there is an abundance of mo

Flood my Mornings: Service

Notes from Mod Bonnie:

  • This story takes place in an AU in which Jamie travels through the stones two years after Culloden and finds Claire and his child in 1950 Boston.
  • Previous installment:  Thanks (Thanksgiving and Bree’s Birthday)

Late November, 1950


“Bath time, little smudge!”

Bree squealed and, like a shot, went barreling toward the bathroom. Turning two years old seemed to have turned on a tap of perpetual energy from on high: energy to throw tantrums, energy to hate going to bed, energy to form VERY strong opinions about what she did and did not plan to eat, and so on, and so forth for all time. 

However, she had also decided she loved baths, and by the time I arrived at the tub myself, she was already standing on the bathmat, triumphantly nude and brimming with expectation with her toys in hand. I laughed and kissed the top of her head. “One minute, you goofy girl.” 

I poked my head briefly into the living room. “Do you want bath duty or bedtime duty tonight?”

“I’ll take bed, if it’s all the same to you, Sassenach,” Jamie said, looking up from the rolltop. “I’d like to get the rest of the bills paid and ready for tomorrow’s Post.”

“Fine by me,“ I said, taking the chance to stretch my back, already thinking of plopping into bed as soon as humanly possible. “Thank you for handling those, sweetheart.”

“’Course,” he said with feeling, rising and kissing my forehead. “How are ye feeling?” 

“Pretty well, at the moment,” I said, pleasantly surprised, now that I thought about it. “Like death, this morning, but I haven’t vomited once since lunch!” 

“Victory, indeed,” he grinned, kissing me, long and sweetly. 

MaMAAAA?” bellowed Bree, her voice bouncing ghoulishly around the bathroom walls. “Come’on do insee’pyder, please!”

“I’m being summoned,” I murmured against his lips. 

“Go,” he whispered. “Heaven forbid ‘insee’pyder’ have to wait.” 

“Oh,” I called when I was halfway back down the corridor, “I think the electric bill came today. It’s on the counter by the phone with the rest of today’s mail.”

“Thank you, mo ghraidh,” he called back. 

Tub filled, baby inserted, bubbles abundant, I knelt beside the tub and swirled my hands in the warm water. Bree beamed up at me, ready: “GO! Insee’pyder, Mama!”

Alright,” I said dramatically, reaching for the green plastic sandbox bucket and scooping up water as I sang: “Theeeeeeee ITS-Y-bit-sy spiiiiiider went UP the water spout ….”

I raised the bucket theatrically. “Down came the raaaaaain AND—”

The payload released on, “WASHED the spider out,” dousing Bree with warm, soapy water. 

Fizzy giggles emerged through the waterfall pouring down her scrunched-up face as I sang on. “Out came the suuuun and dried up all the rain, and the ITS-Y-bit-sy spiiiiider went UP the spout—?”

“—AGAIN!!!” Bree finished, knowing the drill and LOVING it.

We had just finished washing the shampoo-spider from her hair and ANOTHER rendition was demanded, when Jamie’s voice came from the doorway. “Sassenach?” 

“Yes, darling?” I said absently, reaching for the bar of soap Bree had just knocked into the water. 

“What is the ‘selective service?’”

My blood froze absolutely cold. I whirled on my knees to gape at him, praying that it was a newspaper clipping in his hand, or one of his library books, or—

But it was a letter bearing the words ‘Department of Defense’ across the top. The truth was written on his face, the tightness of his voice, the rigid set of his jaw. “Tis the forced conscription for the war in the east, aye?”

“Jamie—” I staggered to my feet, praying in blind panic. Please, God, no. “Jamie—Please tell me—you haven’t been—?”

To Mr. James Fraser,” he read, 

“According to our records, you have not yet registered with the Selective Service, as is required of all permanent residents of the United States. 

Please report no later than December 15th, 1950 to the enlistment station named below for registration, or risk revocation of your residency status with the Department of Immigration. 


Jamie trailed off, his face a mask of control I hadn’t seen in many years. The sight terrified me to my core—his face of duty, of danger, of great burdens to be borne.  

My hands were shaking as I reached for the letter, as I scanned it wildly for some salvation. “But you’re—you’re not even a citizen! They can’t just force you to go off and fight in their wars!”

“Apparently they can,” he said stiffly. “’All permanent residents,’ it says.”

“Jesus…” There was no way out. “Jesus—fucking—”

“FUN-KING!” Bree squeaked from the tub, sounding immensely pleased. Normally, that would have incited riotous laughter, then stern admonishment and promises between Jamie and I to guard our words more carefully. But we barely noticed. 

My blood pounded so loudly in my ears I could barely hear myself blurting, “We could go to Canada." 

He cocked his head in question. “They dinna fight wars there?”

I gave a jerking shrug. “They don’t usually start them, at least.”

“That’s the coward’s way,” he whispered, his face still stone. “I canna just run.”

“And why not?” I demanded, my voice treacherously close to both tears and shouting.

Why can I no’ take the coward’s way?” The mask wavered, showing his scorn. “Christ, Claire, do ye no’ ken me at all?” 

“And do YOU not know me?” I shouted. “Do you not have the faintest idea what it DID to me to—” It took only the cracking of my voice for the panic to overtake me completely in wracking sobs as my hands went feral. “ —to let you go to your death? For a cause you—shouldn’t even have been dragged into in the first place?? I w—” I choked. I was mere inches from his face, but I could barely see him through the tears. I wrenched a breath from my throat. “—WON’T, do it—again—do you—hear m—?”

Jamie suddenly snatched me hard against him, his voice a cracked moan of despair through his own sobs. “I know, mo chridhe…I know….”

I buried my face in his chest, and could only croak, “Jamie—”

He tried to say something, but couldn’t get a word out. 

We clung to one another with every ounce of strength, swaying and weeping for a long time, until —

“I’m scairt of this, Sassenach.” 

His breath was hot and gasping in my hair. “God, I—dinna want any part of it…. The thought of leaving ye….the—” He let out a sob, and I could feel his tears against my temple, the resonance of his words in my chest. “—Christ, the bairns—” 

He buried his face in my shoulder. “I’m so scairt, Claire.”

“What’s you scairt, Daddy?”

We turned to see Bree standing in the tub, still naked as you please, looking up, stricken.

With a small sound that broke my heart, Jamie released me and crossed to the tub. He lifted his daughter up into his arms and pressed her against his chest, not seeming to notice that his shirt was instantly soaked.

“Daddy? What’s you scairt?” she repeated. 

I had to clamp my hand over my mouth. He clutched her tighter, rocking her, focusing his entire being on love of her. 

“Use-r words, Daddy.” 

Despite everything, he choked out a laugh at that. 

“I’m scairt,” he answered hoarsely after a moment, “of having to leave you and Mama, a chuisle.”  


I came and wrapped my arms around them both, trying so very hard not to slip into panic. This—this was my home, these three people I held—That it might be ripped from—

“Dinna leave though’kay?” Bree demanded, glaring sternly at him. “Okayyyy, Daddy?”

Okay?” I seconded in a feeble whisper.

He let out another weak, broken laugh and leaned down to kiss us both. I could feel his chest shuddering with the sobs he was suppressing. 

The words were in Gaelic, breathtakingly quiet, and he repeated them over and over.

 "I won’t…I won’t.”

When he drew back a long, long time later, his eyes were dry. “Now,” he said, kissing Bree and wrapping a towel around her shivering back, “let’s get ye ready for bed, wee cub. Which storybook shall we have, tonight?”


Jamie resolved never to let Claire or Brianna see his fear of this ever again. 

“I’ll go tomorrow to register my name,” he said firmly to Claire as he held her in their bed that night, “but it willna come to anything, Sassenach.” There are millions of folk they’ll call up before me.” 

