Archive for May, 2014

Album #2: Divinations – Reflections on the Creative Process

Album cover: Divinations by eyes cast down

Design by Greg M, Photos by Greg M & Dasi.

I’m delighted to announce the release of my second album. Divinations is now available for download from my Bandcamp page, and will be available on CD soon.

Divinations includes five serene, pure atmospheric pieces, created mostly on synths. These pieces were all groundbreaking for me, in various ways: Exquisite Divination of Patterns was my first laptop-softsynth piece, and Snowdance in Starlight features my first use of acoustic guitar in an ambient mode.

Track listing:
1. Exquisite Divination of Patterns   11.26
2. Crystalline   11.36
3. Radiant Perception   10.08
4. Snowdance in Starlight   11.18
5. Ensō   28.04

Divinations is specifically geared to meditation, yoga, tai chi and similar activities, along with health and wellness spaces of all kinds. As usual, the music is suitable for background or deep listening, as you like.

The first four pieces were released on various compilations from the excellent Free Floating netlabel from 2011 to 2013. They go together so well that I was dreaming about gathering them together, long before I was aware of it.

The final piece, Ensō, is a live laptop-softsynth improvisation from an art show in May 2012. Avian and human voices were added during postproduction in May 2014.

The Japanese word “Ensō” means “a circle that is hand-drawn in one or two uninhibited brushstrokes to express a moment when the mind is free to let the body create” (more details in the Wikipedia article). This idea continues the theme of “reflections on the creative process” which informs Exquisite Divination of Patterns and Radiant Perception, and suitably closes the several circular paths which led to this album’s release.

Please visit the album’s release page. I hope you enjoy the music!

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Divinations Revisited, No. 2: Ivory Sunrise

Piano - Ivory SunriseOn further review, a couple of the poems in the old Divinations series turned out to be publishable as they were… This one speaks to my musical vocation, which bloomed a little late – but at least it has

Ivory Sunrise

Old worn wooden shell
Dingy clapboard cage
 with radiant ivory egg
Piano in the house

Upright proud, beckons still
 begging no one
Calmly anticipates – nothing

Hinged bench opens to discover
 piles of printed music
Books and booklets –
 songs, anthologies

Boy exhumes a song page
Assumes the position
What are all these dots?
Chooses some keys
What are all these tones?

His mother could play
 but never did
  nor encouraged him
Later claimed the Fear of Pushing
Never breathed a word
Pianissimo so silent
 sits unplayed
It’s a boy’s life

As a dying sun fades
 so dimly yellows that page of music
Never moving, never played

As the house ages badly
– balding shingles
– windows blurring
– beams creaking
Piano, ever silent ever proud
 stands resolute without age
Piano in my home

My children in this house
Ancient groaning structure
 on its last knees
Piano in silence crying rescue
Smooth finish tickles their touch

Daughter, firstborn
 delights in a certain note repeated
Deep yellowed sheet music
 crumples to flakes

Son, unborn musician
 singer in the dark
Gleeful palms an unknown chord
Ferocious playful exuberance
Over and over he will play!

Windows blasted from their frames
 glitter darkly in the dead grass
My children laughing, I join them
 and we bash out our exultation
Piano singing shouting screaming
 its joy its release as well
Self-discovery, self-expression is our forte

This house of silent chaos
 can stand no more
Crashes down around us
Topples to earth
 impotent to prevent any more
Hopeless, unable to harm us
It is a dead thing
 best given proper burial

Even this shell collapsing
 can’t drown our ecstatics
Dust of old silent shrouds
 tarnishes nothing here now

Three children one child
Four voices one voice
All set free turned loose
 upon suspicious persons
  unsuspecting culture
   and all-knowing Creation

(9/17/94)

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Farewell Kitty: Why Every Car Needs a Little Red Flag

That is one tasty-looking squirrel

That is one tasty-looking squirrel…

Kalman Cat left us in mid-April, just a few days before his 18th birthday. When we left the house early that morning, he was fine. When my wife returned home around 10am, he was breathing rapidly, very uncomfortable and – most unusual for him – completely withdrawn. His heart was giving out, and the animal instinct to die alone overpowered his attachment to my wife and I. We stayed with him all evening and into the night, until his last breath around 2:15 a.m.

Two years ago, Sandor Cat’s six-week decline meant that his passing came as a relief. This time, the suddenness of it was more of a shock, though in hindsight there were a couple of signs that the end was drawing near. Fortunately, Kalman’s suffering was comparatively brief.

Kalman: Sophisto-Cat

Kalman: Sophisto-Cat

We were fortunate to be present so that we could help both our boys through their passing in the auspicious Vedic way, and have reason to believe that they both have obtained human forms for spiritual advancement.

In his later years, Kalman Cat gave up his detached and aloof manner, becoming completely attached to my wife, to the point where he just had to be in physical contact several times a day. Anyone who’s ever spent 30 seconds with a cat knows that they are shameless; Kalman was beyond shameless in begging for attention. He also made sure to demand some Dad time each day.  He liked to play a little rough; when we could get him to bite a little, he enjoyed it the most.

Kalman & Mom

Kalman & Mom

You had to hear him playing with his toys to believe it: he would carry a sparkle ball or catnip pillow around, or drop it on the bed, and yowl at it – declaring it to be utterly owned – in this unearthly voice. He would play cat-and-mouse with his sparkle ball, pouncing, releasing and recapturing over and over. Several times a day, he would bring a vanquished toy to one of us as an offering, to show off his fearsome prowess. We have some hilarious videos; maybe we’ll share them someday.

So now it’s just the two of us. The absence of pets is a major adjustment, which will always have both convenient and melancholy aspects, but the loss of a beloved and loving companion naturally overrides the rest.

Kalman's DL

The next day, stopped at a red light en route to the crematorium, a funeral procession crossed our path, every car bearing a little red “Funeral” flag. It struck me immediately: every car should have one of those!

We’re all driving toward the same endpoint. These material bodies are all temporary, like clothes, and eventually have to be discarded. We move on, leave them behind, and take up new ones, according to the Law of Karma.

So it begs certain questions. Where are we going, and to what purpose? What will we do with the time, and this rare human form, which we’ve been given?

Denial will not help us; we have to face reality. There’s no other way to solve the problem.

It would be more accurate to say that we’re all racing toward the same endpoint. The pace of life for most people in this age is frenetic. Everyone is scrambling to pack as much enjoyment into as little time as possible. More sensations; more thrills; more intensity; more, more, MORE – all to avoid facing the emptiness within.

It’s all skimming on the surface, like those water bugs. We can’t really live on the surface, though we fool ourselves into thinking that we can. We must go inward; we must go deep. That’s where the work is to be done, and the truth to be found.

Kalman in Basket 1 - Apr 8-12

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