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The L​-​Shaped Man


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Breakup albums mark a turning point for a band: the moment when their sound completely changes and reaches a new level of emotional clarity. All that heartbreak and malaise condensed into any single record often makes for a defining piece of work, no matter the genre. The best records explore the nooks and crannies of sadness, learning it inside and out — celebrating it.

Ceremony’s fifth studio album, The L-Shaped Man, uses singer Ross Farrar’s recent breakup as a platform to explore loneliness and emotional weariness, but it is by no means a purely sad album. Rather than look inward, Farrar uses his experience to write about what it means to go through something heavy and come out the other side a different person.

In order to tell Farrar's story, Ceremony have almost completely stripped back the propulsive hardcore of their previous records, turning every angry outburst into simmering despair. “We’ve always tried to be minimalists in writing, even if it’s loud or fast or abrasive,” says lead guitarist Anthony Anzaldo. “It’s really intense when I hear it. Not in a way where you turn everything up to ten. Things are so bare, you’re holding this one note for so long and you don’t now where it’s going—to me, that’s intensity.” That intensity is apparent on “Exit Fears,” the first full song on the record. It meticulously pairs Justin Davis’ loping bassline, which pulls the track along, with Anzaldo's icy, minimal guitar work. It brings to mind some alternate version of Joy Division that hasn’t quite lost all hope. It gets close to exploding, but instead plays the shadows, never quite rising above a nervous simmer.

“A lot of the content has to do with loss, and specifically the loss of someone who you care deepl about,” Farrar says. “There is no way for you to go through something like this artistically and not have really strong emotions of loss and pain. There’s not really any way to hide that.” Farrar, for his part, is singing with a new kind of intensity, his baritone swooping and retreating from stressed angst to unsettling near-mutter as he sings, “You told your friends you were fine/ you thought you were fine too…” and later, “nothing is ever fine/ nothing ever feels right/ you have to tell yourself you tried.” It’s the first of many lyrically direct moments, and it should be hard to listen to, but Ceremony have so effortlessly nailed the sound of sadness that it feels great to live inside for awhile.

The sound is abetted by producer John Reis, who honed his sound in seminal bands like Rocket from the Crypt, Drive Like Jehu, and Hot Snakes. Much of the gravelly aggression he experimented with in those bands is present on The L-Shaped Man.

There's a story behind the title too. “I was speaking to our driver Stephen while on tour,” Farrar says. “We were talking about men in general and what shape they are…their body type. I said, ‘I guess men are in the shape of an L. The torso is straight. Vertical. And then you have the little feet at the end.’ There’s this painter named Leslie Lerner who was living in San Francisco in the ‘70s and ‘80s and made these beautiful paintings. He died on my 21st birthday. A lot of the record is about the similarities in our ideas. In what we’re trying to make. Things that have to do with love and losing love.”


released May 19, 2015

Ceremony is Anthony Anzaldo, Jake Casarotti, Justin Sean 'Tore Davis, Ross Farrar, Andy Nelson.

Produced by John Reis.
Engineered by Ben Moore.
Assisted by Dean Reis.
Recorded at Big Fish Studios.
Additional tracking and mixed at City of Refuge, San Diego.
Mastered by Dave Gardner at Magneto Mastering.
Art direction and layout by Mike Zimmerman & Ceremony.
Line drawing by Ross Farrar.

All songs by Ceremony.


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CEREMONY Rohnert Park, California


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Track Name: Hibernation
You took pictures of Your life

But stopped after awhile

Closed Your eyes to faith

Shame and denial

You think now nothing went right

But You’re wrong

Are You having those dreams again?

Bodies of water
You have to get through this

Get through it all
Track Name: Exit Fears
You told Your friends You were fine

You thought You were fine too

You told Your family twice

How You had climbed out

But nothing in this world is fine

Nothing ever feels right

You have to tell Yourself You tried
The pain will leave in the night

Memories return in the light
No one would find out

It started as a way to get by

You thought You’d survive through

You were lonely & wanted to die

That’s just a weight You confide
But nothing in this world survives

Nothing ever feels right

You have to tell Yourself You tried
Track Name: Bleeder
Are You calling old friends again?

Have You forgotten how to live?

You stood screaming in Your room

There was no one there

No one heard

You desire to be seen

You’re backing down the hallway again

You slept through entire days

‘Til human voices wake You & You drown’

You’ve become careless about time

Your soul seems to be in a knot

Have You been watching the sun rise?

Don’t fall into the fire
Track Name: Your Life In France
You remember sitting inside the café

Selfishly aware of things You couldn’t change

Edith was buried down the same street

‘Give your heart & soul to me’
You remember the first time You called

Life arranged by feelings You felt

Standing in the snow

Always gone

The door in the floor

Always closed
You sat down on the patio
watched the cars go by

Heard the splash from Icarus

Falling from the sky

There was something You couldn’t move
You couldn’t be
Love turned into reasoning

Became so harrowing

People You loved
Places You saw

Portions are gone
Track Name: Your Life In America
You don’t want to leave from here

Tied to the pain of passing the years

Passing the touch
You know it by heart
Like not getting enough
Wandering around
Looking up

You come to a place

You just want to stop

You want to give up

If You don’t care where You are

You’re not lost
Track Name: The Separation
Pieces of time

Thrown from the bow

Five years away

You never figured it out

When she stepped outside
You feel down

When she closed the door
You started throwing Yourself

Can You measure the loss?
Track Name: The Pattern
He walked into the room

Paid the working man

The change was physical

It’s happening again
It will always be there

Those strange happenings
He taught You how to see again
He’ll always be Your friend

Those early years
Felt so unclean

You tried to walk away

But it’s happening again
Track Name: Root Of The World
Underneath You can’t escape the sound
within this room
boom boom

You pump the blood in & out

The root of the world is in the red heart
Poisoning the body distracts the mind from what it needs
You couldn’t sleep

You couldn’t eat

Couldn’t think
Chewing your fingers to the quick

With the intimacy of her cigarette
Lips lungs teeth
Track Name: The Party
You can’t remember
The face of a person
You used to know
Did You even know them?
Did You ever really know?
Sitting at the party

On the stairs

They came back to You

They always come back to You
Some of those people
You used to love

Somehow it hurts to know

They’re gone from You

You should have known all along
After You’re feeling low

Small pains start to come

Try to forget the smell
You have to go

Someone’s behind You
Track Name: The Bridge
Inside the bridge You suddenly felt calm

Simple passing through the world
& remembered The Man with the Wooden Arm

How hard it must have been?
You saw Yourself walking with no one else

& it scared You

The thought

But Your heart was just asleep that night

No dreams at all

It’s nothing like You ever thought
Why do You break sometimes when You’re alone?
Is it the feeling of heavy loss?
You don’t think about her anymore

But You still lie
Going out

Impossible to breathe

It didn’t hurt

Finding other things

It didn’t feel like anything
Track Name: The Understanding
The color in the trees started changing

It got colder inside that house

You drove through a golden field

Fell asleep at the wheel of time

& it felt like You’d never come down

From that place inside Your chest

That feeling may never stop

While Your dreams warned You of the bad

All Your problems would never fix

Nothing was ever right with You

When You try to fall asleep tonight

Remember who’s here with You

Everyone You ever knew

Everyone You ever touched

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