“You don’t — ” 

“Dinna fash, mo nighean donn,” he crooned, kissing and soothing away her fears. “I’m staying right here—We’ll no’ be parted—I’m right here—”

But he lay awake far into the night and most nights to follow, praying with all his soul.

Please, God….


Dinna take me from them.



[more to come]

From the prompts: 

@dlouise2016 said: This may not be appropriate for FMM but in response to your request for Jamie “firsts” & since he is only about 27-28, there was a military draft going on at the time for the Cold War & the Korean War. Since Jamie was certainly a warrior, he must have some strong feelings about war & Claire definitely would with her WWII experience  

@chechzooo suggested: Staying out of the draft

anonymous asked:

If Keith and Acxa are siblings, how are they going to figure out they're related? I imagine since their parents aren't around it'll be difficult for them to realize that connection.

A couple of scenarios, depending on what we’re taking:

  • Acxa is the older sibling and at least distantly remembers she has a younger brother because she remembers when they split up, so she recognizes Keith’s knife (notice every time he’s run into her, he’s technically had access to it but not used it) and immediately has Some Concerns.

  • They’re the same age and both of them only remember One Parent but there are enough details they can put two and two together.

  • They’re both either half-human-half-galra or half-galra-half-polluxian(?) druid(?) depending on if you take or leave the Druid Dad Kogane theory, and frankly either of those would be rare, especially if Acxa’s got human heritage since Earth is pre-contact and there are… not exactly a terrific abundance of people with partial human heritage tearing around.

  • It’s possible that whatever odd ability Keith seems to have with energy sensing is one he and Acxa share. I’ve noticed in more than a few scenes with Acxa shooting, the series uses a kind of slow-mo effect to show that she’s making rather obscenely precise shots (we very rarely see her miss) while flipping and tumbling through the air- like she just reflexively knows where to aim. This is suspicious considering that in s1e10, with Keith vs. the druid, we see Keith doing something similar where he keeps, with brief pauses to ‘listen’, whipping around to face the druid without anything obvious alerting him to the druid’s appearance.
Gone: Chapter 4

A/N: I know you guys are probably fed up with this, but I have every intention of seeing it through. Thanks to everyone who send me feedback on the previous chapter, I really appreciate it so much! And thanks to everyone sticking with me and Jay through all this torture.

This is THE CHAPTER by the way. Not the final chapter, but you know what’s gonna happen. It’s time.

Thanks to @justkillingtimewhileiwait & @allenting for all the help with this fic and all the support! You two are the best <3

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Lyla and Tara pulled me away from Chibs, guiding me to the bedroom. Laying on the bed  was a simple A-line ivory color lace dress. “When did you get this?”

Tara smiled at me. “When you were trying on clothes we found it. The sales lady assured us it will fit. It’s your something new.” 

Lyla pulled some  lingerie from the bag. “Your something blue.” There was a knock on the bedroom door, I walked over opening it.

“Kerrianne, come in sweetheart!”

“Da said you were getting married tonight.” 

“We are, if that’s okay.”

She smiled, hugging me. “I think it’s great. He deserves to be happy. He loves you so much.” She took off her cross necklace, handing it to me. “If you don’t have anything borrowed, you could wear this. Da sent it to me when I was thirteen.”

I looked at it, smiling. “It’s beautiful, I would be honored. How would you like to be in the wedding party?”

“I don’t have anything to wear.” 

Tara handed her a box, smiling. “Your Da already planned for it.”

Lyla stepped forward and  handed me a box. “This is from Chibs, it was his mother’s, it’s your something old.”

“I guess everything is covered then.” I opened the box, finding a beautiful silver bracelet, I slipped it on my wrist. I took the lingerie and slipped into the bathroom, putting it on, grabbing my bath robe I put it on.

Stepping back into the bedroom Lyla was waiting to do my make-up, she did it lightly, giving me a natural look. She and Tara helped me into my dress, I slipped on a pair of matching ballerina slippers.

Looking in the full length mirror I smiled. “You’re going to take his breath away.” Tara smiled at me. I watched as Tara and Lyla got dressed, there was a knock on the bedroom door. 

I pulled it open, Opie was standing on the other side. “You look beautiful (Y/N)! Are you ready?” 

“More then.”

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60 Best Albums of 2015 (30-1)

30. Garden of Delete- Oneohtrix Point Never

Daniel Lopatin’s compositions are always freakishly in control, but have never brimmed with the audacity that they do on Garden of Delete. This pronounced vision serves him extremely well. The music of Oneohtrix Point Never has never struggled to commit to eye-opening tones and even more worthwhile structure, but here the songs are practically overflowing with conceptual and atmospheric presence. At first, the appeal can get lost. Out of all the auras Lopatin has worked with, this is the most digital, the trashiest, and the one brimming with the least amount of life. In fact, this listening experience can almost seem suffocatingly inorganic. Songs like ‘Ezra’ and ‘Sticky Drama’ feel excessively eager to exit their dystopian, shivering ambience, but regardless of the conventional beauty, Garden of Delete is sufficiently encompassing. You can cut the tension with a knife, a tension that reveals itself everywhere you look.

29. On Your Own Love Again- Jessica Pratt

Jessica Pratt’s voice, like Joanna Newsom’s or Björk’s, is the first thing that jumps out at you about her incredibly dense music. It is a frail, understated instrument that possesses the capacity to dominate any space it is put into, capitalizing on this ability constantly throughout Pratt’s second album On Your Own Love Again. However, it must be said that this record is much more than a vocal showcase. Pratt’s voice is stunning in the sense that it excels in the environment of its lightly plucked guitar backdrops. It is an exotic gift that casts a fleeting shadow over the album but tastefully steps back when the vibe begs for restraint. This self-control is ultimately what makes On Your Own Love Again so essential. There are not many colossal moments here, but Pratt is able to find magnitude in the oddity. Through warmth and claustrophobia, Love Again prospers.

28. The Agent Intellect- Protomartyr

The graceful rant is a hard thing to master. Gut-wrenching anecdotes and heaving mantras are littered through The Agent Intellect, the second exceptional album Protomartyr have released in about a year, and they seem to reside in a separate vessel from the music, which is emotional and occasionally elegant. Joe Casey has polished his reach as a frontman, delivering flawless vocals in the context of these ringing, deadbeat anthems. When these songs are at their most catchy and animated (‘Dope Cloud’, ‘The Devil in His Youth’), Casey crumbles into an overblown melody or a flawlessly emphasized hook as if it is nothing more than a pattern of speech. The main upgrade here is the songwriting; Protomartyr’s music appears to be more concise than it has ever been, but none of the impulsiveness is gone. The Agent Intellect is devoid of much saturation, but this bluntness plays directly into its balance.

27. PC Music, Volume 1- PC Music

PC Music, the post-bubblegum experimental record label responsible for this extremely close-knit various artists compilation, have historically put their music in the passenger seat to their image and marketing, one that is troubling in its hedonistic embrace of capitalism and simplicity, but profound in its capacity to throw itself on its back. The music on this label is sickeningly aggressive, and its best artists, like A.G. Cook and Hannah Diamond, are even less subtle than the majority of music in the Top 40. It feels kind of unfair to put this album on the list, because it is basically a greatest hits compilation. However, these excellent songs unveil a whole new dimension when placed in this context. When grouped together, PC Music’s aesthetic turns into a mission statement, ready to bask in all of its hyper-glossy glory.

