Best to begin at the beginning.
Flash of light, expansion, gradual coagulation of galaxies, stars, planets, life.
The initial spark for this recording grew out of an idea I had in the summer of 2008. Having just finished reading Dan Simmons exceptional "Hyperion" novels, I was intrigued with the concept of human evolution towards some kind of universal empathy. This seemed to me to be a perfect manifestation of the idea of "extropy", and a great philosophical point to hardwire into a new record.
After kicking around a few initial ideas with Jeremiah, I was concerned that our long distance recording method of swapping tracks back and forth over the course of a year or two was not going to work. The idea was expanding - and those familiar with "the imperative of the muse" will understand the dilemma. Jeremiah has been doing sound design and product development for Native Instruments for a few years now, and the net effect of both our hectic work schedules meant that this process would be greatly elongated by the rigors of life beyond the studio. The truth was that I did not want this record to stretch out to 5 years or longer, and the push to see the idea live was getting stronger.
Over the course of the summer and into late autumn I wrote many of the songs that make up the first half of the record. Since Jeremiah was unable to contribute to the writing process, his sound designs became an important part of my songwriting. (In fact, as I write this, Jeremiah is finishing up a new sound design project for NI which was originally inspired by the Hyperion story. Many of these sounds have become an integral component of the fabric of this music).
Blending ideas from Carl Sagan about the human future and a lifetime of reading science fiction, the shape of the songs and the underlying ideas began to take form. Hope... in the face of a young woman, in ancient seas swarming with intelligence, in dreams of a better future, in the beauty of our fragile existence... most of all joy in recognizing what we could become.
Things changed unexpectedly in December 2008, when I received a phone call while at work from my wife April. I could tell instantly that something was wrong... She was calling from the hospital, and explained through tears that she had just miscarried our first baby.
All of the color seemed to fade out of my universe.
It was absolutely crushing.
There is a purity in grief, in pain, that focuses one's consciousness. The distractions of our scrabbling existence, of playing our paper-thin roles in the day to day race from birth to death lose their importance, and the clarity of this meaningless facade is brought into sharp focus.
I immediately set out to explore my anger and pain, to capture it in sound. I returned to Dostoyevsky, and re-discovered Nihilism. I found a focal point in E.M. Cioran's "a Short History of Decay." I struggled, and these were my companions in pain. I wrote feverishly.
Time dulls the sting, but doesn't always take it away. The great philosophical questions are never answered, they are only retired briefly, awaiting the next opportunity to spring free and stake their claim on reality.
This record is a testament to chaos. It exists only through a succession of random coincidences. It is everything I have tried to capture with music over the course of my life. It is the very definition of extropy.
It is a powerful work.. engaging and human. I believe I can say this objectively, without ego. I am merely a vessel for these ideas... a translator, if you will. In any case these are just words, the thing is the thing, and this description is merely a pointer.
We exist, we breathe, we suffer, we experience joy and pain. There is a balance to be kept between empathy and nihilism. I hope I have translated the meaning of this idea accurately.
It has been an incredible journey, this last year. April and I are now expecting our first baby, a girl, in a few short weeks.
And so it is that the cycle continues...