Ursula K. Le Guin's "Always Coming Home" (1985) is a combination novel and anthropological study of the Kesh, a culture that "might be going to have lived a long, long time from now in Northern California." Early editions of the book included a cassette of faux "field recordings," indigenous songs, and other audio of the Kesh. Now, the good people at Freedom to Spend are bringing the Kesh experience to vinyl in a lovely limited edition that includes an LP containing the audio of the original cassette, "a deluxe spot printed jacket with illustrations from Always Coming Home, a facsimile of the original lyric sheet, liner notes by Moe Bowstern, multi-format digital download code and a limited edition bookmark letterpressed by Stumptown Printers in Portland, OR." From Freedom to Spend
For Music and Poetry of the Kesh, the words and lyrics are attributed to Le Guin as composed by Barton, an Oregon-based musician, composer and Buchla synthesist (the two worked together previously on public radio projects). But the cassette notes credit the sounds and voices to the world of the Kesh, making origins ambiguous. For instance, “The River Song” description reads, “The prominent rhythm instrument is the doubure binga, a set of nine brass bowls struck with cloth-covered wooden mallets, here played by Ready...”
The songs of Kesh are joyful, soothing and meditative, while the instrumental works drift far past the imaginary lands. “Heron Dance” is an uplifting first track, featuring a Wéosai Medoud Teyahi (made from a deer or lamb thigh bone with a cattail reed) and the great Houmbúta (used for theatre and ceremony). “A Music of the Eighth House” sends gossamer waves of the faintest sounds to “float on the wind.” Like the languages invented in the vocal work of Anna Homler, Meredith Monk, and Elizabeth Fraser, the Kesh songs and poems play with the shape of voice.
The Music and Poetry of the Kesh cassette was meant to accompany and enhance the experience of reading Always Coming Home. Presented in this edition as a long-playing album, where only traces of the book linger (the jacket offers some of Le Guin’s illustration, and a letterpressed bookmark featuring the the narrative modes of western civilization and the Kesh valley is included), the music alone breaking the silence of what might be. It can transport—offering a landscape for imagining a future homecoming. One in which we are balanced, peaceful, and tend to the earth and its creatures.
A line from “Sun Dance Poem” reminds us, “We are nothing much without one another.”
"Ursula K. Le Guin & Todd Barton – Music and Poetry of the Kesh" (Freedom to Spend)
And if you're in Portland on April 6, don't miss the live celebration of this release featuring Elisabeth Le Guin, Todd Barton, Visible Cloaks, Moe Bowstern, Caroline Le Guin, and Vanessa Renwick. Details at the bottom of this post!
Weezer pushes the “Africa” cover gimmick ever onward with a new music video for the Toto classic. The clip stars Weird Al Yankovic as Rivers Cuomo in a parody of Weezer’s own “Sweater Song” music video. Background here.
Maggi Carson and Juliusz Kossakowski directed “Punking Out,” a terrific 1978 short documentary about the early punk scene at New York City’s iconic CBGB nightclub, featuring The Ramones, The Dead Boys, and Richard Hell & The Voidoids.
The Ramones’ fourth studio album Road To Ruins turns 40 tomorrow. To celebrate, Rhino Records released the Road To Ruin: 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition with three CDs and one LP containing two mixes of the album, additional unreleased studio and live recordings, and a hardcover book. They’ve also unearthed this previously unreleased video for their […]
Sipping on whiskey is already a sophisticated experience, but that doesn’t mean you can’t kick it up a notch. A perfect addition to your desk or home bar, the Eravino Whiskey Globe Decanter features a beautifully etched map on the surface and an eye-catching glass ship inside, bringing an entirely new level of class to […]
Gone are the days when you needed to pore over a 400-page physics textbook to learn about weight ratios, aerodynamics, and all of those other STEM concepts that let us take to the skies. Thanks to Force Flyers’ DIY Building Block Drones, you can foster your STEM knowledge as you build and fly your own functional […]
As more companies leverage cloud technology to unite and streamline their operations, the need for capable IT pros increases. But, as any IT guru will tell you, demand alone won’t get your foot in the door to this lucrative field. If you want to cash in on the demand and build a thriving IT career, […]