26.  E•MO•TION- Carly Rae Jepsen

When listening to Carly Rae Jepsen’s new album, it is almost impossible not to question its intentions. How could someone go from a disposable, bubblegum artist who happened to have the biggest (and catchiest) single of the year to someone who is genuinely interested in branding themselves as an indie hero, constructing one of the most charming and cohesive listens in recent pop memory? E•MO•TION comes with the pretense that it is a manufactured statement, one done with the intention of appealing to the critical masses, getting an abundance of hot producers on board (Dev Hynes, Ariel Rechtshaid) to help deliver an album that has been meticulously crafted to exist without flaw. The only reason ‘Run Away With Me’ didn’t even chart is because of its branding, and the brand is a colossal part of what Carly Rae Jepsen has become. She is an intelligent pop artist, a product of a tasteful goal. Whether or not this is off-putting for you, it is ridiculous to deny Carly Rae Jepsen’s success. E•MO•TION is absolutely brimming with surprisingly flawless pop songs, ones that blend infection seamlessly with restraint, packed with the choruses and themes to expand their reach. You can’t knock E•MO•TION for its devious intentions; it is the sleeper masterpiece of the year, one that turns Jepsen into a platform for a collective step in the right direction.

25. Frozen Niagara Falls- Prurient

Is any double album filled with metal-tinged noise music supposed to be soothing? Frozen Niagara Falls seems to answer affirmatively. The exceptionally loud trance that these tracks fall into is captivatingly beautiful even if some of its raw elements- the clanging percussion, the horrifying vocals- are borderline disgusting. Nonetheless, every single song is not only hypnotic, but shockingly entertaining, especially in its unpredictability. The sounds on here- whether those be harsh noise or spacey synths- are so filled with texture and flavor that nothing really disrupts the listener’s drive to hear the next exhibition. Frozen Niagara Falls is a technicolor parasite that disrupts your well-being but thrills you nonetheless. It is a frightening album with so many dimensions yet such a narrow commitment to putrid tension.

24. Beach Music- Alex G

Alex G’s music will spike itself into your veins with its delicacy, and Beach Music heightens his reputation for goosebump-inciting melodies and even more intimate poetry. These songs are in-touch with an extreme bittersweet melancholy, but seem a bit stranger and more polished than the music off of DSU, Alex G’s equally excellent release from last year. I didn’t like Beach Music the first time I heard it, because it slacked a little bit and appeared to be mundanely thrown together; however, with repeated listens, this messiness becomes the purest testament to its hushed splendor. The songs are dominated by a tone of spooky apprehension, but these are some of the most optimistic (‘Brite Boy’) and creepy (‘In Love’) songs to ever appear on an Alex G record. Atmospherically, you can’t ask for something more in-tune with its soul than this.

23. In Colour- Jamie xx

It would be very easy to litter a review of In Colour with lists of influences, sample sources, and terms like “future garage” while gawking at how distinctive Jamie xx makes it all sound. You could also discuss how he has come a long way since remixing Florence + the Machine and being the guy who stands in the back on the The xx’s live stage. However, In Colour is one of those albums that can be enjoyed just as much, or arguably ever more, without context. If you take it in with a blank mind, this record is untouchably pretty. However, if you are dissecting Jamie Smith’s production chops…well, it’s pretty damn impressive too. Smith has a magnificent ear for rhythm and is able to transform this skill into huge, momentous club music. He also possesses a talent for layering, blending samples of voice, saturated bass, and deep beats so smoothly that they form a larger, singular sound. This sound is entirely his own, and it makes In Colour one of the most emotional and transcendent pieces of dance music in years.

22. Painted Shut- Hop Along

The songs on Painted Shut are theatrical by nature, don’t get me wrong, but it is bizarre to consider what they would sound like taken outside of the context of the tool that delivers them. Francis Quinlan does not only have a distinctive voice, she is a distinctive vocalist. This means that her capability stems not from her tone as much as it does her patterns and delivery; the fractured, scruffy whirlwind of a voice that seamlessly transforms from a holler to soft croon. However, Painted Shut is not a vocal album. The vocals are mainly there to provide the perfect platform for the album’s urgency. And trust me, this album is urgent. Every sharp downstroke is like a stab in the heart, every lyric begs for your engagement. Painted Shut will leave you winded, but not before it lures you in with captivation.

21. In Plain Speech- Circuit Des Yeux

Haley Fohr’s voice is the first thing that will jump out at you about her music before you are completely mesmerized. A shaky, unsettling bellow, the vocals here blow everything else out of the water, becoming the only vivid ingredient in a shockingly restrained yet heaped atmosphere. Everything else about In Plain Speech, an album inspired by the struggle of, quite literally, being heard, is bent around soft-spokenly haunting buildups. But every time Fohr opens her mouth, that ground-shaking cry is always there. She has expanded her scope into the context of a full band with this new record, tackling an aesthetic that blends folk with noise and delivering it with excessive drama. The cinematic quality of In Plain Speech sounds like the product of immense concentration, and on an album so subdued, I wouldn’t doubt that this is where the majority of the power comes from.

20. Four Phantoms- Bell Witch

One of the most difficult emotions to evoke when it comes to any form of metal is penetrating sorrow. The music is often too inherently aggressive to stay faithful to its deflated doses of sadness, and gets lost in a technical and energetic whirlwind. Bell Witch do not have that problem. When Four Phantoms is on, your mood will change regardless of how you feel about the album; these four plodding, harrowing 10-20 minute pieces overwhelm you with their downcast charisma. The extremely low-tempos are spread over a winding dynamic, ranging from throat-shredding screams to empty guitar segments so frail that you can barely discern the melodies that attempt to arise. However, the volume may be dynamic but the emotions aren’t; Four Phantoms’ game is excess, and it is so committed to this, that it becomes the right kind of exhausting, one that swells up in a relative calm.

19. Divers- Joanna Newsom

For some, Divers might be a middle ground. The listeners who found the most appealing qualities of Joanna Newsom’s past work in her outlandishness might consider this a retraction, seeing as the production is beautiful in a current, conventional way, as opposed to the timelessness of Ys. However, those who couldn’t sit through all two hours of Have One on Me will be pleased to have something digestible in their hands, a record that can be admired (although not fully appreciated) at a casual glance. The depth is still there, but it plays a much less vital role. Think about it; Newsom’s weapon of choice is a harp, a niche instrument that is called upon very passively in popular music. There is no trendy context in which Newsom fits, no aesthetic that stems beyond her compositions. Therefore, it is easy to analyze a record like Divers at face value. When Newsom roamed the streets of New York City in the video for ‘Sapiokanikan’, it was the most identifiable visual to ever surface through her music. On the other hand, the song’s huge chorus and riveting build-up fosters quite a bit of appeal even if the visual art and poetry allusions are ignored. It is shallow to say that you don’t need to sit down with Divers to enjoy it, but it works as a pop album far more than her past records did, with arrangements and instrumentation swelling up for an alluring glow.

18. Valis- Mastery

Two things will hit you off guard as soon as you turn on Valis. Firstly, this album is absolutely unhinged. This is obvious from the intro to the first track, ‘V.A.L.I.S.V.E.S.S.E.L.’; a menacing ringtone from hell that lasts five seconds before launching into some technically astonishing, splintering guitar work. Valis is defined by turbulence, with the primary source of engagement being the fact that it is impossible to guess where it will go next. With only five songs (two of which are interludes), Valis plays like a sonic stream of consciousness, completely rejecting form in favor of primal, sweltering energy. Second of all, Valis exists to unnerve. There are plenty of metal albums that are ugly, brutal, and creepy, but the key feeling produced by Valis, from the grimacing vocals to the outward rejection of structure, is distress. You will feel overwhelmed. However, these unstoppable, spastic black metal pieces do not demand engagement; somehow, they just clinch it.

