We needed to dance like life is freedom, like we’d advanced to where rights weren’t needed. We believed it.
Track Name: 10,000 B.C.
10,000 B.C., remembered in spear tips and bone, explain away what some claim is vague and unknown. We have grown and disowned ourselves completely. Slaves to the ways we perceive ourselves uniquely. Sabre-toothed tiger survivors, alive and thriving in the taiga like a man without a line to be tied to. Before borders and torture and wars there was importance. First order. Biological. Don’t die. Endurance. Determined to do better, a competitive edge over the predators, inventions that prevented our deaths. The breath of life – technological, philosophical. A chronicle of methodical progression through the possible. Hostile earth farming stopped the wandering tribes who settled together for a better chance to provide. It was the birth of a lie. We were divided by illusion. Civilization was the first proof of evolution. We’ve come too far to say that nothing’s been produced. We’ve come too far to say that nothing is the truth You can have your own opinions , you can’t have your own facts. We’ve heard the lies for long enough. It’s time to take it back. We’ve come too far to act like we haven’t. Our bodies bear the scars of ideas used as weapons. Correctness is not guaranteed. This system started being written in 10,000 B.C. Idle hands, pacified, sophistry. Imagining gods to justify the ferocity of thunder and lightning, earthquakes and fires, roars from dark forests, and why lives expire. The widening gyre. The blood-dimmed tide. They coincide with the rise of structure in our lives. We became strong because the tools made us stronger. We were still young and we put our faith in wonder. Determined to do better - empirical edge. Stone, Bronze, Renaissance. Rohwedder’s sliced bread. Gutenberg galaxies to factories to Allen keys, borne from the mother of invention, Ms. Necessity. Misdirected, we could never see the forest for the trees. Tourists in our own towns, disconnected from memory. The lost art of remembering, dismembered and divided, holds the key to everything. Don’t let them deny it.
Track Name: Give Us Time
Sometimes it feels like I’m just drifting away. Will I still be here tomorrow? Is there nothing left to say?
Am I just chasing ambulances, or are there are chances in the morning, to find a little bit of change? Just a little more each day. Everyone is strange, but it seems like that’s what makes us brilliant. We should stay engaged and play the game or we should blow up all the buildings. Shit, we built the pyramids. Terraform the earth. We broke away, out into space and still don’t see our worth. The lunatics are screaming ,but that’s not seen as a warning because everything seemed normal when they asked us to obey. Give us time. Sometimes it feels like we will keep them at bay - the harvesters of sorrow, the merchants of pain. We’ve got to make a stand because we’ve lost the art of farming. The future’s all just sticks and guns – we don’t know any other way. We can ride upon a falling bomb or we can seize control and argue later about just how we’ll try to save our souls. Our plans will build something again and we’ll complain about the view, but in this place, it’s by our grace that we can always build something new. Give us time.
Track Name: Shibboleth
While we slept, they crept into the cities and towns. Breaking down doors, somehow without a sound. Insidious, unseen, seemingly marginal figures, delivering literature. Their mouths were the rivers. We tried to dam them, but they found their way to the ocean. From the Gulf of Mexico to the shores of Nova Scotia they flowed - reminiscent of the blood of Inquisition. Seditious. Violence in their eyes. Tongues malicious. In the daylight, reflecting the world, unnoticed, the water slowly rose. Motives slowly focused. Control was overthrown and sank into the depths, where the light can never shine, nor illuminate texts. Messages were felt, but were rarely understood. Just ripples in the direction of the current like driftwood. The infected were protected and the rest were left to drown. While we slept, they crept into the cities and the towns. Jackboot splinter frame, blown away, flashbang calamity Panicking the happy families – No Rights. No Humanity. Emperor Hannity and Chancellor Coulter revolted with their legions. Mouth-breathing, plebeian leagues who need to believe in demons. It started with the beatings, screaming treason at elitists, and second coming profits that had nothing to do with Jesus. A pack led by Pakleds. Angry crackhead ambition. Black hat hack into the system, snatch the rule draft positions. Dominatus ex Nihilio – that’s the stylo. The planned camps didn’t sound real at all, but what do we know? Wendigo psychosis made us gigapixel littigants, victims of the dry snitch – say shibboleth. Choose your next words carefully for they may be your last. Desperation makes men fight for ways that have passed. You will be asked for the password as a question of allegiance. As a test of your connections, to see where your beliefs live. Some believe in freedom, some say it’s us and them. Some believe in diversity, some say that spells the end. Some will want to know, just which side you’re on. They’ll ask you to say Shibboleth and see if you answer wrong. Say shibboleth. Pepper spray swept away encampments from the pavement. They played em off as hippies and hoped no one would say shit. Talking heads need facelifts – they will never be the remedy. Corporate, Governments, media, public: human centipede. But some could read, and see, and speak, and shook the halls of power. The brightest are gunned down but numbers still grow by the hour. Cowering in corner offices, bosses scream ‘kiss my assets’ and call in cops and citizens, dispatch them to the address of the opposition This is madness. The land of the free is now the land of neo-fascists. Riot bats swing to bring the hammer down upon the dissonant. Not the armed Tea Party, the kids without a pot to piss in. Belligerent cops follow orders, they don’t listen. We need to finish this, make em say shibboleth.
