Really, thus isn’t a music blog, but I can’t say too much about music. Music probably precedes language in human evolution, and I would say that music exceeds language in shaping human culture. We live in a peculiar culture, from that perspective, in that we exalt the more primitive forms of intelligence, that is, language and reason, more than the higher forms like music, art and humor.
In other cultures, we would expect our leaders to sing, dance, and play musical instruments. We would expect them to tell jokes and stories. In fact, their duties would include such things, and they would have become leaders by doing those things well. Their passion would speak to us through music. Their truth would resonate in their stories and they would demonstrate their powers of observation, sharp intellect and quick wit though the jokes they told.
Our culture worships the rational mind, the lowest form of intelligence. The rational mind has its place. It helps us secure food. It helps us design traps. The rational mind helps us capture prey. Don’t ever forget that. The rational mind is there to help us turn other beings into lunch. The rational mind is not uniquely human. Chimps have it. Dogs have it. What makes humans exceptional, with regard to the rational mind, is that humans are the most doggedly rational creatures on Earth. Symbolism, abstraction and language became natural extensions of this tactical form of intelligence.
Still, the rational mind is all about stalking and setting traps. We decide legal cases through the adversarial system. Two lawyers argue opposite sides of a case. We assume they are both equally competent at stalking and setting traps, but, we also assume, the truth will favor one side or the other. Political campaigns work the same way. Each side makes an argument, each side attacks the others argument and the people decide at the polls, who they thought was more convincing. We spend our days trapping each other and being trapped, and we call it “the economy.” The rational mind is constantly setting traps, and constantly falling into traps. That’s why you should never trust reason when it comes to making big decisions.
When it comes to making big decisions, you need to know what you love, because the closer you are to what you love, the happier you are going to be. I love music. I know a lot of people do. It doesn’t make any sense. There’s no rational explanation for it, but I feel very strongly about music, and not just music in general, although I like music in general. Some music I like a LOT more than other music.
Some music takes some getting used to, and all music takes a few listens to appreciate, but it’s worth the effort, because the more you know about what you love, the more you know about who you are, and what you are doing here. This Thursday I have the rare opportunity to share with KMUD’s listening audience a new album that I really love. I realize that listening is something of a lost art, but it is such a rewarding exercise. I do hope you’ll listen.
On Thursday May 28th at 5pm KMUD will air the third installment of my new radio series called The Adventurous Ear.
This time The Adventurous Ear listens to The Crackle, the latest album from Totter.
I met Totter at a Summer Solstice gathering at Heartwood a couple of years ago. I played didgeridoo at the opening of the event and Totter played sax and flute with the headline act whose name escapes me. I think he was the only guy at the event with a beard longer than mine. We exchanged CDs. It was a weekend of New Age, spiritual, vegan bliss. When I got home, I put on The Crackle. Wow!
There is not one bit of New Age vegan bliss in The Crackle at all. The Crackle is dark and bloody and hard. It was like watching a horror movie after church. Definitely not what I was expecting, but it blew me out of the water. Great playing, terrific lyrics, astounding vocals and gripping music that doesn’t let up. An hour later, I’m shaking off a cold sweat, hoping this album doesn’t give me nightmares.
This isn’t music to liven up your party, though a few cuts could work that way. This is an album to listen to from start to finish. Totter has taken the pains to weave a rich tapestry of musical artistry that is well worth your precious time. Take the time to appreciate Totter’s dark portrait of Gothic Americana, and celebrate it for the masterful work of art that it is.
You can hear a 28 minute preview of The Crackle, along with snippets of an interview I did with Totter about the album, last month at KMUD’s studios in Redway. Totter is a local SoHum guy, at least part of the time. His music keeps him traveling, but I see him around town from time to time, and he was gracious with his time for the interview. I think the show came out great, and I’m really excited to present it. I hope you’ll tune in. That’s Thursday May 28th at 5pm on KMUD, Redwood Community Radio for The Adventurous Ear, featuring The Crackle by Totter.