Image: A digital version of some "Beyond the Breakers" artwork. Perhaps. Who knows for sure.
Good morning, what a day. What a week. This morning a fresh batch of autumn clouds crossed me overhead as the sun was coming up. Actually it’s been about three days of this weather pattern here in BOK. I could smell the aspens changing colors and it brought such a warm feeling to my bones. Ezra is antsy for our yearly pilgrimage traditions… as I am.
Words were plentiful today as I approached my little first counter for the record. Although I may not have completed all the writing for the record, I certainly am on the final throughs of the project. I have a lot to say today as it was a very focus week for me… normally I’m looking at “parts of songs” or “songs” or “smaller” more focused segments or lyrical phrases or pieces of tracks… but this week, as I was designing some of the artwork for the record… I was looking at the record as a whole. As a body of work that in some way was therapy for me. Therapy over grief of lost things to be perfectly honest. That really is what this record is about. In time, perhaps, I’ll look back at it as a little box that I put things in for safe keeping. A box of things that no longer are trapped inside of me, but instead are on a shelf somewhere so that I can be free of them.
Beyond The Breakers: Why such a title? During the start of this endeavor… a few years back.. I was struggling with grief and depression. I still do to be honest. There was a cliff I often went to, overlooking the pacific… a place where no other people go. A place close to where I lived. That place that’s gone now. I often sat there staring out at the horizon past the breakers. Thinking about our lives and how the good and bad times echo out there forever traveling in the light beyond the earth and galaxy. Those happy places and feelings. I imagined them out there in that golden light far away from the place I was at in the moment. Grief is a terribly destructive thing and I don’t wish it on anyone. What doesn’t kill us, well, we hope it makes us stronger. I might break… but I am not broken. I had a sense of what was coming, hence my dream and the wolf and the arrival of Mr Evermore. When I wrote the words for Master Of Illusion.. that say “It isn’t real, wake up Johnathan… you have to kill yourself!!!”. It wasn’t a literal meaning of the words. God no... I would never think such a thing. I just knew that something had to give and that it wasn’t going to be a pleasant experience letting myself die to some degree so that I could live again. Let me quote a good movie… “What we do in life, echoes for eternity”. It’s so true. “Beyond the Breakers” is about life and death, about grief, about loss, about growth and revival and determination of spirit beyond the things that try to break us for good. It’s about that place beyond the horizon I imagined so well for so may days… on my little cliff by the pacific. A place I still go. That’s why. There never was another title for this body of work and I didn’t even have to think about it.
Record Progress: Times up. Well, most of the record is up on the newly designed “Music Page”…. Although not complete as I continue dancing with the last track, “Ballad of the dead rabbit”. It’s a nice dance. But the rest is up and playing. Some quick comments on the Rabbit… having now seen the entire body of work for this record set against the new artwork I commissioned, well I have a better understanding of the track. After some midnight contemplations, I’ve decided to remove “The Crying Game” from the record and instead will have this “Ballad of the Dead Rabbit’ as the closer for this delightfully strange piece of art that I call “Beyond The Breakers”. I’ve been feeling very operatically inspired by this last track and the finality of this body of work and season of my life. The song will certainly reflect that when it’s complete. Overall the record will stand at about 50 minutes or so of music all performed and recorded by me, myself and I. I will say, a huge swell of emotions came over me once I saw it come together this week… with the artwork. It’s like decorating a cake now. Regarding me removing ‘the Crying Game”. I’ve always felt that that song was the odd song out, a tale more focused on Greek mythology and lessons of life and not so much the story of my journey. And so… for now it will just be a stepping stone to the larger thing as a whole. Important to write to get to where I am, but that I think was the only purpose of that tale. Some pieces of art get left behind when your painting large pictures, not to be forgotten, but to be appreciated for what they started… and how they inspired new layers and levels of the final picture.
Artwork: Just a note about the artwork you see on the front page and music page. This is a digital representation of the physical record that will be pressed, I’m thinking. The idea of it anyway. The cover, which you see on the front page, is something I’ve been envisioning for some time… with the fires out beyond the pacific breakers behind Hadder, who is holding his Tyme Seer. This is a quick digital rendition I did… it may be painted for the record or maybe I’ll just fine tune the digital version for print. Not sure just yet. The foreboding image is true to my real life and I think it represents the record well. “We left one night, never to return, for the glowing light out past the burn”. I saw this image years ago when I penned those lyrics on my cliff overlooking the pacific.