17. New Bermuda- Deafheaven

Deafheaven have become the metal band for deniers of metal, a group that people spend as much time disputing what they aren’t as what they are. However, all talk of classification becomes meaningless in the face of their music. Sure, Deafheaven are not traditionalists, but they do have a very familiar way of garnering impulse. They are well acquainted with the power of the crescendo. Every song on their third album New Bermuda goes through multiple movements, as if the group has a very conspicuous understanding that there is no point in building things up if you can’t knock them down. New Bermuda relies heavily on masterfully articulated bursts of fury and works best when these developments come out of nowhere or fall into the shadows as if they never existed. Take opener ‘Brought to the Water’. This track has the sky-scraping, murky fury of Deafheaven at their darkest, and although it always hints at something supremely beautiful, it keeps in touch with a hysterical aggression, allowing it to veer ever so slightly towards blackened inaccessibility. This energy persists, with levels of course, until the last minute where this music fades out and a dreamy, flowery piano comes into replace it. There is almost no attempt at a transition. In fact, this completely contrasting element is introduced in a way that could be lazy if it was done with any less purpose. The big, and almost only, transformation that looms over New Bermuda is this complete negation of subtlety. You’ll know exactly when these songs peak and exactly what emotion you are supposed to feel. However, Deafheaven owns this conspicuous maximalism. Vocalist George Clarke times his harshly toned screams impeccably, and when the music plummets towards a climax on ‘Baby Blue’ or ‘Luna’, he is right there with it. The guitars and drums slush around in a fervor, only to simmer down when peace is summoned. Deafheaven see no need to cloak any of their volume shifts or sudden rifts of tension.

16. Never Were the Way She Was- Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld

There are albums that are marvelous physical achievements for the sake of gimmickry, but the fact that the tracks on Never Were the Way She Was are single-take live recordings isn’t just impressive, its imperative. For an album so haunting and scrupulously atmospheric, the imperfections and impulse that come with this technique contribute immensely to its unworldly rawness. Colin Stetson’s avant-garde saxophones musings are often performed with a robotic energy, twisting the conventions of his instrument until his patterns practically turn into noise, an inhuman darkness that has become part of his character. Sarah Neufeld’s orchestration merely embellishes the exhausting tangents that Stetson goes on. This album is consistently celestial and very fragile, a product of the visceral creative process.

15. Guud- Ash Koosha

For Tehran-born, London-based producer Ash Koosha, sound carries an examinable behavior, something that can be tapped into in order to unearth a certain psychology. The patterns on all of Guud’s bizarre, short tracks spring off of each other and drill themselves into the sonic foreground to construct a sort of cathartic, mechanical hell. This purgatory, however, is a relentlessly engaging one, relying on a boxed, unconventional palette to formulate tracks that are jam-packed with personality and accessibility. This is very much a collection of abstract compositions, but in this case, abstraction does not translate into impenetrability. In Ash Koosha’s world, car engines can become beats and synths can be as rhythmic as they are melodic. With textures that radiate huge amounts of energy, this record recognizes no lines between the foreign and the impactful.

14. Art Angels- Grimes

With Art Angels, Grimes sacrifices a lot of the haziness that defined her three years ago to pursue a peak in production quality and creativity. Thankfully, she is extremely successful. The smothered, absolutely gorgeous synthline on ‘World Princess Part II’ or the sharp vocal melodies on ‘Flesh Without Blood’ trigger a sense of universal nostalgia, possessing uncanny perfection in terms of emotion. Art Angels gets big, like on the title track or the Janelle Monáe featuring ‘Venus Fly’, and these moments would be overdone if Boucher were not so good at what she does. In fact, Boucher’s public priority has always been to receive recognition as a producer, especially in a landscape where female producers are subject to endless condescension. With Art Angels, she has not only proven her point but made a record that bleeds artistry. It is clear now that Grimes didn’t scrap an album because she was insecure; she wanted to do something that would stand out. Art Angels epitomizes this originality.

Every other track practically defines itself by its not-so-subtle touches. This is why the first few listens of Art Angels hit you like a wildfire, with songs that revel in sugar-soaked pop to the point where it becomes confounding. It makes sense that initial exposure to tracks as melodically bright-eyed and infectious as ‘Flesh Without Blood’ and ‘California’ are usually dominated by uneasiness. These songs are an uncharacteristically poppy departure and absolutely nothing like the Grimes we got with Visions, a pathway that the majority of Art Angels sticks to. This record is packed with overblown vocals, layered production, and a saccharine pop sensibility that places Boucher way out of what was priorly perceived to be her range. However, just because Art Angels is not the project most people wanted, does not mean it is not an excellent album in its own right, as it sees Boucher expand her realm to take her talents into a far more daring territory.

13. Third Side of Tape- Lil Ugly Mane

It’s kind of a weightless, cliched thing to say at this point, but there is genuinely nothing I’ve heard in my life quite like Third Side of Tape. There is no way to navigate around this two-hour compilation except for the fact that the project is split into six movements, or “sides”. Each of these sides exhibit the same type of mysterious, fractured randomness, without a common theme to tie any of the ideas on Third Side of Tape together. Thus, it comes off like a long-winded collage, a product of mind-blowingly good curation. Lil Ugly Mane is a rapper by trade, but he is also an artist who has completely shied away from the spotlight, which gives Third Side of Tape practically no context. All this mystery multiplies its appeal. This is an exceptionally confusing listen, spreading its reach everywhere from Dilla-inspired rap to jubilant electronica to extreme metal to punk rock, but somehow manages to maintain cohesion and keep the listener entertained for over two hours. Only a master of taste could pull something like this off, but with every turn Third Side of the Tape takes, you’ll find an entirely new environment in its rapid, impenetrable, encompassing world.

12. I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside- Earl Sweatshirt

I Don’t Like Shit seemed poised to slide under the radar. Originally planned for a secret release (until iTunes fucked it up, apparently), this record is nothing like the peak of an everlong hype cycle that Doris was. This record carriers a lead single that seemed alarmingly toned down, very few big name features, and a running time that barely exceeds standard EP length. However, in some messy, thrown-together way, it is Earl’s best. This doesn’t feel like the album we have been waiting for, but the beauty of it comes with the fact that we weren’t waiting for anything. Coming out of nowhere, this record is a boost, a reminder that Earl is still there and still dope.

As if the title didn’t make it obvious enough, seclusion persists throughout I Don’t Like Shit. In fact, Earl’s whole public persona has been defined by the act of being cast away. The most prominent detail of his “story” was his exile to a therapeutic reform school in Samoa, to which he was apparently banished after his mother’s reaction to the vulgar, violent elements of his music. On ‘Faucet’, we see Earl hoping his phone breaks as he struggles to come to terms with the impact this very public absence has had on his personal life by acknowledging how weird these situations can get. This discomfort translates into unbreakable music, as shown by ‘Grief’ with coats its wretched serpentine imagery in a smear of clattering electronics. I Don’t Like Shit sees Earl turning down quite a bit, whether that be with light, volume, or speed; the atmosphere at equilibrium here is a chopped-up, hushed darkness, which allows Earl to successfully keep it subdued.

11. Sympathy- Gabi

On an album as sparsely composed as Sympathy, space practically becomes its own instrument. Influenced in equal parts by the grandiosity of opera and a-cappella, the composition on this record is intellectually straining, delving in a a rare experimental academia. This sophistication is key. There is intent and purpose in every crescendo, yet these arrangements burst with an unstoppable grip on atmosphere. Centerpieces like ‘Mud’ and ‘Falling’ sprawl back and forth until the clean, fluctuating rhythms hit a humble plateau; elsewhere, we get songs so centered around Gabrielle Herbst’s vocals that the rest of the instrumentation absorbs an organicness. These arrangements are huge but they manage to be more refreshing than overwhelming, a trait reserved for artists who have complete control of their unadulterated sonic poetry.

