by Joel Cathcart

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"In a flash of vision he understood how other feet would cut their track arrowstraight towards the city, understood how the tower was laying a hand on the whole landscape, altering it, dominating it, enforcing a pattern that reached wherever the tower could be seen, by sheer force of its being there". William Golding

Descent is an interdisciplinary project, combining a forty-five minute song cycle with a large mixed-media sculpture. It was premiered in the Queens Film Theatre, Belfast, on September 4th 2009.

Descent's multiple narrative trajectories navigate the intersections of architecture, society, language and memory, taking as their thematic catalyst the Old Testament story of the city and tower of Babel.


released April 9, 2009



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Joel Cathcart Genoa, Italy

Joel is a composer, songwriter and visual artist, originally from Belfast, currently living in Genoa.

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Track Name: Zenith (A Flock of Windows)
soft grid in the bleached air
a luminous flock of windows
slow touch of terminal grey

anxious mountain
towering obsession
cutting through a mesh of agnostic signals
straining up towards perfection

arc lights on a proud mast
immoveable storied saviour
Track Name: Hopeful Young Keyholders
short commute to the base of the spine
as big a deal as I could break
the sharp frontiers of villa slums
throw staggered shadows on the rails

we staple on another shelf
sculpt another vertebra
chase the dream above our heads
draw our breath a little shorter

stubborn urban loggerheads
sleek and sterile battering rams
frozen just before collapse
ice fields playing dead for time
Track Name: Mother Tongue
well-heeled heretic, featureless figure of eight
sentinel architect, docile pick of the week
windowledge shipwreck, moribund man on the moon
flexitime pessimist, sackcloth ship in the night

I will look after you
cut your slack slowly
but in the interim
unstitch your origami heart from your sleeve

fairy tale figurehead, comatose eye of the storm
tourniquet citizen, safety valve tip of the tongue

I will deliver you
wring your neck out
but in the aftermath
you must look the other way

renegade monument, parody pillar of salt
blossoming precipice, coup d'état, cavernous heart
virulent daydream, ravenous jack-in-the-box
Track Name: Black Sunburn Riot Mind (Thousands of Splinters)
it hit us in a surge of fractured song
clotted minds scorched with shock
and I’m swallowing paraffin just to fake a tongue of fire
but I don’t have words for this anymore

it caught us in our parched and half-built home
a flood that washed out every floor
and I’m jetsam set to foam along our fissured fault lines
and I know the fault is mine

bruised borders shrouded in light
blind glare of an unknown voice
severed bloodlines spraying loneliness
Track Name: Glossolalia
drag net of continents
does not fray
held in place

a myriad fated colours glisten in the faraway sea

charred edge of memory
will not seal
hope escapes
out of date

a bristling cloud of thoughts that burst in disarray

top heavy exodus
cannot keep
empty lands
wait for us

the reckless sapling so all of
reached the roof
incomplete our advancements
checked its growth

our vivid focus turned back as
hungry rout tidal fragments
leaves no trace

no distant prophesy
spelt the end
signposts born
much too late
Track Name: Shells
spars protrude like broken limbs
spars protrude like broken limbs
our girder god is splayed out and exhausted

our dead-end elopement
our dead-end elopement
stranded handstand halfway up the sky
Track Name: Poetics of Defeat
embrace the struggle like another well-worn sister
sad and splintered
embrace your shadow as a burnt-out puddle
flattened parcel

forgive your blood its solemn gestures
livid etching
forgive the dusk its weary posture
faded gospel

embrace the detailed contradictions
grainy ficta
embrace a world of imprecision
choice perfection

forgive the dust its thoughtless chatter
friendly clutter
forgive the crowd their indecision
garbled wisdom

before they set the clocks on you
before your plans are shelved forever
before you have to understand
the claims you stake will split your life apart

before they set the clocks on you
before your wounds are drawn together
before you come to recognise
the halves you split will stake your life out