Friday, 3 June 2005

Recovery - Moving On

Something else has been happening as well. Like a defining undercurrent to all of this.

The intense networking of the past couple of months has flipped a few switches in my own mind as well. I have met so many people and had so many experiences lately that something just snapped within, like a critical threshold was crossed. I began to think more seriously about moving on from the past experiences - it was time to start thinking about the next volume of the personal mixes.

I took a break because I wanted to learn how to mix properly. It took time to find the right tools and I played with a few. I knew that vinyl was not the answer - I wanted to keep working with digital music. The first serious affair was with the PCDJ FX but it quickly became obvious that it was not enough. That's how I met Traktor. My God. What an amazing piece of software that is.

Learning to digitally mix was extremely frustrating - I just could not match up the beats properly. But Traktor changed all that. Despite the rather daunting learning curve, I kept persisting and mixing and annoying myself at the lack of synchronisation. But one late night, while totally off, I opened the decks and just started mixing. I just got it. Just like that. With the first mix I thought it was a fluke. But then the next one happened, then the next one - and it became obvious I was getting it. Maybe I was too far gone to notice the mistakes but it sounded pretty good to me and I was getting that goose-bumpy sensation on the skin when things just synch for ya. Then the ecstasy came.

I have been practicing ever since, nearly non-stop annoying friends that would show up in this apartment. They don't seem to run away but some days are better than others. I have noticed that in order to get better results you really have to turn down the internal dialogue. I just get nervous otherwise and start making mistakes. Also, you cannot really plan the playlist out. I have done that so far and took notes as to what mixes with what at what intervals and where to insert the loops. But that is just giving me shits to be honest. You cannot intellectualise the creative process either.

A couple of hours ago I realised that the cue sheet is ok for the track you wanna play but to dissect the loops and the time intervals is just plain silly. It makes me nervous. It is much better to just tune in to the music and just let go, stop thinking (that infernal internal dialogue is the biggest curse). And in fact, each time you play the set, the mixes will be slightly different, you just don't standardise the creative process.

Having said all that, the observational exercises have been happening on other levels as well - but that's a story for another late night...

The Recovery volume in the Seeker Series will thus be completely mixed in. Like I dreamed before. I am working on the first instalment now - it will be called Moving On. For a reason to be described later. It will be a whole series of mixes as the road to recovery is a bit more intense than one CD can cover...

Decomposed Special K

Just a quick note on the reaction from Special K. She loved it. As far as I could tell.

She was blown away that somebody would spend their time choosing tracks for her, ones that could possibly describe her emotions from various perspectives. The whole concept seemed so alien to her but she was sold on the idea.

We ended up driving over to a friend's house and I put the CD on. From the very beginning I could hear little squeals of pleasure coming from the back seat. Special K announced that she would now sit quiet for a bit to shut us all up. The atmosphere in the car suddenly changed and became very surreal. The drive morphed into a subtemporal adventure where everyone in the car tuned into the sounds coming out of the speakers. It was rather overwhelming. From the little attempts at singing I gathered that not only did Special K know the tracks, she also liked them...

It was never hard to choose the music for her. We have spent quite a few weekends together and the story is always the same. She takes over the computer and becomes a recovery DJ. It's amazing what can happen when an artist sits in front of a massive collection of music where virtually all of the songs need to be played right there and then. Most of the time she doesn't even finish listening to one before starting the next one. Cute.

We are all sick of life at the moment. The trouble, the hassle, the issues. We are all taking it easy too despite being able to party like there is no tomorrow. But our get-togethers are different. Some people even think they are freaky. We simply get wasted, all danced-out and then the best part of the night begins - The Recovery.

This is when we sit down in a circle, somebody takes care of the music - usually yours truly or Special K and we just talk. However, we talk the raw, the painful, the hidden. We will drag out the most difficult and festy subjects that sit on our minds and network about solutions. There could be anger and tears but somehow we find it healing. There was just too much drama in our lives to hide it anymore. And the benefit of doing it in a group setting is that we can get various perspectives on the topic. Albeit, we don't always agree on the offered points of view.

There is no need to glorify or sugar-coat any of this though. That would not even be true. Each and every one of us can be a real prick at times. A real lier. A double-crosser. I have turned so many times before on people, especially when the body craved rest. But by the middle of the week, we miraculously revive and yearn for more. It seems to work.

I don't anticipate too much from any of this. Life seems to carry on in the most mysterious of ways. I wouldn't be surprised if I lost touch with these people in the future, like has happened so many times before. Yet, there is no need to worry about that elusive "future time". There is no time like present and just being in the here-now suffices.

Track listing for the first in the series of "Decomposing I AM" is available in the usual place. As outlined in the other posts.

Wednesday, 1 June 2005

Decomposing I Am

I took a bath today. Not so certain if simply to clean the body, to relax or maybe to crystallise a few ideas in my mind. Tension and the feelings of obsession were very strong indeed.

