Mark Roberts, the creative mastermind behind the critically acclaimed, Brooklyn-based indie electro pop project, We Are Temporary has developed a reputation for crafting music that draws from a wide range of influences within contemporary electronic music from future beats, dream pop, witch house, post-rock industrial techno as well as classical music. And he pairs that sound with confessional lyrics based on his own personal experience and personal philosophy as some of his earliest solo work has focused on suffering through debilitating anxiety attacks, the near breakup and reconciliation of his marriage, his privileged but tumultuous childhood as the son of a renowned American opera singer, living abroad in Europe, as well as his humanistic atheism versus his wife’s devout Mormonism.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting JOVM for some time, you may recall that after the 2013 release of the Afterthoughts EP, Roberts released a deeply moving protest song inspired and informed by Eric Garner’s death and the grand jury decision that resulted in the acquittal of several police officers for Garner’s death. But also in that time, Roberts had been writing the material that would wind up comprising his forthcoming and long-awaited full-length debut, Crossing Over, slated for a February 19, 2016 release through Stars and Letters Records. As the story goes, Crossing Over and its first single “You Can Now Let Go” is partially inspired by a conversation that Roberts had with his own mother about death. During this conversation Roberts’ mother announced “I’d like to be wide awake when it happens. Dying seems like such an important event in life; I’d hate to miss it.” According to Roberts, this conversation had helped change his mind about death — instead of something to avoid or delay, but something that can be complex, meaningful, beautiful and profound. After all, we and everyone we’ve ever loved and cared about will die; and without death our lives would lack meaning. . .
Additionally, Crossing Over and “You Can Now Let Go” were inspired by Roberts’ own near-death experience: a drug-fueled anxiety attack, which landed him in the ER. Shock and confusion eventually turned into peace and acceptance — and as a result, it inspired a song that depicts a nonviolent death as a quietly beautiful fade to black. I was reminded of how the death of a elder is viewed within the Black church — not as anything particularly upsetting but as a joyous homecoming. Interestingly, the song is comprised of huge, tweeter and woofer boom-bap inspired beats, skittering drum programming, ominously swirling electronics and industrial clang and clatter, layers of undulating synths, soaring melodies that subtly arch heavenward are paired with Roberts’ plaintive, deeply emotive vocals. Sonically it’s a dark and unsettling yet hauntingly beautiful; it’s a song that lingers long after you’ve played it.
The recently released foreboding and gorgeous music video is a re-imagining of the French short film Dans Mon Cocon as it features a woman, who first contemplates her own mortality, and then accepts and prepares for the inevitable. Much like the song, the video’s imagery is unsettling yet haunting.