Primarily a writing exercise, this dream journal-inspired blog is a quiet introspective sojourn into the process that we traverse in going from private dream to public art. I see our dreaming as an internalized mythmaking. As I philosophize and expressively exhibit dreams, both private and public, I encourage and delight in creative language as a way to practice experiential metaphors through a “public dreaming." Writing Theory: Creative Dream Fiction

Monday, 4 March 2013

Electro-Acoustic Improvisations II: A Sonic Narrative from the Far West

Electro-Acoustic Improvisations I (Album Art Remake) 
Electro-Acoustic Improvisations II (Album Art)
"The first question I ask myself when something doesn't seem to be beautiful is why do I think it's not beautiful. And very shortly you discover that there is no reason." John Cage

Essentially one album, Electro-Acoustic Improvisations I & II are to be listened to in continuity, as a single expression of seeking through sound as voice and agency for the soul of the word. Electro-Acoustic Improvisations II is conceptually the final track of I, divided into 4 parts for listening.

Experiment with your ear, and look to the bottom of this post for an aural transport to the Far West.

Electro-Acoustic Improvisations II

On the margins of the vast, interlocking web of technology and nature, with broken instruments (both acoustic and electronic), we are beginners on the road to merging technology with all of life in this the human experience of Earth and the inner world as an evolutionary being of conscious development. 

Imagine sitting at the edge of a fire in the raw, teeming wilderness. The forest is thick. The air is heavy with an unbroken gamut of vegetable breathing. Warming your hands by the fire, under cover of starlight and the faint haunts of a new moon, the mind seeps and seethes with memories, dreams and reflections on the world “out there”. Civilization and its discontented fires of electric madness pour into your brain like an acid flashback. The Earth is still, yet your hands shake. So, before you is the music of the muses, the bare wonderment takes its own course into the heavens and hells of your own nature. Through music, the seeker of solitude purges the concrescence of electro-social distension. Discordant dissonance marries with harmonic essence as the jeering subtle flesh of mad electricity merges in the mind, hand and heart of one in touch with the strings, blood and fire of creative sound.  

Part I - The seeker discovers music as a beginner. The instrument is slightly out of tune, and the playing is imperfect. The melodies are introduced with electronic music, featuring static electric synthetic effects throughout. The seeker gains mental balance by overcoming the first break beyond the shores of civilization into the open expanse of nature beyond, where other, even more trying challenges are to be had in confrontation with the self, exposed and untended.  

Part II – With emboldened consciousness, the instrument and its sound are clearer. A fire has been set and night opens to the gorgeous possibilities of the sonic imagination. Electric distension is transformed into unseen beauty. The grandeur of melodic instrumentation opens up with a new strength of diversity. As the clouds above part to reveal pure sky, memory and reflection are enlightened through joining with traditions of seeking, as with the sonic movement into Middle-Eastern influenced lute music, translated to guitar in creative solitude with the empty awe of all-potent Nature. 

Yet, the seeker soon realizes this is only the beginning of the journey, and there have ever been electric distension scattered throughout the night’s hearth. By the end, the celebratory feel becomes more solemn as the seeker attains the first seed of self-knowledge, and understands the need to set one’s own pace and prepare certain deliberation before embarking on the pathless sojourn ahead. The music ends with the realization that it is dawn, and the horizon welcomes ahead.    

Part III – Reprieve from the journey, alongside a mountain ascent, beneath a cliff. Cool air from a spring entices the cold march of winter’s coming winds to turn and wade in the lush mountain air. Without a fire, music is the warmth. Creative passion warms from the inside with the brightest of flames. At first, blowing hard into the hands and fingers for the warm breath to spread throughout and allow for the wealth of instrumental music to unfold, the seeker stops playing as soon as it begins to rain. As in Taoist tradition, when the rain makes rhythmic motion, and the melodies of the thunderclouds fly with the magical presence of wind, one is to listen, and be humbled by the music of the spheres.  

