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How To Dress Well Shares New Singles “Crypt Sustain” & “nothingprayer” Taken From Forthcoming New Album “I Am Toward You” out May 10th via Sargent House

April 15, 2024
Credit: Sean Stout

HOW TO DRESS WELL

Shares “Crypt Sustain” & “nothingprayer” singles
‘I Am Toward You’ LP out May 10th via Sargent House

Guests include CFCF, Trayer Tryon (Hundred Waters), Joel Ford, ANENON & more

In his 15+ years recording as How To Dress Well, LA-based musician Tom Krell has played with the concept of what we hear and how we communicate in order to create music that exists somewhere between celestial transcendence and an outsider approach to what pop music can be. In Krell’s musical world, the weight of a sample comes from his history with it, the meaning of a lyric fragment is stretched and distorted, its core skirting universal interpretation in favor of specificity.

I Am Toward You is the first new How To Dress Well album in six years, with some of his noisiest, most free, and most poetic music to date. Krell opens the second decade of his career with an album that delivers on the hallmarks of his best work. I Am Toward You is a beautiful experience. It’s set for a May 10th release via Sargent House.

Following singles “New Confusion” and “No Light” are his latest tracks Crypt Sustain” and “nothingprayer”Pre-order the album here

On “Crypt Sustain,” a stadium-sized guitar riff is augmented by blast beats, everything cohering into a blown out triumphant whole. It’s a euphoric moment tinged with underlying melancholy of the track’s subject matter. Krell writes about his neurodivergent brother’s visual art, singing, “Tell me everything you saw in a dream/but the dream pulls back/tell me everything you mean/but the screen goes black.” This idea of miscommunication–of trying to convey something so deep and internal that there aren’t words for it—is a running theme of not just the album, but the entirety of the How to Dress Well project.

Krell offers some insight into the new singles:

““Crypt Sustain” is about the cryptic origin of all artmaking, about my art and my brother’s art work (which is all over the I Am Toward You work, including a font of his beautiful handwriting). It’s about Maria Torok’s work on crypts and ghosts in the intergenerational psyche and intergenerational transmission of trauma (again Tom? lol). It’s about the hegemony of realism and the desire to disavow the graphomaniac origins of art-making. It’s about non-verbal para-speech, Headbanger’s Ball, and the origin of graffitti 40,000 years ago and in the Lascaux Caves 20,000 years ago. It references Abraham and Torok, Bataille’s The Cradle of Humanity, Puar’s The Right to Maim, and Metallica, and criticizes the historical use of the category of disability and the violent creation of the ‘upright’ subject across human history. 

It positions neurodivergence in the history of profound human spiritual expression, rather than giving away the game to categories of policing and control. Ultimately, the chorus draws our attention to the simple elusiveness of the secret dream at the core of all human representation. If we could sustain ourselves in the retraction of meaning we’d have less atomic bombs, less restrictive categories, better art, more dreams.”

““nothingprayer” is a prayer in the Via Negativa, an attempt to orient myself towards God or that level of reality that lies beyond any attempted contact. Ἀπόφασις in Greek, I try to reveal that even attempting to name God through stripping away, through holding onto nothing, still leaves God infinitely far from me. I believe this teaches a great lesson about reality and about love: we must offer our prayer against possession as a model of connection. I Am Toward You is what the nothingprayer says, fully recognizing the impossibly of naming God or possessing the beloved.”

“Crypt Sustain” sets the challenging atmosphere using the reverse tape effect to start to pull this draw to the expressive notion, the soundbite emerges and then this abrasive and fluctuating tone conquers the landscape and directs the movement. The rhythm/ lead tone escalates in intensity and weaves these deep passages, alternating softer elements to allow the lo-fi vocal harmonies to float between the harsher textures with this warmer delicate approach.

How to Dress Well has this unique ability to produce these lasting arrangements with such a diverse character from one track to another. Central to each of the compositions is this soulful connective appeal, be it through the warmth of the vocal harmonies to the hypnotic loops. “nothingprayer” carries that soul whilst allowing experimental attributes to emerge and shape the complexity of the creation. It’s a bold, and impressive arrangement which leaves this courageous imprint.

