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Embodying The Harrowing: A Trace Amount Feature

Exploring a byproduct of Brandon Gallagher's and Jesse Draxler's connection to the world.

jesse draxler, trace amount
Artwork by Jesse Draxler

Words by Luis (@heaviestofart):

"To become mindfully aware of our surroundings is to bring our thinking back to our present moment reality and to the possibility of some semblance of serenity in the face of circumstances outside our ability to control." - Jeff Kober

From housing development to resource distribution and infrastructure, every facet of life is politically oriented and sets the course for the life one will carry out from a young age onward, until a major intervention occurs. For some, this intervention takes the form of death in the family, a college course, newfound poverty, or simply entering the professional workforce. We then find our ways to cope with such reality and pivot towards living a life of fulfillment through whatever medium finds us in an ideal headspace. Using the above quote from The Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy actor Jeff Kober as a reference point, artists across the world find a home in their craft and allow their subconscious to live through their respective artistic mediums. Trace Amount, a multi-faceted entity helmed by Brandon Gallagher, does so through an expansive take on industrial music, the likes of which will come to full-fledged fruition in the form of Anti Body Language this April 15th via Federal Prisoner.

As a visual artist himself, Gallagher embodies the harrowing reality of his surroundings through various formats that unfold new layers upon multiple visits. Anti Body Language is a testament to such statement and sports a reflective cover courtesy of Jesse Draxler that sparks curiosity among glancing eyes. Draxler thrives in the black-and-white color palette - a seamless fit for Trace Amount's otherwise menacing sonic persona. Beyond his contribution to Anti Body Language, Draxler's work carries a desolate feeling that is ambiguous rather than uninviting. Gallagher agrees, "I think ultimately we're inspired and surrounded by a lot of the same things. We both live in huge urban areas that are always flooded with construction and machinery, poor air quality, and a ton of metal and concrete. We could both look at a thrashed wall or a spillage of a mysterious liquid, take a photo of it to look at later and be inspired by it aesthetically, or hear an ear piercing drill and stand there to record 20 seconds of it with an iPhone." It's here that Draxler and Gallagher find common ground in terms of album's themes, which are a reflection of the aforementioned surroundings. Draxler adds, "We share a similar lens on our interaction with tech, the dynamic between us as creator but who, or what, is in control. The symbiosis between human and machine as both wonder and horror." The single artwork for the Tone and Terror single is certainly definitive of the mentioned symbiosis.

trace amount, jesse draxler
Artwork by Jesse Draxler

There's strong audiovisual cohesion on Anti Body Language that plays a critical role in expanding on the album's apocalyptic tone. Draxler aimed to deliver "something bold, iconic, anonymous, brutal" and delivered with precision through his masterful take on the mixed media approach. His life background and gut informs his element selections, selections that drove Gallagher's interest in boundless collaboration. "I've designed a lot of the covers for my singles and EPs, mostly as an extension of my overall vision for Trace Amount, but I've been trying to use this project as an 'excuse' to work with other artists," says Gallagher. "With this being my first full length, I wanted to have extremely bold imagery, something that felt more like an art piece and less like an album cover. Creatively, I wanted something that had a sense of anonymity - an anti body in the truest meaning of the words. My favorite aspect of Jesse's artwork is his ability to take such primitive yet unique images and collage them together in a super brutal way." Brutal indeed. Take a look at Draxler's creative process below.

They say that the best art provides you only one piece of the puzzle, allowing for viewers to complete it in their own unique way. The industrialization/mechanization focus across our protagonist's face is a proper entry point for this experience, but it's simply that: an entry point. There's no direct meaning or intention behind the Draxler cover, operating as a blank canvass waiting to be completed. "I don't consider myself an insanely poetic lyricist fueled by a ton of critical thinking," says Gallagher. "I write based on feeling and emotion through metaphors and aphorisms mainly influenced by my industrial surroundings and the world's technological stranglehold."

This emotion is evident in Gallagher's aggressive and emotionally draining live performance. Investing yourself in such a manner to perform material that is informed by your lived experiences is certainly cathartic, as Gallagher would agree. He mentions, "Sonically, I wanted to create something that was just raw and punishing the whole time. To name a few - 'Anxious Awakenings', 'Anti Body Language', and 'Eventually It Will Kill Us All' are insanely cathartic to play live. They hit on everything I try to achieve with this project: rhythm and intensity. It's easy to get into it and leave it all on stage. Every time."

trace amount
Brandon Gallagher, Trace Amount

As Draxler notes, "art is better than truth" and Anti Body Language serves as an escapade and and avenue of information in the contemporary world. The hustle and bustle of a hyper-capitalized New York City is strongly felt throughout this comprehensive and gritty endeavor. It's not an easy listen, but it's a rewarding one for those with the patience and intrigue to dive into Draxler's and Gallagher's prominent artistry.

Anti Body Language arrives April 15th via Federal Prisoner (Order).

trace amount, jesse draxler
Cover Artwork by Jesse Draxler


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