10. Barter 6- Young Thug

You could write an essay about the type of album Barter 6 could have been. You could talk about how Young Thug has become one of the most controversial stars in rap music ever since the success of ‘Lifestyle’ and how he is surrounded by drama regarding his sexuality, his feuds with other rappers, or his place in mainstream hip-hop. Young Thug appears to have taken the less favorable side in the Lil Wayne/Cash Money dispute, and that has given his public persona a fair bit of heat, especially considering the trips to jail and murder plots that have followed him around. I mean Barter 6 was literally going to be called Tha Carter VI before potential legal issues arose, which seems like the biggest corporate dick move in rap history, considering Thug and Wayne’s label boss Birdman has blocked the release of Wayne’s own Tha Carter V. Barter 6 could have been the centerpiece of all this ugliness, a cultural landmark and, admittedly, an even more fascinating album to listen to. But Young Thug doesn’t give a fuck. He doesn’t need to say anything because the public speaks for him, and fanning the flames of his own controversy would be completely out of character. So instead, we have an album that is gloriously minute. Scratch that, it’s not even an album, it’s a fucking retail mixtape. And, unsurprisingly, Barter 6 is a piece of lazy genius, a collection of songs that aren’t going out of their way to sound half as good as they do. However, amidst everything, it becomes clear that an album so removed from its own context is perhaps the smartest thing Young Thug could have released.

Young Thug is the poster boy for rap’s ever-expanding style over substance trend. It is a trend that is upsetting many purists, but also contributing some of the freshest, most boundary pushing hip-hop of our time. However, Young Thug has a bit more bite than the others. Sure, his songs say absolutely nothing, not even scratching the surface of tenacious concept, and arguably serving no lyrical purpose outside of exhausting already stale rap cliches. Although there is something glamorous about his stream of consciousness overindulgence, his character still lacks inherent traditional charm. making everything rely on delivery. Thankfully, to say he delivers would be an understatement. He is one of the most talented rappers out there in terms of fluent passion, taking his auto-tuned, often incoherent drawls and demolishing any emotional barriers. Everything he says is catchy and everything sound he makes demands attention.

9. Are You Alone?- Majical Cloudz

When you think of Majical Cloudz, you most likely think of their frontman, Devon Welsh. More specifically, you probably think of Devon Welsh stripped to his absolute emotional core, wide-eyed, looking you right in the face, singing without a single shroud of irony in his body. It is this intimidating closeness that has always defined their music, and songs from 2013’s Impersonator were shocking in how raw and fragile they were. They had a darkness that hit you off guard. Are You Alone? no longer approaches this, at least not as heavily. Although these songs are as sparse and intimate as ever, Welsh seems humbled, negating the opportunity to steal the show. Instead, he seems content with mere existence, putting himself on the level of Matthew Otto’s instrumentals, which present themselves here with more delicacy than ever before. The production ensures that there is a warm melodic comfort to such unavoidably sad songs, and with each track on Are You Alone?, Majical Cloudz find a simple way to hit this extremely emotional nerve.

8. Carrie & Lowell- Sufjan Stevens

Carrie & Lowell, might be the most conventionally alluring album of Sufjan Stevens’ career. It places its focus on a constant struggle; an unconventional relationship will inevitably result in unconventional grief, yet here Sufjan resides in unconditional love, recalling memories from his time spent with his mother in Oregon but unable to use them to cloak the misery. ‘No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross’ is quite explicit with this as Sufjan sings “I’ll drive that stake through the center of my heart…I’m chasing the dragon too far”. At its core, this is a Christian album and the role religion plays makes it even more interesting. ‘Shadow of the Cross’ isn’t the only track with thoughts of suicide. On ‘The Only Thing’, Sufjan is on the verge of driving his car off a cliff or cutting his arm, with the only thing stopping him being his own faith. These jarring thoughts are means of bringing himself to an afterlife, the single place where he can pursue the relationship that was so hard to preserve during his mother’s life. The themes of destruction contrast with the melancholy reminiscences to make the mental friction of Carrie & Lowell absolutely devastating.

Sufjan has stripped-back his musical appetite here but a refined focus on gut-wrenching stories and emotional portraits does more than just compensate. It grants Stevens a capacity to function with immense grace, reveling in the weight of such therapeutic lyricism and exemplifying the beauty in remorse; the jaw-dropping melodies and performances only flesh it out. ‘Death With Dignity’ and ‘Should Have Known Better’ have an unshakable elegance to their composition, with vocal crescendos you can climb and codas that are practically hypnotic. In fact, the whole album is just beautiful. Fuck, man. Sufjan did that shit. Carrie & Lowell is gonna move you, I guarantee it.

7. Platform- Holly Herndon

Holly Herndon doesn’t merely embrace the glitches in her music: she lives off them. Platform embodies a very hyper brand of modernism, a world where cyber and human are interchangeable. The electronics are the heart of these pieces, and the most mechanical corruptions in their patterns give the album some space to breathe.

Platform is an album very much in-touch with the fact that it is a product of technology. For Herndon, the laptop need not suffer from its inorganic limitations, the fact that the choppiness, textures, and editing are very much the life of the party. Pieces like ‘Chorus’ are centered around occasions where these machines break down, falling almost effortlessly into a momentous, rhythmic climax. Elsewhere, ‘Lonely at the Top’ and ‘Locker Leak’ utilize textures that are usually unheard of on an album this electronic. The voices and dialogue that tinge these tracks are hyper-pristine and hyper-realistic, creating a hallucinatory juxtaposition between the understated backgrounds on which they recline. You could fall asleep to Platform, a record that resembles pure sedation as it slips into the background. However, at its core sits a masterful grasp on a very spooky atmosphere. The way this album comes together is almost unsettling.

6. Ripe 4 Luv- Young Guv

If you think Ripe 4 Luv sounds like it is from the 80s, then you’re not wrong. Everything on the debut album from Young Guv, the new project by Fucked Up guitarist Ben Cook, was run through an FX unit commonly used 30 years ago called The Chimp Box, which places it within a very vintage, lo-fi breathing space. That means this album sounds like it is coming straight from the radio in the summer of 1985. The nostalgia doesn’t end at the production. All eight songs are absolutely bombastic with their masterfully infectious refrains and joyous, playful energy. Power pop hasn’t been this syrupy since The Outfield’s ‘Your Love’, and if that doesn’t sound like a flattering comparison…well, it is. Ripe 4 Luv’s main draw is that has some of the best pop songwriting all year (Cook has written songs for Taylor Swift, if that puts it into context); it simply happens to stumble on an unprecedented sound in the process.

The emphasis on choruses here is heavy. Ripe 4 Luv is sculpted in a way where the filtered guitars/drums are constantly threatening to swallow up the vocal melodies. Thus, whenever we get to a refrain, it seems to hoist the track out of a swamp. In the case of the oddly flirtatious ‘Kelly, I’m Not a Creep’, the chorus yanks the song so hard that it turns itself inside out, being the one moment where Cook’s enchanting whine transforms into a desperate scream. ‘Crushing Sensation’ and ‘Crawling Back to You’ are pretty much all hook; when one melody sounds contagious enough to be the drawing point, the track one ups itself in ways you would never expect. Ripe 4 Luv is dense like that. It is atmospherically versatile, and some of the record’s most refreshing moments come when Cook slows it down. The lumbering ‘Aquarian’ is tactfully sandwiched between the album’s two most aggressively sweet tracks, with a laid-back magnetism that does wonders for the pacing. Even ‘Wrong Crowd’, a lax song which wears down the same groove for seven minutes before throwing a twee saxophone solo on top of it, feels necessary. When Ripe 4 Luv gets loud it is enthralling; when it stays soft it is delicate. This balance ensures durability no matter how far the album goes.

