Thursday, March 30, 2006

Between Waters

Alternating with days of work on my song collection have been days of work on abstract sound- art pieces about the shores and waters of Lake Champlain. That project has a new name now, too: BETWEEN WATERS, from the translation of the Abenaki name for the lake, Bitawbagw-- and, though the project is far from finished, I've reached a new perception of exactly what my efforts have arrived it.
Days of what I've come to call audio painting and sound-smearing have produced sounds that reflect back to me my true intent in this project. Yes, I want to express the allure and beauty of this powerful place; but I'm also haunted by the history of war and violence, of storm and shipwreck, that hides beneath the lake's now-placid surface. And this music, rather than seeking a transcendence of those things, is my way of going deeper, beneath layers and layers of rock and water and time, to find some kind of truth and resonance; actually a sense of healing.
This was made abundantly clear to me last week, when, after days of work on dark, rumbling pieces, I set up my cheap-o Artisan lap steel guitar-- in classic C6th tuning, of all things--with a set of delays, and recorded, in one take, a bittersweet improvisation that felt like an arrival at understanding. I named the piece "Searching for Ferris Rock (September Fog)" in honor of a glim-hazed day last summer, when I first spotted the buoy that, along with a line of dark cormorants, marked that massive, sub-aqueous slab of maritime hazard.
So now, feeling this sense of arrival, I'll take a break from this project. Spring weather has, at least temporarily, arrived. The band --Rusty Romance-- is starting to get busy again, so I'll be playing out again, away from the insular world of my home studio.
But I have ideas and sketches for more pieces in the BETWEEN WATERS project ; I want to give them some time to flow and percolate. They will arrive on my shoreline eventually.