Single premiere: “Chloroform Pillow” by Tam Tsu

Photo courtesy of Tim Tsurutani

There’s a bitter-sweetness to Tam Tsu’s single, “Chloroform Pillow.” The track, from the forthcoming debut album Man Will Drown, has a hushed and twilight quality at first listen. But — as the tags on Tam Tsu’s Soundcloud page attest — this is hashtag-experimental and hashtag-weirdo-folk.

“When I was a kid I couldn’t sleep. It was miserable. I’d be at Christian summer camp and everyone else would be snoring happily. Meanwhile, I’m losing it, hallucinating that people were still awake and talking to me. The memory is very evil,” writes Tam Tsu mastermind Tim Tsurutani. The Asheville-based musician (of the self-described “terrified child dance punk” quartet Bulgogi) is no stranger to finessing dark dreams, foggy memories, strange chords, jittery beats and awkward moments into a kind of sonic interpretive dance.

Still, this new project feels — if its single is anything to go by — more influenced by pop. It clearly makes use of Tsurutani’s vocal range and sonic palette, fleshing out pensive-sweet tones that wander, wonder, meet-cute and push buttons.

“I think a lot about being raised Christian and being terrified of the apocalypse-the rapture and all that,” Tsurutani continues about the genesis of “Chloroform Pillow.” “Sitting awake, alone, all night, is sort of like being left on Earth by God. Everyone else is sleeping peacefully and it’s like their souls have departed their bodies, and yours remains.

“As a kid, I always assumed I was going to hell because I was a sinner, not good enough, etc. I really resent that being a part of my childhood, and writing this song kind of helped me defy that part of my past. Those feelings are gone now. Good riddance.”

Tam Tsu holds an album release show at The Mothlight on Thursday, Aug. 3, with House and Land and Nathan Olson. 9:30 p.m. $5

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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