Medicine, "Hem of the Garment" Review
Mikhail Rims for "Edge"
August, 1997

Mikhail Rims of The Livery wrote the first portion of his review of Medicine's "Hem of the Garment" album in the August, 1997 issue of Edge. It was followed by two more review in the September and October 1997 issues of the magazine.

I refuse to make another pun on the name Knowthing in this article, to the howling protests of my editor. I'm fucking tired of the idea that is inherently superior to use wordplay in place of words when critiquing rock music, so here's what matters: music and lyrics. Spoilers below.

Medicine's album "Hem of the Garment," the bohemian enclave-cum-record label Knowthing's latest release starts out with a Csus2 minor 7 electric piano chord run through heavy vocoding. The inevitable Ab - Bb - back to Csus2m7 progression follows, but instead of sounding hollow, it works. The concept of emotional cure which has been present throughout the course of the project provides a panacea as lyrics which promise catharsis begin:

"I know you've had your tragedies;
now see them from all angles.
Even regal majesties
get caught in epic tangles

See it like the others did,
and swim in your regrets.
After lifting up the lid,
you'll feel the light of hope egress."

The body of Christ is a Nabisco cracker! The means to penance and contrition lies in a full knowledge of ethically remiss actions and turning from them. Cast off your burdens, because now we start to get in things as the melody wavers from the monastical C chant! You readers know how much I have caught myself in the spiral of a devil-may-care attitude and reckless acts of immorality, but already I'm ready to repent and join the Brothers of St. Judith and start stepping noiselessly other than my headphones in the abbey feeling the healing energy of Christ's love around me. All I have to do now is give up drinking in gutter bars and repent of my Jezebel lust. And stop my cough syrup binges -- at least until I publish my doctoral dissertation regaling you with facts about cough syrup's status as an enthogen -- because the church isn't really down with that.

Yes, I know I promised you a review void of wordplay and any autobiographical anecdotes, but I swear I will make good on my promise for an in depth analysis of the "Hem of the Garment" album. The next melodic phrase shifts throughout the key of C, and it reminds one of the hymnals we used to sing out of in mass on Sundays, watching the Holy, Holy, Holy refrain move up and down the staff. But it's quicker, perkier, and more methodical-- hell, it could be a John Wesley tune! One of the most ingenious notes comes during the next phrase:

"There's never time to analyse,
but in this womb, you'll meditate.
Away from Gaiac cares, your eyes
remember what it means to wait.

The amnion will coalesce
your homes inside and in the world.
With patience now, you can suppress
the missile fire and flags unfurled."

The added organ plays the melodic line along with the voice, and we really are back in the 17th century, and on the word "coalesce," Weeks sings a perfect Bb with the voice that has grown strangely strong in the last few years. With the word's three syllables, he perfectly mirrors the transition from womb to the between and back to earth. That flat B shows up in the Ab chord, making, it a suspended second, then the root of the chord upon transition into the world, followed by the B flat 7th at the end. Rhyming stanzas, scansion, and everything else seems to line up for the first time in rock since "Love you baby, don't mean maybe." And holy shit, who is willing to offer up his own womb -- yes, ladies and gentlemen, his own womb -- and disguise it as a compact disc? Yet this is Caleb Weeks' new project, a temple to the refuge of contemplation and neo-psychotherapy: self-consciously offering up a piece of music as a place of refuge and solace for contemplation of the world.

Weeks did his own contemplation, which I guess makes him accredited enough to take on a project like this. You probably know this already from the rest of the biography articles about him, where interviewers ask the same damn questions like "Would you call yourself a Christian artist?" over and over, but he's notorious for taking a sabbatical from his job working at a night club to engage in a two year long interdisciplinary study of world religion and spirituality. The story is that he sold all of his possessions (even guitars?) and moved to a C.S. Lewis styled cool convent for young people to figure out their path in life. It sounds like one of those de-gay-ifying places to me, but apparently Weeks found it to be an incredibly powerful experience. Throughout the two years, he claims to have studied everything from Jainism to Zoroastrianism and came to final conclusions about his own spiritual path.

Weeks apparently took a great deal of inspiration from his father, who was a scientist that believed in Jesus (not to be confused with a Christian Scientist, which is a hell of a lot scarier) and believes that he has found the one true way. I find it a little suspicious that after those few years of intense study, he decided on Christianity, but I guess that's the way it usually works so it's hard to be very harsh about it. Now he's joined up with a girlfriend, Katrina Mendez and closest collaborators Lynn Johnson and Zach Richter on this ambitious musical project: essentially to try to heal the world in a greater way than the fourth movement of Beethoven's 9th. Now I'm immensely cynical about that claim, but he has put out a great goddamn rock album.

"The losing of yourself is sweet,
for finding it again will make
your wandering upon the street
a marveling for Heaven's sake.

You'll realize your given state
You're 17 or 23.
And here's your chance to wipe the slate,
to clear away your soul's debris."