Radio Quarantine -Nicolas Jaar – Cenizas


Nosing about the badger warren of morning solitude, I nearly dismissed this one but happened to switch on the bluetooth broadcast to the speaker and a big space opened up. A big sonic cavern opened in the bass drone. This is the sound of… well, it’s the sound of and for this morning. There’s a sort of monastic chant quality happening but darker and murkier. It’s not really foreboding in any sense. It’s not a horror movie soundtrack. It’s just… dark. It’s peaceful but not in a sunshiny day way. I wish I’d come upon it over the winter for those contemplative mornings before the sun rose.

I don’t know who NICOLAS JAAR is. He apparently lives in New York and records here. There are all kinds of articles about New York music and New York artists but they only really scratch the surface of what’s actually happening here. The mathematics more or less dictate that the trend mongers are only going to find a small percentage of what’s going on in any corner of the art world. How many people live actually live here? The census says about 8 million but I suspect more. What percentage are creating? This isn’t a sound I’ve come to identify as New York, but it’s fair to say that with this many people there isn’t really any sound or sounds that define the city. If you judged what you hear coming from cars, or what’s being played in stores, it would be very commercial hiphop or R&B. But then there’s this.

I don’t want to talk about music though. Talking about music is fucking boring. Everyone likes what they like and says the rest “sucks.” Maybe it all sucks. It doesn’t matter what everyone likes anyway. That may sound like heresy coming from me but that’s what I’ve come to believe. It doesn’t matter if you like artsy, or experimental, or mainstream pop. It doesn’t necessarily say anything about you as a person, though I would have sworn for a good part of my life that it does.

It doesn’t.

Reading may be another story, but even that. Certainly I don’t trust people who don’t read at all. That absolutely says something about character. Even if you only read the news, read some fucking thing.

But whatever… Do what you want. It doesn’t impact my day. I’ve no plans for this day anyway. There are things that should be done. I should clean. I should do laundry. There’s taxes to be done. There is grocery shopping. But there is also rest required. I need time to reflect and recharge. It shows in the tone and disjointedness of even this morning missive. It reads back as really crabby. I probably just need to get out and move and work some of whatever this is out of my system.

Actually, I just came across this, the artist’s words, about his journey to separate himself from negativity both internally and in his creative process and output. The words are very helpful and validating for me as they reflect my own journey. There is a lot of talk in New Age circles about eschewing negativity and manifesting only the positive, through rigorous discipline. That’s alway seemed backwards and pointless to me and I’ve come to believe that positivity and negativity, that light and dark, that good and evil, all exist simultaneously and eternally within all of us. It’s not about getting rid of one side, but balancing the two. I’ll leave it with his words while I proceed with the day and try to balance myself.

“The music comes from a desire to feel everything — a few years ago, I stopped drinking alcohol, smoking, consuming caffeine, eating animals, etc., and, for a period of time, I also quarantined myself alone somewhere on the other side of the world to be able to work on music for months on end. I didn’t want to keep feeding the system. Its hunger, its past. I didn’t want to work from ambition. Where I would work to impress first, and love second. I wanted presence first. Love first. I thought that if I had this privilege and this luck, to be able to talk to people through sound, then I better work on myself &get rid of negative shards within me. I didn’t want to unwittingly throw them back into the world.

Of course, this didn’t happen. (Sorry..!) The more I tried to get away from negativity, the more it kept piling up in a dark room, but as shards of sound. A lot of these shards can be heard in the last Against All Logic album, and countless things you’ll never hear (thank goodness!). It made no sense to me that the more I tried to escape negativity, the more it could surface in the creative process. But the shards kept piling up and I had to accept the fact that the darkness that I was trying to get away from would always rear its head. Regardless of what I abstained from. And even more so when trying to orient myself towards the positive. Hopefully Cenizas only shows darkness so as to show a path out of it. I want this music to heal and help in thinking through difficult questions about one’s self, and one’s relationship to the state of things. We are living in a time of complete transformation, a metamorphosis— and the transformations are happening within as well. There is potential for great healing and great destruction. “

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