Sublime Currency, the long-awaited third album from Abandoned Pools, is the culmination of an eleven-year journey. In many ways, the album tells a new chapter in the narrative of Tommy Walter, the songwriter and musician behind the band. Tommy, who is from Westlake Village, CA, began the project in the early '00s, initiating his own visionary project after leaving the band The Eels.
In the beginning, Abandoned Pools was entirely a solo endeavor. Their 2001 debut, Humanistic, crafted alone in Tommys apartment, is a focused collection of tracks that conveyed bittersweet sentiments about suburban life in America. Its successor, 2005s Armed to the Teeth, shifted away from Tommys solitary venture, constructed with the aid of a band. That disc reveals a songwriter grappling with confusion and darkness. Now, on Sublime Currency, Tommy has answered his own questions, finding solace in his faith and recent marriage.
"This record is more of a joyful record," Tommy says. "Im a happier person after Ive gone through this process. I reached a low point in my life and I think my music now reveals how I overcame that. This record is about feeling like I discovered something thats important to me."
The album, written and recorded during 2010 and 2011, took shape organically, a thoughtful response to Tommys current life view. The recordings took place in several Southern California locations, Castle View Studio, The Bombshelter and Tommys own LQP Studios, all with Tommy at the production helm. And ultimately, like Abandoned Pools debut, Sublime Currency is a unified, cohesive vision from a focused musician. Even all the instruments on the album, with the exception of the drums, were played by the multi-instrumentalist.
"I went back to my core of writing on my own and recording on my own because it keeps the project focused," he explains. "I had a lot of range on the first album and I wanted to keep that going here, this range of styles. The songs come from a long span of time, but I feel like theyre all appropriate to now."
"Unrehearsed," a standout track for the LP, showcases the more pop-oriented side of the disc, a surging tune that recalls Abandoned Pools debut, while "In Silence," a track Tommy penned about getting married, is an immediate and engaging mellow rock number. Its the title track, however, that culls the album together. Named from a quote by composer John Cage, the synth-laced rock track aims to share Tommys personal journey, offering the listener some sense of how one can emerge from the struggle in the lyrics: "I can push the buttons/I can wrestle with the phantoms/Till I see that all the best things happen naturally."
Its a product of love and devotion, as well. Tommy, who has spent the past five years writing for commercials and TV shows, wrote and recorded the disc before he had a record label on which to release it. Tooth & Nail eventually signed Abandoned Pools in November of 2011, adding Abandoned Pools to their already-impressive roster of like-minded artists. Tommy adds the album to numerous achievements over the years, including writing the theme song for MTVs Clone High and touring with bands like A Perfect Circle, Zwan, Garbage and Lenny Kravitz. In the end, though, it all comes back to making mindful, intelligent music that resonates with his fans.
"It all comes down to where your motivation is when you make music," Tommy says. "It's not about hype or trying to get someone's attention. It's about making music for the love of music itself."