On dry lips.
Hello. I wrote the original version of this to go to some music. I don’t think the recording will still be around and I can’t remember how the music went. Never mind! Here is the poem.
Sun rises over the earth
Life sprouts forth
Sun showers gifts to all.
Clouds give way
Blue skies of
Shiny globes of joy
Winking in golden haze.
By Daniel Tavet
The group Icebreaker have previously done a tour where they re-interpreted songs by Brian Eno. Brian Eno shot to fame in the early 70s with the band Roxy Music, where he played synthesizer, an instrument which was in its early stage of development. Eno had previously been an art student, inspired by ‘minimalism’, an art form which is about only using the basics. Eno then went on to work with a wide variety of other bands, such as David Bowie, Talking Heads and German ambient pioneers, Cluster. After this tour, they wanted to do something similar. They chose Kraftwerk because like Eno, (in fact much more so) they were highly influential in developing electronic music, from the early 70’s and up until the present day.
On the 23rd of January Icebreaker performed at Howard Assembly Rooms in Leeds. Before the main performance, Icebreaker did their version of Terry Riley’s ‘In C’. Terry Riley was, an American minimalist composer. ‘In c’ is considered by many to be a masterpiece. The composition went through many different shades, from mellow to noisy, from joyous to dark, from hypnotic to intense. It gradually built up from a luxuriant clarinet to a climax of sound. There was a part that for some reason made me think of a giant worm coming out of the earth!
Each Kraftwerk song was performed as an avant-garde instrumental, apart from a little snippet of processed German vocals, which I believe was sampled from Kraftwerk. Each song segued into the next. The performance was for about an hour. The songs combined many eclectic sounds and influences. After a while a booming bass appeared. The drums were more for percussive effect, such as crashing symbols, rather than rhythm. They were combined with electronic drums for extra volume and bass.
Above the musicians were three large screens. The screens began showing abstract shapes and rotating wire mesh which flashed to the pulsating bass and crashing symbols. There were shots of what would normally be mundane – doors, windows, pieces of metal. Grainy black and white images of Kraftwerk’s home city of Dusseldorf, desolate streets and factories with no people. Weeds blowing in the wind, industrial chimneys blowing out thick smoke. These images could have been filmed anywhere in the Western world. Scenes that would usually have been empty and inhuman evoked emotion. The film, created by Sophie Clements and Toby Cornish, is intended to create insight into Kraftwerk’s ideas of technology and how technology affects urban and natural space. For the song ‘Autobahn’, first we were shown a car driving down a motorway, from the viewpoint of a passenger. Then, the screen showed the white lines of the road, which you would expect to be dull but was in fact rather intriguing! The bleak images contrasted with the powerful music. It would be interesting to know what Kraftwerk would think about this! I thoroughly enjoyed this performance. Much thanks goes to Howard Assembly Rooms
Members of Icebreaker: James Poke – flute, pan-pipes, WX11 wind synthesizer, bass drum, Rowland Sutherland – flute, pan-pipes, Bradley Grant – saxophone, clarinet, Dominic Saunders – keyboards, Ian Watson – accordion, Audrey Riley – electric cello, Dan Gresson – percussion, James Woodrow – guitar, bass guitar, Pete Wilson – bass guitar with J.Peter Schwalm on electronics and processing.
By Daniel Tavet
Phoenix Health and Wellbeing in Leeds city centre provide alternative treatments such as various massages, aromatherapy and acupuncture. Acupuncture is a very ancient form of treatment. Traditionally, the Chinese believe our bodies have an energy force called ch’i (pronounced ‘chee’) or qi. Ch’i runs through the body in channels called meridians. These meridians can become blocked either through excessive yang energy – an energy that creates activity, or excessive yin energy – an energy that creates passivity. An excess in either yang or yin is the result of certain thoughts and actions. The excess can cause mental and/or physical illnesses and more minor conditions. It is believed that applying the acupuncture needles in specific points on the body stimulates the meridians which then un-block. The needles are thin and sometimes people don’t feel them when they are applied or just after application. The acupuncturist at Phoenix explained that in China, acupuncture is a communal treatment, many people will be treated in the same room at once. On Wednesdays Phoenix treat three people simultaneously in their Community Acupuncture clinic.
