beauty is in the longing, for it draws me closer to you

this is shadowset's first album. it contains songs I wrote from ages 15 to 20 about an aching longing for beauty, for that sweet perfume which seems to waft from another world yet remains infinitely, gapingly untouchable. the title points to the fact that perhaps touching it would be boring...perhaps the separation, the endless well of desire, is the living, beating heart of all that is beautiful.

1. the sublime

when the sunlight's too much to take

I wanna run away from its sublimity

when my heart starts to break

I wanna run away from its sublimity

when my heart is filled with love

I wanna run away

I wanna run away

when my heart is filled with beauty

I wanna run away

I wanna run away

it's too much to take

it's too much to take

it's too much to take

it's too much to take

it's too much for my heart

the beauty is all too much for my heart


the intro song is about the reality that most of us drift through life without experiencing what is actually there. we distract instead of feeling ("placing layer upon layer to my core", as described in paper plane), which gives rise to our suffering. the act of looking into the heart with all its pain and ecstacy is so simple, yet so, so difficult. I use the word "sublime" because in 19th century aesthetic theory the word meant something so awe-inspiring that it makes you tremble in fear. it's the perfect word to describe our fear of reality.

2. we visit the moon like tourists then watch the sunset on mars

your eyes look up at me from the palms of my hands

my gaze traces your coasts in search of white sands

when the sun explodes it's in the shape of a heart

our fingers weave together then fall apart

please fake a smile, it'll only be a moment

your eyes are mirrors of that distant sphere

I want to paint you with the backdrop of the earth

we can hang you on the wall if we get home


I'm not afraid anymore

I'm not afraid to die

it breaks my heart that all goes on the same

I want to know if I'll see you again

your cigarette with flowers dripping from the end

whose petals catch fire

and curl up on the ends


my heart was never fully open

till I jumped into your ocean

have you ever seen those space documentaries where they talk about the universe ending and objects dissapearing into black holes for eternity? those scared the shit out of me as a kid. like what do you mean life on earth isn't permanent? that the sun--this, basically, god that granted me life--would die? I had a horrible existential fear of death from age 7 as well because I was raised with the implication it meant certain nonexistence, so thinking about this space shit threw me into terror.

this song was an attempt to combat that. maybe the sun exploding is the universe dancing in love and I just can't see it yet. maybe death and grief are equivalent to flowers romantically catching fire and I'm oblivious. I've had the suspicion for a long time that this is true, and all I want is to know for sure.

(p.s. I'm not a powder fan boy despite basically opening my album with a quote from that movie. I found the sample/quote I use to open the song on YouTube randomly, and I had no idea what the film powder was even about until years after. funnily, powder gives autistic mystic vibes, which goes oddly well with this whole album--though I hope this album isn't cheesy, pseudo-deep, or cringily sappy like the movie. and god I wish the writer/director wasn't a convincted p*do.)

3. paper plane

my eyes on my iphone there's no beggar man out the limo window

I'm safe behind the limo window. there is no limo window

I just want to see your smile light up a room in a thousand embers

strike a match within your eyes causing fireworks to spew out without shame

when I look into the black sky I wonder who else is doing the same

I wish everyone could believe me as I say softly

"this is heaven"

da da da da, throw my paper planes

oh I can't wait

throw my paper planes

they burn in the air and fall to the ground sobbing

I'm just wanting more, placing layer upon layer to my core

I hear my soul in every sound

I hear my soul in every sound--does that mean I'm out the limo window?

I'm screaming outside the limo window

there is no limo window

(pre-chorus and chorus)

"please just hold me cuz I'm just so lonely. and I'm just so broken. please I just can't stand it."

as our pantheon of gods falls down to the ground sobbing,

we're all just waiting for things to change


the first verse is from the perspective of a privileged person who does not consider people less fortunate than them or have a sense of compassion. the next section is their heart opening, yet they have a condescending pity for the person on the other side of the limo window. their thought "I wish everyone could believe me as I say softly 'this is heaven'" shows that they don't believe the other person can find happiness on their own and that they "need" the their help.

when I was 15 I made a paper plane for my little brother with drawings on it and a message saying that things are gonna be alright, so that's why I use paper planes in this song as a symbol for trying to help others. unfortunately, when the protagonist, after they've realized their capacity for compassion, tries to help people, they always fall short because it is impossible to fully help someone or to help everyone in the world. "oh I can't wait" refers the protagonist's naive excitment in trying to "save everyone". they can't wait for the world to be perfect.