Track Name: Break the Chains
If there is one thing I know it’s that I won’t grow without your arms around me. When I had to go, there was no way to show how much I wish that you’d come. I don’t want to get old, feeling so cold with all these walls around me. Oh, nothing will hold. Losing control. It’s come to this - I am numb. When this is all done and the songs have been sung I’ll run through the streets to find you. I will hunt by the sun and when the moon has been hung so high in the sky that it’s blinding. Once the game has begun, if there is someone, then I won’t try to remind you. I might die by the gun or a line that’s been strung. Maybe there’s no surviving. Break the chains. Just to see your face. If there is one thing I fear is that I won’t hear the sound of your voice when I need it. When I disappeared, when they interfered, I tried and I was still taken. I will count off the years, smile through the tears, and drown in white noise when I need it. Oh, nothing will hold. Losing control. It’s come to this – I am dumb. When this is all gone and the songs are all wrong I’ll run through the pages to find you. I will turn every stone, shatter my bones, and break down my senses from trying. Once the day is done, if there is no one, then I will try to remind you. I might live by the gun when the wars have been won. Maybe it’s all in the timing. Break the chains. Just to see your face. Take me down. Shut me out. Put me in the ground with my heart still beating. I can be bound. Quiet the sound. I might never be found but my heart will still be beating.
Track Name: Alive Under the Sun
There are seven billion ways to live, chose one, and let the sum of all parts be called people of the sun. Everyone is different as much as they are the same, and everyone tries to survive in the same game. We need to eat, we need a place to sleep, we need warmth in the winter, shoes for our feet. We need love, but we settle for substitutes. The jazz machine will pound away forever to produce the music that will soothe the savage beast. Tame the wild eyes to pacify what lies beneath while the lies upon the surface divide us into being conquered. The longer we sleep, the longer they are growing stronger. That hunger for joy that’s inside us is shared and we decide to deny it to some ‘cause we’re scared. But we’re all people, alive under the sun. There are seven billion ways to live, choose one. We live in divisions and give in to limits on difference. Religion. Victims of fiction. The diminishing vision of Conservatism. Interpreting meaning from words that were written when some were forbidden their very existence, unable to speak and of little interest. Those are the rules that are used against us. Those are the tools that police the defenseless. End this. Find a design aligning the one with the ninety nine. It’s time. Implied divisions are lies, they’re meant to disguise the committing of crimes. But we are not blind. We are alive. We are survivors with ties that bind. Marginalized but the sun will rise and we will rise too if we open our eyes and see that the world created for us makes it too easy for them to ignore us. And so they do.
