Fort Madeline

by Karl Sanden

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Karl Sanden
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Karl Sanden This album is my solo project. This album constantly reminds me that what I do has value, whatever I do. Favorite track: The Struggle (Instrumental).
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This album is written to the artist, as an exhortation to persevere. It is a bildungsroman of sorts, as it chronicles my own journey as artist over the last few years. The story begins with "Fort Madeline", where the lead character sets out on a journey to find a contribution to present to the world. The Bach Prelude then portrays the first few stages of that journey, which are full of pleasant surprises and enjoyable discoveries. However, the character then becomes overly self-confident, and runs into trouble, at which point he realizes several key flaws within his own personality that need addressing, most notably how his words often contain meanings he did not anticipate. The song "Your Words Forget Their Names" describes this stage, and "The Struggle" expresses his convoluted path during this time. The Moonlight Sonata speaks to the patient endurance of his soul, and doesn't allow him to take any shortcuts. "Distance, My Foe" explains the character's determination to succeed in his goals and the drive to return to Fort Madeline despite how far he still needs to travel. Finally, "Moments of Halcyon Age" is the song he sings while he is on the road - it reminds him to hope for the future, and to enjoy the key moments along the way which give his life eternal significance.

For more information on each specific song and the symbolism therein, please click on an individual track and read the description.

* * *

I am so grateful to all my friends and family who have helped me out with this project:

Arran Baird – your mixing advice and your rock-solid bass guitar playing really made a difference. Looking forward to more projects in the future!

Christine Wu – your cello part in “Distance, My Foe” is arguably the emotional climax of the album. Thank you for playing so passionately and skillfully!

Dave & Brenda Sanden – You are my parents. Therefore, I complain about you far more than I should and thank you far less than I ought. Would I be even remotely successful without you? Nope, not a chance. Thank you for raising me to love music along with so many other things.

Jamie Smith – Thank you so much for lending your amazing skills as an artist, and for being willing to partner with me in this project! The painting is absolutely phenomenal, and I am so glad I decided to call you up and ask for help. Great music is made complete by great album artwork, and the image you have have created is stunning – I could not have wished for any better.

Joan Keay – Your decade of piano instruction gave me the tools to do this project. I love Bach because of you.

Joel Krahn – that snare drum in Fort Madeline really pops!

John Sanden – Your critique is useful because you are right. Having such high standards for your work has helped me increase my own. Thanks, brotha’.

Kris Barns – Your have the ears of a master! Thank you so much for listening to my mix and giving me your thoughts and criticism – your opinion is always appreciated (whether I chose to follow it or not).

Kristen Chan – Your violin playing makes me so happy every time I hear it! Thank you for being patient with me as I learned the process of creating a score for a studio musician - you performed it masterfully.

Natalie Cheung – You sing beautifully. I am so pleased you were able to lend your voice to this project!

Nathan Ehret – Thank you, my friend, for putting up with late-night recording sessions, countless unfinished mix-down iterations, and a constant stream of musical commentary and updates, which you graciously endured for the whole trajectory of this project. I would have given up long ago without your continuous daily encouragement.

Rebecca Sanden – Your confidence in my work is such an encouragement – thanks, Becky.

To those who I have not listed – thank you! Your patience and support are greatly appreciated, and your encouragement is no less appreciated just because your name is not here.

The artwork for this album has been created by an amazing Vancouver artist, Jamie Smith. You can check out more of her work here:


released July 21, 2014

Words and music on tracks 1, 3, 4, 6, and 7 by Karl Sanden.
Contributions to lyrics on track 6 by Natalie Cheung.
Contributions to music on track 6 by Natalie Cheung and Christine Wu, and to track 3 by Arran Baird.
Track 2 written by J.S. Bach.
Track 5 written L. van Beethoven.
Additional vocals on tracks 6 and 7 performed by Natalie Cheung.
Snare drum on track 1 performed by Joel Krahn.
Bass guitar on track 3 performed by Arran Baird.
Cello on track 6 performed by Christine Wu.
Violin on tracks 6 and 7 performed by Kristen Chan.
All other instruments and vocals performed by Karl Sanden.
Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Karl Sanden.
Produced by Karl Sanden.
Photography by Karl Sanden.
Artwork painted by Jamie Smith.



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Karl Sanden Vancouver, British Columbia

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Track Name: Fort Madeline

Wet boots on his feet
The mist fought through the trees
Thoughts awash in snow
His steps a mere tableau
Shoulder straps taut
Pick-ax at his knee
Waiting for a sign
A whisper from the pine

There, he sees her flag, beyond that flash
The sun cuts through a loosened edge
Of his haggard mind

Must I stay, 'til you get back someday
Waitin' on that topmost stair
No luck to ensnare
You're far away, striking earth and clay
One day I'll see my guarantee

But until then, he trudges on
Searching downward, reachin' deeper
He must find, though unrefined
The one oblation to bring him fame

That gold eludes him now, though his spade is true
Cares tapped his brow, wise to her solitude
If he shall pursue

Walkin' in, standin' tall
With that prize in his hands
He will find Fort Madeline
Just the same as it was
She's the same as she was
The same as she was
Track Name: Your Words Forget Their Names

Bourgeois musings
In quiet alleyways
Daydreaming pigeons
Of idleness and ease

The promenade
Has you strolling on
Brick streets and clearly felt dreams
These morning sighs
And your glossy eyes
See not the gathering rainstorm
When your words forget their names

Walls of glass
Mirror the inner contentment
That unruffled courtyards
Invent for your unversed mind

The thought is quenched
My mind is wrenched
Walk out the door and say:

Arrogant assertions pounded down
The solid facade cloud
Collapse of walls, resound in flame
Security slides off the scale

Hard work is no safety
Why strive to force one's way?
Critical thought and invention are shamed
When your words forget their names

Fog now draws in close
And each step sees no fame
Conceals the surge and hides the crest
Derails the blare of the train

Mind the games, the fair play
The lines are here to stay
You stand too composed, too tame
When your words forget their names
Track Name: Distance, My Foe

Angling overhead
This trackless expanse, I see
That thin line is dim
My heart mislaid in shadow
The wayward unknown
Suppressed beyond the trees
In silence and unease

A fool was I
To heed the frontier
I sought to find
A clarity here
You unlocked that door
But didn't keep score
Will I take more
Than tides on my shore?

The hope draws me onward
The distance, my foe
I will find a way
Though the forest push back
I will find my way
That glow will remain


You say
Though words, you have not said
It seems, I have not read
Your gambol and mirth
Do not yet purvey
My soul from its stead
My mind is unfed

The sky is on fire
But only at night
I will find my way
But only at night
The glow guides me home
But only at night

The hope draws me onward
The distance, my foe
I will find my way
Though the forest push back
I will find my way
That glow will remain
Though it seems
I'm undone
Track Name: Moments of Halcyon Age

Moments we wish would last
The feeling fades far too fast
Waves lap between my toes
Holding tight her hand in mine
Dusk creeps into the afterglow
The image stays but slows its throb

That song that you played
Volumes disclosed
The heart that you changed
Moments of halcyon age

Behold, in that vault they stay
Honest pearls, they won't fade away
Unremitting bounce and sway
Keep you up beyond the fray

The gaze that you captured
The scene that you displayed
The crowd sits, enraptured
A friend that you saved
Moments enduring on through halcyon days