People are asleep and when they die they wake up. And he said "Die before you die".
The Heart Sutra (an ancient Buddhist text) which on this song is recited in ancient Cantonese).
Everything is so beautiful and lovely and alive. This is reality. If you look right over there.
The artist finds himself on a hospital bed in the midst of immense suffering, internal chaos and uncertainty. He has unexpectedly fallen ill. There is no understanding of how this suffering came to be nor when it will end, if ever. Out of nowhere he finds himself with a body that he no longer understands or can control. All of the internal functions of the body that he took for granted up until this point in his life like walking, eating, and sleeping have ceased to operate. After a series of beeping hospital monitors, the first words we hear on the record are sounded: "People are asleep and when they die they wake up and he said 'Die before you die'". This sentiment basically encapsulates the whole of the story being told. What follows is a recitation of The Heart Sutra in Cantonese. This sutra is a complex exploration of the nature of reality but simply put it states that ALL things are empty of an independent existence. In other words, the self that we identify with is not a true self because it depends on so many other things to exist. Everything depends on everything else to exist at all. Waves are all different sizes and can be distinguished from one another but they are all just water. They arise, take a distinct shape, and then fall away back into water. This is how all phenomenon, including ourselves, operate.
An out of tune clunky melody enters under the recitation. Filled with fear, uncertainty and angst, hearing the sutra and this melody gives him hope and strength to be able to deal with his turmoil. He has a glimpse that everything is going to be okay. In knowing that there never was a self to begin with, he begins to understand that he is dying. Not the ultimate physical demise but rather the death of the self; the death of the ego; the death of everything with which he identified and took for granted. And now, left with nothing but immense pain and suffering he must find answers, strength and hope. His first realization is spoken, "I am one, with what I am." At the end of the song, we hear a piano and the character speaks: "Everything is so beautiful and lovely and alive. This is reality." At this realization, the previously heard clunky out of tune melody now is being played on the piano. Clarity has been reached. The character gets a glimpse of the eternal purity of creation and then it slowly fades away. He is alone in the hospital knowing that there is something out there that he must find. A truth that will get him through this suffering. The search for freedom from suffering begins. The character speaks, "If you look right over there."
The hospital beeps heard in this song were actually recorded with my iPhone during the 2nd or 3rd night in the hospital. I was sick but the producer in me thought those beeps would make a good sample. At around 1:13 in the song, a broken, clunky, out of tune melody comes in. It sounds almost like broken synthetic bagpipes. The piano plays this same melody at the end of the song. See video below for how this came to be. In the chorus of the song, we hear our first iteration of a simple 5 note melody played on the trumpet . This melody is played by the trumpet in 4 of the 5 songs on the EP and it signifies when the character has overcome the spiritual obstacle presented; when the character has reached a new level of wisdom and understanding. The Heart Sutra was recited by Kin Ching Fong. May he rest in peace.