The staff at Phoenix were very pleasant and friendly. The acupuncturist asked about my health and how much sleep I get, then I got on the bed which was like a more comfortable version of the type you see at a conventional doctor’s. There was relaxing classical music playing in the background. The acupuncturist and a trainee took my pulse. A needle was placed in each elbow and a few were put in my lower legs. I was often asked if I felt comfortable and okay. I did. I was then told to simply relax and I shut my eyes for about fifteen minutes. I felt some pleasant sensations in my arms. By the time the needles were removed, I felt very relaxed, almost to the point of drowsiness. The acupuncturist said I could relax for a little longer before leaving.
When I left the room, the receptionist asked if I was alright and gave me a glass of water. The acupuncturist said to keep hydrated with hot drinks. I was asked if I would come again, I definitely would.
Phoenix also provide counselling and support to people with mental and/or physical health issues.
By Daniel Tavet
A few weeks ago I attended a spiritual drumming class in the glade round the back of Clarence House. The class was very enjoyable and the setting led me to think about spirituality and nature.
“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” – Buddha.
It is said the first Zen sermon was given by Buddha, silently. As he simply held a white flower in his hand, the onlooking monks bar one were confused at what Buddha was trying to communicate. The monk who understood smiled. Zen gardens are intended to imitate the inner essence of nature, an aid to meditation on the meaning of life. Japanese researchers claim the subconscious mind is sensitive to a subtle association of between the rocks in these gardens.
Many cultures have ‘sacred groves.’ In Genesis, 21.33, it says,’Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there the name of God.’ In druidry, sacred groves are seen as places to reconnect with divine essence in nature. This is an example of animism, the belief that non-human entities like animals, plants, stones etc. contain a spiritual essence. In India, sacred groves are also used to protect biological resources, to provide sanctuaries for flora and fauna, especially medicinal herbs. They are also used to provide oxygen and deep ground water reserves.
Sources and bodies of water are also considered sacred in many religions. In the Hindu festivals Durga Puja and Ganseh Chaturthi, thousands of devotees immerse themselves in water to influence a deity. Baptism is far from being just a Christian practice. It is also practiced in Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism, Islam, Baha’i, Shinto, Taoism and Rastafarianism. Being in harmony with nature is central to Rastafarianism. This is an African influence. Traditionally, African religions embrace the ebb and tide, waxing and waning of the moon, rain and drought. These phenomenas are seen as natural rhythms. Perhaps these rhythms are expressed in African drumming, which can uplift the ‘spirit.’
Sufi poet Rumi often referred to nature – “raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” Of God, Rumi wrote, “a mountain keeps an echo deep inside. That’s how I hold your voice.” To man, he said, “but listen to me. For one moment quit being sad. Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you.”
Along with its gardens, poetry in Zen also reveres nature with its haikus, very short poems that capture a moment. Zen paintings literally makes human beings look very small compared to nature. This is sometimes seen as ‘nature mysticism,’ when man is held in awe by the divinity he sees in nature.
One famous Zen master by the name of Dogon Zenji said, “when we pick up a lettuce leaf or a carrot, or engage in relationships, each moment and interaction is the body of the Buddha.” Perhaps this can be compared to one of Christ’s sayings in the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, “cleave the wood, I am there; lift up the stone, and you shall find me there.”
By Daniel Tavet
A couple of months ago (had no internet for a few weeks due to a technical glitch) I did a very enjoyable workshop at Clarence House called Feeling Good With colour. It was about using colour to improve our mood. We did a visualisation where we imagined sitting under a giant flower and golden sunshine pouring on to us, discussed a poem about colour in nature, colour associations, discussed colour therapy, colour harmony, and how colours are used in different cultures. We also went into the garden and each wrote a poem about what were experiencing. This is the poem.
Sat in middle.
Circle of bird conversation.
Pats the back
Of golden heat
Calms the whirling
Like greeting hand.
(image from otherwisetrading.co.uk)