Things have been unspeakably busy for the last few months! Doing a PhD part-time, alongside teaching and working on the new Hawthonn album, provisionally entitled Flood, has meant the blog has lapsed a bit. However, I hope to write in some detail over the Christmas break about on of my recent obsessions: the music of Kristina Wolfe.
Speaking of Kristina Wolfe, a new track by Hawthonn, called Cave-Witch, Grass-Witch, Star-Witch will appear on a compilation entitled Transcendigitalism in 2017. This limited edition release has been curated by Kim Cascone and brings together a series of drone artists working in esoteric and mystical areas, including the Kristina, David Metcalfe/Ben Chasny, Kris Force, Martijn Comes, Ethernet and more. Furthermore, this release complements Sustain/Decay: a collection of writings on drone music and mysticism edited by James Harris and Owen Coggins on VoidFront Press. The book is a mix of academic, philosophical and artistic essays (- and even a graphic score), and I also have a chapter therein – here’s the abstract:
Inner-Sense and Experience: Drone Music, Esotericism and the Hieroeidetic Field
As a musical genre that has blossomed alongside the development of the ‘post-secular’ sensibility, drone music invariably attracts mystically-loaded hyperboles such as ‘transcendent’, ‘ecstatic’ – and even ‘tantric’. But, moving beyond journalistic cliché, to what extent do philosophies or practices that we might categorise as mystical or ‘esoteric’ actually shape the experience of creating and listening to drone music?
To explore this question, we will further develop the concept of hieroeideticacy, casting it as a concept of central importance to the psychological experience of creating and appreciating music that posits itself within the esoteric. We will begin by ‘reverse engineering’ one of Versluis’ historical case studies in order to isolate particular themes or ‘building blocks’ implicit in the concept. We will then explore the work of sound artist Kim Cascone through a hieroeidetic lens, with particular attention to his concepts of auditory ‘grain’ and ‘subtle listening’. From here, we will take a reflexive turn, to explore how an initiation into Cascone’s work has affected my own recent collaborative musical work. Finally, we will discuss the implications of musical hieroeideticacy, with particular regard to notions of authenticity, experience and the formulation of ‘ritual drone’.
With regard to ‘reverse engineering’ and visionary creativity, you might like to take a look at a paper I read earlier this year, and recently uploaded to Academia.edu: Singing Messengers: Re-considering the Role of ‘Poetic Imagination’ in the Creative Process.
And,also, having evoked Kim’s name several times, I should also mention that Hawthonn feature on his From Here to Tranquility vol. 7, which was released as part of the ‘reboot’ of his cult 90s ambient label, Silent. Our piece is a whisp of subtlety, which borrows a title from a poem written by our friend Xylocopa Violacea, of Guttersnipe.
I’m also very pleased to say that I will be participating in Listen to the Voice of Fire, a one-day symposium on alchemy and sonic art at the National Library of Wales, on the 3rd of March. Some more info here. I’ll be talking about musical interpretations of Dee’s Hieroglyphic Monad.
Well, back to the grindstone – more to follow over the Yuletide period!