Blue Ruin

by Artificer

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Limited release on clear blue cassette. 25 copies, individually numbered and complete with typewritten lyric inserts. ORDER via Killer Tofu Records HERE:

CDs may also be available from me soon, if you see me playing live...
Joshua C. Fosbenner - Acoustic/Electric Guitar, & Vocals throughout; Piano [1]; Keyboard Drone [3]; Tenor Banjo [5, 10, 11]; Harmonica [5]; 12-String Guitar & Tambourine [7]; Toy Piano [12]; Drums [12]; Ukulele [13]...

...And, featured on this recording:
Mr. David Allison - Piano and Bass Guitar [7]

Recorded in sporadic bursts, September 2014 - June 2015, and done almost entirely in my bedroom, at home in Quakertown PA; except, tracks 1 & 7 were recorded at Dave's house in Bridgewater, NJ, and track 6, as well as the vocals for tracks 4, 5, 8, 11, 12 & 13 were completed at my new home in Philadelphia PA. Recorded on 4-Trk cassette, mixed, and mastered by me.

This recording was a learning process for me, in the sense of experimental trial-and-error. It is not perfect. It has blemishes. But I did this on my own, for the most part, and with little previous knowledge of how to use the recording apparatus. I do, however, owe a huge debt to my brother, Adam Fosbenner, who allowed me to borrow and tinker with his recording gear, and with a few instruments, too. When I couldn't figure something out, he pointed me in the right direction. This album would not exist without him. Thanks also to Steve @ Blue Room Guitars, and Karl @ Tinicum Guitar Barn, both of whom have helped me find and maintain my guitars over the last few years. Thanks, finally, to Lance and Killer Tofu Records.

All songs are original compositions, and were written between 2008 - 2015 (they do not appear on the album in the order which they were written, though). Tracks 2, 3, 4 & 13 were written and performed in my previous band, Chronically Awkward, but have been re-imagined for this recording. "Blue Ruin" is a personal archive, meant to preserve songs that I have written, but which otherwise had no specific vessel, and would otherwise have been lost. Many of the oldest songs have been updated/revised through the years.

I painted the album's cover, as well as did other accompanying art/photography.


