FEAR & SUFFERING
[swamp trance blues vs. uptempo swing blues]
The title is from a legend presented in the David Lynch/Mark Frost television series Twin Peaks.
“…you may be fearless in this world, but there are other worlds….There is also a legend of a place called the Black Lodge, the shadow-self of the White Lodge. The legend says that every spirit must pass through there on the way to perfection. There, you will meet your own shadow-self. My people call it The Dweller on the Threshold. But it is said: if you confront the Black Lodge with imperfect courage, it will utterly annihilate your soul…
We each chose how to react: if the choice is fear, then we become vulnerable to darkness.…”
“I think that the Black Lodge is what you have referred to in the past as ‘the evil in these woods.’ There’s a source of great power there . . .These night creatures that hover on the edge of our nightmares are drawn to us when we radiate fear.”
Whereas cause & effect is a basic illustration of duality, the doppelgänger or shadow-self is an extreme example. The Self appearing in two opposing personages. Figuratively, we oppose ourselves almost constantly, and this may be born of Fear: Fear of death, fear of suffering. It is a logical progression from basic survival instincts and self-preservation. If we are to live beyond fear, we must face ourselves and the inherent fear and contradiction that dwells within us: the emotional manifestation of the inevitable transition from life to death. This subject has spawned a lot of dogma and theology, some of it less than illuminating; nevertheless, this conflict remains inexorable.
“Repetitions are magic keys.” (Eco, p. 376)
The repetitious nature of this movement and the choice of the blues flavor owe a great deal to the influence of Buddy Guy’s 2001 release Sweet Tea. This album has him prioritizing raw emotion over fast tempos, fancy riffs, clever lyrics, or even chord changes. It illustrated to me the power of a dirge or trance approach to the blues, an approach based on the emotional commitment of expressing pain through repetition and raw sound.
The evil spirits within the Black Lodge refer to pain and suffering as garmonbozia, and, of course, they thrive on it. True to the eccentric, dreamy qualities that David Lynch evokes, his depiction of the Black Lodge is eerily neutral and can be underscored by shuffling lounge music or heart-wrenching ballads performed by the legendary Jimmy Scott (who is without a doubt the greatest vocalist I have ever seen transform words and notes into raw emotions at a live show). In fact, the music of Twin Peaks often featured the bass clarinet, normally as a solo voice in a bluesy, improvisational context.
The musical contrast of this movement is in the shift to the uptempo swing blues---this section is intended to be the most comfortable part of all four movements. It is a style with which most of us are intimately familiar since the basic 12-bar blues has been the backbone of rhythm & blues, swing, jazz, rock and popular music for just under a century now. The soloist is allowed the freedom of roving through familiar territory, but eventually the Unknown forces its way back in.
“The sound the wind makes through the pines, the sentience of animals, what we fear in the dark and what lies beyond the darkness: I’m talking about seeing beyond fear.” (Twin Peaks, Ep. 18 Special Agent Dale Cooper)
Edmund Welles: the bass clarinet quartetOakland, California
Edmund Welles has the distinction of being the world’s only original, composing band of four bass clarinetist: they invent
and perform heavy chamber music. Drawing virtuosic precision from the classical realm; innovation and texture from jazz; and power, rhythm and overall perspective from rock and metal, the quartet’s sound is characterized by a thickness of tone and absolute rhythmic prowess....more