In case you missed it, the IMPOSE favorites in The Epoch and some of their friends (eskimeaux, Bellows, Small Wonder, Told Slant, LVL UP, 100%, Free Cake for Every Creature) wrote and released, for the second year in a row, one song per day throughout the week of May 5th. Now, Bellows has collected his entries into a release that resembles an album on his bandcamp. Song a Day for a Week appears on its original Tumblr as a communal sonic diary with its finger on the pulse of daily life. When viewed recombined and at a distance, the project pulses with a different sort of vitality that allows a reinterpretation of what a Bellows track means to Oliver Kalb and to his listeners.
Bellows is all baroque pop flourish on 2014’s Blue Breath, and this release, minimal without sounding stripped-down, plays to his pop strengths while recalling his earlier, more blatantly freak-folk work. Haunting turns of phrase still dangle from comfortable, clean chord progressions and unprocessed synth work, with the bandcamp platform tipping them towards the universal end of the universal/particular pop dichotomy. “Frankie is a hoarder and a hog/a very greedy dog”—as a daily release, this was an intimate scribble describing the towering place of Gabby Smith’s (of eskimeaux) diminutive pup. Bound into an album, its fifty-nine seconds are less monumental and more motive—a floppy-eared distraction from the surrounding wistfulness of tracks like “Wyrd Vision (at the Bellows show).”
As of yet, Bellows is the only artist of the group to have broken his work from the 2015 songwriting exercise out as a solo compilation. The tracks from Song a Day for a Week are all strong enough to warrant a listen, but the delicate care with which Bellows approached the project speak to the ways in which his work in the studio colors his everyday experience. The Epoch sometimes tags their albums as “wabi-sabi,” a Japanese worldview that accepts beauty as imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. That Bellows feels comfortable setting life’s detritus next to his more mediated works is an act in the spirit of wabi-sabi. “The mortal form/flawed and ugly/but still a body”—the concluding line in May 5th’s “Evil” could well be Bellows’ programmatic statement. Life—in motion and imperfect—is beautiful because, not in spite of, those features. Not only a strong release in its own right, May 5-12 Songs allows a new appreciation of all else from Oliver Kalb in its imperfection. You can stream it below.