Keith Birthday is the creative force behind experimental pop musical project Norwegian Arms. His upcoming album – Girard Freeloader – is an extension of his last – a work titled Wolf Like a Stray Dog – as it is autobiographical, replete with narratives of his own growth weaved between commentary on world issues. The singular difference may be that they were written in two starkly different environments – the former in Siberia, the latter in his native Philadelphia. We’ve got the exclusive premiere of “Resource Sucker”, a beautifully produced work that sets the tone for what’s to come.
White noise – perhaps static from a television or radio – and what sounds like concentrated breathing are what introduce the track. Then, a funky backtrack (with very Super Mario-sounding sound effects) begins and high octave vocals hit, singing about not wanting to be another resource sucker.
Keith himself had quite a bit to say about the track.
I wrote large parts of “Resource Sucker” while on a series of month long trips in South America. A few friends and I had started a program sponsored by the US State dept that had us going to underserved areas in a handful of South American countries, where we would teach classrooms english through traditional american folk music, and play concerts. We’d also provide master classes to teachers and supplied free to distribute PDF textbooks through our website for both students an teachers that included activities, lessons, and lots of public domain recordings so that there was music to listen to along with the lessons.
In spite of the fact that we took steps to make our program balanced and benevolent, being a government funded educator sent to impoverished parts of the world took its emotional toll as well. It felt a little bit strange to be paid with US taxpayer money to almost act as some kind of american evangelist. We never shied away from real discourse about american politics when it came our way, and no one ever told us to ‘smile for the camera’, but under most circumstances folks didn’t want to cause a stir or at least were being polite in order to not jeopardize their relationship with the US.
Eventually, the ‘too real’ experiences piled up. One instance with a local guitar maker who had obviously recently cut off his ponytail to appear ‘more western’, and another being paid in US dollars via a school receiving a grant from the US government didn’t sit well with me. I found it difficult to balance this program and my own politics, even though our hosts would often assure us that we were ‘different from the rest’. Other members of the group felt the same way and at some point we seemed to reach a tacit agreement to not continue.
So in short, this song is a distillation of those feelings, about what it means to attempt to leave your mark on the planet through the people with whom you communicate, coupled with the sweet release of knowing that, inevitably, that the sun will eventually turn into a giant red star and swallow the earth as we know it.
So now that we’ve established this is a well thought out call to action for our listeners, it’s also a super vibey, psychedelic song that you can just relax to with friends. In that same vain, what is important to note about the single is its cover, which can be found below. As he explained it, each of his three singles will depict a different pair of friends who were integral to his life and career. This is a not-so-subtle way to express his gratitude, a humbling and sweet fact. We’re big fans of the sound, and we can’t wait to introduce it to our own friends.
We imagine a mandala tapestry may be involved.