Michael McGlennon is a self-proclaimed “conservationist of imaginings.” To be honest, I didn’t know exactly quite what to make of a statement like that until I read the bio on his website. “Michael McGlennon’s art feels like something you might discover posthumously in your friend’s garage,” it states. “A kaleidoscope of things reflected: beautiful, tragic, and sickly hilarious, like a dream you can’t forget.” That’s a pretty specific consciousness that he’s tuned into, and one that is overtly morbid but somehow feels more and more comforting as I muse over it.
“Time Bleeds Out” comes off of McGlennon’s sixth album titled, “tIME mACHINES,” a collection of “10 morbid psychedelic folk songs to walk you through the strangest of times.” The track, which relies on traditional guitars just as much as it does on unconventional inorganic sounds, is eerie, unsettling, and soothing all at once. Take the very first verse: “The sky split open for me / I cried myself dry / This clay stays wet forever.” McGlennon’s use of vivid imagery reveals deep emotional depths. A lot of the lyrics here read like a combination of poetry and stream-of-consciousness, with lines like, “Unzip illusory skin” or “Go for a swim in the sky” occupying similar spaces as line like, “Oh no / I cut my hands in half” or “They’re just fried eggs.” While his delicate guitar lick seems to feed more into the soothing side of the soul, McGlennon spends most of his time oscillating between two pitches with a deliberately off-kilter voice that generates a slightly unnerving ennui in the song.
Yet, the listless vocal delivery is contrasted immediately by wonderings of cosmic breadth. “I’ll climb into my closed eyes / The strange balloons that they are,” he deliberates. “I’m gonna float to the moon / It can’t be too far.” What is beginning to sound a lot like a bad trip lays bare the existential crisis at hand. “As I breathe out / Time bleeds out,” McGlennon repeats, almost like a mantra. Here, he harnesses a depth of writing and imagery that few songwriters dare to. Sight, sound, time, space—they’re all examined on their own and then fused into the cosmic kaleidoscope that the bio in his website had promised.
“Time Bleeds Out” is a track that at first listen startled me. Not because it was inaccessible or atonal, but because of its ambitious scope, both musically and artistically. There is so much to appreciate in this track, from its clear attention to atmosphere-building to its cavernous poetic depth. There’s a line in Michael McGlennon’s website that I find myself coming back to: “Everything has its parallel, so it must go on forever…” Armed with his uniquely insightful perception of consciousness and the self, in “Time Bleeds Out,” Michael McGlennon rides this parallel time wave and delivers a provocative and worthwhile work of art.