Although I probably have 50 fountain pens in my collection that per definition is in “use rotation”, and probably at least 250 bottles of ink (I’ve lost count a long time ago), I have a tendency to go for the same pens and inks time and time again. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can spice up my pen and ink choices, and force myself to use more than just the 10-15 go-to pens and inks.
In early January, I had an idea: what if I combined two of my interests, and tried to pair pens and inks with music I like? Perhaps I could pick a music album, and select pens and inks that suited each individual song?
It was immediately clear to me which album should be the first. Since December, I’ve been listening almost exclusively to Sleep Token’s brilliant album from 2023: Take Me Back To Eden. This is the band’s third album, and I discovered them myself in late autumn last year. I haven’t listened very much to the first two albums from them yet, but Take Me Back to Eden is in a class of its own, and has quickly become a big favourite. Check out their song, The Summoning here:
I have selected a pen and ink for each song on the album, and in the writing samples I’ve used extracts from the song lyrics. I’ve tried to have as much variety as possible in colors and pens throughout the album, and was almost surprised by how diverse the selection ended up being. I’ll comment under each picture why I’ve made the choices I’ve made:
Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age – Noodler’s Ink Tiananmen
The lyrics in the first song on the album indicate that something or someone has a grip on you, is holding you tight, are strangling you. I thought the theme of Noodler’s Tiananmen was a good fit for this. The ink is inspired by the well-known image of the man who stood in front of a column of tanks on their way out of Tiananmen Square. The picture demonstrates both a regime that keeps its population in a chokehold, but also in many ways a single individual who, with sheer force of will, has his own hold on the advancing tanks.
Conklin Mark Twain Blue/Rosegold Demonstrator – Diamine Oxblood
Here I simply took one of the song’s lyrics quite literally. “I’ve got a blood trail, red in the blue”. Red ink in a blue pen. And as there’s also a reference to blood, the ink had to be Oxblood.
TWSBI Diamond 580 Smoke Rosegold II – Diamine Grey
The title of this song, Granite, made me choose a gray ink. Otherwise, it was the line “Between the second-hand smoke and the glass on the street” that made me choose this particular pen. It fits well with the reference to both smoke and glass.
Jinhao Dadao 9019 Light Blue – Noodler’s Ink Apache Sunset
Aqua Regia, or royal water, is a chemical mixture that, among other things, can dissolve gold. It’s supposed to have a yellow-orange-red color, and as soon as I found out, there was no doubt that this had to be represented by Apache Sunset. It was more difficult to decide which pen to pick for this song. I ended up just choosing a pen that I thought worked with the ink, but I also see that the transparent pen body might give certain associations to equipment in chemical laboratories, which in itself suits this song well.
Leonardo Momento Zero Rosewood Ebonite – Monteverde Jade Noir
“Vore” is the short version of the word “vorarephilia”, which is a fetish where you want to eat or consume others, be eaten yourself, or observe someone being eaten. This should probably not be taken literally in the lyrics, but it depicts an unhealthy relationship where at least one of the parties can be said to consume the other, if not physically, then at least mentally. It seems like a relationship of obsession that’s not reciprocated. But how do you choose a pen and ink that suits this?
In the lyrics there are several references to flesh and bone, blood, and this combined with the more erotic undertones made me go for a dark red pen. To represent the twisted nature of this relationship, I chose a dark green ink.
I struggled for a long time with this one, and it was actually the last song I found an ink for.
Conklin All American Courage Black – Pilot Iroshizuku Bishamonten
This one was significantly easier. Here there are several references to red and pink in the lyrics: lipstick, red flags, pink nails, scarlet trail, blood stains , and not least “the last few drops from the Holy Grail”, which – if I remember correctly – was wine. In another line, there is also talk of “rose-gold chains”. I therefore chose a pen with a rose gold metal trim, and filled it with a pink-red ink. The ink turned out to be a bit more pink than I thought. I originally wanted something more wine-red, but this also works.
Are You Really Okay?
Leonardo Momento Zero Nuvola – Pilot Iroshizuku Hoteison
I read a comment on Youtube that suggested that the vocalist of Sleep Token wrote this song from the point of view of his mother when she found him in the middle of a suicide attempt. I don’t know if that’s true, but regardless, it’s pretty clear what the song is about, and the lyrics combined with the way it’s sung make it absolutely heartbreaking.
