There's a long drive that my family and I make every year, right around this time. It's a helluva long time to be in the car with infants, toddlers or adults alike. It's a numbing ride, one that chews up the greater portion of that daylight afforded in a day, as little as it is this time of the year. You drive over the interstate and on county highways, sometimes late at night, when no one else is out there but the suspected drunks, and you hope to hell that your car doesn't suddenly break down because you and everyone else with you is going to freeze to death. We travel from some place and head north to another place, located in the same state as the one we live, but it's about as far are you can get from where we live without smacking into Minnesota or South Dakota both. It's religiously and without question, ALWAYS 10-20 degrees colder here than back home and that's a real source of discomfort. Where this place is, however, allows for an incredible environment of isolation that makes up for everything else. You can just sit around and read David Foster Wallace interviews and Charles Portis books all day because you MUST do that. There's nothing else to be done. The lake out back is frozen over and it's negative temperatures when the sun goes down.
Louisville, Kentucky, band Murals seems like a bunch of fellows who would appreciate a place like this. They would look outside at the blowing and drifting snow, at the idiot squirrels scratching at the white ground where they believe they hid their provisions, and they would slump contentedly into their seats, cradling steamy mugs of hot cocoa or a run cider. They would look at the trees, soiled and heavy-limbed with interloping snow and they would see bodies. They would see the kinds of sculptures that make the most sense to them. These feelings and the way that you burn your eyes completely out when you walk own the clumpy sidewalks, surrounded as much as you ever could be by a whiteout, a blitz of the absence of color, are all there. They are in these songs that have no perimeters. They're drafty, broken spaces that people and sounds meander through, looking around as they go, stopping ever so briefly to look down and examine the tracks of the animals that came before them, there in the snow. They take you out into the cold and desolate wintry countryside, where you perversely wonder how long it would take for someone to find you if you just collapsed right there at that instant. Murals makes you feel like you'd be saved. You would not just freeze out here, to be picked over by the coyotes and their friends. You'll get thawed out and you'll get another mug of hot cocoa, for sure.