“Asido”: Whimsical Desolation

“Asido” (link) is the first and only standalone single released by Canadian electronic pop / dream pop / witch house band Purity Ring, not counting their cover of Soulja Boy’s “Grammy” (which is radically different from the original song, and actually really good).

Purity Ring is not a band I thought I would enjoy based on genre alone, but something about them just clicks with me — perhaps their ethereal, yet graphic lyrics and unique sound. You can find the lyrics for “Asido” here, although I wouldn’t trust the Genius interpretations of the individual lyrics for meaning, since the only commenter seems convinced that the band was referencing an obscure comic series from the 1980s, which is a bit of a stretch.

That said, I do agree with the general interpretation of the song Genius gives: “Haunting vocals and piano, dark brooding synths, a sharp snare, and a deep hollow kick mix with Biblical themes and illustrious lyrics to paint an evocative picture of the destruction that humans have sown upon the Earth.” Yeah, that scans. I’d claim that the meaning of the song is to express the experience of watching said destruction being sowed and contributing to it, rather than stopping it.

Let’s start off with the imagery in this song, because it’s simply amazing. Line by line.

From a black widow’s reckoning
Your fortuitous spine
Opened up like a marionette
Danced a whimsical pride

Female black widows are believed to kill and eat their mates after mating, although this behavior is uncommon (but not unheard of). In these lines, the speaker paints the listener as the victim of this process, their spine opening up and moving against their will. “Danced a whimsical pride” is probably the least clear line here, but suggests that the listener’s spine was forced to move and dance for no reason other than the predator’s whims. The motif of anatomy (present in many Purity Ring songs) and the idea of violation both make their first appearance here.

Lend a hand to the silver blade
Stir your gut ’til it pours

This line is a really cool way to suggest the listener being stabbed, and is evocative of both violence and exploitation.

Fill our cups with profanity
‘Til the earth is stained orange

“Profanity” here can represent blood (from the stabbed listener’s gut, perhaps), stolen natural resources, or simply exploitation physically embodied. The “we” here represents humanity as a whole and their hedonism and carelessness as they stain the earth with their excesses.

How my tongue dried into the dust
How my skin willed a lie
Drill a hole in the field
Just the size of my thighs

The first line in this stanza/pre-chorus suggests the slow eradication of moisture and life on Earth that is taking place. “How my skin willed a lie” perhaps represents the denial the speaker uses to ignore the pain their species are causing. “Drill a hole in the field” suggests mining and drilling, ways of robbing the planet of its resources and life. “Just the size of my thighs” recontextualizes that line, however, wrapping it in the anatomical lyrics Purity Ring is so fond of. Is the earth meant to be personified here, or is something else going on?

Feel as lonely as I do
Feel as lonely as I do
Feel as lonely as I do, as I do
Feel as lonely as I do, I do

“Asido” is the name of the song, and I’m not sure whether to pronounce it “As-ee-dough” or “As-I-do”. Nonetheless, the chorus indicates that the speaker isn’t really happy with the current state of affairs, but rather than trying to fix it, they’re taking their loneliness out on the listener, which would explain the black widow symbolism and probable stabbing.

Dried up seeds neath our parting seas
Floating pears on the tide

The Biblical imagery here is clear; the Red Sea parting before Moses is one of the most famous images in the Torah. However, the lines here recontextualize that classic image by showing the remnants of nature eaten away by humans as they fight among themselves and struggle for more resources.

Slow motion to drown me
Roaming streams from our eyes

The speaker is slowly drowning in this desolate world, but will continue to participate in it while they live. “Roaming streams from our eyes” is an interesting way of phrasing tears, and it shows that humanity is not any happier for what they have accomplished.

(skip pre/chorus #2)
Hold the pain in a soft crux
With our palms facing up
Push it thoroughly through and through
This is ours to drink up
Oh, the madness in weakness
Doubled o’er on the plate
Fill an ocean with weaponry
Hurricanes of our grace

Humanity is drinking pain that they push out of the ground, draining the earth while at the same time worsening their own mental well-being. “Oh, the madness in weakness” suggests that humans abhor weakness and will go to dangerous, even insane lengths to avoid it, including “Fill an ocean with weaponry,” which obviously indicates humanity’s violence and artifice to fuel that violence overtaking nature. “Hurricanes of our grace” is an incredibly ironic line — grace is usually associated with divinity and peace, but humanity’s grace is a hurricane tearing away everything in its path (which ties back into the Biblical imagery; perhaps humanity’s gods are just as brutal as we are, or perhaps our belief in religion, philosophy, or any of those creeds merely worsens our brutality).

Feel as lonely as I do, as I do
Feel as lonely as I do, I do
Feel as lonely as I do

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