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As Salamander Wool, Baltimore experimental musician Carson Garhart has created a portal to the ancient world, and the Washington Monument is ground zero. That’s the general idea behind “Reptile,” a woozy, warped track off Garhart’s new album, Solar Solipsis. It’s the second album from Salamander Wool—-Garhart began using the name five years ago—-and it collects songs dating back to 2000 that reflect the energy of the sun.
Carson originally wrote “Reptile” for an album inspired by locations along I-95 that he made as a part of Sejayno, whose other members are synthesizer designer Peter Blasser and sound designer/video artist Severiano Martinez. The geolocation for “Reptile” on the I-95 album is listed as “@Ronald Reagan Airport,” but Carson took his inspiration from a spot some four miles away—-the Washington Monument.
“The idea was that I would write a song that created this wormhole between D.C. and this Serpent Mound in Ohio,” Garhart says. Oh? Turns out Carson is intrigued by monolithic structures, and societies that are organized around their tallest edifices. “That represents humans’ search for that fixed, unmoved substance—-if you want to call it eternity,” Carson says. His goal was to juxtapose the Washington Monument—-our modern American monolith—-with what he considers the capital of the ancient world. As Garhart sees it, the Serpent Mound, a Native-American ceremonial structure in Adams County, Ohio, is the center point of a more ancient North America.
Garhart doesn’t want to do much more decoding, however. “I would rather that people decipher their own meanings,” he says. But as far as the Washington Monument goes, Garhart does have some reservations about it. “It’s kind of this perfect symbol of the patriarch rule,” he says. In other words: “It is the prick of the world.”