Tergiversate: El Ten Eleven self-titled debut

Tergiversate: El Ten Eleven self-titled debut

This El Ten Eleven article is part of my Tervigersate column on my blog, where I review albums by musicians spanning multiple genres. Articles introduce an album and give my interpretation of their meaning.

El Ten Eleven is a duo consisting of Kristian Dunn on strings and Tim Fogarty and drums. Plus several loop pedals! El Ten Eleven’s debut self-titled album released on September 20th, 2005 (even though Dunn says the album released in late 2004). This makes 2020 the 16th anniversary of their debut album in the twenty-first century post-rock scene.

This entry in Tergiversate reviews the history and background of the album and offers a personal perspective on one of my favorite music albums. Let’s take a look at El Ten Eleven!

My background on El Ten Eleven

If Last.fm is trustworthy, I have 39,355 listens of El Ten Eleven, out of a total listen count of 348,043. 18,605 listens were of the self-titled album specifically. It takes two lead positions in my music library: my most-listened artist and album of all-time. I discovered El Ten Eleven on December 19th, 2012.

In 35 minutes, El Ten Eleven tells a great story. It is an album that means a great deal to me.

El Ten Eleven, track-by-track

El Ten Eleven songs have no lyrics (not counting Emile Mosseri collaborations). The only given meaning is in the song titles. The rest is up for audible interpretation.

But if you are a curious music nerd like me, the artist’s thinking behind a song is interesting to understand. This blog post documents what I know about this album. My experiences come from reading other music journalism sites on the Internet and even talking to Kristian Dunn after concerts time to time! (He is a cool dude. He signed my brick.)

1: My Only Swerving

This song was written in tribute to Traveling through the Dark, a 1998 poem by William E. Stafford (confirmed here). The track title gets its name from a line towards the end of the poem.

I thought hard for us all—my only swerving—,

then pushed her over the edge into the river.

Traveling through the Dark, William E. Stafford

Dunn ran an “Ask Me Anything” (A.M.A.) on Jan 22, 2018 via Patreon. In the A.M.A., Dunn lamented how the song failed as a tribute to the poem. He believed the song was not dark enough to match the poem.

3: Lorge

Dunn’s mother passed a short time before the album was recorded. The album is dedicated to her memory. Lorge is the middle name of Dunn’s mother. The album reflects on the emotions that follow the death of a loved one.

4: 1969

In a phone interview with Fogarty, he believed this song title came from Dunn’s birth year, 1969.

7: Fanshawe

The song is a tribute to The New York Trilogy’s The Locked Room novel, which features a character named Fanshawe. In the Patreon A.M.A., he acknowledged the connection to the character and book.

8: Connie

Connie is the shortened form of Dunn’s mother’s first name, Constance.

Why I care

El Ten Eleven deals with loss. As the album transitions from beginning to end, it moves towards acceptance. But acceptance of loss is not easily attained. Loss also comes with difficult emotions.

In psychology, there are five stages of grief. They can happen in any order and go between each other, but it always ends with acceptance. The abbreviated five stages are regret, denial, anger, sadness, and acceptance. El Ten Eleven offers a musical experience of the life-cycle of grief.

El Ten Eleven empowered me. In times of discomfort or anxiety, this album is always my go-to. It continues to be a cornerstone for me in challenging moments in my life.

Where to find El Ten Eleven

Check below for links. If you have no preference, Bandcamp purchases are the most effective way for your money to go to supporting the band.

If you would be kind, please drop some claps to my friend’s interview with the band on Medium!

Curious where the name “Tergiversate” came from? Check out the dictionary definition.

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