then in the chorus, which is the line "I'm just wanting more, placing layer upon layer to my core", they get depressed from their quest of being a savior because they are so overwhelmed with pity for the world and devestated at their incapacity of changing reality. they turn inward and begin to examine their OWN suffering to its full extent for the first time. "WHY do I feel the need to save people?" this relates back to the theme in "the sublime" about avoiding suffering. the protagonist sees how there are layers of dust on their heart (aka core), how they put it there willingly, and how they are longing to wipe it off but they don't know how. in the next verse, they experience a sort of mild nonduality ("I hear my soul in every sound") and all of this culminates into them realizing that they are, literally, the same as the man out the limo window. there is no limo window (less literally) because the protagonist is actually on the street with the man. which is important because it takes them out of pity helping and causes them to start acting from a more genuine place where other people become a literal extension of them. as a result the main character has an infinite well of compassion to give from rather than helping others because they are subconsciously trying to fix their own pain in desperation.

ok, well, hypothetically. our protagonist does not level up into a bodhisattva like a pokémon. the song goes on gloomily with the second to last line being "we're all just waiting for things to change", and then it ends on that statement about "placing layer upon layer to my core". which I think is, though bittersweet, hopeful. because, though it is hidden, there IS a core.

(fun fact: the lyric used to be, even more cryptically, as my lyrics tended to be back then,"toilet paper and a paper plane" rather than "da da da da, throw my paper planes". It was because I had a semi-mystical experience and then wrote a poem about it on a piece of toilet paper. (Why toilet paper? I was a weird 15 year old. That is all I can tell you.) I am really pissed that I have no idea where that poem is, because I don't even remember what the experience was about and I want to know what the heck my own lyric means. If I had to take a guess, it may have been the experience where I felt that the point of life was love/kindness after meditating for an extended period of time. I promptly went to hug my mom, which, hey, if I don't have a relic of this experience at least mom got a hug.)

(fun fact 2: I don't know wtf was in the air in 2017 but I had multiple indescribable encounters with a loving presence that made my fear of death go away temporarily. one of the times they decided to pop up out of nowhere I rushed to my computer to channel the vibes into the strings in the chorus. the strings are much more prominent in the original instrumental version, and I'm really glad I was able to capture that. I don't know if anyone else can pick it up, but when I listen back to that version it feels quite intense like I bottled the scent of my biblically accurate guardian angel. that's part of why this is my favorite song I've written - it was so collaborative. you don't will the sort of experiences that prompt a song about something like this; they're given to you.

4. beauty is in the longing, for it draws me closer to you

peering through the cracks of this black room I've been rotting in since my conception

from the other side, your breathing light slips its hands in to reach me

the cracks close, and the room returns to cold

burning ice to touch

as I'm banging for help

all I do is sit around and long for you

phantoms of your face in every place

I'm such a mundane mess

all I see is pieces of you inviting me

like a trail of gems


I'm going to close the gap between you and I

peel back the walls of this lie

so that I can look you in the eye

like I try every day but I'm failing

to see the light that's surrounding me

the room never existed at all

I've been in your arms all along.


the room never existed at all


a yearning love song to God.

5. the mystic as a model for life


the title for the interlude comes from a piece of promotional material from the 1975's album "I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it" (these commas and "for"s are looking familiar). it's a photo of a newspaper with an entire article on it titled "the mystic as a model for life". I just brought up a photo of it and I'm reading it and it's making me emotional. not because the article is profound (it isn't), but because I started falling in love with something I couldn't explain at the time I was obsessed with their new promotional stuff coming out. and what's making me emotional is the hilarious fact that, in all my rabid obsession with everything surrounding that album, I didn't look up what a mystic was or these specific mystics that the article quotes, because I had preconcieved ideas about what religion was all the way up until I was 19. I had my first "holy fuck what am I feeling" moment when reading one of the typewriter promotional papers for the album (because, you know, art) so my life immediately began to revolve around researching anything The 1975 mentioned (primarily modern art), trying to figure out what was going on in my heart and if it could give me goddamn answers. and the best answer google could give me was "child, this is beauty. welcome to aesthetics". which...yes...but it was more than that. I knew that. and looking at how freaking close I was to finding people who experience life the way I do makes me wonder who I would be if I had just looked up "mystic".

