Category Archives: Christopher

Music from the “Christopher” era. 2000-2009

A Sliver of Right 10: Purpose?

“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.)

The artwork for "Purpose?"

The artwork for “Purpose?”

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.

Facehugger from the movie "Alien." Post op.

Facehugger from the movie “Alien.” Post op.

Is there a purpose to have art for “Purpose?” and does “Purpose?” have a purpose?

Cue the vibraphone…

A Sliver of Right 9: Evening Flesh

The concept of the “living dead” has been an obsession of mine ever since I was a child. My introduction was the movie “Night of the Living Dead.”

I watched “Night of the Living Dead” every day after school. In fact, every day was a double-feature of sameness: Night of the Living Dead and Blazing Saddles. I memorized all the dialogue of both movies. I could tell you the exact number of times mother was stabbed with a hand shovel, (16) as well as recite all of Cleavon Little’s choice lines. (“Baby please, I’m not from Havana.”)

Eventually, I insisted to my parents that I wanted to see “Return of the Living Dead.” Since I was already an auteur of some ROMERO zombie mythos, I felt confident that “Return of the Living Dead” would be just another zombie movie I could catalogue and re-watch with fascination. They acquiesced.

The first twenty minutes I laughed along with my folks. I got the dark humour, the slapstick comedy of the terminal duo exposed to the fictitious chemical 2-4-5 trioxin.

Then I saw tar man…
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A Sliver of Right 8: Between Love & Lucidity

I am ascending a mountain. At the top of the mountain is an elderly white man wearing a grey/white shamanic robe. The sky, an impossible mixture of night and day. There are torches and ornate stone carvings surrounding him in a circle. I step into the circle to face him. From behind him, a blond woman steps out to face me in the circle. She is of similar age to me. There is barely an inch between us. The old man was waiting for me to ascend the mountain before starting a ceremony.

Was it a marriage?
Was it a sacrifice?
Was it an awakening of two young strangers?
Was I trapped in my own “The Song Remains the Same” dream sequence?
Was there going to be a drum solo?

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A Sliver of Right 7: Philocide

The year is 1998. I am about to lose my band, a girlfriend, and a promising career as a well-abused full-time temp. A two year self-pitying sojourn rife with social ineptitude was about to commence. It would be tempered by a steadfast discipline to improve my craft, which is the needed excuse to remain miserable. Continue reading

A Sliver of Right 5: Finely Tuned Meat

This song was never meant to be performed by me. You may hear me singing this song, but I will always hear Billie Holiday taking it to a terribly seductive and despondent realm. This song is for a chanteuse; singing her heart out to an indifferent audience of transients and addicts. The smoke is thick, and the collective blood thinned by whiskey. An ideal environment to menace the lonely with a direct altruism:

“Love is gonna kill you.”

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A Sliver of Right 4: Spaghetti Terrorist

Words can get in the way of what you are saying. A piece like “Spaghetti Terrorist” liberates the necessity to articulate emotions and statement with lyrics. Yet I am going to try to explain some of it; as it is relevant to the 9/11 date. And I enjoy unattainable expectations.

Prior to returning to Canada in 2002, I built up a mythology in my head about the country. It was a foolish and involuntary thought process that can only be constructed by someone who always felt out of place; reinforced by the fact I was born there, but lived in the US for most of my life. When I came back to Canada and settled in Ontario near Toronto, I could not accept that the reality did not match my mythos. There were all these sloppy globules of monotonous beige subdivisions that made Nantucket look like a kaleidoscope. (See A Sliver of Right 3 about Nantucket and the song Waterlilly.) The sprawl was overwhelming to me, who lived in an area that was built gradually over centuries.

Like a child who didn’t get his way, I became angry at my immediate Canadian environment. Adapting was not an option. Christopher, Empress of the Andromeda, does NOT adapt to beige.
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A Sliver of Right 3: Waterlilly

I supplemented my meager earnings by being a roadie for a band. The band paid well, treated me well, and it was hard work. The days were long, the drives, longer. But it afforded me the chance to see a bit of America and its little tribal differences town to town.

One of the towns I visited was Nantucket; an island two hours away by ferry off the coast of Massachusetts.

Every structure on that island is grey. It is surreal to witness, for it seems impossible that one particular shade could govern an entire island. The reason is the building codes of the island require all the structures to be built with pitched roofs and unpainted shingles. That wood rapidly greys from the elements. Some sort of nod to the good old days when a wife died during childbirth and scurvy was still in fashion. Continue reading