Track Name: State of the Union
Hermitofthewoods - It’s all Molotov volatile. Bottle broke and soaked the rubble. Tunnels in the jungle, smoke, trouble chokes folks til they mumble through bubbles. Huddled masses yearn to breathe free. Believe me, it’s not easy – Less Dorothy, more Adebisi. Police are getting greasy, seeing streets like a pistol range. Victim’s names tagged on bricks with blood stains. The Game flashes on a few screens and then it vanishes. People buy whatever they want and the thought’s abandoned as the plots along the blocks where my city should be planted. There’s a method to the madness but we pass it off as random. Dancing in the dark, singing party anthems, while The Boss writes blue collar music lampin in his mansion. The cops are smashing windows and arresting who they want to. Anyone says anything, they’re probably a goner. We’ve seen a lot of judges go on and lose their honour over mandatory minimums for smoking marijuana. And we’re actually asking if Alaska is an island. If the length of her skirt is a reason to get violent. If the colour of his skin is the way we should define him. If believing something different nullifies the need for science. Defiance will divide the sides while lives are being squandered. Wander through the wilderness denying we’ve been conquered. Onward, juggernaut stubborn, chaos is mundane. Laws are embedded in the brain so everything remains the same. It’s a shame that it had to come to this - That a difference of opinion led to bruised and bloody fists, ego trips, and inclusion by comparison. Racism and hating women are capital A American. It’s embarrassing, the virtues some choose to rule their views. Dazed and confused in the house where they were raised and abused. I’m amazed by the lack of hesitation. The State still has no business in the bedrooms of the nation. It’s a class war behind a bullet-proof glass door. Sucker punch strategists and trickle-down tax laws. Slack jawed, toss a hammer in the hornet’s nest. Bring the sun down upon the west. Oh yes, the manifest destiny we were taught to see is rotten with hypocrisy and often just a mockery. Remix old philosophy and make it hot. Sell it all again until we’ve given all we’ve got. We talk a lot, now it’s time for some action. It seems drastic given the general level of satisfaction. But it’s magic, and the illusions have all been ruined. We need to see the truth and that’s the State of the Union.
EMC - The days just starting, sun’s receding. I’m still awake, the machine ain’t sleeping. Rhyme for reason beefing with the leader of the beavers, think he’s trying to please the eagle, trade agreements, don’t believe him. Think he’s scheming, global village pillage villains cheerleading. Trust isn’t a coupon – you can’t redeem it. Things ain’t even Steven, hope you get defeated, needing more than a vote when the choice is the lesser evil. Kyoto a no go, ozone’s depleting, oust our leader on behalf of our species. He’s got republican features; I got rumbling speakers - furious like the 5 with boogie down teachings. In a Who’s who hinterland, endangered Canadian habitat, make a stand, way of life, change of plan. So much to say: where the voices at? Only change on the radio waves – Nickelback. My hope for brighter days just some ultra violet rays. Send budget to the barber while Harper gets a raise. Sell us down the river, sold the water to bidders and the contract for the ships at an APEC dinner. Send out the chopper to pick up Peter Mckay. Help those rich people with the taxes paid. Those winos on welfare looking so ugly while the subsidised wealthy are sipping there bubbly. To whom its concerning, the woods are still burning, so learn the diversions, ad bust them, subvert them. Serving these vermin a verdict with Hermit, the voice of the voiceless makes them nervous. Try to speak with hope and purpose - soundtrack to this fucking circus. Can we change it? Are we losing badly? What’s the cost in the grand finale? Will we stand and rally, through peaks and valleys, til we write our own maps like Rand McNally? Raise your voice up, fill the sky. After the darkest night the sun will rise. Change must come from all our lives. This ain’t a feel good album made to dance and grind. Cause I was starting to feel, they treat us like seals, being clubbed to death - reclaim the wheels of steel. Don’t just march to your own beat, put it in riot gear. Long commute to justice, increasing times of fear. I fear we’re all doomed sometimes. Nothing left to do turn up the volume on the active movements of mass inclusion, that map a future of vast improvement cause these bastard humans are attacking our future, and that’s the state of the union.
