1. Ill Winds Blow

From the recording The Long Night

Ill Winds Blow, and that can be a good thing…. a loose paraphrasing of the idiom, “it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.” The typical meaning behind the phrase is that no matter what is seemingly bad, someone or something likely benefits from it, and if nothing benefits then it is very bad indeed. I offer the following slightly off-center interpretation: what is perceived is only necessarily the perception of the perceiver, and might be wholly or completely different to another, hence bad could be good and vice versa, when perceived by more than one perceiver, but if all agree on a thing, then it bodes ill. When everyone recognizes goodness as good, there is already evil.

The above is something to perhaps ruminate on while I detail a bit of the background behind the track. It started early on a weekend morning, the sun barely spilling over the shadows of the trees, the air still transitioning from warm blanket of night sounds to the serene sounds of a late autumn morning…. That is, until my peaceful reverie was blasted asunder by howling banshees in the form of an army of leaf blowers…. to be fair, I harbor no ill will towards the workers that were brandishing these screaming artifacts, pushing air, debris, and my serenity along a path to disposal. I accept there is money to be made and that money buys food for full bellies and puts clothes on backs. That said…. really? on a weekend…? at this hour…?

My mind quickly played out relentless scenarios where the people that were paying for this job to be done, who recycle, wear hemp, drive a hybrid, and go to the gym, implode and return to a state of never being… of torturing them slowly while pointing out they could further reduce their carbon footprint by skipping the gym, raking leaves by hand, thereby saving on fuel and vehicular wear and tear while simultaneously not engaging in inconsiderate noise and air pollution being pumped out by the two cycle screaming blower army that howled relentlessly in the pursuit of a pristine yard… and they’d get a good workout. Nevertheless, none of the scenarios of death, destruction, self righteous indignation, or anything else occurred. Just the ongoing, relentless droning of the blowers… the droning… harmonic overtones, oscillating sounds… I grabbed my recording device…

That device, my iPhone equipped with a Shure MV88 microphone, I laid in the now open kitchen window and began capturing the symphony of hell machines that were rending my thoughts of a mellow morning of contemplation into a torn and bloody mass of twitching sensibilities, open and bleeding, but now with renewed purpose. I recorded this cacophony of howling, sputtering, blue-smoking artifacts, this mechanical murder herding decaying tree matter like some biomechanoid cowboys corralling animated bits of dismembered zombies, for fifteen minutes or so.

Once I got this recording into my audio lab, I laid bare its soul with my instruments of dissection. Here I carved a huge chunk of frequency, there I pitched down the din, and elsewhere time was dilated or stretched. Many more twists, oscillations, filters, and dark rituals later and I had three wonderfully tasty sonic paintings of several seconds each. These offerings to the Lords Of Audio were joined by other tapestries, other sounds that would decorate this space… and eventually, I was thankful for the ill aspected noise that had sundered my early morning reverie. There is a special kind of joy that comes from changing one’s perception so that even something grating and annoying can be turned into… well, a different kind of grating annoying thing…. but it’s my thing…. Ill Winds Blow.