5. Summertime ‘06- Vince Staples

If you take Summertime ‘06 at face value, it’s a coming of age tale. In the real-life summertime of ‘06, Vince Staples was a 13 year old growing up in Long Beach, California, grappling with what he would call “the power of fear”. This is what he chooses to emulate on his debut record. More specifically, he wants “people to feel the fear of being 12, 13 years old when your best friend’s dad goes to jail”. Notice how he doesn’t want to “share” the fear; he wants people to “feel” it. He’s aware that many can not relate to the life he has lived. He’s also aware that he is not the only rapper discussing the things he discusses. Thankfully, this album’s vision is thoroughly sculpted. Summertime ‘06 isn’t exactly a concept album, or at least it doesn’t feel the need to shove its concept down your throat. Instead, Staples’ lyrics are observational. On these tracks, he’s listing off things he notices without placing too much emphasis on their message. He is a rare breed of the conscious rapper, seeing as he prospers without the self-appointed moral responsibility of, say, Kendrick Lamar or J. Cole. He has no interest in telling you how to think. He just wants to see how he can make you feel.

The first time most people heard of Vince Staples was when he rapped about raping and killing a girl on Earl Sweatshirt’s 2010 mixtape track ‘epaR’. Even if you don’t get anything from Summertime ‘06’s fascinating content and structure, you will at least be able to appreciate this record for its maturity. The length he’s come since the Odd Future days is mind-blowing, but the Sweatshirt connection is still an important one. Until last year’s Hell Can Wait EP helped Staples pave a path of his own, Staples had not had much exposure outside of his numerous features on Earl’s work. These appearances have been the most direct benchmarks of his development. On ‘Wool’ from this year’s Earl album I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, Staples sounded like the main act on the bill and Summertime ‘06 cements this presence. Sweatshirt himself appears on this record, not to rap but to deliver snippets of rhythmic speech on the album’s second ‘Ramona Park Legend’ interlude. The only words he says are “I’m a motherfuckin’ legend/that’s how a nigga feel” as if he is waiving his chance to assist Staples, instead opting to watch from the distance. Sure, we might not have known who Staples is without Earl’s co-sign, but on his debut album, Staples considers no perspective but his own. Seeing as he is one of the most gripping vocal presences in street-rap, he can construct a compulsively listenable album paired up with spellbinding musical taste. In fact, Summertime ‘06 sounds so good that its thought-provoking introspection into abandonment of youth actually takes the passenger seat. Lyrics being a rap album’s second priority isn’t a conventional compliment, but when you consider that Staples is one of the strongest songwriters in modern day hip-hop, it is merely a testament to this record’s strength.

4. I Love You, Honeybear- Father John Misty

Josh Tillman (aka Father John Misty) has a pseudonym, affiliations (ex-percussionist of Fleet Foxes), and a look that suggests a very specific type of musician. And for a while, he was precisely that. His early albums as J. Tillman share a couple of elements with I Love You, Honeybear- most notably his powerful, golden voice- but in contrast seem rather underproduced and pedestrian. There is plenty to admire about folk music as sparse and charming as Tillman’s earlier work. However, the reason it was a tad forgettable was because it rarely played up perhaps what is now his most defining characteristic: his personality.

Honeybear, incidentally the most elegantly produced and well-written album of Tillman’s career, owes most of its charm to its lyrical charisma. In fact, taking this album at face value might suggest a focus on something completely different. Each song here is graced with impeccable instrumentation, which elevates the even stronger melodies to a platform where they are able to expand with ease. It almost makes you group Father John Misty with artists like The Walkmen, First Aid Kit, or even Fleet Foxes, who center their admittedly powerful emotional appeal around sounding “nice”. But Honeybear is not a nice album. Not even a little bit. It is easy to miss how one of the first lines on this record is “mascara, blood, ash, and cum on the Rorschach sheets where we make love” if you are being swept into its instrumental crescendo. When this album plays in the background- which it inevitably will- you might not realize that at its core sits a cynic, a narcissist, a tortured lover who graces just about every song here with some of the most passionate aggression, tenderness, or speculation in recent times. It is easy to be blown away by its conventional studio glamour (I definitely was), but Honeybear progresses into so much more as Tillman’s character is realized. With that in mind, it is the most current singer-songwriter album around, a fearless character study that puts itself out there with poise.

3. If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late- Drake

If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is Drake’s first official “mixtape” since 2009, although such a status is put up for debate seeing as the record costs money. Aesthetically, however, the lack of any obvious radio song or mainstream pop appeal separates the tape from your typical Drake record, which is usually doused in similar emotional self-indulgence but packs a few obvious singles in there for good measure. However, this is no reason to assume that IYRTITL lacks viral charm. In fact, if Drake himself has become a cultural phenomenon, this mixtape, an hour-plus exercise in unabashed fragile narcissism, is the Drake-est thing in existence. Gone is the corniness that was such a drawback on some of his earliest material; although IYRTITL is shamelessly confident, there is no childish delusion. When Drake claims “if I die I’m a motherfucking legend”, he is not putting himself on a pedestal but merely stating what he believes and is willing to prove. Bold statements like this are woven through every end of the mixtape, but Drake stands strong as one of the few rappers who gives words like these real weight.

Even if the poise bounces at you, IYRTITL works so well because of its entertainment value. Drake has only gotten more animated with age, and songs on here see him getting the very best of his charisma through his delivery. ‘6 God’ is sheer hype at its most impulsive, rattling through its spot with a flow that is completely on edge. This level of ferocity was new for Drake as of 2013’s ‘Worst Behavior’, a song where Drake just hurled himself at you vocally. Nowadays it seems to be Drake’s most appropriate delivery method, as it shows up on many of the best tracks on this mixtape. ‘Know Yourself’ gathers an absurd amount of momentum with its beat change and ultimate launch into perhaps the most hauntingly hyped segment of Drake’s career: the already iconic “runnin’ through the six with my woes!”. Drake does not seem to be holding anything back here, and this relatively newfound expressive freedom may be the finest thing about the tape.

2. Vulnicura- Björk

Even with the historical quality control on Björk’s part, her new album, Vulnicura, is surprisingly brilliant. The two albums that came before it, Volta and Biophilia, were graced with conceptual ambition and intriguing experimentation but seemed to imply that Björk was starting to grasp at artistic straws. Comfortable is the last thing you could call an album as grating and emotionally fragile as Vulnicura, but the record certainly projects a fuller sound and thus feels more at home than Björk has felt in 14 years. At first, drawing on IDM wizards like Arca and The Haxan Cloak for production may have seemed like a smart way to fit in with the current landscape of underground electronica. Instead, it turned out to be an effort to enlist the creators of the eeriest electronic albums of the past two years to help Björk develop the haunting atmosphere she required. So, Vulnicura does not feel like a comeback record in the sense that Björk needed to reprove herself. Rather, it excels 22 years into a career that many assumed would have gone astray by now. So, the real surprise stands in how Vulnicura not only satisfies, but propels a living legend right back into her prime.

It makes sense that the most draining album of Björk’s career comes off the tail end of mammoth emotional turmoil. Following a separation from ex-husband and longtime collaborator Matthew Barney, Björk likened the construction of this album to “open-heart surgery”. The heartache and frustration that has loomed over Björk since the heartbreak is present on Vulnicura and it is a tough pill to swallow. It is evident that Björk has never made an album this personal before and such a raw exhibit of her emotions must be nerve-wracking, but the intentions are clear.Vulnicura is therapeutic. It is shattering. It deals with feelings so deep-rooted and real that listening to it almost feels invasive. On ‘Black Lake’ we get a sense of the dynamic; “You fear my limitless emotions/I am bored of your apocalyptic obsessions/did I love you too much?”. Björk paints a relationship dominated by doubt and resentment. Yet, it is something so overwhelming that it becomes inescapable. ‘Family’ reads like an obituary, where the void romance is painfully obvious but the persistence of the past exists in the form of a child. “Show some respect between the three of us”, Björk demands. “There is the mother and the child/then there is the father and the child/but no man and a woman/no triangle of love.”

