The shore is different now, things are not where I quite remembered them to be, and at low tide it's possible to see a ruined temple just beneath the waves at the edge of the sand. I set up a small camp for the night, and pass out reading an old yellowed paperback. The sun breaks the next day, prying open my slumbering eyelids, and an overwhelming sensation of being surrounded by exotic colors and equatorial perfumes comes on fast. Before I can find my footing, I'm pulled beneath the waves again in the undertow. Held fast beneath the surface, I'm stopped from being displaced further out into the sea by the eroded but anchored stone walls of the ruin. Panic sets in, but just when I feel as if I cannot hold my breath any longer, a strange weightlessness comes over me and I realize I don't need to.
The sun ripples down in fluttering lines from above the sea, casting surrealistic phosphenes across the temple's marbled stone pillars, giving vague outlines of what the structure may have looked like before nature reclaimed it. Orange and blue weave in and out, pulsing with a steadily accumulating chordal sound that paralyzes me in a pleasant but otherwise indescribable claustrophobia. I cannot tell how long I've been under the water, as nothing feels real anymore, but disconnected, as if I'm seeing things from a vantage point outside of my body. There are no longer any sensations to determine where my skin ends, and where the sea begins.
Something begins to ebb me slowly back toward the surface, to the shore. Am I dying? Am I hallucinating? Something, a voiceless soundless thought manifests in my mind - just odd shapes and angular but deliberate phrases - and I begin to sense that I have not been entirely alone, here in the ocean. With this, I'm thrust back above the waves, now diminished beneath a sinking purple sun, in a moment that is neither before nor after. A transfiguration, a pocket universe that seems to evade both time and space, has stolen me away and returned me to the sand. I have been momentarily borrowed, in some kind of communion or conversation - or a conversion? Convergence? The words come slowly back to my pulverized mind, like a child knowing deep down what to say but unable to form the syllables on the tongue to say it.
By the time I feel stable enough to stand, with the haze around me fizzled away, I cannot remember the sensation anymore. I look at my hands, covered in glimmering beach sand, and reach up to an aching throbbing head, filled with the hot fruit of a scrambled brain. My paperback lies split open, pages down on the sand, wedged between my chest and the ground. I bend down to pick the book up, looking with mild curiosity at what page I'd find, and I'm speechless as my fried brain cannot quite process what my eyes are seeing: The pages no longer have any words on them, despite the cover remaining what it was - an old Pohl anthology called "Star 3" - but instead, an array of symbols, holding my gaze unnaturally.
The more I look, and try to determine what they are, the more they burn into my mind, taking with them any sense of certainty, any idea that might logically explain what is happening. It's all I can do to quickly shut the book, and in that moment, I'm struck by a blinding flash of light, as if a camera went off in my face. As the brightness fades, the book is gone - not fallen from my shaking hands, but gone. Another feeling approaches, from deep in my chest, a knowing dawning awareness that I am once again alone.
Standing here on a beach, the stars above slowly peeking out of the inky black firmament, I can only think of the waves, recursive and mindless, compelled to forever clamber back up to the land, only to be taken away again, and I feel lucky that I am not like them. I dust off my clothes, look in the opposite direction at the green bearded valley further inland, and begin to walk back home.
released April 20, 2022
W/P by Brian Grainger. Recorded at White Pillar, April 2022. Mastered by The Analog Botanist. Photography by Brian. Text and design by ABM&D. This is Milieu Music number MMD067. (C) + (P) Oscillog ASCAP 2022. All nights preserved.
As always, I am in utter awe at the vastness of our musical universe, comprised of beautiful stars for our ever-listening ears. Let the gorgeous waves of this incredible album wash over you, perhaps taking you to another realm, out of space & time. One of the most pleasurable experiences I have had in a long while. GoryLori