Now that we’re months into this pandemic debacle, some of the first songs written during and about the experience are starting to surface. The Mexican Summer label has an ongoing singles compilation called Looking Glass that is focused on “the human condition as reflected through remote connection” and it includes this song called “New Dungeon” by The Green Child, a collaboration between Raven Mahon and Mikey Young that I raved about when their self-titled album was released back in 2018.
This song captures what I’m starting to think of as the mundane psychedelia of these times. I am living through what genuinely is one of the craziest things that has ever happened, but on a day-to-day basis the experience is surreally boring. Furloughed from my job and with my life basically on pause, there is plenty of time for the mind to wander while stuck indoors doing my various introvert hobbies like listening to music, writing, and watching old movies and crappy empty arena wrestling. With a certain level of privilege also comes guilt — as someone used to the shut-in life, this all feels like it’s easier than it should be. The titular image of the “new dungeon” summarizes this experience, as everyone is in this shared uncharted territory that feels like a prison for the mind. The song also gives the listener the key to escape it.
Like their cousin Cold Beat (another band formed from the ashes of Grass Widow with Mikey Young contributions), The Green Child’s music is subtle, maybe to a fault in terms of connecting with a wide audience or exciting most music hype people. But the quiet, reflective psychedelia of this track is exactly what I’ve been feeling lately. Singing over a repetitive taut synth part, Mahon’s lyrics (at least the ones I can make out) describe fairly dull experiences about exploring a new space, which take on a psychedelic tinge due to the sound and her distant delivery. She says it was inspired by moving into a new jam room in their house in Australia, when “self-isolation was exciting before it got weird.” This made me realize that pre-weirdness is kind of The Green Child’s thing. Their songs are psychedelic and strange, yet never quite tip over into the realm of being completely bizarre and incomprehensible.
That mix of weirdness and normalcy is at the heart of the current quarantine experience, as are the feelings of living in a world that feels like it’s about to change substantially in ways that aren’t really known yet. I’ve always valued psychedelic music that can take me somewhere else while also capturing feelings I have in a more abstract, intangible way. “New Dungeon” is the epitome of that, and it’s quietly one of the more powerful songs of the year so far.