Cruel Optimism is a record that considers power (present and absent). It meditates on how power consumes, augments, and ultimately shapes two subsequent human conditions: obsession and fragility. . . . This edition owes its title and its origins to the wonderful text of the same name by American theorist Lauren Berlant. . . . In Cruel Optimism, I found a number of critical readings around the issues that have fueled so much of the music I have been making recently. Beyond her keen analysis of the relations of attachment as they pertain to conditions of possibility in the everyday, it was particularly her writing around trauma I found deeply affecting. It was a jumping off point from which a plague of unsettling impressions of suffering, intolerance, and ignorance could be unpacked and utilized as fuel over and above pointless frustration. When I made Wilderness Of Mirrors (RM 460CD/LP, 2014) clouds of unease were overhead. As I have worked through Cruel Optimism, what seemed an unimaginable future just a few years prior, began to present as actual. Over the course of creating the record, we collectively bore witness to a new wave of humanitarian and refugee crisis (captured so succinctly in the photograph of Alan Kurdi’s tiny body motionless on the shore), the Black Lives Matter movement, the widespread use of sonic weapons on civilians, increased drone strikes in Waziristan, Syria and elsewhere, and record low numbers of voting around Brexit and the US election cycle, suggesting a wider sense of disillusionment and powerlessness. Acutely for me and other Australians, we’ve faced dire intolerance concerning race and continued inequalities related to gender and sexuality. The storm has broken and feels utterly visceral. Cruel Optimism is a meditation on these challenges and an encouragement to press forward towards more profound futures. Beyond the motivations forging the record, the process by which this edition was created was unlike many of my other records. Having worked largely alone in recent years, I wanted to shift away from that approach. . . . I count myself exceptionally fortunate to have been able to call on so many fine musicians in the making of this album. . . . I couldn’t be more pleased to share Cruel Optimism with you. –Lawrence English, October 2016 Contributions in various forms from: Mats Gustafsson, Mary Rapp, Tony Buck, Chris Abrahams, Werner Dafeldecker, Norman Westberg, Brodie McAllister, Australian Voices, Vanessa Tomlinson, Heinz Riegler, and Thor Harris.