Saturday, July 10, 2010

Portrait of the artist as a young techno fodder provider

Based on a tune from an older era ("Building a Fire," something I originally wrote for my early 90s band, the Evelyn Situation), this remix was recently forwarded to me by Ms. Knapp, who is a friend of the DJ in question. Though still only a draft, I hope you will be as impressed as I am at the metamorphosis, from this (the Evelyn version of the tune) to this:

Make and Destroy (Remix of "Building a Fire" by The Evelyn Situation) [draft] by Wonder Nexus

Again, I wrote the song in another (simpler, more maudlin) era. If you don't believe me, here's the lyric:

We went away for a weekend together
High in the mountains and high in the heather
I brought my anger and you brought your fear
We boarded the bus that took us out of here
We stayed awake all night gathering fuel
For building a fire for lovers and fools
We lay it all down in a clearing that dawn
And slept as it dried out all day in the hot sun
Setting the wood took three or four hours
But slowly and carefully we built a tower
We worked much harder than we'd ever known
And when we were done I could swear it looked like home
Then we stood there watching as we burned away
This beautiful thing we had labored to make
I shut my eyes and I thought of our joy:
It's something we make and it's something we destroy
It's something we make and it's something we destroy

What still gets me about this one: the notion of working hard to build something, only to tear it down (or calmly watch its demise) later. At the time, I was writing about a relationship (some of them do indeed work out that way) -- but as it turned out, the song was also about the Evelyn Situation itself (it wasn't long after this was recorded that the band broke up). With a little interpretive liberty, there are other applications too (via):

During the 1930s and 1940s, Hovhaness famously destroyed many of his early works. He later claimed that he had burned at least 1000 different pieces, a process that took at least two weeks; elsewhere he claimed that he had destroyed approximately 500 works, up to 1000 pages in total. In an interview with Richard Howard, he stated that the decision was based primarily on Roger Sessions' criticism of his works of that period, and that he wished to have a new start in his composing.

There is an impulse in art to invest in projects with an eye toward keeping them going forever. I understand that, of course, and there is something to be said, when it comes to bands in particular, for the longevity of a specific configuration of people, or the persistent pursuit of a specific aesthetic goal. I take a special pride in the fact that the IJG has been making music for ten years so far; each additional year I count as a gift.

On the flip side, it's also nice to know when to let something go, or when to allow it to self-destruct in order to work on something new. Otherwise you end up, maybe, with something like this.

[Photo credit: a portrait of the Evelyn Situation by Tom Crofton]


Chimp said...

See also the sand mandalas of cultures such as Tibet, where intricate designs are labored over in full knowledge that they will soon be blown to smithereens.

Always liked Building a Fire, btw, found it hypnotic and moving. But I'll be suing for the unauthorized use of the image of my hand. LOL.

Jill-o said...

This is some of what draws me to "burn" events like Burning Man. So much effort goes into one week; building giant beautiful art, creating music for the event, building elaborate but temporary structures, and crafting momentary experiences as a gift to others, just to have it all burned/taken away.

(This comment brought to you by the Captcha word "Synco." Providing art fabrication services since 1978.)