Ages and Ages
The Drake Underground
- Time & Place
Ages and Ages is more than a band. It’s a collective of like-minded souls that believe in the power of music to change the world and elevate the spirit. Their music is bright and uplifting, with lyrics, penned by bandleader Tim Perry, that deliver serious introspective messages full of insight and consideration for others.
“When we made this album, we wanted a word to describe how we felt and what we were going through as individuals and a band,” Perry says, “so we made one up. ‘Divisionary’ signifies a group whose vision of ‘right’ is upsetting to the existing power structure. It includes a philosophical, spiritual, and physical ‘breaking off’ from the status quo. It also references the individual inner conflicts that arise as you struggle to make the right choices in life. Visionaries don’t always create conflict, but they challenge the establishment with new ideas and with the threat of change. Where there is change, there is usually resistance, controversy, division.
“The songs on our first album, Alright You Restless, described a group of people leaving a selfish, destructive society for a place safe from the madness. That was like starting a band, wanting to establish new rules and a language to put some distance between themselves and the noise outside. Those songs were optimistic, energetic and self-righteous because that’s how a group of people who broke off from society would feel. As the group faces the struggles of actually making their community work, reality sets in and things get more complicated. Divisionary details the second phase of the journey.”
Alright You Restless was made in eight days of feverish creativity. Divisionary evolved over months of experimentation at Portland’s Jackpot Studios with veteran producer Tony Lash (Elliott Smith, The Dandy Warhols, Eric Matthews), as well as the home studio of Ages bass player Rob Oberdorfer. During the process, the band suffered the loss of a number of close family members and dear friends, so the songs became a kind of road map for anyone attempting to avoid darkness, without becoming consumed by anger in the face of life’s difficulties. “There were also great things happening,” Perry adds. “One of us had a child, another got married. Life was tipping both ends of the scale; there were a lot of changes going on.”
Perry spent ten days on a silent meditation retreat, formulating the direction of Divisonary, and his calm, centered vision is at the core of the music. The intricate harmonies, celebratory choral vocals, churchical piano and organ, inventive counter melodies, bright acoustic guitars, and exciting, interlocking rhythms set off aural fireworks to frame the grounded emotions conveyed in the lyrics.
The title track, “Divisonary (Do The Right Thing),” is a secular gospel song with inspirational harmonies, sanctified piano and smooth violin adding muscle to a simple refrain: “Do the right thing, do the right thing….don’t you know you’re not the only one suffering.” A stomping, exuberant bass drum pushes the giddy pop vocals of “I See More,” as it reassures listeners that, “It’s all OK, I’ll be on your side.” The jaunty folk pop of “Big Idea” holds a flickering candle up to the darkness with intricate handclapping, gentle harmonies and the candid admission that, “All of my ins are on the outside. And I want you all to notice, cuz I have no will to hide.”
On “Over It,” acoustic guitars played in open tunings dance across a complex musical landscape to Eastern melodies and counter melodies, leading to the group declaring over a swaying 6/8, “I have no remorse for the way that I am anymore. No, I feel no shame.” The band’s funky hand clapping folk rock rhythms move “The Weight Below” as Perry and the band belt out a soaring chorus to release the feelings that cause stress and suffering. “And the weight that we left behind, we’re all better off without it, and it ain’t even worth our time, so I ain’t gonna worry about it.” The complex structure of “Light Goes Out,” bounces along on a stomping bass line, bright, piano shenanigans and the band’s joyously dislocated vocals: “I kept up with the verses in my head, running right along beside ‘em all day. At some point, well I found myself wondering if I was even running or just running away.”
The harmonies and intricate instrumental interplay on Divisionary are carefully crafted, but never sound forced, with complex arrangements that are naturalistic, invigorating and free. The clash between the band’s stirring folkadelic sounds and emotionally thorny subject matter makes for a bracing listen, “as if the internal conflict is happening in real time,” Perry says.
“We live in a country where a substantial amount of the population would rather discard science than admit climate change is happening. A culture which, more and more, considers higher education to be some kind of liberal indoctrination. A culture that does not value critical thinking and a power elite that perpetuates misinformation, apathy, and ignorance because it preserves the status quo. I don’t blame people for feeling daunted, apathetic, powerless, and overwhelmed, but I believe that facing the darkness is a necessary step in overcoming it.”
“Ultimately I think the band all feels hopeful and blessed,” Perry concludes. “These songs reflect that optimism, but they don’t do so lightly or try to dodge the struggles we’re dealing with individually and as a band. It was an exceptionally long, hard road this time around but in the end, we’re all really proud and excited to share this record.”