In a career so legendary and filled with highlights, it is hard to determine whereVulnicura stands. On one hand it is a fresh return to sensitive form after a couple of albums that seemed to put emotion in the passenger seat. On another, it is simply a continuation of the impulse that has dominated this career; the fact that Björk never seems to know where she is going to go. However, Vulnicura evidently begins to stand up to masterworks like Homogenic and Vespertine, albums that were very unlikely to be challenged by anyone, let alone their own creator. It just goes to show that there is nobody quite like Björk. Her stamina and individuality is unmatchable, and with Vulnicura she adds yet another layer to her unique legacy.

1. To Pimp a Butterfly- Kendrick Lamar

Trying to pin To Pimp a Butterfly down is the wrong way to approach it. You could look at it as an emotional statement from a young black male at a time where discrimination is scarily prevalent. This is precisely what it is, but Lamar is not willing to take stances on these issues as much as he is eager to grow through them. It is a fresh perspective for Lamar; one that rejects clichés, doctrines, and any sort of linear progression. Instead, it serves its disjointed purpose through disjointed characters, disjointed situations, and disjointed sentiments. The spoken word snippets deliver it best. At the end of ‘i’, a song that was a bit troubling on its studio release but is completely revamped here with a live version, Lamar struggles to get the crowd’s attention, stammering “niggas ain’t trying to play victim, how many niggas we done lost?” before concluding “it shouldn’t be shit to come out here and appreciate the little bit of life we got left”. On the end of the record’s already iconic Tupac interview, the resurrected rapper claims “in this country a black man only has five years where he can exhibit maximum strength”. If there is a key theme on Butterfly, it is a celebration of black American culture, spitting vitriol at those who threaten it (‘The Blacker the Berry’) but rejecting cynicism and deflation as solutions to the problem. Butterfly is layered, and within those layers is a dense, scattered plate of passion that surfaces in many guises.

When the album starts, Kendrick is metaphorically “nutting” on the rap industry over a Flying Lotus beat, hitting just the right note. Coming off one of the most monumental breakthroughs in recent memory, it is understandable that Kendrick is conflicted by fame. ‘Wesley’s Theory’ takes the irresponsible wealth stereotype and blows it up, going as far as to have a pre-chorus that goes “we should never gave these niggas money/go back home”. We could revel over the perfect stylistic choices- opening with a sample from an old reggae song called ‘Every Nigger is a Star’, having Dr. Dre come in for a hyped guest appearance- before even getting to the nitty gritty. ‘For Free’ shows how far Kendrick is willing to veer from trite delivery, adopting a rapid-speed, unwinding slam-poetry flow over a catastrophic jazz backdrop. It is the type of thing that is so over-animated it almost seems like a throwaway, until you realize that a throwaway should not feature some of the most technically proficient rapping in recent memory.

There are no clear radio songs on Butterfly, a first for a Kendrick record, but the tracks that come closest are miraculously catchy considering their daring experimentation. For example, ‘King Kunta’ is busy as fuck. Every segment diverts from its projected path, either taking unexpected pauses, incorporating surprise melodies, or, most notably, engaging in punchy call and response (“I’m mad! (Hey Mad!)”). It is astonishing that a track with so many grooves can be this alert with all of them. Every single diversion is absolutely on point, and by the time the track ends it has expanded so much that its only option is to shatter into the somber disarray of the record’s remains. ‘Institutionalized’ sees R&B singer Bilal taking the role of Kendrick’s grandmother, preaching an ear-catching mantra of “shit don’t change until you get up and wash your ass, nigga”. For Kendrick, the community has been stuck in the mud for decades. However, it is a hunger for strength that is drilled into the record, not optimism. The most menacing moments come post-depression; on ‘Alright’, Kendrick hopes to “tell the world I know it’s too late…drown inside my vices all day”, but only over a grinning Pharrell beat and an assured hook. It is easily the most jubilant track on the record. This is emphasized since it comes after the second half of ‘u’, where Kendrick drunkenly weeps “shoulda killed your ass long time ago/shoulda felt that black revolver blast long time ago”. Hatred and insecurity dominates Butterfly, but it is always topped off by a whiff of realistic positivity. Lamar is a jarring wordsmith who knows how to let an emotion sink in (“you Facetimed the one time that’s unforgiven/you even Facetimed instead of a hospital visit”), and this ability steers his words up to the top of the music’s stunning instrumental labyrinth.

It truly is the music and delivery that makes Butterfly far more than a collection of haunting poetry. You could listen to this record without paying attention to a single word and still love it (an observation, not a suggestion) and that is all because it sounds like a spectacle at every turn. The prowess for jaw dropping moments is a constant reminder that you are listening to a intricately designed, endlessly labored-over masterpiece. For example, the moaning, seductive introduction to ‘These Walls’, the rhythmic whines on ‘For Sale’, and the gradual grittiness of Kendrick’s voice on ‘Mortal Man’ are all magnificent touches. Nevertheless, the real virtue of Butterfly is its stories, statements, characters, and allusions. Rarely do you ever get to witness an artist put such weight into every word he writes. Within the span of the record Kendrick frigidly haggles with God, interviews Tupac, and vocally embodies his mother. He simultaneously deals with hatred, bliss, and hope. He reminds you that he’s the greatest rapper around but only after he touches on politics and police brutality. He recites a poem that comes together as the album progresses, and when it is finally revealed in its full form, it feels like relief from a cliffhanger. Indeed, Kendrick Lamar has made a record even more cinematic and less obvious than its predecessor, which was incidentally one of the greatest concept albums of this generation. So grab a lyric sheet, embrace judgment, and grow. To Pimp a Butterfly is a fucking masterstroke.

Returning from the docks

The third part of my ‘Return’ series… My thanks to @mybeautifuldecay for continuing to be a prodder and working through my ideas.

1st part - My Return to Paris

2nd part - My Return to Boston

And an adjunct - A return to half of myself

Exhausted. Drained. Frayed.

Jamie’s usual trip to the shore had exhausted him beyond belief.  A life of physical exertion meant a tolerance to long bouts of activity but the years were catching up with him and each day brought constant pain.  The physical he could deal with but as time was wearing on, the emotional toll was beginning to make itself evident.  

It was late.  The lamps had been out for a long time, and the only people walking through the streets were tavern revellers and those on night watches.  With a heavy sigh, he turned up the lane towards Madame Jeanne.  This was the easiest place to be right now.  He needed to sleep, he needed to eat and some time alone to move away from being Jamie Roy.  Tomorrow brought a new customer who had ordered a large print run and Geordie was away.  This potential new business could send much needed money back to Lallybroch, and to Balriggan. 

The room was exactly as he had left it.  Outside there were the moans of the customers and the laughter of the girls.  Company enjoyed, paid for and given.  Odd, he thought, how this room, surrounded by people gave him the solitude he craved.  Now, more than ever.  The cave had given him time away, to grieve and to retreat with those blessed moments back to Jenny and Ian. Ardsmuir bought the constancy of people and the lack of privacy.  Helwater, more heartache and then finally back to Lallybroch.  In truth, as time wore on, he longed for the cave for this was where there was no judgement, no meddling, nothing to take the feeling of Claire away from him.  But he also knew that this not the answer.  It would not put food on the table.   Slowly he walked towards his cot, carefully placing his coat and breeks on the chair.  As he took off his stockings he inspected a new hole that had started to fray and he picked at the end to try and do a makeshift mend.  Sighing, he placed it with its companion on top of the other clothes.  

