Cynic’s Paul Masvidal Offers Track-By-Track Breakdown of ‘Kindly Bent To Free Us’
Today (Feb. 18), Cynic released their long-awaited third album, ‘Kindly Bent To Free Us.’ The record is somewhat of a departure from Cynic’s classic progressive tech-death style into more of an experimental rock realm, with frontman Paul Masvidal delivering perhaps his most spiritually based lyrical work to date.
While you’re giving ‘Kindly Bent To Free Us’ its first few listens, you’ll definitely want to browse through this exclusive track-by-track breakdown of the album, written up by Masvidal himself during Paris and London listening sessions. Even if you think you’ve got a grasp on ‘Kindly Bent To Free Us,’ Masvidal’s insight is guaranteed to surprise and fascinate, delving down into the inner core of Cynic’s most recent offering.
Cynic fans, get ready for the mind of Paul Masvidal in this exclusive track-by-track breakdown!
‘True Hallucination Speak’ – Lyrically inspired by the psychotropic author Terence McKenna, this song directly references an experience I had on the shamanic medicine Ayahuasca. It’s a journey into the beauty and absolute terror one can experience when you’ve made the leap into the unknown and suddenly find yourself in need of help. Musically, it’s an anthemic, “big” song with a huge chorus and a groovy, mid-tempo verse. It was chosen as the album opener because it felt like the perfect track to open up the space and ground the listener.
‘The Lion’s Roar’ – The lyrics reference an intimate relationship in my life and my spiritual view in navigating it, inspired by a lecture from the author Chogyam Trungpa. It’s a driving, precise, prog rock trio song – all about the rhythm section. Musically, it was birthed out of the opening riff. It marks a completely new direction for Cynic. Notice the dry directness of the music; this is a production approach for the entire album.
‘Kindly Bent To Free Us’ – Inspired by a Buddhist book titled ‘Kindly Bent To Ease Us’, which in turn took its title from a quote by British satirist Jonathan Swift: “In all distresses of our friends / We first consult our private ends / While Nature, kindly bent to ease us / Points out some circumstance to please us.” The song considers how our minds might be the source of what eventually liberates us. It became the album title track because it has all of the signature elements Cynic is known for; it speaks to our roots, but also pushes the boundaries of how we typically approach them. From clean, open sections to staccato, complex rhythms, it encapsulates a hybrid of Cynic-style metal, jazz and everything in-between in just over 6 minutes.
‘Infinite Shapes’ – The root of this song came from a sense of humor I’ve developed out of having a regular meditation practice. It’s a look at the endless variety of thoughts that continually unfold and how a sense of humor becomes a form of sanity in approaching the flood of them. The verses are considerably (dare I say?) sexy and laid back while the choruses are huge. Sprawling, open guitar chords utilize all 6 strings, turning hard rights and lefts with harmonic-key-changing unpredictability and shifting tonalities, much like my own mind when settling into a meditation.
‘Moon Heart Sun Head’ – Touching on the concept of Gaia and how we are essentially not separate from the Earth. “Moon Heart Sun Head” is the prog rock epic of the album with the largest dynamic shifts, towering instrumental sections and a massive arrangement that deceptively never strays from a few motifs. Listen closely to Sean Malone featured on the Chapman Stick and the multifaceted guitar solo. The sample of the voice you’re hearing in the broken-down bridge is Eastern philosopher and author Alan Watts.
‘Gitanjali’ – Wrote this about Gitanjali Ghei, a 16-year-old girl from India who secretly wrote a heartbreaking collection of poems as she was dying of cancer. Her poems were discovered by her mother after she passed away and the family published them. Fittingly, Gitanjali was named after Nobel prize-winning Rabindranath Tagore’s famous book of poems, Gitanjali. Cynic goes sludge-heavy on this one in the main verse riffs, with an eerie chorus and plenty of exploratory dynamic shifts.
‘Holy Fallout’ – A moody prog rocker inspired by the idea of letting oneself fall apart completely and not needing or wanting to put yourself back together – what I call “learning how to live in the simmer.” Classic progressive Cynic style with open verses and a complex, riff-driven chorus, it has perhaps the most climactic ending of all the songs on this album. Again featuring strongly on this one is Malone on the Chapman Stick.
‘Endlessly Bountiful’ – A farewell meditation with a simple, building mantra that seeks to answer the big questions of who we really are. The surprise comes at the end when we reveal a pure, trio vibe in the great jazz tradition — an intimate nod to our academic backgrounds that offers a moment of introspection for which to disembark from this voyage.