A Musical Journey Through the Collapse of Civilization

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This Sunday, April 30 at 9:30 am, KMUD, Redwood Community Radio will air an hour of music that I composed for the occasion. “What is the occasion?” you may ask. My partner Amy Gustin hosts a radio show on the fifth Sunday of the month, in months that have them, in KMUD’s “Spiritual Perspectives” Sunday morning time-slot, where she shares her Animist perspective on spirituality. Amy produces some of the most intellectually stimulating programming you will hear on the radio anywhere. I encourage everyone to visit the website for her show, The Living Earth Connection at www.livingearthconnection.wordpress.com to hear her thoughtful, scientific analysis of our cultural mythology and evidence based challenges to to the beliefs upon which civilization is founded. They’re great shows, and you owe it to yourself to listen.

Intellect isn’t everything, however. We both understand that intelligence runs a lot deeper than intellect, and that logical arguments will only take you so far. Lately, Amy has been doing a lot of personal spiritual work through “wordless meditation.” For this month’s show, Amy asked me to compose some instrumental music that would guide listeners through an hour-long wordless meditation. We both know that understanding is always more convincing when you arrive at it yourself, and that understanding comes when you quiet the intellect enough to experience life completely and directly, rather than mediated through words, symbols and cultural prejudices.

Music is older than language, and for most of human history music has brought communities together and helped them develop a coherent and functional culture that allowed them to survive practically everywhere on this planet. Music is critical to human survival, and it lies at the core of who we are. We build our culture within music, and music holds our culture together. Would you even know the alphabet if you hadn’t learned to sing it first? Music still engages us directly, and draws us back to our indigenous roots, wordlessly.

Amy knows that I enjoy making uncivilized music. I build my music out of my relationship with the world, directly. For the last couple of years, I have been building musical instruments from recycled materials and found objects: garbage I find lying around on the ground. These days, garbage is the true abundance of our time, and I’m sure you could outfit 10,000 orchestras with instruments made from the crap that litters the forest around here.

The instruments I build reflect this unique period in human and geological history, and I endeavor to make post-apocalyptic music with them. That is, I try to make music that does not glorify or even reflect the values of the civilized culture that birthed this wealth of exotic materials. Instead I build original music directly from the voices of these very uncivilized instruments. The music I make with them becomes a journey of discovery, and of building relationships with these humble contraptions that evolves over time.

I’m very flattered that Amy invited me to compose this guided wordless meditation through instrumental music for her radio show, and I’ve spent the better part of the last two months composing new music specifically for it. Now that it is completed, I’m very excited to share this new music with you. Please take an hour to reclaim your cultural identity, and join me for a journey through the collapse of civilization and into a new human culture, through instrumental music, this Sunday, at 9:30am on KMUD.

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