Thursday, January 15, 2004

New Year’s Eve in the Piano Bar at the End of the Universe

On the cusp of 2003 I wrote about transformation; about getting it together. You who have waited patiently in the dark—you who have bothered to return to this dead space; this mouldering warehouse of my past thoughts—you have not waited in vain.

Can you feel it through the screen? We’re just into 2004, you and I, and my transformation is well under way. It’s begun with the external primarily: my hearth is warm and my home safe—I am well loved. The real work has started now; deep in my brain and flesh. Put your palm against the glass and you’ll feel the buzz.

A friend of mine unwittingly provided the soundtrack for my further mutations. Just before Christmas he dropped a mixed CD on me containing “Piano Music” by Steve Reich. I often listen to it driving home from work by the river, in the cold and dark. Somewhere in the middle you lose all sense of time and place—how long have I been listening to this fucking song (hours? days?)—then it stops. The end of the track comes like night falling in winter: with a thud.

The next track begins with the rattling of alien instruments. I know now that whenever I listen to Piano Music I will expect to hear the Master Musicians of Joujouka (Moroccans…or Bedouins or something) following close behind. At least, I hope to always hear them—legend has it that if the Masters ever stop playing, the universe will end.

It is an oddly synchronous pairing: the machinelike persistence of Piano Music leading to the controlled chaos of tribal percussion. The world ends when Steve Reich switches off his reel-to-reels; but the Masters keep things spinning along.

I always feel like Piano Music is going to boil over into something else; transforming slowly into something completely new. Repetition with minor variation: the learning curve of the wheel of life. Piano Music is the soundtrack in my chrysalis. You who have waited endlessly for something to emerge:

Watch this space.


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