Sometimes, out of my initial gibberish that I start a vocal track with, a random phrase will pop into my head and end up defining the course of the song as a conceptual entity. Here, it was “proof of concept.” It’s a term used in technological development and industrial prototyping.
The lyrics themselves could describe a dreamlike journey of being stuck and released, of troubleshooting. When you are troubleshooting a device, or a piece of code which ultimately just tells other code how to move electrons around, what are you doing? You are using your layer of reality to interact with another layer of reality through a filter of abstraction. My dreams do this too. It makes me wonder if someone is troubleshooting me.
Since the lyrics are so vague and open, I ran with the proof of concept connection for the video. I hand-copied a bunch of circuit modules I had lying around, wrote out parts values, and sifted through PCB maps, all in a washed out monochrome that reminds me of some post-war semiconductor documentary or something.
The title, Mark I, refers to the first generation or revision of a product, which was often used as the model number for a new electronic device, such as the Harvard Mark I computer or the RCA Mark I synthesizer – both of which took up an entire room.
The B side was, of course, written at the outset of Minneapolis’ shelter in place order resulting from the pandemic. The weather was so lovely at the time and things felt very strange. There are falsetto notes that I don’t think I’ll be able to hit again. Then there’s the line “I try to let out a scream” and right after that the synth chord goes minor. That feels like panic dreams I’ve had.