Random Earth Project
“Without music, life would be a mistake.” Friedrich Nietzsche
“When was the last time you listened to music?” I asked, directing my voice at the back of her head.
The question had been on my mind since I noticed a faint, rhythmical squeak from the garage door after parking the Benz that morning. I stopped in my tracks for a moment and listened, it sounded orchestral against the background whirr of the powerful electric motors. Birds singing in the cedar trees standing tall, uniform and pompous on both sides of the drive had added a primal undertone to the soundscape. We are human and such thoughts can often be sparked by the most random occurrence.
“I’m listening to music now,” she replied, “it’s Radio Two.”
I pull a rattan stool from beneath the bar and fiddle with the sun umbrella’s remote control to give us both more shade. I park myself and pour a tumbler of chilled Prosecco which I down in one then reach for the whiskey.
“No, I mean really listened. Doing nothing else – not driving, not reading, not having a massage – just submerging yourself in the sounds musicians have created.”
She glances up from her magazine. My beautiful wife is the mistress of casual leafing. Vogue or some such. Glossy. A comic for the chronically insecure or the terminally pretentious, but the photos are nice – a pretty blonde lady and some bloke wearing a green tee shirt. Ukrainian I notice from the headline – fetching, I think to myself.
“I don’t have time to sit around doing nothing and I certainly don’t have the energy to search for new music.” Her voice trails off or I’ve stopped listening. Not sure.
Nonetheless, it isn’t the response I hope for and my face must be showing it because she curls her lip and gives me one of those ‘here we go again’ looks before vigorously flicking over a page. I press on, “But, isn’t that precisely what you’re doing now? Nothing.”
“No, I’m reading a magazine.”
“No, you’re skimming through a magazine. You’re not reading it. It may as well be wallpaper, something you notice only once and then are completely oblivious to.”
“And what’s wrong with skimming, as you call it? It helps me relax.”
“And the radio? You’re not really taking any notice of that either, are you? In fact, you’re actively not doing two totally different things simultaneously. You must be exhausted.”
She takes a sip from her glass and fixes her deep hazel eyes upon me. She possesses the air of an indulgent mother superior about to chastise an immodest novitiate, I can almost feel the vibrations from her neurotransmitters through the soles of my loafers.
She is forthright and blunt when she replies, “Oh, for God’s sake! Not everything has to be complicated.” Her shoulders heave a prelude to a sigh, “right now I need distraction without commitment. It’s not deep, it’s simple. It’s called chilling out.”
Her phone begins to chirp. Perfect timing, I think, for her anyway. She snatches it from the pocket of her robe, rises from the chair and walks into the house. I gather it’s her agent calling about preparations for an upcoming trip to Sorrento – apparently, she’ll be launching memes into the Twittersphere – throwing out clickbait for pod-blasting tubers and soundbites for the mentally petrified. Involuntarily, my eyes roll. I hate it when she goes away.
And so, I am alone with my thoughts gazing rather sadly at my lawn, freshly misted by the automatic sprinklers, sparkling like a field of diamonds in the early evening sunlight. Beyond the summerhouse, my cherished willows stand as wistful sentries on the emerald fringe of the gently lapping Thames. We talk often, the willows and I, of many things but now, whiskey in hand, we speak about music. How we are overcome by a hot flush of excitement when we discover something new, not just the latest hyped-up offerings from the very few modern-day performers worthy of merit, but more usually from mature, grounded, sincere musical virtuosos who know their craft and have spent many gruelling years honing their talent. And who, when the time was right and when their creative stars aligned, joined together in a band and fashioned something sublime. Something that could not have existed if one incidental note in the opera of their individual careers had been misplayed.
I flick through the sound system directory and find “Holy Blues” by Random Earth Project.
From the first dissonant chord, I am a dissected human being. My heart begins to beat to an intense rhythm. My brain disconnects and floats, vacant yet receptive, upon an ocean of quicksilver. It is classic blues, but is it? It is amazing, that’s for sure. Prog Blues? Potentially. Definitely Progressive Rock.
Whatever badge the music is bequeathed and whatever it is that’s happening to me now, when you listen, really listen, and absorb the combined magic of that steaming voice – the thrashing guitar, the orchestral grandeur of the Hammond organ, all driven by a pulsing bass – you are going to be swept into an alternative state of being. You too will be a dissected Human.
It is music that demands your full attention. You will be rewarded with treasures out of all proportion to the effort you make.
I take another sip and feel the malt whiskey tug at my cheeks and leave a peaty burn in my throat as I swallow. Turning, I watch a beautiful woman slip through the bi-fold doors, step gracefully onto the lawn and begin to sway. Her body glistens with the going down of the sun as she dances naked on gilded splinters. A sublime vision.
It takes a big man to cry… and I am crying. Thank you Random Earth Project for that perfect moment.
By RODERICK JARLAITH McRIVEN August 2022
Core collective members of Random Earth Project
© Rod McRiven 2021
Pictures: From loadsa places . . .
Find out more: Random Earth Project website REP Facebook
Musical references: “I walk on gilded splinters” by Johnny Jenkins
Poetic references: “For the fallen” by Laurence Binyon
Italian references: Sorrento
Radio stations: BBC Radio Two Jo Whiley Cerys Matthews
Vogue Magazine: Interview with Olena Zelenska
What do you think?