Sunset F-Train ride last week, out and back over the Culver Viaduct, the highest point in the NYC Subway system. The soundtrack is my riding waves [disquiet066], recorded in 2012 as a posthumous duet with late-musician Jeffrey Melton, better known as nofi.
🎼: riding waves [disquiet0066] off 2013’s transient lines:
Natuur en recreatie, genoeg te beleven voor een weekendje weg.
Ondanks het koude weer toch nog een uurtje gevliegerd met de Freilein.
Nature and recreation, enough to experience for a weekend away.
Despite the cold weather, still flying an hour with the Freilein.
Music: Westy Reflector – ‘Riding Waves’
The Internet is at its best when shared passions become community. When the net first started to gain cultural traction, smack was talked, of course, but digital space wasn’t a tool of division, so much as a journey of discovery and connections. It was a weird (in the best way) and wonderful window into what other people were thinking and doing, made even better when the most obscure and arcane pursuit saw a light of day in ways no other communication system in human history allowed. Net 1.0 was a network of tangible dreams built by concrete dreamers. The physicality of the network itself was way more evident, too: the iconic modem handshake sound; the wires into your computer; the relentless arrival AOL discs in your mailbox…
“You’ve got mail,” indeed.
It was work to get online, but a few dreamers did the heavy lifting and posted sites, or created and managed email listservs. All of a sudden, within a few years, anyone who did anything could find a critical mass. For example, a kite enthusiast’s passion no longer had to exist in a vacuum or in a mythology, or stay beholden to local flying groups, random beach encounters, or obscure magazines.
Freilein kites are among the more high-end, complicated, sophisticated flyers, sewn by master sailmakers, and retail for around $180. The dedicated kite flyer is no mere hobbyist, but a true outdoor sportsperson, in tune with wind, sun, climate, and terrain. The pursuit has its own language. A quick dive into the world brought surface knowledge of “handles,” and “lines,” and “knot settings;” What it means if a kite becomes “brake heavy.” Some flyers feel sensations with their eyes closed through their handles and know exactly what the kite is doing in the air.
That the narration and intro of the video are in Dutch, and that I don’t understand a single word, is all the better. Sometimes listening to and/or watching someone demonstrate their passion in a foreign language brings you to the pure essence of their pursuit. The tone; the smiles, the laughter, the furrowing of brows at something serious, the dreaming faraway gazes, the connection to the greater. It’s all there, in a borderless communication.
One of the more famous kite flyers in history, Benjamin Franklin, had this to say about his Kite Experiment, wherein he proved the connection between lightning and electricity (in 18th Century English, which sometimes presents an air of impenetrability):
As soon as any of the Thunder Clouds come over the Kite, the pointed Wire will draw the Electric Fire from them, and the Kite, with all the Twine, will be electrified, and the loose Filaments of the Twine will stand out every Way, and be attracted by an approaching Finger. And when the Rain has wet the Kite and Twine, so that it can conduct the Electric Fire freely, you will find it stream out plentifully from the Key on the Approach of your Knuckle.
This sounds like what happens when I play the guitar. Perhaps a kite is a single string instrument…
In any event, I treasure this video for all it reminds me. On one level, it serves as a reminder of why I release all my music as Creative Commons. It also layers on a reminder of all the good stuff the internet can still bring. The net doesn’t have to be ping-pong political noise. It can still be a place where you just share your love of the wind. Wind lovers united.
As a sidenote, Riding Waves was a “posthumous collaboration” with talented Indiana-based musician Jeffrey Melton, who recorded as nofi and passed away in 2013 at the age of 42. He was an early and prolific contributor to the Disquiet Junto, and one of my first friends on Soundcloud. For this track, Junto members all took a piece from a long live Nofi set, and played along live with it. Every time this track’s CC license use pops up in my alerts, it brings back memories of too-cursory electronic interactions I had with nofi, and the bittersweet elegiac joy I had recording the song.
Eight-year-old Felix explodes on a kite surfer in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa.
The Bellais family from France (DAvid, CAmille, LUcile et Félix) is traveling around the world in a converted old fire truck for two years. They’ve used a few of my tracks in their video episodes, and it’s an absolute kick to ride along and hear my songs pop up every so often. Follow them here:
Enigmatic and multi-faceted South Carolina artist Kyle TM layered soft breaking white noise swells, seagull calls and a rhythmic water drop over a remix of my “riding waves” by Tokyo-sound artist Naotko (Naoyuki Sasanami) for the 132nd Disquiet Junto challenge. Inasmuch as dreams are recursions of reality, the result here is a dream-state that expands on a story, grounding it in a new place and making a statement on the conscious filtering that makes up perception.
I didn’t want to get in the way of Westy’s guitar and took a cue from his introduction of the melody of “Mercy Street” to play mostly hi-hat and cymbals, ala Stewart Copeland (who appears playing cymbals on Peter Gabriel’s SO album.. but not on “Mercy Street”).
To temper my inclination to play too much, I set the rest of the pads to play tuned vibraphone notes, which hopefully interplay with the vibe sound on nofi’s original track.
I added a favourite monologue from True Detective where Rusty Cohle ruminates on death. My partner immediately called out that it worked, so I left it in.
Despite the somber nature of the 132nd junto project (which revisits collaborations with the late Jeffrey (Nofi) Melton, and which as of this writing I am still trying to take a stab at), I am thrilled that Bassling would see inspiration in my track. That Wagga Wagga (Leeton), Australia, is his home base adds to the thrill – irrefutable proof that my tracks have journeyed all the way around the world and back. That the track is riding a wave created by Nofi makes this even sweeter.
@nofi was one of my first followers on SoundCloud from the Junto (I started with #0004). Over the last year, I admired and absorbed a lot of his work and we shared laughs a few times on Twitter. I feel lucky to have had even the most cursory electronic interaction with him.
All sound waves propagate forever, so when you play or perform the music of someone who’s passed, you help them ride their own waves into the great beyond. I love this week’s project for doing this.
This section of Jeffery’s performance flashed me back to “Mercy Street,” and I had thought to create some kind-of looking-glass instrumental version of that track out of his, but I only got through one line. Still, the title here is a reference to the last line of that song.
As I vamped, Jeffrey’s piece ended up pulling me into some quiet changes and arriving me at an inside-out minor-key’d quotation of “Over The Rainbow” (even swtiching out my plectrum for an eBow between phrases). In the end, for better or worse, in a track where @nofi eventually quotes Michael Jackson, I answered with Peter Gabriel and Harold Arlen. Nothing/Everything/Something made sense.
wave of sadness
wave of sound
wave of joy
wave good bye
This week’s project is a tribute to the late Jeffrey Melton, the talented musician, best known on SoundCloud (@nofi) and Twitter as @nofi. Melton passed away a few days ago, on March 30, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he lived with his wife and seven-year-old son. He was 42. Melton had been involved with the Disquiet Junto since the very first Junto project, back in January 2012, and he early on volunteered to create a Twitter list of the handles of participating Junto members.
The theme of this project, the 66th in the weekly Disquiet Junto series, is “posthumous collaboration”: communing through music.