bITS 'N CHUNKS
Quick disclaimer but I know Paul Ravenwood, I'm lucky to know him, and I get all the deets and inside information to -- no I don't, I'm just a fan and I follow all his Facebooks. Please check out his Bandcamp.
That being said, listening to the latest TF release The Year the Stars Fell made me think of a few things. It made me think of active writing versus passive writing, but not in the sense that you learn in school.
(Active writing being the active voice i.e. the subject is performing the action and passive being the passive voice, in which the subject is having something done to it.)
No, I thought about setting up atmosphere. I thought about where my focus lies and when I change attentions. I thought about what inspires me directly versus just music in the background.
In my quest to talk more often about music, I made myself think about my intentions with music…when I choose to listen to it and when I choose not to. Occasionally, depression deprives me of the ability to handle external sensory information so I shut down. Like smelling salts I have to lure myself out with little drops of mindless pop. Sometimes I crank up the tunes to drown out unwanted conversation or hide the sound of my own typing.
But sometimes I listen for story. I'm a prog fanatic and with that comes the territory of the concept album, the task of creating an elaborate story through song. You are probably most familiar with In the Court of the Crimson King or 2112 or even Operation: Mindcrime, or you probably hear any of those and think "ohhh, that thing." Year the Stars Fell is more conceptual than concept in that it is emotive and tells a story about those emotions and events through a variety of techniques. In this case, it required active listening on my part to learn.
TF often meditates on personal issues no matter how dark and the often complicated, sometimes political identity of Appalachia. Across albums, EPs, and splits I appreciate how TF has set up a consistent atmosphere and identity and often I wish to do the same. I realized I was taking direct inspiration from the way the music moved me and made me felt, envision things, rather than just listening to the noisiest noise I possibly could under the threat (to myself) of writing and churning something out real quick for its own sake. It, or I myself, gave me pause and I wondered what exactly I was doing. What am I telling or showing, and what is the information that is left behind?
This is especially relevant to my preferred genres of writing, when I attempt to go for anything suspenseful or a thriller, or horror (more on that later) where interaction with the setting is pretty much 90% for the experience. I can tell you we're in a field but what kind? A field of guttural screams and tortured, conflicted emotions. Where men and women handle rattlesnakes with no fear and you drop your preconceived notions by the crackling fireside because you are here to learn. Using a variety of techniques like a good author for the intended effect whether it be to invite, to disarm, or to mourn, like a quilt, like a palimpsest.
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...