Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How to Get There (and back)

Every so often I post on this website a version of Andrew Klein and I doing "How to Get There", a poem by Frank O'Hara, from 1960. We've been playing this piece for more than a year now.

What I've done here is assemble five different versions of this song and put them together in one bandcamp page. From April 1st, 2012, which represents both our first time playing this piece and my first time ever hearing this poem, to a recording made just a few weeks ago, on April 21st, 2013.

In that time I would hope you can hear our development, and hear how we improvise - going from familiar building blocks (the words, and certain themes and structures that I return to regularly), but in a slightly different direction each time. Over the course of the year we both added more effects and devices to our sound, which are on display here as well.

This is how we play. This is what I do. None of these versions are definitive, none of them are done - this piece will be a work in progress as long as we play it, and will grow as we do. There is a language being developed here, which can both stretch into new directions, and be familiar. And probably more important than all that noise, I am proud of these recordings. And yes, that picture of Andrew is from Midnight Special days long gone.

I don't necessarily expect anyone to listen to all these together except me and Andrew, but here they are just in case, and I'm curious to hear anyone's thoughts from anywhere in the world. We'll be recording an album in June, and are in the process of preparing for an event in Baltimore June 1st with the Syrinx Effect - more details to come.

Here again is the text to "How to Get There"

How to Get There" - Frank O'Hara, 1960, New York City

White the October air, no snow, easy to breathe
beneath the sky, lies, lies everywhere writhing and
clutching and tangling, it is not easy to breathe
lies building their tendrils into dim figures
who disappear down corridors in west-side apartments
into childhood’s proof of being wanted, not
abandoned, kidnapped
betrayal staving off loneliness, I see the fog lunge in
and hide it
where are you?
here I am on the sidewalk
under the moonlike lamplight thinking how
precious moss is
so unique and greenly crushable if you can find it
on the north side of the tree where the fog binds you
and then, tearing apart into soft white lies,
spreads its disease
through the primal night of an everlasting winter
which nevertheless has heat in tubes, west-side and
and its intricate individual pathways of white
by the ringing of telephone bells beside which
someone sits in
silence denying their own number, never given out!
like the sound of troika bells rushing past suffering
in the first storm, it is snowing now,
it is already too late
the snow will go away, but nobody will be there

police cordons for lying political dignitaries ringing too
the world becomes a jangle
from the index finger
to the vast empty houses filled with people,
their echoes

of lies and the tendrils of fog trailing softly around
their throats
now the phone can be answered, nobody calling,
only an echo
all can confess to be home and waiting, all is the same
and we drift into the clear sky enthralled
by our disappointment
never to be alone again
never to be loved
sailing through space: didn’t I have you once for my
West Side?
for a couple of hours, but I am not that person

[copyright Frank O’Hara, 1960]