The Early Years

by Shorthand for distance

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RecordBook There is something seriously wrong with commercial music. Even if we'd assume music itself isn't that bad (it is), main problem is always with lyrics. I don't want to name them, you know who I'm talking about. Songs about nothing. Songs that makes you wonder is it the world getting stupid or is it you detached from this strange reality. But don't worry there is Shorthand For Distance.

Didio Pestana from Portugal met Eirik Sördal from Iceland in Berlin in 2011. Hot southern temperament mixed with cold northern spirit gave us music hard to define. Closest term would probably be anti-folk. They both sings, both plays guitars, but Didio adds keys, wind piano and I'm pretty sure I've heard somewhere there kalimba too. Music however isn't the most important part of "The Early Years" album. Lyrics are. I'm not saying this often but this record contains one of the best lyrics I've heard in a long, long time.

Few anti-love songs like "If I were your cat"or "Oilspill" with beautiful confession: "If you were my tax report/I'd fill you out today/never to send you off". "The Ballad of Lonesome George" with literally philosophical connections. "You, My Micheline Star" ballad of how to cook and serve your loved one. "...and you would make the tastebuds glad/of both my mum and dad". "You Flu" a history of missing someone so much it becomes an illness... 

I could really just quote whole album as the review. Lyrics here are masterpiece, funny but super intelligent. In a same time they're deadly serious. Way of describing difficult feelings with simple, sometimes even naive words, makes these songs even more authentic. Anti-poetry? Everything is a bit anti here and that makes it more powerful! You really don't have to follow crowd with every aspect of your life. 

Cover of the album is also a bit tricky. First thought was "Tango in the Night" by Fleetwood Mac, but no. Take a closer look. There are Didio and Eirik at the bottom of it, playing music in a park. There are also all stories from their songs alive here. It's like a riddle or maybe a final joke. Find all the songs. And where the hell is George? Back of the cover is super simple. Name of the tracks. Black record with two different colors of labels. Simple white inner sleeve. There is something I can't forgive them though. There is no insert with lyrics. Or maybe that was an idea? Same as front cover, you need to get through the songs slowly and find their meaning yourself? Or maybe it is an anti-cover?
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All songs written and performed by Shorthand for Distance / Drums on "For The Well Off" by Mitch Betancourt / Recorded At Altes Finanzamt Studios (Berlin) / Recorded and mixed by Pedro André / Mastered by Pedro Augusto at The Environment / Design and Artwork by Inês Gomes Ferreira


released March 1, 2017



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Shorthand for distance Berlin, Germany

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Track Name: If I Were Your Cat
If I were your cat
I would purr you to sleep
every night
at your feet
Every morning
I would wake you up
with a maimed sparrow
on your soft linen
with death in its eyes
the deadly blow
to be dealt by you.

If I were your cat
then you would be my catnip
I would lie in your lap
absorbing your smell
I would lick my own crotch
for everyone to see
and sharpen my claws
to always be prepared
to tear someone´s face off
who would want to do you harm
You would never have to worry
about me running away

For if I were your cat
I would sit there for hours
watching you
from behind the sofa
Pretend to be sleeping
in my custom made basket
But as soon as you´d leave
I would bury myself
in your dirty laundry
Having lucid dreams
about opposable thumbs,
about speaking your language
about writing a humanlike poem
about me being your cat.

And if I were your cat
I would keep it like that.
Track Name: Oilspill
I´ve been watching you
sleeping all night long
counting your birthmarks
writing words for this song
If you´re dreaming of
going on a killing spree
I´m crossing my fingers
hope you won´t forget to murder me

Your black hair is like
an oilspill on my bed
Me, I´m a flightless bird
stuck inside of your head

If you were my tax report
I´d fill you out today
never to send you off
regardless what the state might say
Outside the weather
is constantly changing
at first the snow was shining
now the sun is pouring down

And I´ve been watching you
sleeping all night long
pray that you feel the same
when you hear this song
Track Name: The Ballad Of Lonesome George
Keep your head up George
and harden your old shell
This “evilution” anyway
will take us all to hell
You´ve got the beatnik
existential look of Foucault
Shellcoat, turtleneck and the
disinterest you show
You´re neither a mutant nor a ninja
a teenager no more
the tide of human degradation
overflows your shores.

