Radio Quarantine -Stuart Dempster ‎- Underground Overlays From The Cistern Chapel (1995)

So,, the same venue as the previous STUART DEMPSTER recording with Pauline Oliveros, THE CISTERN CHAPEL is an immense manmade cavern, originally built to hold water for the now decommissioned Fort Worden. Consider it part of the long tradition of musicians and sound gatherers like Dempster to find that elusive missing note, from stairwells, and bathrooms and barns, to train tunnels and empty structures. From two million gallons of water to two million gallons of sound. A forty-five second natural reverb that musicians have learned to tune and play. That’s the first thing that grabbed me with these recordings. This is not electronic music. It’s all natural sound, no matter how supernatural it comes across on tape. I’d give any money to sit down there during the recording, just to be immersed in the vibration.

I’m home this morning, and off to a bit of a late start for me. It’s difficult to adhere to too strict a schedule. Some nights the mind is busy and it’s hard to wrap it around the idea of someplace to be at any given time. Not impossible but difficult. I lay in bed past midnight in the half-state with dream images behind half-sleeping eyelids, but still fully aware of the room, the dog’s heavy breathing, and the breeze from the fan on my skin. It was very nearly the sensation of leaning back in a chair as it starts to tip.

Meditation was difficult. It wasn’t easy to settle in, or rather I remained unsettled by some unspecified worry or restlessness. It could very well be the latter. The world is feeling very small and the soles of my feet still itchy. That itch may not go away until I’m standing in my socks at the airport ready to go through the scan but that day is farther and farther off. There is no place to go. There is no specific thing to get respite from either except for the here and now (more the here) but the need for some respite is with me.

If I can get some things done today I’ll head back for the shore tonight or tomorrow morning. The sound of surf and smell of salt water always levels me. My chair goes back to the upright position and there are no moments of slipping over backwards. Can’t run off with no clean underwear though. Can’t run off and leave things hanging.


Rest – less.

Without rest.

The music is helping. That’s what music is for.

I like that Stuart Dempster is described as a sound gatherer. There are so many things in the world around us that we take for granted. A photographer may take pictures of that which can be seen and often the things that only he/she/it can see. The rest of us would need it pointed out and still might not understand. A sound gatherer would be quite the same then, capturing phenomena that the rest of us have rendered silent. They both help us experience things that we have missed because we aren’t paying attention. We should all be grateful for them. I am certainly grateful. I often accuse Gen-X and younger of shutting themselves off from the world by wandering around with their faces in screens and plugs in their ears, but I do that often enough that I can’t claim innocence. If I’ve missed something it’s because my head is stuck up my own behind. i’m grateful that there are people wandering around picking up after the rest of us and returning to us the gifts that we’ve missed.

Back to the idea of radical attention and of mindfulness. I can be more mindful of other people. I can be more mindful of myself and what is surrounding me. I can be.

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