I emerged with a clear idea of what had to be done – a new compilation was born – “Decomposing Special K”. In fact, this is the first issue in the whole series of releases that I can already see queuing up. The events of late were a mere prelude to this idea – there is a string feeling of continuity here.

Remembering that, to me personally, putting music together is merely a shallow expression of what is going on deeply underneath is the key here. I don’t do these things to impress or show off. I am really not all that good at it. But I need to sit in front of the computer occasionally and explore the gigabytes of music in order to relieve this inexplicable tension that builds up within from time to time. It is also the reason why I called the whole endeavour Creation Industries. It is exactly what the whole exercise is all about – release of the creative tension within. When it builds up it can be unbearable when blocked – sooner or later it will find a way out. The trick is to channel it in constructive rather than the destructive ways.

I have not really written anything down in this blog for quite a while. However, it took exactly this long for the tension to build up. In the meantime, I was busy surviving, observing others and self, comparing notes with people – and most importantly NETWORKING. It is amazing how much a person can learn from interacting with others. It is like seeing yourself in a mirror of life. The trick is to align the way other people see you with own perceptions of self.

I’m a stubborn smartarse bastard so personally this is quite a challenge. (I mean well but)

Last weekend I had an experience with a female friend of mine and her partner that left a lasting mark in my psyche. I was obsessing on it ever since. Basically, the girls have a very nasty quarrel with this other couple that forms a part of our group. It is festing rotting and affecting everyone around. I hate my friends fighting like this and so I sat the girls down and basically started talking facts and asking what was up.

It pushed too many buttons even though we were discussing the issues as honestly as possible. Tears, yelling, laughing all of the above happened. And in the end while we agreed to disagree and left the issue to resolve itself in time, there was a feeling of incompletion. I was left with the following questions in mind. Did I push too hard? Was it even my duty to get involved? To what extent is this a mere exercise in self-importance…

All childish and silly. And even these questions themselves are irrelevant. When closely investigated, none of it forms a major part of my personal universe. The more important question is that of Truth - The Objective Truth. Seeing things as they are and not as the filters of our minds delude us into perceiving.
Without blowing my own horn, being able to stand on the sidelines and observing people in their interactions is fantastic. But when you try to perhaps indicate that they might want to re-examine their approaches – it’s like you hit a major wall, a block of some sort that cannot be defeated.

Fair enough. The girls are not the only ones that are facing these issues. I am just as guilty of building the walls of perceptions. At the moment, this is the major aspect in my personal path that I endeavour to address – honesty with self, seeing things as they are and not as I wish them to be.

What a tremendous challenge this is. In my sheepish optimism, while struggling with these issues personally, I hoped I could help others realise the same. It ain’t easy. And the derivative question is to what extent am I even allowed to impose on others in this way. Shall I just sit idle on my hands and allow the tears and emotions to overflow while the solutions are apparent while you take a step back…

So this was the basic root of the obsession I was facing today. Lucky for that bath – it really helped me crystallise these questions.

“Decomposing I Am” has thus been born. Rather than run around with a hammer and whack heads at random (rather than my own), I decided to take a more loving approach. Through observation of people I build up a very interesting creative tension within. One that previously I endeavoured to release by sitting people down and talking issues. An infinitely more loving way to convey my feelings and emotions is to actually burn music compilations for friends. Stuff that reflects my own set of filters through which I perceive others. The rest can just be left to Free Will. There is no intention to manipulate or change anyone’s mind about issues. Music is very generic in that way. However, I can at least relieve the creative tension formed within in a constructive manner – one that will not antagonise anyone.

The Universe can take care of itself. Nevertheless, I also have the prerogative not to self-harm - something that can easily take place by directing energies through the wrong channels.

So who is Special K? She is the first “victim” of this new approach. Well, not really a victim but since the events of late put us very close together, she is worth to make an effort for, an effort to get things right. She is such a special girl.

Imagine an actress. A diva with Audrey Hepburn glasses, a scarf, dressed in black, running around in high heel shoes because that is all she feels comfortable in. A large girl with an even larger heart. A girl that has been beaten down and yet refuses to fall. A girl that sees with her eyes closed. A girl that – much like a river – soothes you with her gentle flow but can also rip you apart if you tread carelessly. That’s Special K.

We just spoke on the phone. She has been obsessing over me as well in the last couple of days. This indicates unresolved issues. We are still getting used to each other. I still mistrust her acting skills. She still mistrusts her mysterious Polish Prince that nobody really knows anything about. One that has taken her best friend under his wing and offered his heart to.

We’ll see what happens. It seems that a good triad of open eyes helps here. I have never before approached life with awareness, with full attention. The story is still being written. This compilation may be done but there are many more to come…