Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Lake Effect, Part 3: Thrust Fault

There is something about Lone Rock Point seen from the water that captures my imagination. Lone Rock Point, on Lake Champlain, is an example of what geologists call a thrust fault: a site where one can actually see an older stratum of rock that has, through the shifting of layers, ridden up above the newer, younger stratum. It's an ancient cataclysm frozen in time. Paddling close to this point in a kayak, I've been struck with awe-- even as I turned to look the other way across Burlington Bay to Shelburne point, where the Abenaki creator deity Odzihozo sits as a huge, silent rock on the water.
There's no doubt in my mind that this place is sacred. The Abenaki called Lake Champlain BITABAGW, which the great linguist of the Western Abenaki, Gordon M. Day, translated as : "between waters; alternating land and water."
That sense of threshold and layering between land and water is part of what calls to me to meditate on this place, to try and capture it in sound, in liminal music.
And then there's that dimension of ancient stone-- of frozen time; of history, memory, and topography in layers. Recently, I came across an entry in Thomas Merton's journals that caused in me a flash of recognition:

Time is valuable only for the moments that cut across and through it vertically...

This is exactly the energy that drives my passion to make art-- sound, words-- about the PLACES I find sacred.

So turning toward a piece to be called "Thrust Fault/Lone Rock Point", I begin with the music I've created to capture the energy and essence of crossing water. Now I slow it down, reharmonize it with the audio program ACID. I change EQ settings, treating timbre as both shape and color, as shadow and texture. Over the course of two day's work, I arrive at a piece with a slow rumbling energy, a dark sub-aqueous mystery.
But something is missing: something to cut through to a human scale of time-- something like Merton's moment.
A day later I find the missing sound. It's the harsh rattle of a kingfisher, that bird that strikes through surface tension to fish, then rises again into the air, with its goal, its quarry, held in beak. I treat and shape the recorded bird sound, layer it into the piece-- to represent the ancient eternal moment, frozen for our senses to apprehend and honor.