It’s been 15 long years since Cotton Mather released a full length album. As a matter of fact, for all intents and purposes, the Austin based pop quartet, which formed as an experimental collaboration in 1990, had broken up, despite early successes and a number of high profile fans, like Noel Gallagher and Steven Van Zandt. Now, as if to make up for lost time, the band is back, with a whopping 64 song musical project, in which founder Robert Harrison pens a track for each hexagram (or reading) of the I Ching, an ancient Chinese divination text. The singer/songwriter found himself turning to the text for artistic guidance, and the project developed outwards, solidified with his July release, the eleven-track Death of The Cool. But rather then package all 64 songs into elaborate releases, Harrison has instead chosen to let most of the tracks out into the world as they materialize—“in real time and real weather,” as he says.
Today, Elmore is premiering “Fighting Through,” a track from Cotton Mather’s next official release– a four-track EP titled, Girl With A Blue Guitar. Harrison says of the song, ““Fighting Through” is based on the 21st hexagram of the I Ching, ‘Biting Through,’ which uses the image of teeth biting through a piece of dried meat (most likely a lot of that in ancient China) as a metaphor for eradicating old habits of mind and body. “Biting Through,” however, is not so good a song title because it made me think about vampires and Hannibal Lecter, so “Fighting Through” it is then.”
It’s a cheerful, bouncy track that calls to mind the beach-pop of the ‘60s, and breathes renewed life into the band’s early comparisons Elvis Costello. Harrison’s slick, raspy croon is bolstered by subtle harmonies and jangling percussion, handclaps and the swell of guitar. Harrison also includes commentary with each new piece. “Each song’s commentary at ichingsongs.com reflects how a translator traditionally shares thoughts on the reading,” he says. “However, I will limit my commentary to the readings themselves, and let the songs enjoy a free-range lifestyle.”