Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Dune tunes

Hey kids. I have yet to meet a few of you though I say hello to all. Here's to meeting all of you someday. Well, as long as you're good folk. No more room for poopy people in this life, okay?

I was aurally introduced to a Albert Ayler a few days ago and have been pondering the effect this music has been having on me. I picture a vast open area out beyond ideas that is covered with sand dunes. I like to coat those dunes in my mind with a good dose of magic light and throw in a backdrop of a deep blue sky with just enough clouds for interest. This has been the the ironic land of peace where I have supplanted myself since hearing the music of Albert Ayler.

The music requires nearly all of my available energy to listen to. When I dedicate less of my attention I get upset with the music and imagine myself never listening to it again. Think of William Parker + Steve Reich, John Coltrane (during his period of modal exploration) + John Adams (who wrote Short Ride in a Fast Machine), or John Cage + Eminem.

Albert Ayler has enabled me to open myself to the vast open space of existence, as in the sand dune analogy, while grounding me in the fablulous world of all I am. Simply put, I am human. With that, I know that being a human also includes this vast open space called the imagination, where wonderful new things are born. Albert Ayler takes us into a world of imagination, yet demostrates the power focus can have on the experience.

Think about trying to meditate for the very first time with the breathing techniques common in Buddhism. At first, there is much going on in the mind and the practice is far from relaxing. Then you focus on one thing, breathing, in order to open up all other space in the mind. This is the approach Ayler seems to have in his music.

Interestingly enough, Ayler has an album titled "Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe." I'd recommend some of his other albums prior, but check out whatever you can.

See you on the dunes.


Jason B said...

Ah, good. That's a very familiar feeling, the sand dunes beyond ideas - I often find it in physical labor or zikr these days. Anyone seen Rivers and Tides?

In spite of that, I leave it to you to always choose language that makes me want to play devil's advocate. Today I was blown away by a tape of Mazzy Star sitting in the car. I hadn't listened to the album in almost 5 years, but there it was. I drove down (to Longshoreman's again - I needed to get out of the house), and was stunned at the beautiful ease of it.

I remember being disappointed with the album after I read an interview with David Roback talking about how HARD they worked to make it sound EASY. Stripping things away, things that made the work more creative, more emotionally direct, more musically rewarding. Take after take, grinding the song ideas down to perform at a level BENEATH them. And it was all a put-on. I thought this was a waste of talent and promptly hid the tape somewhere.

On the way home, I realized how satisfying it was to whine one note, one drone to "Into Dust" (try it: It didn't have to be tonic. Just choose a "good" tone. That's it. The bongos and feedback would careen around me. All I had to do was whine-no need to pay attention and I would be rewarded. As simple as BREATHING.

I could sit and mentally bate on this idea, but basically I see that the level of drifting I'm referring to and the level of attention you're referring to as the same thing. It's a reawakening of that pre-verbal pointer to our humanity. The simple physical nature of what our bodies (ears and/or lungs) are doing BY THEMSELVES combined with our mind's supernatural ability to cohere what is essentially a bunch of jumbled frequencies.

Remind me to talk about the book I'm reading some time, a history of sound reproduction as it relates to cultural as well as technological evolution. hooo-whee.

Sinical said...

Whew, I haven't listened to that Mazzy album since my Record Exchange days (about 5 years ago as well). So dreamy and melancholy all at once... perfect for those lazy days when I can't fathom prying myself off the couch for anything less than a fire in the apartment.