Grapevine Airwaves 2012

November 4, 2012

Divination: Sun (reversed), Moon

Ben Frost and Daníel Bjarnason by Ingibjörg Torfadóttir

Music Overview

  • Artists: Daníel Bjarnason, Ben Frost, Daughter
  • Venue:  Fríkirkjan
  • Time:  Saturday
  • The Good:  Great news! There will be life after the apocalypse.
  • The Bad:  The ship will sail inverted.
  • Reviewed by: a.rawlings
  • Photo: Ben Frost and Daníel Bjarnason by Ingibjörg Torfadóttir

THE SUN, REVERSED (POSITION: SITUATION)

“In Slavic mythology, the Zorya are a trinity of sister goddesses who attend to the sun god, whose chariot rides through the sky every day, bringing light and warmth. The sun represents the brilliance of the life force— the incisiveness of intellect, the inspiration of creativity, the light that nourishes all life, plant and human. As well as attending to the sun god, without whose light all living things would perish, the Zorya are believed to be the guardians of the universe. As such, they stand watch over a fierce doomsday hound subdued by only a chained leash — legend says that if ever this chain were to break, the end of the world would be at hand.” — The Goddess Tarot

As the reversal indicates, the chain has broken.

This foretelling is simultaneously a retelling.

There is a voyage. I see a man at the helm. Two men. Ben Frost and Daníel Bjarnason perform their collaborative composition Solaris. Soft caramel light is thrown by chandeliers and candelabra. Single candles light each window. Conducted by Daníel, silken tones slide from eleven elven stringed instruments. Ben’s signature feedback of bass looms beyond the halt of string as Daníel dons his other role as pianist.

Fríkirkjan, the hallowed setting for this special performance, is an inverted ship, its belly the cavernous ceiling. Many bodies gather in this listing ark to keep the glacial melt at bay as long as possible. Narratives flicker with persistence as the composition surrounds and then shrouds those gathered. You know we’re at risk, don’t you? You do know we were always at risk.

A woman with a small child asleep in her lap is attendant, listening for sounds that sign, signs that foretell or retell. Daníel feels his way through a prepared piano carcass with its hollow, haunted lullaby-hymn clunked before the child’s sleep.

Beyond the metal fortitude of the ship’s containment, bergs crack from the loneliest ice mass — one sliver at first, then more, then all ‘til the ocean bobs with the world’s history.

Inside the ship, people sit motionless. Some have their eyes open for a mechanized shiftshiftshift they can all hear but no one can interpret. Some sit with eyes closed, strings or springs shrill though none understands why. Some sit without their eyes— an ensemble spellbound, spell-spurned. Strings rasp unvocalized at Daníel’s elegant gesture. Everyone sits and stares into their nothingness even as the demand to act swells to deafen.

Witnessed by a collective post-traumatic stress, a composition of string, piano, electric bass, percussion, and feedback powers the doomed ship by sound. And then the future dims: silence. At end, a moment long-held and then the people rise to their feet in unison. They press their hands together. They press their hands in unison.

THE MOON (POSITION: SIGNIFICATOR)

Marking the end of harvest season and marking the start of the darker half of the year, Daughter in the position of significator opened her hour-long Fríkirkjan set as the goddess of wild animals, hunting, and the moon. Through the empathy evident in “Landfill” (lyrics with a conscience) and “Candles” (survivor memory of sexual assault), Daughter offers the support of caring women. This support and having witnessed the live performance of these songs should, in turn, provide you with the opportunity to work on a relationship that truly nurtures you. The spare percussion, haunting alto of Elena Tonra, and bowed guitar reflect the cycles of nature. Daughter reminds us of our connection to these cycles through global warming ballads such as “The Woods” and “In the Shallows” (well-place near the end of their set) and that, like the moon itself, what is empty will become full if we listen with open hearts.



About the Author

a.rawlings
a.rawlings
a.rawlings is a poet, arts educator, and interdisciplinary artist who has published and performed work in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, and the United States. Her first book, Wide slumber for lepidopterists (Coach House Books, 2006) received an Alcuin Award for Design. In 2009 and 2010, rawlings was the recipient of a Chalmers Arts Fellowship, enabling her to develop and present new work in Belgium, Canada, and Iceland. Most recently, she was selected the 2012 Queensland Poet-in-Residence; during her tenure, she spent three months in Australia developing an interdisciplinary project that combines poetry, acoustic ecology, and counter-mapping. She loves in Reykjavík.




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