For my part, it reminds me of a good friend of mine in secondary school, who engaged in self-harm, and openly talked about wanting to take his own life. I had more sporadic contact with him after I started high school. I heard that he was doing better and that he had gotten the help he needed, but a couple of years later he ended up committing suicide. Outwardly, everything indicated that he was fine, but with this type of disorder, those around you can never be completely sure. The uncertainty and desperation in the line “Are you really okay” hits pretty hard…
I always think of him when I hear this song, and how such a beautiful person could have something so dark inside. I therefore chose a bright and light pen, representing the person I knew, and filled it with a dark and complex ink.
Visconti Homo Sapiens London Fog – Pilot Iroshizuku Kiri-same
The lyrics in this song describes something fleeting, something that exists primarily in the dreams of the main character, and which is not necessarily very concrete. It is also hinted that this is something or someone who was part of the main character’s life in the past, but not anymore.
In my mind, this volatility can be well represented by a pen inspired by fog, filled with a light gray ink, so the choice fell on this combination.
Delta Dune Oasis – Diamine Music Wagner
DYWTYLM stands for “Do you wish that you loved me”, which is repeated as a summarizing line at the end of every single verse (six in total) throughout the song. The lyrics describe the contradictions in a relationship, but the more I read it, the more I get the feeling that he’s only singing about himself, and wondering if he wishes he loved himself. The text is a long series of questions that could have been asked into the bathroom mirror – but no answers!
I thought that a pen filled with an ink that don’t really suit the pen, could work well here, and the choice fell on a blue pen with a green ink. The two colors do not compliment each other very well. At the same time, you can’t get green without mixing in a bit of blue, so even though the pen and ink have two distinctly different characters, they are also connected in that way, and I think that matches the theme of the song quite well.
Delta Journal Matte Olive – Pilot Iroshizuku Ama-iro
As the excerpt above says: “just like the rain, you cast the dust into nothing, and wash out the salt from my hands”. Here I wanted a blue ink, and preferably a bright and clear one, which could represent the cleansing rain that is used as a simile in the lyrics. The pen then represents the dust and shadow that is washed away.
Take Me Back To Eden
Conklin All American Sunburst Orange – Diamine Meadow
Here, there are actually two elements in the lyrics that I hooked onto. The pen has been chosen based on the references to fire: “those eyes like fire, I’m a winged insect, you’re a funeral pyre”. The ink, on the other hand, rather refers to the song title, and to a certain extent the very first line in the lyrics: “I dream in phosphorescence”. I wanted a green ink that could represent Eden, and at the same time “pop” a little, almost like something luminescent. I think Diamine Meadow balances those two properties pretty well.
Leonardo Cuspide Blue Sea – Pilot Iroshizuku Take-sumi
There were actually two reasons why I chose this particular pen for this song. One is that the song is not only the last on this album, but also a sort of summary and conclusion to Sleep Token’s first three albums, which can be seen as a trilogy. At the end of Euclid, they also bring in elements from the song The Night Does Not Belong To God, which is the very first song on the debut album, Sundowning. In other words, it’s a song that constitutes an ending, but at the same time perhaps also the start of something new. In many ways, this pen marks a shift in my pen hobby. It set a new standard for what I believe a good pen should be. It was also the last really expensive and exclusive pen I bought before I seriously took control of my own finances in order to save up for buying my appartment, so in a sense it also marks an important shift for me personally.
In addition, it has several Greek elements in it. The pen (Cuspide) is named after Greek and Roman spears (due to the pattern in the material it is made of) and has motifs inspired by ancient Greek pottery on the cap band. Euclid was a mathematician in ancient Greece, so this was also a good reason to choose this particular pen.
I wanted to fill it with black ink, as a reference to the last lines of the song, which are also taken directly from the first track on the band’s debut album:
The whites of your eyes
Turn black in the lowlight
In turning divine
We tangle endlessly
Like lovers entwined
I know for the last time
You will not be mine
So give me the night, the night, the night
Have you heard Sleep Token and what do you think of my choices of pens and inks?
How do you choose which pens and inks to write with?