The inside of the record will be the artwork you see on the “Music” page, I think. It was commissioned from an illustrator in Germany who goes by the name Julius Maximilian Strohlein. Currently he’s a student in Sweden working on his masters degree and his very own childrens book. You can see more of his work here, I’m so grateful that he’s been working with me to bring some of this Diamonds Hadder imagery to life. This was the 3rd of 5 pieces that I’ve commissioned from him. I love his style as I kind of see Hadder as a fairy tale and not so much as some cliché heavy metal sword wielding guy. There s a lot to Hadder and the story I’m yet to complete about him. Jules seems to have a delicate pen stroke and childlike way of bringing the events of Diamonds Hadder to life. His backgrounds are just as important as the characters they surround and quite frankly I just really love the subtle ways he describes a scene and the connection it has to the characters and events of the image. I also like that it doesn’t look like what you would expect. I tend to steer away when I can, from the normal. Although some rules and guidelines are also good to follow. Your guess is as good as mine on what to follow and what not to follow. I just love his work and I’m honored and grateful to have it be part of this project. Thanks Lord Jules! BTW, you might find a few little noises and things that I added to the artwork.. these are things I love and that also help set the stage for Mr hadder and the events of his awakening that fateful day by that river in Bok. Zabble is there too, but he’s in raven form hidden behind the music player… I had to put the player somewhere.
The Mixes: A quick note regarding the mixes. Some of the tracks were mixed in a larger tower, the original tower that is nothing but ashes and earth now on that hill I used to live and some were mixed in my old tower at 408… and those tracks certainly reflect those spaces and times. The last tracks really have not been mixed yet.. “Long is the road”, “Rivers End’ and my soon to be finished “Ballad of the Dead Rabbit”. To close this record out I will need space to mix and my current tower simply is not working. Mixes need space, especially the mixes I’m looking to create. Let me steer off topic a minute to elaborate on something that has been on my mind regarding mixing and space and the things we create.
Small Pot, Big pot syndrome: If your still here… well, sorry for all the off topic today, but it does all have to do with the record. Regarding Mixing and my very own Big Pot, Small Pot syndrome. This might apply to your own endeavors. A quick story. I once lived in a big space, over 2,000sq ft, on a mountain… 3 stories.. about 2000 ft above sea level. Large ceilings over head allowed a view to the sky each morning and to the clouds that would race in from the pacific and cross over the santa monica mountain range. Don’t worry I will be making a clever point with this tale. Once in life I had a very small balcony, with potted plants that I tended to… my garden, I couldn’t help but notice that the plants in the small pots only grew a certain size and then stopped growing. Yet the same plants in the larger pots grew much larger. And if I did a transplant with one of the smaller plants, they too suddenly grew larger. So is true for us in life. My grief comes from learning to live in a small pot. My roots and my wings do not feel very comfortable these days. It’s a dilemma I’ve been secretly planning to evacuate from. I hope to jump pots soon again. This same phenomenon can be applied to many other situations. With space, dreams become bigger, mixes sound bigger, songs grander, life larger. We are complex beings and our roots are not meant for small pots. Yes, we are forced to learn to mold to the shape of our surroundings at times, and I suppose there’s nothing wrong with subtraction and boundaries to some degree. However, my roots have been squashed to the walls around me for a bit to long, for good reason mind you as I’ve made these decisions because I’ve had my eyes on a larger pot for some years now and simply couldn’t make the jump just yet. Even my mixes these days are small pot mixes, I hear it. I only mention this because it’s a very important thing to be aware of. I hope to be mixing the final stages of this record in a larger pot. My roots have no where left to go, but up and over. Call me selfish, but to be perfectly honest, I have no desire to be in a small pot and I have every intention of changing that dilemma before I die.
Closing thoughts: I’m deliriously happy to present this piece of work as it is. I don’t really care if anyone ever hears it, although of course I hope if they do, that it would move them in some way or touch something inside of them and to perhaps even uplift them to overcome their own demons and decisions in life and to stay the course on their own projects, passions and endeavors. Sometimes in life things take a while and it’s scary when your racing to finish things and that finish line is so far from the start of the race that you forget why you were running in the first place. In the next 4 months I have two big projects that I’m hoping will each have a finality to them, projects that took years of my life. This record and a little thing I call “The Ancients”, which is a visual retrospective of an ancient forest I’ve been visiting and photographing for over a decade. I’m so close now and I sense a big shift in my road up ahead. A shift due to some other circumstances as well. A shift that I can embrace with these two endeavors closing some doors I had open. A larger pot awaits me and my wings and roots need some space again. However, I’m not done just yet. And so… back to the rabbit hole. Please have a seat and enjoy some passions of mine loudly and with good intensions if you wish.
Enjoy your life and if you’re in a small pot, look around for the larger one… and take a leap of faith someday to bigger skies when you have the courage. Someday iz now I used to say. LEAP!.