April 9, 2024

Sean Christopher Galloway

A Model of Obliscence

I intended to write a moving epigraph on these perfect, high-ankle black designer leather boots that my older brother gave to me at his house in rural Missouri, now some decade past. How I’ve stomped my way across continents, cities, subway systems, mountain shrines, cemeteries, and the horrified corridors of the Mall of fucking America in these two hard-soled talismans of brotherly protection. How these dark and heavy matte hide kicks represent sanctuary over my delicate psyche, how pulling them on feels like strapping on body armor to engage with the universe. Unafraid in my brother’s boots. Unkillable.

But I have this goddamned pile of t-shirts staring me down. I can’t even think properly about the boots with this cotton-blend mountain of short-sleeved intimidation stretching over the horizon of my fragmented imagination. They blot out the sun; a ring-spun cairn of joy and pain that I wish I could tie end to end like an asylum bedsheet rope and throw out the window to make my forever escape. I tried mashing them all in a drawer under the bed, but they only wind themselves upward, under and around me in my bitter half-sleep, blighting my dreams. Each rumpled rectangle is a monument to an epoch past; decades of sweaty, opiate-blurred shows, tours with friends’ bands, weirdo museums in LA, Christmas gifts from Dad, the shirt I was wearing the night my beautiful brother in song was murdered by something as stupid as a fucking car, driven by a dumb young drunk. My life in a drawer of shirts. A bird flitting through an accumulation of moments, collecting bits of anamnesis to build a cloth nest from which it cannot be freed. Jesus, nests? Birds? These are t-shirts. What am I talking about? The crumbling architecture of memory represented by a history of t-shirts? I don’t know, really at all. I wanted to write about the boots.

We, amnesiacs all, condemned to live in an eternally fleeting present, have created the most elaborate of human constructions, memory, to buffer ourselves against the intolerable knowledge of the irreversible passage of time and the irretrievability of its moments and events.
-Geoffrey Sonnabend*

*not a real person nor a real quote

Sean Christopher Galloway is a Berlin-based musician and composer, and sometime dabbler in prose. Under the name Ave Grave, he creates textural music using field recording techniques and bits of melodic sound manipulated on cassette tape loops and digital media, combining sound in a manner reflective of the non-linear architecture of memory. These collected forms coalesce with soft-spoken pieces of traditional songwriting, creating a quiet world; a place both wonderful and strange. 

Image: Sean Christopher Galloway, Natural History Museum Los Angeles County