Pick a card, any card. The suits and face cards we all know began not with games, but with tarot and divination. Question: if the cards provide hints about what might happen in the future, can they tell us anything about what already happened in the past?
A few days before the summer solstice in 2018, Luke Gullickson arrived at the PLAYA Arts Center in the high desert of central Oregon with a guitar and a deck of cards. These weren’t traditional playing cards nor a tarot deck, but the cards designed by Carson Ellis and Keith Baker for the Decemberists’ game Illimat. Using their unique court cards and “luminaries” (Illimat’s answer to the major arcana) as writing prompts, Gullickson dove into myth, archetype, and personal history to create this enigmatic but thematically unified set of songs.
By June 2018 Gullickson had for several years been making his living as a collaborative chamber music pianist. The resulting sensitivity of touch is evident in his fingerstyle playing on the resonator guitar, which continues to grow in subtlety and nuance, and in his melodies and chord structures here, ever deeper in range and complexity.
In many ghost stories, the dead reach out to the living to tell them what happened before their time—what happened here before you came. What might they tell us about places we still inhabit, about events we actually did experience?