Part IV – Beginning with a light touch of electronic moments, the music glides atop sounds of weather, especially as the seeker gets closer to the ocean. Following rivers, streams and tributaries, faring flash floods and rain-swept gullies, the seeker emerges from the wilderness with a great boon of discovery. A new instrument to behold! Notice, the music approaches harmonies with the natural way of impermanence and unity, as opposed to listening, where creative interaction with nature breeds a kind of musical kinship among humans and all life on Earth. As the seeker sights the ocean, the new instrument is played, ending the music and the journey. 

The new instrument is the xaphoon. Invented in the 1970’s in Hawaii, the xaphoon, also known as the bamboo sax, is a contemporary single-reed woodwind. The track ends with a homage to Jack Kerouac describing San Francisco, the very edge of the west, to crystallize the final xaphoon improvisation solo; a traversal of the “far west” in sound. 

Influences: Bill Frisell, Hamza El-Din, Vi An Diep, Steve Roach, Brian Eno, stones/minerals, earth, water/ice, winter, landscapes of the North American west, Jack Kerouac, fire, trees, reflection, solitude

See my previous post: Music of the Dream Author: Electro-Acoustic Improvisations I Release 
On a clean, medical train through Sudan, my Nilotic companion eyes me with a piercing grin as we pass south of Juba into the New South. We have arrived at his hard-won home, South Sudan. His smile is buried deep within the pain of intergenerational loss, the hellfire of war still sting his reddening eyes as he tears up, the pictures of his innocent family smolders into the soil. The land speaks with his voice.

Southern Nubia by Friedrich Otto Georgi
A number of tourists from Europe and America depart from the train stop, as we all exit to proudly march through the gates of the newly formed customs center. Before I ready myself to stand up and follow in the foreigner’s line, I see the winking horror of rats, spiders and snakes twice the size of my face, gnawing at my brains in the middle of the first night. I’ve read such stories. This is open country for sub-Saharan life-threatening insects and arachnids galore. If only they sold us preventive supplies before stepping foot on the blood-torched burial grounds of a still cold reconciliation between tribes and kin. The first thing I see is a smile, wide and innocent as the all-embracing horizon. Before I entered Sudan, an asylum seeking Sudanese refugee in Egypt told me, “Sudan is the easiest place to kill someone.”

Tornai Man from Sudan by Gyula Tornai
I heave a sigh of relief as the other westerners depart into the folds of pyramidal shopping and freewheeling nature photography. I journey on, to the heart of the people. My friend is ever stoic, silent, basking in the wonders of a new nation in its infancy, victorious after so many losses, after so many needless ends, there is at least one fresh start to be had, and one that all can have a part in. Concrete residential towers spring up almost before my eyes, fresh paint lingers and drips throughout the dry stinging horizon of African sun.

African Riddle by John Mainga
Men work diligently, with the force of triumph, erecting monumental stone structures, for future generations to thrive, for the plentiful, abundant optimism of the future. The complexes are almost identical to the substandard suburban housing of greater Cairo, where many must have returned from as once-neglected refugees, now with a determined hand and proud say in social affairs. They don sun-deflecting head coverings, and traditional footwear made with scarlet fabric and coins. Women are nowhere to be seen.

Battle of Tamai by Geoffrey Douglas Giles
We drive on, deeper into the south. The more south we go, the fresher the earth, the more bare the optimism, the more innocent the smiles. The more south we go, welcomes are heard with more sincerity. The air is full of potential. The energy is warm, and the harshness that once thrived now sees a chance of dwindling beneath the pulsing chests of hard work. My friend dissipates into the sunlight now flooding our vehicle; as the inimitable human spirit washes us clean of fear.  

The completion of this instrumental music project, "Electro-Acoustic Improvisations I & II " sets the ground for the next stage of my creative development, where I feature my experimental writing as spoken word together with my world music instrumentation. More art, music and writing next week! 

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