''Year Of The Ox''

I'm the ox who broke my chains, so I could fly away...
Sleeve - Front:
Merge Records Press
Sleeve - Back:
Merge Records Press
Vinyl - 'A' Side

Vinyl - 'B' Side
Lyric Sheet - Front:
Year of The Ox

Lyric Sheet - Back:
Solomons Song

Stats #1 - Merge: 

Tracks: Year Of The Ox B/W Solomon's Song
Year: 2010
Label: Merge Records
Matrix A MRG-391-A WG/NRP
Matrix B MRG-391-B WG/NRP

Pressing Info: 
First Pressing: 2175
Test Pressings: 5
(Thank you to Wilson Fuller for the pressing info!)

Lyric sheet as above

Stats #2 - Matador: 

Tracks: Year Of The Ox B/W Solomon's Song
Year: 2010
Label: Matador Records
Matrix A OLE947-1 BA13859-01 A1 MRG-391-A
Matrix B OLE947-1 BA13859-01 B1 MRG-391-B

Pressing Info: 

Lyric sheet same as Merge but slightly different paper

1. Merge Press
2. Matador Press

Sleeve Front:
Matador Press (Top) has brighter print + different text at bottom
Sleeve - Back:
Matador Press (Top) has brighter print, different text at bottom and barcode sticker.
Label - 'A' Side:
Matador Press (Left) has different address on LHS 
Label - 'B' Side:
Different logos at top


Promo Info (Merge Records): 
Recorded over 6 months by Jon Drew at Giant Studios in Toronto, Year of the Ox is the band's fourth record in the continuing 12 year cycle and adds to its evolving retinue of guest musicians. The patient and building Year of the Ox features Nika Rosa Danilova of Zola Jesus for a guest vocal passage and Toronto's string quartet, New Strings Old Puppets. The b-side "Solomon's Song", a gothic vampire love tribute to Twilight, features a 5 minute saxophone solo from Aerin Fogel of the Bitters and heavy synthing from Trust.

Solomons Song (LFG Post Aug 09 2010):
It's not really about vampires, but we told everyone that it was. What it's really about is sex, and we copped the lyrics straight from THE BIBLE. You can read them when you buy the record, ok?

An interpretation (From Guest Review on American Aftermath):
The A-side is the title track, which opens with a strings, both haunting and hollow sounding, repetitive and tense.

More weight on the back of the aging ox (Youtube screenshot)
The lyrics revolve around life of work-ox. Plugging ahead, never falling out of line. The riff plugs along with the ox whose days are all the same and has no identity beyond labor value. Over time, the need to increase productivity forces more weight onto the back of the aging ox and that increased tension is shown brilliantly through the music. But, like Boxer, the Ox “Will worker harder.”

The Ox displays self-awareness in the second verse where he realizes that “the turning world rests on my heels.” Economic progress is in the hands of the workers and by the fourth verse, the Ox realizes the tyranny of work and breaks free.

The freedom is not without pain as he looks back at the world he’s left. However, in the absence of the yoke, the Ox grows wings and flies away from the brutality of his masters. The strings return playing a celebratory tune of emancipation and promise for a better world.

The climax of the story takes place over the bridge where Abraham is joined by Nika Roza Danilova (AKA Zola Jesus), the haunting voice of freedom, whose clean female vocals contrast Abraham’s brutal intensity and collide before the Ox’s majestic declaration of independence from his masters.

The ox flies away and the track closes with the familiar strings.

Sleeve Notes:

Front: 'Ox Flying Away' by Susan Gale (No other info available - assumed to have been commissioned for the record)

Back: Les trésors de Satan (1895) by Jean Deville.

(From Wikipedia): During the last decades of the 19th century, many people in the West reacted to the materialism and hypocrisy of the period by developing an interest in esoteric, occult and spiritual subjects. The enthusiasm for these ideas reached its peak during the 1890s, the decade when the Belgian painter and writer Jean Delville was at the height of his powers.

Though Delville frequently wrote about his ideas, he almost never discussed his paintings. He left the interpretations to the viewer, and as a result his best pictures have an air of mystery and intrigue.

Satan’s Treasures depicts Satan with a wild, fiery head of hair and huge red tentacles instead of wings. Scarlet waves surround his left arm, as he presides over a river of unconscious men and women. The nude bodies of these figures appear orange and yellow in reproductions, but in the original they are a subtle mixture of acid pinks and yellows, highlighted with touches of green. They lie transfixed in the centre of a luxuriant coral reef, surrounded by coins, jewels and strange fish. Beyond the reef one can see vast vistas filled with jagged rock formations, and painted in shades of orange, yellow and brown. Though the full interpretation is again left to the viewer, it clear that Satan’s Treasures is not a traditional vision of hell. It reveals a fascination with decadence and the erotic which was typical of Péladan and the period in general. At the same time, as in the Portrait of Mrs. Stuart Merrill, there is probably an underlying theme of initiation.

Delville was a great admirer of Eduard Schuré’s The Great Initiates, and it could well be that Satan’s Treasures is inspired by an episode from the Initiation of Isis in Schuré’s book. In the relevant scene, Schuré describes the novice’s failure of an early test, the temptation of the senses. Wrapped in a dream of fire, the novice becomes drunk with the heavy perfume of a seductive woman, and later falls asleep, after wildly satisfying his desire. This failure is described by his hierophant as a fall into the abyss of matter.

Delville’s vast undersea world, ruled by Satan, is almost certainly an image of the material abyss. Satan, lord of the physical realm, presides over its sleeping inhabitants. Wrapped in delusion, the dreaming men and women are mesmerised by Satan’s spell, and trapped by their own desires. Satan’s “treasures” include not only their sensuality, but also their attraction to worldly riches, represented by the pearls, coins and corals which surround them. Above all, the entranced people themselves are the treasures of Satan.