01 kitsune (spirit-fox): A short dance film. A man is asleep center stage, lit by moonlight and the moving shadows of a cucoloris. A fox enters and circles the sleeping man. As the fox costume drops to the floor revealing a beautiful, graceful woman, the man awakens. They dance together. Exhausted, he drops back into sleep. The woman has become a fox again...
02 storm drain: A fugitive physicist hides in a drainage tunnel underneath a nuclear reactor. He knows that every few minutes the tunnel fills with a torrent of super-heated scalding water, but right now the search party that has been pursuing him is just outside the mouth of the tunnel, and if he leaves now he'll certainly be captured. He's waiting it out...
03 drekavac sleeps: In south Slavic folklore, a drekavac is the demonic spirit of an unbaptized child that visits in the night and lurks screaming in the dark. Here, though, there are no bloodcurdling shrieks, as this particular drekavac is sleeping...
04 a cannonade of babies: Loosely inspired by a story from Stanislaw Lem's 'Cyberiad' in which Trurl the constructor builds a machine called the Femfatalatron that unfortunately doesn't work as advertised, leading to an unlikely sequence of events. This organ piece was originally titled 'Bees in the Nursery'.
05 hati svala månen (hatred swallows the moon): The Gylfaginning, just after the Prologue of Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda describes two giant wolves, Hati and Sköll, who chase the sun and moon, and will devour them at the time of Ragnarok, plunging the world into darkness and winter. A companion piece to Track 12.
06 tono del pastore (Shepard Tone): An auditory equivalent of a barber's pole or a Penrose Staircase, a Shepard Tone is a sonic paradox in which a pitch appears to continuously rise or fall. Named after psychologist Roger Shepard who experimented with these tones at Bell Labs in 1964, a Shepard Tone has nothing at all to do with the herding of sheep, so the Italian title is a pun. Sorry.
07 tasogare (dusk): That very moment when the sun has gone down but there's still enough light remaining to silhouette the bare tree branches. All colors have turned to gray in moonlight except for a slash of orange just above the horizon. The night animals will be coming out soon.
08 radiacja (radiation): Several years after a nuclear accident, life has re-established a foothold. Humans have not returned, but animals thrive, and the vegetation is lush. A herd of Przewalski's horses graze in an abandoned amusement park.
09 kakotopia: A dark urban landscape, circa late 21st Century. Grimy and oppressive, with various modes of transport whizzing past. A man on foot in a place where nobody ever walks. (Could he be the scientist from Track 2?)
10 reaktor z władza (power plant): A security guard makes his rounds in a nuclear power plant, unaware that if the aforementioned fugitive scientist from Track 2 does not succeed in getting to the control console in time to run a program thwarting some sabotage, there will be a meltdown.
11 gli strani uccelli con voce umana (strange birds with human voices): A malfunction sends a time traveller to 17th Century Venice where he contracts the plague. In a fever dream, he opens his eyes to see the strangely beaked figure of a Plague Doctor leaning over him.
12 sköll sluka solen (treachery devours the sun): A companion piece to Track 05.
13 the four stags of yggdrasil: A Norse mythological poem from the Codex Regius manuscript, the Grímnismál describes the four red deer (Dain, Dvalin, Duneyr and Durathror) that nibble at the branches of the Tree of Life, Yggdrasil. The Scandinavian archaeologist Finnur Magnussen interpreted these harts as representative of the North, South, East and West winds; here the deer are assigned to flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon, a wind quartet manifested mellotronically using a double harmonic Byzantine/Charhargah mode that is also believed to have been used in ancient Icelandic music. Stop-motion puppet animation.
14 what you can't see: Musical accompaniment to footage of things usually invisible to the naked eye. Electron microscopy, Kirlian photography, magnetic fields, deep-space radiotelescopic imagery, life forms on the deep ocean floor and so forth...
Composed, performed and recorded by Tim Nelson at Le Croissant Fertile, Cape Elizabeth, Maine in February, 2009.
Graphic design by Tim Nelson. Photographs of Tim Nelson courtesy of Kate Wolf. Crow illustration courtesy of Pearson Scott Foresman.
Copyright 2009 Nimbletunes (Hidden bonus track 15 'Voron k voronu' lyrics: Aleksandr Pushkin/music: traditional, arranged by Tim Nelson.