Memory of a Cosmic Heart
“And still after all this time the Sun has never said to the Earth, “You owe me.”
Look what happens with love like that.
It lights up the sky”
For as long as I remember rhythm and music have been a part of my creative palette. When I was in elementary school I became a newspaper boy delivering the Arcadia News Post on my bike so I could purchase a drum set. In sixth grade, myself and two friends started a garage band called Electric Fire. We played, All my Lovin by the Beatles and Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell at our sixth grade talent show.
Art and music vied for attention until I made up my mind to pursue an art career and sold my drums while attending Art Center College of Design. I was committed to become a professional illustrator and music would now take a back seat to my career. The art business blossomed, but the rhythms in my hands, heart and mind were always making noise in the background.
All facets of the arts overlap each other. The Mystery Schools of the ancient world, taught the concept that the universe is built of varying levels of vibration. Sound vibration in music and light waves emanating from visual art resonate with the nervous system and cells in our bodies producing emotional states that can affect mind, body, spirit. These are the principles of sympathetic vibration, wherein a vibratory body responds to its harmonic likeness.
After several years in NYC focusing on social/political commentary—creating art that looked at humanities foibles and atrocities, with the idea that viewing our wounds was the first step to healing them, my focus turned toward a healing modality. I wanted to create art that inspired awe, beauty, and grace.
The music in my heart could not be contained any longer when I met illustrator, singer-songwriter, Michelle Barnes. We created the music for, The Visions of Vespertina celebrating the story of a young 14th century female mystic. Now considered a cult classic of new age gothic music, we produced a booklet with a CD that was pretty innovative 20 years ago. Much of my art for the last two decades has reflected themes of the Goddess. I enjoy championing the concept of the divine feminine with the goal of overturning thousands of years of patriarchal dominance.
Making a professional record is very much like making a film. It is a complicated affair, with many people bringing specific talents and tech to the mix. I learned a lot.
Lesson 1. Create a timeline and a budget. Double it. To be safe, double it again.
Lesson 2. You get what you pay for. Everyone wants and needs to be compensated. Trades only go so far. Make sure everything is in writing. Keep some wriggle room for spontaneous additions and embellishments.
Lesson 3. Plans will not go according to plan. Remain calm, rational, flexible, and keep your eye on the prize.
Lesson 4. Surrender gracefully. Do not let details, or other challenges derail your entire project.
Lesson 5. Your end game won’t be as you expect. What is most important is that you finish the project. Whether it meets your expectations is not as important as seeing, hearing, feeling your vision manifested.
Fast forward to my new soon to be released record, Memory of a Cosmic Heart.
Have you ever noticed that the more important something needs to be done, the more obstacles are put in your way to keep you from finishing that task? Stephen Pressfield in his book, “The War of Art” calls it resistance. Memory of a Cosmic Heart has taken more than a decade to manifest. This is without a doubt the hardest project I have worked on, but has been more than worth the journey.
The music was conceived with Rob Jacobs, my writing partner. I would bring melodies to share, which he would play on a harmonium and then using a pencil transcribe the music to paper. He would mix and match his compositions with mine. It was a very organic process.
We worked with the talented Bill Brendle who helped shape some of the songs, and then, with James Raymond, my childhood friend who ultimately produced and mixed the album. James worked with us for years between his own projects and touring with Crosby, Stills and Nash. David Crosby is his father.
Much of this studio work is akin to the way I make art. It is a high touch, high tech fusion with recording live musicians, vocalists, adding keyboard synths and using computer programs to layer in the parts. I experiment with music the same way I do with my art, for instance throwing extremes of contrast or color into the mix by randomly adding instruments or melodies that appear to have nothing to do with the song. Adding distortion is like using musical sandpaper. Slowing down or speeding up sections can add dimension and unexpected results. I had parts of Vavilov’s Ave Maria slowed down eights times and transcribed onto sheet music. The ethereal choral parts you hear on the album are actually sung live by the C3LA choir directed by Drew Corey.
Then Rob had a stroke. Up until that moment the music had evolved at its own pace which allowed it to grow slowly, but now I felt an urgency to finish the record. This is when something magical happened. As Rob recovered, the entire vision for the album as a whole came into focus, images filled my head. Amazing award winning talent joined the group, which I call, The Symbolists. Go HERE to learn more about them.
The music reflects a love affair between the earth and the sun, and our individual cosmic connection through the solar rays of the heart. The rhythm of the heart reflects the tides of the oceans, the pulse of quasars, the motion of the universe, and the dance of God. My hope is that Memory of a Cosmic Heart opens the portals of peace and inspired serenity in our drama filled lives.
"We are a way for the universe to know itself. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return. And we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We're made of star stuff." - Carl Sagan
Like the earth revolving around the sun, life circles back around… James told me recently that when he was ten years old (James was adopted and did not know Crosby was his real father at this time) his family stopped by my house, and recalls my sixth grade buddies and I practicing in the garage for the talent show. He said my Mom was playing the tambourine in go-go boots! I had forgotten this memory. Then he added, “When I saw your band playing I knew that is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.” James has been the consummate, professional musician, composer for decades now and I am honored to have him produce this album.
Listen to excerpts of the album HERE.
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