Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Messiaen around in the breakers of the psychic ocean
I suspect French composer Olivier Messiaen is the guy if you have the time and patience to wade into his dreamworld and let the perfumes and textures found therein overtake your previously adequate sensations, but I have yet to block out my calendar for such a transformation. In Messiaen I always find two things happening at once, something delightful and enticing and something impenetrable and repellent. Even in this sweet grab bag record Garden of Love's Sleep, (lala) the music is like falling blissfully asleep against your will, not like you've been drugged, but you are being pulled along by a fatigue that can no longer be kept at bay, and the struggle between consciousness and the darkness of dreams is playing out in gently flickering light, reflected off the great psychic ocean in which we all perpetually float, bob, and sink.
I found myself captivated and then unable to listen, compelled to loudly play guitar against it (not with it), but not turn it off. Maybe it is similar to the way David Milch described the peculiar pacing and language in his John from Cincinatti series, paraphrased here because I can't find it: it is like God is try to tell you something urgent.
Here is Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros' "Johnny Appleseed" used as the theme song for the show
and here is The Ensemble Messiaen performing the "Abyss of Birds" movement from Quartet at the End of Time, (entire quartet on lala, performed by the Tashi Quartet) written and premiered in 1941 in Stalag VIII-A in Görlitz, Germany when Messiaen was a prisoner of war.