Mechanically, he moved to the washstand, watched the water as it flowed into the bowl and splashed his face, neck and hands.  Like unbidden tears, the water streamed down his face and splattered onto his chest.  As he picked up the makeshift toothbrush a small smile escaped his face.  It was the small things that kept Claire in his everyday life.  The way he washed, the cleaning of teeth, how he would boil utensils to make sure they were clean and rub them with alcohol.  The small things that others would notice and after a while stop trying to change.  He had been careful to not push it on others, but he could feel his actions had not been welcome at Balriggan.    

 He stared hard in the looking glass and at the reflection in front of him. 

Time was passing, for him and he hoped for Claire.  What if, by the love of God, she were to come back?  Would she notice the passing of time on him, on his body?  She had known his body as he had known his own and hers.  She had loved each part of him unconditionally and whereas others had winced or been afraid of his scars, she had not.  He glanced at his leg and thought of the scar there, one that would be unfamiliar to her.  Would she love this too?  He shook his head to try and rid himself of the thoughts. 

He had reached the point in his life where he did not know whether to think of Claire bought more comfort or pain.  In truth it bought both and chasing that presence whenever he could gave a small moment of respite from the reality of life.  But tonight felt different.  When he thought of her, there was no expectation of pain, only a calm that he not experienced before.

‘Mo graidh, how I long for you, be safe, you and the child.' 

Stiffly moving into his cot, he began to feel an odd sense of comfort, as if he were resting on Claire herself.  Her arms seemed to circle him and gently he fell into a deep sleep.

He had found a nice secluded spot up on the hillside.  Lying his woollen plaid down he rested himself on the scratchy plaid the leaves underneath cushioning his weight.  The sun was dappling through the trees and he reveled in the seclusion he had found.

He turned to see an abundance of dark and light curls lying next to him,strawberries strewn around, inviting him to taste.    

'Hmmm these are delicious, taste them’ A ripe strawberry was placed into his mouth.  The sound of laughter rang out to be replied by blessed quiet.  They were alone.   

He wanted more, like a hungry man at his last feast with a great urge to devour.  Despite this immense hunger, he knew that if he began to taste ever part of her, hidden and seen, he would not be able to stop.  He wanted this to last, and as always the fun was in the teasing, for both of them.  From his vantage point, he began to kiss up her leg.  Tasting the tang of the strawberry on his lips, the soft flesh of her legs gently yielding to his touch.  He rucked up her shift to allow him to greater access and he moved his head into her inner thigh.  Softly sighing, he reached for her breast and began to move his hand in circular movements, revelling in the feeling of her hard nipple against the linen shift.  Smiling, he continued kissing until he reached he reached his goal, the heat overpowering him with lust.  The urge to taste and feast greater than ever.  Without thought, his tongue took over, lightly tasting around her, until he could take it no more and with one motion, took her within his mouth.  Soft as an oyster and just as salty. Growling, lott in her body, he began to suck and lick until he could her whimpers gaining strength.  He didn’t want this to end.  

He heard a loud gasp and looked up, a lopsided smile coming from his face.  He felt triumphant.  She was his, body and spirit.  

‘Sassenach, I’m all yours, I always will be, come find me’

And with that, he woke with a cockstand has he had not had in many a year.  His hand moved deftly along and with quick and definite strokes relieved himself.  This time, instead of the pain of losing her, Jamie found her closer than ever.  

There was no way he could find her but she could find him, if she looked hard enough.  He began to make a plan.

DAY 2150

Lonavala, MH             Mar 5/6,  2014              Wed/Thu   3:16 am

Lonavala, Mumbai         Mar 5, 2014          Wed  11:29 pm

Life is a great leveler. It extends, bends and pretends.

What you bring along is long tested. What you do not, does not. Uncertainties of nature and existence never have answers. They spring upon us, show us their strengths and disappear, oblivious to what they leave behind. Sufferings are eternal and perpetual. They live with us till we count our last.

Oblivious of what the consequences be at the time of an adventure, experience and incident, it is disturbing to us mortals what lies in store either way. What may seem insurmountable, finds a conquest. What heights we climb, poses another peak to be achieved.

Those that live in constant excess, I believe, are most aware of its fragility. Those that do not, are either fearless or unaware of its crumbling.

Some of us live in constant fear of the consequences, and some have diligently worked out options, were there to be a situation. I would presume that many presume that this option does not exist in most. But it does. And it does in numbers and the thinkings of those that value outcome. There are many that do not, which is fine as a way chosen by them on their own conduct. But many do, and they need to be followed and observed with care.

Excesses attract, irrespective of their genuineness. They are rare and endangered species. They shall always seek to be protected, because. But the world and the universe is not likely to be enamored by them that despite its worthiness and ingenuity, flaunt it with unrestricted pride and arrogance, centimeters distanced, from the nostrils of the lesser.

Many believe that living in the constancy of such thought, deprives one of a freedom. A freedom that is truly our birthright. Fine. I do not have an answer to that which harbors such. But each birthrighted freedom has to be won and labored for, and on its final achievement, to be best rested, within the confines of our ethics and ethos.

Each ethos and ethic has its own parameters, both individually and collectively. They will differ. They shall possess different and varied interpretation. But irrespective of any, they shall all saunter down to one commonality. That common thread is what shall bind us all, in order and command. The observance of this command, this regimentation, if you may wish to address it so, is the desired conditions for behavior.

Character belongs to the ethos and ethic of our growth. With character come dignity. And with dignity, wisdom.

May we all strive to be wise, just, and in belief.


Belief in perception is a boon and a curse. The race between reality and its perception, is one that has pervaded our ethos. Wise are they that can project convincingly, reality, before perception overtakes it. For, the latter has habitually been that, which has found belief earlier than the former.

Many distinguished intellect have commented through the ages of the virtues of both, but emphasized the complexities of the latter. One reason then, why it needs greater attention and concern.

Perception shall always require greater care and address. It has the capacity to be of lasting impact. Any impact that lasts, is reverential in its construct. It may not be what it is meant to be. But then meanings in such situations possess alternate meanings as well.

Who and what then to believe ? Which to take as definite ? And why ?

Questions !

Questions need answers. Answers need convincing ability. Convinced ability is another rarity. In today’s most cynical atmosphere, it has a short life.

Best then .. to beat it much before by that which is real.


My academic lack could well be one that reeks of garlic. But each element has a cure .. even garlic !!


My sincere apologies for this uncalled for philosophic indulgence, but loaded from early morning with the ‘Yo’ factor, does do strange things to one.

It is past midnight and work still continues. It may last for another couple. Driving back to the resting place would take another hour, and by then it would be time to leave for the work for the next.

Nothing in life is achieved without struggle !

My struggle for the moment is the non connectivity of the cyber. Hopefully at my resting, it shall have the access required to get this into your varied destinations. ‘Word’ as advised by many after the loss of content on occasion, has prompted me to dither here. And from here to there !!


With love to all in abundance …



Amitabh Bachchan

And the day cannot end at 4:14 am without the activity report :

‘jab saari duniya soo jati hain .. after party ki jo party …’

'come party with the Bhoothnath … relax man !!’

….. and another rarity … the entire electronic media WITHOUT MICROPHONES ..!!

Cool kids .. jamming and rapping to the 'after party ..

…. the Lambo .. a constant with the Yo Yo Honey Singh ..aaaaa !!

saada punyabbi puttar … the director with the props -Yo and Mo

some of the pics just so you can see the skulls .. one that you had seen before in a previous post … but the entire clothing design from my personal wardrobe .. yoooyooooooo !!