Krell was galvanized following his fifth album, 2018’s dense, noisy and mangled The Anteroom, itself a reaction to 2016’s pop-leaning Care. He finished his PhD in philosophy with a dissertation on the possibility of non-nihilistic metaphysics, completing a journey he’d been on since the earliest days of the HTDW project. Krell wanted to retreat deeper into himself, not to go back to basics, exactly, but to instead “find corners of myself that I had never explored” and “get back into the world.” On a mantra-like interlude on the record, Krell sings over and over that “the only true joy on earth is to escape from the prison of our own false self.” To do this himself, he underwent “clandestine and occult meditation,” including two weeks of complete silence, multiple multi-day meditations, and several dalliances with transformative psychedelic medicine as well. 

Upon releasing The Anteroom, Krell embarked on a solo tour that saw him performing some of the most intense music of his career, playing more than 150 solo shows over two years. He emerged from the tour exhausted and a bit frustrated with the way his music practice had slowly morphed into something that felt less like art and more like a business. “I had to reorient myself towards music in a purer and less restrictive way in order to retrieve what has made music one of the most heart-opening, instructive phenomena in my life,” he says. Krell was in search of not a fresh start, exactly, but instead a return to the open-hearted, uncynical approach to music making that he adopted as a kid, and carried through the release of his haunting breakthrough debut, 2010’s Love Remains, when he was making music in relative anonymity with little external pressure.

In 2020, Krell, alongside returning and new collaborators CFCF, Chris Votek, Joel Ford, Josh Clancy, Trayer Tryon, Brian Allen Simon (Anenon), and Aaron Charles Read began work on what would become I Am Toward You. For obvious reasons, this was a year where time took on new shapes—Krell suddenly had a lot more of it, and was mostly alone. He sifted through hundreds of snippets he’d recorded in the preceding decade, finding inexplicable samples and snatches of audio that began to cohere into an album that stripped back the density of The Anteroom and resulted in a song cycle of Durutti Column-esque guitar ripple paired with lyrics that treat time itself as an open plane.  

Krell oscillates between the present and the past as if it’s happening all at once. In these songs, everything is happening all the time. A memory from 20 years ago holds just as much weight as something that happened yesterday. Each song, too, is linked to the larger world: these tracks are in constant dialogue with not just each other, but the environments in which they were made. It feels like a diaristic approach to how we can find new perspectives on our own lives, as informed by the way Krell transformed himself in the nearly six years between the release of The Anteroom and the release of I Am Toward You.

Even the title of the album itself—I Am Toward You—is the result of his wife mishearing a lyric from the Miley Cyrus song “I Adore You”. “[She said,] ‘wow, that’s a powerful lyric,’ I asked which lyric, and she responded that she heard the chorus as having said: ‘I Am Toward You,’ Krell says. “Because I had expressed to her that I thought the song was powerful, she generously attuned her mind to hear something powerful, something profound.” This relatively mundane moment of misinterpretation suddenly took on extra weight. A straightforward phrase like “I adore you” shifts perception and a newer, deeper meaning emerges. It’s that joy in unexpected connection that carries so much of I Am Toward You.

Sometimes all we need to manifest a new existence is awareness of what’s around us already. There’s deeper meaning hidden everywhere. Follow it far enough and long enough, and you’ll land on real personal truth. On I Am Toward You, Krell is asking us to open our eyes and ears so we, like him, can find it.

I Am Toward You tracklist:
1. New Confusion
2. Contingency/Necessity (Modality of Fate)
3. Crypt Sustain
4. No Light (feat. Anarthia DLT)
5. nothingprayer (feat. Aaron Read, Anenon, Noah Allaire)
6. On It and Around It
7. Song in the Middle
8. Gas Station Against Blackened Hillside
9. A Faint Glow Through a Window of Thin Bone (That’s How My Fate is Shown)
10. The Only True Joy on Earth
11. A Secret Within the Voice

https://www.instagram.com/howtodresswell

https://howtodresswellmusic.bandcamp.com/album/i-am-toward-you

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