released June 28, 2015



all rights reserved


Artificer Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

ARTIFICER is Joshua Fosbenner -- a solo performance and recording project

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Track Name: Skeletons
I see the first leaf turning on a late August morning, like a burning red beacon to the upcoming season. The rest are sure to follow, but change can happen so slow; or so it seems as days pass, 'til all at once it's different fast. You wonder, where did time go? This is always how it feels, though. When it's all exposed to see, leaves falling off the trees, and undressed skeletons so bare. What keeps them standing there? We look unlike them but we feel the same. Trying to stand tall with just our names. Until we get cut down or rot away, as if we've nothing left to do or to say. Meanwhile others come and go, climbing or swinging on our tired bones, and staying only long enough to carve their mark into our tattooed skin. It must be thick as bark. But when we're all exposed to see, trying to bare scars with dignity, underneath just skeletons remain. What keeps them strong through all this pain?
Track Name: Stargazer
Show me which constellations you know! Swing your hands and point as they glow. Thank you for bringing me out here tonight. Wishing I may and wishing I might. It's so easy to get lost in my seclusion. Now I'm out here cursing the light pollution. But when the clouds part, and the stars shine through, I realize I'm glad to be out here with you. We can only see so much, with heads craned gazing up. The void stretches out like the sea, ready to swallow up you and me. But if we're made of stars, our hands can reach out so far. "You have always loved the sky." We're stargazers, you and I.
Track Name: Wishes
Been saving up wishes, for years now it seems; on eyelashes fallen from my brow, on pennies in fountains and streams, on clocks that read 11:11 and wishbones broken apart -- when I'm holding my breath through tunnels, I'm wishing for your heart. I would never tell a soul. That could keep my wishes from coming true! But if a song like this would make a difference, then I'm ready to pour my heart out to you. Been saving up secrets for years now it seems; of quick-forgotten kisses, and my broken, anxious dreams, those heated conversations about loves I thought had passed -- I wish that I could say for sure that anything good ever lasts. But I will never tell a soul. You know I bury my secrets deep. I've got room for two, just me and you. We'll put those brief lives back to sleep.
Track Name: Snowflakes and Sawdust
I watch the seasons come and go through the glass of a sawmill window. Summer burns to Fall, then Winter freezes all, and the cold gets in your bones so deep you think that it might never leave. As the snowflakes and the sawdust drift, so too do my thoughts accumulate and shift. The physical demands and toil of my hands create solitude within, and dirt stains on my skin. I never thought I'd be this tired. I never thought it was required of me. How could I be so naive? "What is man but a mass of thawing clay?" That's what Henry David Thoreau would say. If it's true then this work molded me into a man, but the thought of staying in one place for too long is something I can't stand. The older men say it's the American way to spend more than you earn, but I think I disagree, I mean it doesn't have to be. Will any of us ever learn?
Track Name: Ramblin'
There are wrinkles in the road before me. Sunrise of headlights on the crest before me. The fog is rolling in. I'm driving home alone again. It's well past 2 AM, still ramblin'. It's well past 3 AM, still ramblin'.
Track Name: L'appel Du Vide
It was high above a Brooklyn street. They were standing on their balcony. He peered down over the edge. "It's not really vertigo," he said, "not quite a fear of heights, but a certainty that such a flight would end my life, and it's right here before me." .... "Are you telling me you want to take the leap?" She said, "If so I'll go back inside, give you some peace. I'll pretend to sleep." .... "I have no such affliction! It was merely transfixion. But," he said, "I think I finally understand that bit written by Nietzsche." .... "Even though he was a madman?" .... "Gaze not long into the abyss. It will gaze also into you."
Track Name: Rust
Her face is bleeding on the page. My heart is beating in its cage. My mind is wandering to all the old places. These scenes in my head are a blur of lonely faces. And is there an airplane landing in this room, or is all that shaking coming from me? Is there any hope buried in this chaos? Or is nothing "meant to be"? What the fuck does that mean? Minutes add up, and my words begin to rust. The hinges on my jaw shatter like all of our built-up trust. Guitar strings bend, in tension like our last days. I count the beats while you count the myriad different ways I let you down. I let you down. So in these notes I take responsibility. I just wish you could do the same for all the things you did to me. Now the strings break, and the tears cease. My eyes have gone dry from weeping. And the lids close, and I collapse, so tired from nights without sleeping. The sun sets, out the window. I lie all alone now on my pillow. The impression of your head, the smell of your body on my bed, will be gone, like you, in the morning.
Track Name: If I Linger (A Song to Dispel Ghosts)
Now is not the best time to find out you're never coming back. I wish that I had known you better, but the sentiment is meaningless in retrospect. But it doesn't really matter, 'cause now you're gone. And if I linger in places we used to go, does it make me a creep? My friends tell me not to, but I will try to hold on to hope that one day you'll come back for me. This poisonous nostalgia drains vitality, and maybe it's just my vanity but I really thought I had the strength to keep my grip. I'm so sorry I can't hold on. I begin to slip...and I fall, and I fall. And I realize it's not strength at all that kept me hanging on, just desperation. But it doesn't really matter, 'cause now you're gone. And if I linger in places we used to go, I'll just be a creep. My friends were all right to warn me, I'm through trying to hold on to hope that one day you'll come back for me. All I recall through this veil looks like gold, until the present truth breaks through, revealing memories stale and old. Like Dorian Gray's portrait, when he finally saw himself; he crumbled into ash, ravaged by time and disenchanted health.
Track Name: Blue Ruin
In the backyard, the moonlight looks like snow. There's static-laced jazz on the radio. Why do my thoughts race at unlikely hours, while the tunes bloom from the speakers like flowers? I've lost too many truths to the night, so now I try to write them down, to keep them alive. The warmth of the bourbon, the chill of the night. I wish that everyone would stop telling me it'll be alright. I am so clumsy, I have no grace. Please don't pray for me, I know I am a fucking disgrace. Blue Ruin got a hold on me. In the end, there was hardly enough left to figure out who I was supposed to be. Blue Ruin got a hold on me. The things that I lost, I gave away for free. I tried my best not to drag you down with me. This is the fragile heart I don't want anyone else to see.
Track Name: Galatea
Nothing has been quite the same since the accident. Your fingers tremble and twitch, they seem discontent. I don't know what to do anymore. If what you tell me is true, then truth I abhor. Solace, my lady, I ask you still my hands. They cannot carry a tune now worth a damn. I don't know what to do anymore. These knife-thrower's hands will overpower me, I'm sure. I cannot shake this feeling that I will not wake up from this dream I've had. I cannot take another hurt this bad. I thought that I could keep you from being sad, but I found myself in love like mad. A cold wind, it stirs from within. It carries all across her skin. She lives, yet she was made of stone! Give me your lips, you are mine alone! I cannot shake this feeling that I will not wake up from this dream I've had. I cannot take another hurt this bad. I thought that I could keep you from being sad, but I found myself in love like mad. I found myself in love so mad.
Track Name: Awkward Goodbye
Do you still remember all the time we spent writing, and singing songs, in a series of basements? Or all the time spent goofing off, sitting around watching cartoons, or playing with the cat? It seems those days ended too soon. But I still get sad when I hear your voice sometimes. I couldn't have predicted it, it took me by surprise. Certain songs, and certain lines... They take me back in time. Take me back in time. In this haze of memories, obscured by clouds it's hard to see how long its been. They roll aside eventually, reveal visions that open wounds I thought had healed. No, no, it does no good looking back this way! Life's too short to waste my time in purgatory every day. Back to the present moment. Dwelling on the past hurts, don't it? I know we all had more to say. Too bad Life tends to get in the way. Maybe we'll all come around again some day, but I still get sad when I hear your voice sometimes. I couldn't have predicted it, it took me by surprise. Certain songs, and certain lines... They take me back in time. Take me back in time.