Young Jesus have been thinking about mushrooms. They’ve read Paul Stamets, who believes that mushrooms can save the earth. They’ve read The Mushroom at the End of the World, in which the author Anna Tsing forages through the mushroom industry for answers about late capitalism. They’ve read Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees, a book that draws parallels between fungi and social security systems and eventually posits that mushrooms are “something like the forest Internet.”
They’ve put all of this into The Whole Thing Is Just There, premiering below before its release via Saddle Creek on October 12. It is, on the surface, an incredibly ambitious indie rock record, six songs that sprawl out over 50 minutes, oscillating between affirmations (“It’s not enough to hate the world we live within”) and wry, quasi-spiritual, quarter-life angst (“I have begun seeing with my third eye / I have begun investments with my dad”). But at times it’s not an indie rock record at all. Swaths of the The Whole Thing are given over to improvisation and deconstruction, and few of its tracks conform to any recognizable verse-chorus structure. It concludes with a 20-minute-long song called “Gulf,” only six minutes of which were written before they got into the studio. It’s strewn with anthemic moments, but they always spiral out into stretches of near-chaos.
That freedom finds its roots in those mushrooms. All four members of the band—Rossiter, keyboardist Eric Shevrin, bassist Marcel Borbon, and drummer Kern Haug—read the books about fungi, then discussed them at length. They see something exemplary in the mushroom, something that they can learn from as musicians and people. “The fungus sees the vulnerabilities of the tree, and the tree sees the vulnerabilities of the fungus,” Rossiter says over the phone with the rest of the band listening in. “If you can accept those things from each other in a friendship, then you can have a co-operative relationship. Along with the idea that you eat the detritus of the world, and you make it new, and you enrich the world through that process.”
“Nature metaphors,” he says. “They’re there for everything.”
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