Kharon: Have you watched the bubbles in the water, gathering and dispersing? And the bubbles gather into foam. Some last for only a short time, some burst as soon as they are born, others a long time. In no other way could it be. So it is with men.
Hermes: You comparison is not inferior to Homer, when he compared men to leaves.
Kharon 19.1 ~ Lucian of Samosata.
Hobart had recovered from the heat and had returned to that raw river front feel that we all know and love and admire. I check the news in the morning to make sure we had not gone to war while I slept.
I had not planned on writing about the Colin Stetson show on the last drab gray Sunday afternoon of 2014 mona foma. But then I read in the Guardian that “his thing seems to be to play, at deafening volume, a few notes over and over, drench them in reverb and the repeat relentlessly for what seemed like hours.”
A little harsh I thought. While Colin plays a few notes (more than a few!) over and over, and while they were drenched in reverb, and while it did repeat relentlessly, to make this criticism is like saying than Jimi Hendrix just played a bunch of notes real fast, or that Bob Dylan writes a bunch of rhymes. True, but missing the depth. And of course I understand that not everyone can like everything.
So if Colin Stetson plays a few notes, adds filter (directly to sax and man), and repeats what can we say about his music. The first thing we most note, is that he meant to bring two saxophones to play, but the bass sax was misplaced coming out of Sydney Airport. Bloody Mainlanders, always trying to sabotage Tasmania! If he had the instruments there would have been more variety.
To me this show captured the mystery and power of music. A puff of air, a vibration, carried by electrickery, waves shaking the thin eardrum film of skin, nerve impulses surge and spread that mass of hot blood loving brain fat. And this puff of air has the power to transport, to transform. This puff of air can recall memories, can inspire dreams and tears, can move one to abandon, can drop one into despair.
For myself I was carried away with this strange, bubble popping sound, this flowing Dantesque soundscape of wailing cries in the distance. I was standing off to one side, and could look behind the performer and see out the industrial windows to the harbour outside. The wild wailing of the sax, the occasional sweeping roaring rush of agony or ecstasy (for at a distance, with no context, they can be confused) released from some sort of unknown depths surrounded me as I watched the birds circle and hover. The birds were reflected back and forth, up and down, darting, sweeping, moving through the air. Like the waves of sound formed from a puff of air, rumbling down the shiny metal tube, glowing yellow red in the false light of radiating waves, the birds split the air and swam in a atmospheric sea of freedom we can only dream about, only for a moment touch.
And he played one tune called “Dream of Water,” and all my dreams of stepping into rivers and the bubbles forming foam fell and tumbled. A sound track to dreams. A column of air. As many resonant frequencies as degrees of freedom. The birds circle and then -- that is all.