Opeye | Moss ‘Comes Silk

Henry Kuntz / tenor saxophone, Chinese musette, Nepalese bamboo flute, Bolivian & Balinese bamboo flutes; Ben Lindgren / doublebass, Balinese gamelan; Brian Godchaux / viola, Balinese gamelan “selunding,” percussion; Esten Lindgren / trombone, trumpet, Hawaiian conch shell, steel guitar, ukulele, percussion; John Kuntz / steel guitar, mandolin, ukulele, Javanese gamelan, wind-up toy xylophone, percussion.

Recorded September 22, 23, 1995

Highlights the formal advances possible in group playing when free improvisation is approached in its most natural manner. The uniqueness and complexity of each player’s part is expanded to the farthest extent possible while maintaining a recognizable group entity and musical identity.

Tracklist: 1. Brilliant Coral 2. Tepees and Dragons 3. Fancy Dancing Jaguar 4. Polyphonic Hymn 5. Eskimos on the Moon 6. Bayou Eskimos 7. Real Southern Hominy 8. Safron and Jasmine 9. Noble Guardians 10. Ol’Spi’ Ritual 11. Sentient Beings 12. Moss ‘Comes Silk

“Intelligent, dynamically rich free improvisation” – Michael Tucker, Jazz Journal

“The closest sonic corollaries might be found in the freest playing of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, although there is no single precedent for OPEYE’s kaleidoscopic instrumental textures.” – Derk Richardson, SF Bay Guardian

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One thought on “Opeye | Moss ‘Comes Silk

  1. “Moss” is the archetypal memory of our shared southern pasts. “Silk” is who we’re becoming and is reflective of new experiences, often in faraway places. It is what is finding place in us of the old and continuous spiritual forces of our planet most fundamental to well-being: a refinement of spirit. Opeye’s music — spontaneously composed, freely improvised — is founded on a new world creative aesthetic: one’s own experiences and background are central, but the fetters of provincial cultures are thrown off — we have all become heir to every tradition: Shared Humanity in all its richness and diversity — and the future is likewise embraced. Free improvisation, we understand as a non-idiomatic approach to playing — an attitude about what we are doing — which is to say that although we remain attentive to all of our music experience, we are not playing music that is tied by necessity or design to any particular style or idiom.

    Spontaneous composition, on the other hand, is the actual organizing of sound material, that which takes place at the beginning and end of each “piece” and in and between the lines of improvisation. It is the notions which formalize newly-created sound and the ways in which that sound is showcased.

    An improvisational approach, however, is not simply the reverse of a compositional one where, using similar devices, we play from scratch to determine an equally (compositionally coherent) satisfying outcome. A free improvisor is a player always in process and always in relation in this manner both to oneself and to the other players. One’s state of mind is not unlike that described in various accounts of trance, dream, or shamanic reality, demanding an extremely fine-tuned alertness, response, flexibility, and an on-going creativity. The player, of necessity, moves into another state of BE-ing, another time-space frame where ordinary time is in fact suspended and only each moment is the most important moment and not the final outcome; although it follows that (in a compositional sense) the final outcome may be quite satisfying depending upon how organic the process itself has been. But being in the process — a process more temporally aligned to ritual — is what is most important. (Musically, we spoke before these sessions about moving more in the direction of true co-creation: we wanted each player to be as much as possible autonomous while remaining indispensable to the creation of the whole music.)

    Avant-Shamanic Trance Jazz best describes this process for us. “Jazz” refers to our background (each of us with family ties to New Orleans and Louisiana) and reflects the collective, open-ended nature of improvisation. “Trance” is the sense of suspended time one enters into while playing. The inherently creative and explorative aspects of improvisation suggest as well a “shamanic” dimension which has to do with affecting cultural healing. But we refer to this music as “avant” shamanic because it is not to affect a wholeness (or healing) within the larger culture, but to find and experience one’s own self in the midst of a culture — and cultures — that are in many ways lacking in wholeness.

    In performance, we frequently utilize masks, textiles, paintings, and unorthodox costume changes, adding a cross-cultural visual component to the music and heightening its dream-like and ritual qualities. For us, it becomes akin to a living shadow play, full of multi-cultural archetypes and (at times humorous) ambiguities.

    Henry Kuntz, For OPEYE, April 1997
    (c) & (p) 1997 Humming Bird Records, 1169 Grizzly Peak, Berkeley, CA 94708

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