“Purpose?” is a modular statement nestled in the ambitious sprawl of “Smoke and Origination.” The songs on the album were, overall, long and ornate statements. But this little vignette tempers and humbles all that ambition.
The composition holds the fundamental concept of the album: Bach is present in every song on “Smoke and Origination,” but “Purpose?” is the only composition where Bach is the central motif and not a subliminal theme; 50 seconds of Bach’s “Air on G” transmogrified into sludgy stillness and uncertainty.
“Purpose?” is the aged conundrum:
Do I have a purpose?
Do you have a purpose?
Does “Purpose?” have a purpose?
Sometimes, you need not 77 minutes of vibraphone and tuvan throat singing to achieve an answer to such questions.
The recording of this piece is a mix of cello samples, real cello, and incidental classical guitar playing. Considering that my productivity is, at best, glacial, “Purpose?” being composed and recorded in a day was a supernatural achievement.
I recall the companion artwork for this piece vividly. Every song from “Smoke and Origination” and “Torched Laughter” had artwork. (I apologize that I have yet to post the art for these songs. Words get in the way of thought.)
While gardening, I came upon several roots that looked like Alien face huggers. I ended up taking one, spraying it with acrylic and leaving it aside. Shortly after, I found a light socket. Inspired by the concept of “Purpose?,” I placed the root into the socket.
Is there a purpose to have art for “Purpose?” and does “Purpose?” have a purpose?
Cue the vibraphone…