"ARE YOU GETTING all this down? Are you recording this bullshit?" asks Emily Pothast with a laugh.
The visionary vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter for Seattle future-psych band Midday Veil has been expounding for about 10 minutes straight about the themes surrounding the group's latest album, This Wilderness. Her wonderfully meandering monologue brings in everything from the noise pollution that keeps orca whales from breeding, to Leonard Shlain's theory on how written language is inherently patriarchal, to the aboriginal belief in the connections between earth, man, and the spiritual world known as "The Dreaming."
This splay of influences is a fitting corollary to the scope and scale of the ideas—both musical and philosophical—displayed on This Wilderness. Released on the Beyond Is Beyond label, Midday Veil's third studio album is a massive and beautiful thing, incorporating dark new-wave synths, scrunching polyrhythms, and African percussion. At its center, serving as ballast for the band's curlicued music, are Pothast's hypnotized zen vocals and lyrics that connect the future of humankind on a planet that's quickly being destroyed to the narrow scope of our collective spirituality.
"We're working on the end days of civilization as we know it," Pothast says. "We're devaluing every kind of non-human experience and valuing only empirically based scientific knowledge. That kind of thinking is nihilist and self-destructive."
Despite its caustic worldview, there's also a lot of joy wired into the gray visions on This Wilderness. "Empire Is No More" and "I Am the War" have a danceable bounce to them, capped off by rich, syrupy modular synth tones and the giddy inclusion of a disco-lite string section. The good vibes extended to the inclusive quality of the recording process, too—one that included guest performers like saxophonist Skerik and Parliament-Funkadelic keyboard legend Bernie Worrell.
"The way he interacts with music is so beautiful and spiritual," Pothast says of Worrell. "I aspire to have that same feeling of knowing how I can serve this music and not take for granted that it has value and it wants to exist—rather than making it be how cool I want to be or how I need to get my way, even if it's not the right thing for the project. Just being an empty channel to let the thing happen."