You Are Alive is Nova Soon's debut album, released on November 29th, 2019. Written slowly between the ages of 19 & 24, but finished quickly in the shadow of his father’s sudden passing, the 7-track LP forms a sonic journey through a cascade of tender, pivotal moments from Noah’s formative years — from first hearing the concept of death from his mother as a child, to an unexpected quasi-religious rapture after drunkenly watching The Vampire Diaries, to receiving an invitation to his first love’s wedding.
Musically, the poetic acoustics of Noah’s nylon-string fingerpicking are buoyed by swooping arrangements of strings, piano & night-sky electronics from multi-instrumentalist producer James Grantham — resulting in a sound not unlike Nick Drake jamming to a 50’s film score from aboard a space shuttle. Lasting just 30 minutes, yet epic in scope, the album distils a full life spent under the cruel, beautiful starfield of Planet Earth; a life ultimately sweetened & enriched by its expiry date. As the gauntlet-throwing opening lyric puts it: ‘Wake up. Wake up, ‘cos everything dies.’
Wake up. Wake up, ‘cos everything dies. Go for a joyride through the Valley of the Shadow, and don’t look so surprised every time holy wonder overwhelms you. You are no longer in love, but you are alive. Good morning. Good morning, cruel world. Wake up. Wake up, you’re never alone. Those you have lost hover in the humming of the city and the stones, still warm after the thunderstorm rolled over. You are no longer in love, but you are alive. Good morning, cruel world. Go, go where the sunrise swallows the sea, eyes closed. Cruel world. Cruel world. Cruel world. Cruel world.
One summer, shy in a moonlit car, five years old, I asked my mother, ‘Will I die?’ Her answer ripped the night: ‘Someday.’ Forward in time, at a costume ball; a chandelier-shadow crowd; I fell in love in vampire robes, and in the snow, while riding home, we made a vow: starting now… Let’s be vampires in the time we have. Let’s fly and laugh. Grieve in the glowing light; leap and death-defy; and drink all the life that we can. And if we leave bite-marks of love in memories wide and far, we’ll live on in a million ways; the echoes of our spoken names won’t fade. Though, some mornings, we feel like hiding, hollow-cried and time-worn, we keep rising. It’s the only way we’ll prove my mother wrong, and live on. And live on. Let’s be vampires. Let’s be vampires.
We, we were too young to know what we want; to know that time was fleeing. We’d float in the stream, falling asleep, fingers almost meeting. We gradually slid out of reach. Your letter arrived today; didn’t know you were going grey. Locked myself in the shower, letting the water cry me out. You’ll always be mine; in some other galaxy, dancing in the Neverlife. We followed the stream to islands of green; to dinner, and dying parties. We let the years sink in their teeth. Your letter arrived today, telling me your new wedding date; don’t worry, I won’t show a soul where your tears tore the hole. If you miss me, hold him tight, dim your sleeping daughter’s light. You’ll always be mine; in some other galaxy, dancing in the Neverlife. Give my love to everyone, I’ll meet you on the other side; in some other galaxy, dancing in the Neverlife.
This evening, I watched the first episode of the sixth series of a show about vampires I used to watch with my first love, curled up together in bed with her hand inside my hand and her spun gold hair tickling my ear as we laughed at the plot and the dialogue and the acting and just about everything under the mystic falling sun; tonight I watched the first episode of the sixth series of this show: the sixth, you must understand, but the first I’d ever seen without her wrapped around me; and it was beautiful. I’d been drinking a bottle of 8.4% strength cider, so I was the perfect level of drunk, sitting in bed on my own in the violet evening over South-East England, and it was gorgeous. The heroine’s grief over her own lost love was real and palpable, and my heart beat for her, fast and drumlike in the bedroom darkness. Her first flame nearly breaking his back to move on; her best friend clinging to her mother after a summer of denial; her younger brother holed up in some old mansion, light from his video games strobing yellow and blue over his glazed eyeballs: these characters were actually characters this time. No, scratch that: these people were actually people. And it made me think: all people are people. The actors and writers who make this vampire show are people, and no matter how often she and I used to laugh at them, they were and are always just trying to make something true, crashing together colour and sound and particles and pixels into something that would make people giggle or cry or cuddle or kiss, or think or write or talk or screw. Because all people are alive, but they sometimes need reminding. And as sip after sip of sweet sparkling cider slipped down inside me, and as the episode drew to its end, I was reminded. When the screen faded to black, I threw my clothes back on, put the cider bottle in the recycling, and rushed out of the back door. I walked down to the seafront and along under the now-night-black sky and down the beachside path, watching the primal waves breaking against the dark pebbles and the strange stars wheeling across my field of vision, and I felt just like a vampire, the fangs birth gave me sinking into the succulent world and finding only joy to suck in, only everlasting love and joy, the perfect amount of alcohol swirling round my body, and I thought, this is the sort of night I’ll remember when I die; when I’m on my last bed, swaddled in white and surrounded by sons and daughters I don’t yet know, I’ll remember these coloured seafront lights strobing past my drunken eyeline as I power-walk this empty beachside path at age nineteen; I’ll remember writing this poem and mentioning my first love in the third person and not the second for the very first time in writing since we broke up; and I’ll remember getting back in from the cold, hugging my mum and dad and not needing to tell them that I love them because they know, they’ve always known, they’ll always know; and I’ll remember truly understanding, finally, what life is: that it’s colour, and motion, and memory, and a family of people clinging to each other on the face of a blue-white rock spinning for a fraction of a cosmos-moment in the vast swooning circle of time, clung-together people who watch vampire TV and laugh and cry and who’ll all be gone someday, and that’s okay, and everything is okay, everything is okay, everygoddamnthing is okay.
No, it won’t matter in a month’s time. Your fear will shatter in a shot glass, downed on your way to class, quick-smart. Go write a song of a hundred lines, and rhyme the two words ‘heart’ and ‘dark’ half a hundred times: hell, it works for me. No, it won’t matter in a year’s time. The light will scatter all the old ghosts from those photos, and you’ll laugh. Go draw the blinds on your window closed, drink a bottle of wine all curled up with that epic episode, and just melt away. It’s alright, it’s okay: everyone you’ve ever loved will die someday. And that’s okay. It’s alright, it’s okay: clinging to the skin of a spinning stone in space, and no one knows why. Maybe it don’t matter. Now the screen-glow lights up your eyes; moonlit love scenes and fire-fights. Your tears and laughter feel planet-sized. You realise it’s been the best night of your life. It’s okay, it’s alright: we’re all just specks in the swooning circle of time. No, it won’t matter in the Next Age, when dumb desert birds go wheeling in a dumb red sky.
All things on Earth are woven in a random tangle. Meaning of life? What a lie. The orphans of God, we’re howling for love, for each other’s serene gravity, as we move with our blues through the weave. All we can hope for before the sunbeams swallow this small spinning stone we call home: a laugh through the pain; a ballet in the snow; any moment of peace we can seize, as we move with our blues through the weave. Growing old as we go, ‘til we all fall like dominoes, and leave. All that truth, yet so few who can see, as we move with our blues through the weave.
A lamp left burning low, by her window, to guide me home through the swirling winter; whole town deep in sleep. Pale stars strung tight round the cold ribs of trees. We rush in from the storm, and spin round her dorm. Her laughs make me warm. She says, ‘Pass your wine glass, and go draw all the blinds. Let’s pretend the end came, but left us alive.’ Now we’re curled up inside, hearing the universe sigh. In bed, her head on my chest, breathing her breath. Slow rise. Slow fall. Though all the wonders we dream of still wait out in the snow, for now we’re leaving our love burning low.