6. info overload

I have six crystals in my bra but I still don't know the secrets of the universe :'(

googled scriptures for every faith then locked my phone in a safe

where are the secrets of the universe?

ones and zeroes, rabbit holes

information overload

how do I trust what you say when so many preach this way?

heard the silence tells the truth, but I don't know what to do

figure this out...when will I learn there's nothing to figure out?

I have six maggots in my eyes

three for each socket and I'm running out of time

before I disperse in the air and you breath in my atoms


while I feel so far away

i'm always wondering, wondering

figure this out... when will I learn there's nothing to figure out?

figure this out

till the next time I remember...

figure this out

till the next time I remember that I am love

this song is from the period where I stopped having random bizzare experiences, so I felt stagnant and wanted some sort of guidance, but I did not know where to find it. so, as a desperate lad does, I was obsessed with googling about "spirituality" (specifically, the typical new age stuff that comes up, which IS spirituality, but it was really lacking thoughtfulness/practicality and was such a small portion of how people think about spirituality). the issue with that is google doesn't give the best results for that. to find anything of substance you really have to go to books or people, which didn't occur to me at the time--I had to be taught that by someone. the song is overall about the sense of being utterly lost that I felt. I was aware that I was this thing called "spiritual" and vaguely knew buddhism was kinda similar to me because they meditate too, but I was dismissive of religion because I thought they were just distortions of primary experience (who knew there was this thing called esotericsim!).

7. the earth kills flowers

the earth laughs flowers

when the buds push their filthy heads out of the dirt they may as well be dead

here's the flower that retreats into his wrinkled skin as the proof of the end of everything

is grey

everything is grey

everything is grey

"the earth laughs in flowers" is a quote by ralph waldo emerson from his poem hamatreya. the poem is about reverence and surrendering yourself to nature. we all die and all these things we think we own we really don't. nature is so much bigger than us. she provides us with everything and will, very soon, take away everything from us.

I was reading these lyrics, trying to see if I meant anything other than existential depression when I wrote them (so that I can write something here about them), and I was worried this song was just plain gloom and doom with nothing behind it. but then I realized there has to be something more because why else would I have felt it was appropriate for this album? when I play it I don't feel sad as I do with my more emo confessional songs. I feel a bittersweetness but also a lightness and expansiveness. I realized that, holy shit, I'm feeling reverent toward nature. like even though, yeah, it's about depression, using a nature metaphor elevated it to something more clear-headed and joyful for me. I think about exactly what hamatreya is trying to convey: how giant and terrifyingly gorgeous nature is.

8. throw a dead bird to see if she will fly

I had a dream

I was in your arms again

and this time it was forever

instead of hummingbird flashes

oh what a shame

cuz part of me loves suffering

there's something in the pain of being alive

throw a dead bird to see if she'll fly

then go down on both knees

like a pathetic

god-loving religious zealot

I'm done looking for my own happiness, feeling feathers for a heartbeat

I had a dream I was standing on a coast

I looked at the horizon

the fog went off into the distance

a bird of mist appeared

it flew into my chest

it flew into my heart

and then it left me, it left me, it left me


I'm done looking for my own happiness, I'm pretty sure you contain it

I wake up to the beauty

then go on and get somber

when the colors fade from my chest

your face in and out like my breath

and I'm entranced by this orbit

ok with feeling feathers for a heartbeat, feeling feathers for a heartbeat

the phrase "throw a dead bird to see if she will fly" came to me as an image. it's a barren brown landscape, like iceland, and there's a shack in the middle of nowhere. a lady in rags is standing in front of the house and she, well, throws a dead bird gently up as if releasing it and it falls back down like a rock. she loved that bird. she had no one else, and she was so in denial of the bird's death that she convinced herself she was alive.

the song's about being ok with longing and suffering on this earth for the moments of, not happiness, but awareness that there's something more.

9. coke can

beautiful, I hold you so close and you're so beautiful that I might cry and this song's supposed to be about a lover I think but it's not
IT'S TO A COKE CAN a coke can this is no advertisment, I promise please don't drink coke I'm against consumerism, and it has high fructose corn syrup which is bad for your health don't drink coke
the second time I felt beauty was at age 14 when I looked at the light reflecting off... a coke can! beautiful, I hold you so close and you're so beautiful that I might cry and this song's supposed to be about a lover I think but it's not it's to a coke can thank you for reading about my album. :)