Moving into 2018

Those who found displeasure after watching The Last Jedi need to thoroughly examine themselves as they’re either joyless saps or are completely incapable of embracing change—completely incapable of enjoying the ways in which something can respect its legacy while still making changes necessary to define a new cultural epoch—and especially one that must pry its wisdom and beauty from the mangled troglodyte hands of racist, misogynistic man-children.

Change is inevitable, but it is still a servant of causality. I won’t go so far as to claim that it is a universal, but I will maintain that understanding a why is essential to life, and doubly so for anyone who engages in “artistic” endeavors. So then it makes sense that we understand the why of The Last Jedi. Some lines were weird or wonky—every great film has at least two of those—and sure, the fact that it’s one slow chase scene, more or less, definitely feels a little odd. Also, Rey got too wise too damn fast—but I digress. The why of this film was a need to recontextualize past films, especially the prequels, as well as expand the universe to be more than just a tale of the Skywalkers. Those who wasted time theory crafting and digging through the now partitioned lore were likely devastated to learn that this film sought to define itself and define its characters on its own terms. Deal with it.

The why and the reason I’m writing this now and thinking of what I’m to be occupying my time with and moving into over the next year is the focus of this post. The why in my case has to do with a revelation of the reason I am invested in writing music of any kind, which is to explore context and the subjective. It is an intellectual pursuit, as well as an emotional one. I don’t know what it’s like to be spiritual, not in any true sense of the word, but I do know that sound captivates me on a primal level—and I’m likely not alone in this way. The quest to understand and make sense of that “spiritual” feeling is what leads to the structure of music; it is the why.

As to what else I’ve been up to musically over the past few years, the events of the past few months are well known. Yes, I left that world for it to be the domain of those who have arrived in that place of culture and music along the long journey which their why has brought them to organically. True enough, I enjoy playing loud and fast guitar and by no means am I writing that out of my foreseeable future, but in terms of existing in the actual culture of that genre and market, I am a fundamental stranger and in a way was doing nothing else than taking on aspects of something I did not belong to. I was an impostor and there were expectations of me to be a certain person who I was not; and fundamentally the issue at heart here is that I cannot be anything other than what I have been as my experiences and past are what have formed the structures of my brain, the neural pathways that dictate the potential of my actions and “choices”; though I can shift that over long periods of time, I can find new experiences that would change who I am, at the end of it all I realized that I didn’t want this to take up such a large and overwhelming aspect of my life. The journey to get to who I needed to be to live in that world properly would come at the cost of what feels right to me—what feels right for me. And fundamentally, that vision, at its pinnacle of potential achievement would still fail me in my why, my reason for doing what it is that I do with music and why I’m drawn to it. Philosophically, ideologically and politically I did and still do not belong there and to do so would push me toward madness and misery while existing as an inauthentic figure in the greater perspective of that culture. That is not right for me to do to people who find themselves organically in such settings.. Were it any other way, the myriad of challenges that existed in that world would’ve been something I could’ve been capable of solving.

And so I’m here now, focusing on music for the new year and the directions I wish to explore. I intend on capitalizing on a number of dreams I’ve had for the past few years that lost out in the competition for the mental resources of my brain, but I’m also looking to expand in new ways that seek to build off of where I’ve been musically in all senses. The starting point in this case is in the analysis of social facts within the context of music, but still explored in a musical sense. This breaks down into a variety of dimensions, but chief among them are intonation, composition and texture.

Harbinger represents a move toward this. I view this piece as directional, in that it is not an end unto itself but a way for me to understand these musical aspects in practice, not in theory. Its structure is very loose and the existence of this as a piece came to me as I was setting up my new recording tools. It borrows from much of what I’ve done in the past, but it also has its mind set on a new path—an awareness of growth. It is a representation of this time and place in my life and is the echo of many things in my life that have come to an end, as well as a foreshadowing. Harbinger demonstrated the why I was babbling on about earlier and it gives me the ability to reflect on my musical role.

In recent times I’ve gone into more technical detail about my pieces, including aspects of the theories behind them. Right now I am weighing whether or not this is appropriate. Does my music require “notes” to guide the listener along? I’m not sure. It is possible that it does in some cases, but not others. As far as Harbinger is concerned, I am doubtful that it’s necessary or even authentic considering how this piece was built and came about, which was an organic process that took place over several days and rethinking the texture and composition of various parts. Long-form improvisation might be a better way to think of it than composition and as a result I won’t sit down to write up any notes on the theories and thought processes aside from the meta perspective I gave on its role as a musical piece for myself moving into a new year.

Having said that, I recommend a quite and calm listening space for Harbinger. It demands attention and does not speak outward, but rather inward.