Lonesome George
Darwin was right
Lonesome George
but it was worth a fight

You may be the last one, George
but still that´s hard to tell
and even if that were the case
it may just be as well
Cruise ship tourists
collect Kodak moments and gloat
People have no clue that you
keep Noah´s ark afloat

It seems so random, George
it seems like just because
It´s all too human George
even in Galapagos

Lonesome George
Nietzsche was right
Lonesome George
and that´s a turtle´s plight

You´ve seen a lot George
and this I know my friend
no-one before us has ever
gazed into the end
I know you visit her
in your turtle dreams
in that other world
I´m sure your sad face beams
Even in this place
you sometimes give a smile
though you haven´t really
meant it for quite a while.

Lonesome George
the Bible was wrong
Lonesome George
and you knew all along
Track Name: You, My Michellin Star
When I see you
I get an urge to bite you
your savouriness on my tongue
an aftertaste for all day long.

You know
I´m really into cooking
and you would taste delicious
in one of my new dishes

I would send an invitation
to all of our best friends
and you would make the tastebuds glad
of both my mom and dad

Pick out the finest wines
from that French store you like
your grandma´s silverware
crystal, china by each chair.

Slicing, cutting, mashing, frying, glazing, cooking, boiling, peeling, stuffing, sautéing, steaming, stirring, tasting, salting, spicing, kneading, rolling, tossing, thickening, licking, parting , puréeing, working, burning, plucking, mincing, hashing, hacking, fritter, chopping you.

I would slice you
in carpaccio with my Wüsthof knife
from your earlobes right to your groin
and into fillet and tenderloin

In olive oil
I´d keep you, extra virgin
sprinkle you with salt and thyme
and marinate you over time

Every recipe looks better
when you´re a part of it
the starter: tender muscles
with white wine and mussels

For main course: Foi de you
with saffron sauce and truffles
my love, my Kobe beef
medium rare with a bay leaf

Dessert, my final touch
chocolates from your sweetened fat
with this menu and a cigar
you could be my Michelin star

poaching, stewing, coddling, canning, conserving, peeling, gutting, smoking, drying, draining, straining, whisking, grating, baking, blending, simmering, roasting, toasting, grilling, filling, flipping, basting, seasoning, stewing, coating, browning, combining, dicing, mincing, cubing you

On the grand night
the guests in their best evening dress
and as you slowly roast
I would rise, propose a toast
to you – my Michelin star
Track Name: Anyway
But I don´t agree with any of that and anyway I don´t care about you anymore
and anyway don´t be calling me up anymore
and anyway I don´t want to be your friend any more– not even on facebook
and anyway I don´t want to see your face and your trendy new look
and anyway I´m not listening to what you´ say – about you and your man and all that he can
and anyway I don´t want to hear about the child you´re having in May, anyway,
and anyway I don´t care if you are feeling fine
and anyway I don´t care if you´re no longer no longer …
Track Name: For The Well Off
Susie grew up in Switzerland
she once revealed this fact to me:
her mother owned a hair salon
and her daddy ran a factory
But Switzerland is just a land
it’s landlocked far from any sea
For dinner plans with friends her wish
is anything but uncooked fish
so Susie has a problem:
never liked sushi

I knew a guy from the U.S.A.
his fate was not benign
his laptop was too slow for programmes
like AutoCAD an INdesign
He went to study overseas
and it ended with a drag
his parents had to pick him up
from the morgue in a body bag
he killed himself just out of lack
he´s never coming back
His parents cried “Oh my gosh
he never got a new Mac-

This is the voice
of another unsung tragedy
a personal catastrophe
in the globalized economy
people in the first world
[people like you and me]
problems in the twenty-first
century [like you and me]
this is for the affluent who often have it rough
so this is a protest song for the well off.

Claire just finished art school
now her life needs some structure
Rejections from residencies
piling in, it nearly fucked her
When finally she got a yes
it wasn´t one, but two
and in the same time frame
Rome or Rio, what to do?
The agony of choice is bitter
she tells her followers on Twitter
And everyone agrees
with Claire
her life is just unfair

Dale has seen some hard times
recently life pulled rank
as he received a notice letter
from his job, the investment bank
Asking “why always me?”
he´s answered by an echo
Dale recites some poetry
by Donald Trump and Gordon Gecko
Hides his face by the bar
thinking: how sad things are
And: “how can I prevail
as Dale, white, heterosexual male?”

