Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Seabuckthorn's "Turns" and the Birth of O

Shortly after my last post, my son O was born.  For both of his older sisters, I thought it to be of some importance to welcome them into the world with music that was both soothing and intellectually stimulating. In the months leading up to his birth, I had been in the market for something new in this vein that could be “his,” so to speak.  The precedents, however, were hard to follow: Miles Davis, Steve Reich, Hans Zimmer, and Shahid Parvez were the standouts in a broad spectrum of contemplative music that introduced my girls to the world of sound in which they were thrown and accompanied their late night feedings in the months to follow. Along with the work of Johann Johannson, Seabuckthorn’s Turns seemed to fit the bill.  

The album caught my eye in DPRP’s weekly feature, Something for the Weekend. The mini-reviews in this feature provide some latitude for staff writers to suggest music that may not fit into strict progressive rock guidelines, but that may be of interest to fans of the genre. Turns fits into this schism.

Like most of the albums suggested in Something for the Weekend, Turns received a positive review, but the album truly invited my attention by virtue of the project’s name and its art design, which conjured the expanse of the ocean and the potentially ghostly beauty of its flora that an observer might catch if the light was just right.  It seemed that if Seabuckthorn was able to musically follow up within the boundaries of this unique imagery, Turns could be compelling listen.  It delivers.

In a very simplistic sense, Turns is an instrumental acoustic guitar album, but this superficial description in itself does it a disservice.  It presents itself as a mesmerizing meditation on the acoustic potential of natural guitar sounds.  What it may lack in clearly defined melodic material it more than makes up for in kaleidoscopic, swirling textures, made deep by the naturally beautiful resonance of vibrating strings and gentle percussion.

For weeks, Turns was in regular rotation both at home and in the car, but it was not my intention to have it playing at the moment of O's birth as some sort of grand musical design. Being a compulsive music listener, it would seem like I would endeavor to have “the” magical piece reverberating in the air to welcome my newborn children into the world, but for a variety of reasons I did not actually have music playing during either of my girl’s births.  Turns just happened to be on, however, when our OBGYN came in and said that we would have a baby “really soon.”  Fiddling around with my computer to find the “perfect song” to accompany this imminent miracle suddenly seemed really, really unimportant, so I hit “repeat” and turned all my attention to the task at hand.

Accompanied by the rippling alchemy of Turns, O’s birth went very smoothly.  In fact, unlike the general anxiety that I felt during his sister’s birth just a little over a year earlier, I felt relatively calm and confident.  No "Litany Against Fear" needed. This was due in no small part to our incredible OBGYN, Dr. Frederick Cummings.  

My normal policy on this blog is to maintain anthropological anonymity, but being in Dr. Cummings care was such an amazing experience that I feel he deserves specific mention.  He approached the entire process with the calm, confident belief that the birth would proceed without difficulty, and if something were to happen it would be taken care of easily and quickly.  Although I have met many smart, nice people in my life, I have not met nearly as many who seem as enlightened as Dr. Cummings.  His clear conviction to do what needs to be done for babies and mothers to be happy and healthy was nothing short of inspiring.  Plus he has very good taste in music.

But that is another story.  Welcome to the world, son.

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