Track Name: Mic Check (Mic Check)
Meet me where the shadows leave no traces. In the spaces between what is seen and what’s erased. This is no game, misstep and your wrist will get chained, delete you from the mainframe. That’s why use codenames. It’s a movement in the loosest usage of the term. Producing noise, can’t get a consensus on the words. It’s all scattershot pretentious, agendas are never ending. Deadlocked. Talks suspended over who will be offended. Democracy is designed to self-destruct under pressure. Dead by its own hand. Fuck it. Whatever. Live by compromise or die by semiotics – that ol’ Nothing’s Ever Good Enough politics - it slaughters us. All of us have seen the Fall in one way or another, discovered what’s involved and why some were made to suffer. It’s upper versus lower with the illusion of a middle. Seduced recruits removed from use, confused by truthless riddles. Can’t find the time to outline the design of our confinement. Everyone’s too busy grinding, strict and steady 9 to 5ing. This is why we are in hiding. No temptation by incentive. We always need reminding that our stations are invented. Dissent is not the end, it’s a call to conversation, but too many people talking drowns out communication. Our sections are susceptible to saboteurs and instigators who would blur the lines to justify arresting us as traitors. Because every generation wants to be the last and giving up the reins, that can be a lot to ask. This isn’t resistance, it’s about our existence. Left divided, riding to a belligerent extinction. Instead of talking we could be rocking 33 revolutions per minute. Committed and resolute, not letting arguments inhibit, and being considerate of infinite permutations as impermeable proof that truth just suits the user at the moment of its use. Cannons are loose while the world that we knew is reduced to ashes. Firebombs rain and rolling iron smashes. Still we raise our glasses. Still we talk of glory. But televisions tame us telling someone else’s story. Pop is what sustains us. Stock markets serenade us. We’re sick of lemonade but they give us lemons for our wages. Please, Mister, can’t we make some changes? And won’t you look me in the eye before you write me off as nameless? We’re an aimless generation, inheritors of dead industries, legacies of shameful behaviour and shallow victories. So we rise to the occasion or stay divided by details. Divided is how they like us ‘cause united we’d prevail. Meet me where light draws diamonds from your breath. Where we can meet in secret without fear of arrest. Where it isn’t Left and Right because Left and Right suggests that one is a departure while the other is correct. Meet me where we can keep trying not to drown. Where we can meet each week to keep ourselves from falling down. Where we can speak together in a unified sound that will penetrate the surface from the underground.
Track Name: The Light of a Thousand Year-Old Explosion
There is something about the smell of the air early in the morning, when the sun is molten gold and poured on everything. That fresh green breeze that moves through dew drops and the leaves and makes all the clichés come true. The squirrels are all chirping the songs that you love and birds all nod knowingly down from above. It even seems like there’s less garbage laying in the street. It’s fucking awesome. It is affirmation. Smiling faced communion with nature. It is the brink of possibility and the likelihood of failure but will to charge in anyway. The last deep breath before a long exhalation. Every one of us has stood in that place with the taste of greatness on our tongues and a halfway stupid smirk on our face. Senses filling up our defences to take on a cruel world and maybe even make a difference in some crude sense of the word. Those mornings come to Halifax over coffee and cigarettes. They come to Tehran over calls to prayer cast from minarets. They come to Montreal like the songs of Leonard Cohen. They come to Kinshasa like a river steadily flowing. Those mornings come to all of us at one time or another. A blinding flash of raw humanity, dangling the rest of your life like some ridiculous carrot just outside your door, leaving a vague and purple suggestion in your depth of perception that draws you forward step by step. You feel that fresh kiss on the tip of your nose and in the light of a thousand year old explosion it’s inside your bones. You know there’s no stopping. That this is a day that will not be forgotten. Where did the time go? When did it all go astray? Wait til the tide’s out, write in the sand what you want to say and let it fade away. Where do these lines go? When did this become ok? Wait til the light’s out write on the wall what you’ve got to say and let it fade away. Where do the rhymes go? When the songs have all been played? Wait til they die out, write it on their graves and let it fade away. We choose the rules we live by with the sun in our eyes and we use the tools that we can find to try to get by. Do or die. You only get one lifetime, etc. The proof is in the pale blue dot and the Crab Nebula. They can never take us all. We can’t let them make us fall. They can never break us all. We can’t let them make us crawl. So small against the universe, so large against the sky and lost here in the universe we’re always asking why. It’s perfectly normal and perfectly irregular. The proof is in the pale blue dot and the Crab Nebula. What do I know? It’s why we say to seize the day. Run with your heart out. With or without you it will be ok, it will be ok. Let go of the life rope. Try your best to be brave. If I don’t get out I did it all ‘cause I love you. It will be ok, it will be ok. I want you to try, though. There might be more than one way. Every day you can start out, do what you can - It will be ok, it will be ok. We never need to settle, we’re better than we let us be. Better than acceptable If we can get to plant the seeds. Molecular-level we’re all together not competitors. The proof is in the pale blue dot and the Crab Nebula.