This is the voice
of another unsung tragedy
a personal catastrophe
in the globalized economy
people in the first world
[people like you and me]
problems in the twenty-first
century [like you and me]
this is for the affluent who often have it rough
so this is a protest song for the well off.
Track Name: You Flu
I´ve been sitting here all day long
not really knowing what was wrong
I´ve got a Carl Lewis kind of
running nose, all red from the countless blows
I´ve gone through a tissue box or two
I´ve come down with a nasty kind of flu
I´ve come down with one helluva flu
coincidentally it´s named after you
I´ve caught the you flu,
ever since you flew

Took you to the airport and kissed you good bye
probably for the last time, for a while
or so you told me with an unconvincing smile
You went through the security check and waved goodbye
and then it was as Bob Marley put it:
just I and I and I and I and I
and the you flu

Since you took off I feel it in my liver
I´m swinging constantly from fever to a shiver
I´ve been drinking iced beer by the liter
but it doesn´t cool my thermometer
I must have caught it in your saliva
because now I definitely have a you flu
you flu

I asked around in pharmacies, no one knew
the first thing about an ailment called you flu
Called my mom to ask her for tips
and tried to look for some YouTube clips
but all of that and my Google search fell through
seems that I´m the only guy with the you flu,
you flu

I´ve tried to do some meditating
acupuncture and self-medicating
cooked up a medieval witches brew
but nothing works on the you flu
Salty liquids pour from my eyes
a cure for this is worth a Nobel prize
And now I feel my strength is waning
I´m lying around doing casket training
Scientifically, it might be polemic
but this might turn into an epidemic
of you flu

So if you ever miss me, you know where to look
just open up a pathology text book
Since I´m the first to fall victim to
the illness which you‘ll find under you flu
Track Name: I Could Be Your Gertrude
I could be your Gertrud if you would be my Alice
I could be the scraper if you would be a callous
I could be your Link and you could be my Zelda
I could be the iron if you would be the welder
I could be your Courtney and you could be my Kurt
you could make me froth and I could make you squirt
you could be my Narcissus and I could be your Narcissus
I could be the match if you would be an arsonist

I could be Simone and you could be Jean-Paul
I could be the 18th hole if you would be the ball
you could be a valley and I could be the fog
you could be a fireplace and me a burning log
I could be Schopenhauer, you could be free will
or I could be the coffee mug and you a free refill
I could be your Tenzing if you would be my Edmund
I could be your short legs if you were a Dachshund

Now, if I were a Monet, you would be a Manet
I could be a bank account if you would be the money
you could be Mrs. Marple and I could be a hint
you could be a cave man and I could be your flint
I could be Marina and you could be Ulay
and if you were a pig then I would be your sty
I could be your Rimbaud and you could be Verlaine
I could be Hail Mary and you could be amen

I could be an altarboy and you could be a priest
you could be a necrophile, and I newly deceased
If you were a platypus then I would be your beak
and I would be a feta cheese if you were Greek
you could be technology, then I would be a geek
and if you were a turban, then I would be a Sikh
you could be my Ernest and I could be Marlene
you can be the paper if you let me be the pen

I could be The Autobahn and you could be the lanes
you could be inflation and me John Maynard Keynes
I could be Chewbacca and you could be Han Solo
you could be Slash and I a guitar solo
I could be a salt pillar, you could be Lot
you could be a troll so I could be a bot
I could be Rodman and you Kim Jong Un
if I were Neil Armstrong then you would be the moon
Track Name: Abjection Jitter
Sadness isn´t sexy, under any circumstances
(They say) people with low serotonin levels don´t invent new dances
Self-mutilation is only cool until you‘re 18 years of age, I´ll never come of age
When your days are sombre, like the darkest onyx
don´t get all caught up in the eudaemonics
Just remember you only have your DNA to blame
when you pop a pill and still, it stays the same, it always stays the same.

Listen here; there is a cure
It´s neither listening to Smiths nor Cure
You won´t find it in French literature, or any health centre brochure
It´s not so bad when put in context, though you might feel like you´re in a vortex
The remedy isn´t complex, get with the groove in your frontal cortex.

Dance, dance to the bashful lull
of misbehaving neurons, crashing into your skull.
snap your fingers and clap your hands to underactive neurotransmitters
Get on your feet and do the abjection jitter
you´re never bitter
always fitter
with the abjection jitter

Now, every so often, we all fall into ennui
Well, I can only speak for me, but I don´t need a lobotomy
The first step is to accept, this life is just absurd, this life is just a turd

To realise it you don´t have to be overly cynical
the medical industry wants all of us to be clinical
But there´s enough dopamine for everyone to go around
around, it always comes around.

I know you might feel somewhat worthless, but here´s a thing that makes it hurt less
it rids you of nervousness and burdens, like an actor before the curtains
Change out of sweatpants, kick off your Crocs, forget about those electro shocks
don´t believe any quacks or docs, my fix is certain like atomic clocks

Dance, dance to the bashful lull
of misbehaving neurons, crashing into your skull.
snap your fingers and clap your hands to underactive neurotransmitters
Get on your feet and do the abjection jitter
you´re never bitter
always fitter
with the abjection jitter