Black Water Six Senses Manta Ray Diving II/II

•2009/10/18 • Leave a Comment

A large fin out of the side of my eye off in the distance, and then it disappeared… Shaking trying to hold my light steady. Was it a shark? Then spinning around in all directions trying to figure out what is out there. Suddenly, then again something overhead passes by, but this time like at the beginning of Star Wars when the Deathstar flys overhead. After a minute of consultation with myself as to whether or not I really want to be doing this, I remind reluctantly myself that I am. I project the light toward the direction the Manta Ray was headed as it disappears off in the darkness. Wow, amazing experience that made me feel perhaps as small as I have ever felt.

CLICK for Video

CLICK for Video

But wait, it is not over…here it comes now headed straight at the light held to my side. The Ray is gaining in speed, and I imagine what a matador feels like. Nervous, I turn off the light. I try to change directions, but the ray is soaring at my light with missile like precision. Maybe this collision won’t be so bad, although it is a 1,000lb 10ft animal, that soars through the water with speed and precision there is little I can do. Here comes the impact. Do not drop the light. Woosh!!! The ray lifts its wing gracefully at the last second following the contours within inches of my body past my head and then on down preventing collision. With ballet like finesse the ampullae demonstrates a level of propriocepcion that could make land athletes envious.   The ray then flys away off into the darkness.

Eventually, wherever I point the light the ray returns and soon I realize there is more than one, but how many more?   In the dark it is not apparent, but I spot at least four at once.   I end up conducting the rays around the space with my wand of light.   The rays playfully glide in straight lines, turning and rolling with precision, and looping in flipping circles with hypnotic motions.  They use their horns to gather the plankton from the lighted areas.  In time the features of bug-out eyes and a white underbelly with different spots and silver markings differentiate the creatures from each other.  Empathy for the creatures increase as they appear more distinct, aware, curious, and gentle with their motions and behaviors.

Imagining living with the rays, I realize this situation, will end.   The Manta presents a mystery of scale, and motion combining aerodynamic sleek looks with the movement of a bird, but in the vast ocean.   They are mysterious animals in their social and playful and unique looks and motions.  Connecting with an animal so large, so peaceful, and gentle and guiding their time and motion around a space is not just an experience, its extraordinary!

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Black Water Six Senses Manta Ray Diving I/II

•2009/10/18 • Leave a Comment

Human swimming is above and beneath the water, but for the Manta Ray it is fully immersed.  The sun has just gone down and we are about to penetrate the surface of the water in an attempt to swim with a Manta Ray.  Last night we went out as a group of SCUBA divers yet, none of the solitary creatures showed up…perhaps there are not any of the non-territorial free swimming Manta Rays in these parts of the Atlantic Ocean.

The sensitive and rare Manta  are the largest size Rays at up to 25 feet across and weighing over 5,000lbs.  Rays literally possess a sixth sense: ampullae de lorenzini.   Ampullae give the ray the ability to detect electrical nervous system pulses of other animals.

Our strategy for finding the Manta Rays is to feed them, but not by bringing food.  Plankton is attracted to light  and during the daylight it can be anywhere but if we all dive at night with lights the hope is plankton will come and perhaps a Manta for a late night snack.   Tonight lighting is limited as I am the only one diving with a group of snorklers at the surface.

SCUBA diving brings degrees of excitement of the unknown when penetrating the largest habitat on Earth.  How will the creatures react?  What if we do not get along?  Attempting to cast anxiety aside…with a giant stride, I faithfully leap off the boat and break the surface down into the depths nearest the Big Island of Hawaii.  Descending the water is getting colder, darker, and blacker.   Blackness is now looks like when you cover your eyes with your hands in a pitch dark room, absolute.  Darkness surrounds me, blindness everywhere.   Relax, breathe…almost like a reverse clausterphobia in which anywhere seems infinite.   No way to tell up or down.   Focus on the moment.  Being present, feeling the heartbeat and the pureness of being alive with low sense stimulation.   Mentally, my mind wants to understand borders, boundaries, and defined spaces however, my imagination enjoys the limitless freedom of just flowing and existing with fewer containers as if my senses can roam unconnected as they please.  Enjoying the expansive peace, I hover neutrally buoyant, drifting with the current and floating like a baby inside the mother ocean.  Time is rapidly passing but with few indicators, has it been a few seconds?!…no a few minutes.

I turn on my light, to bait some plankton.  Moments slow down to a crawl as I wait impatiently, shining the light in all directions…curious if I can do something different to lure the rays.   Waiting… Waiting… endlessly it seems my Manta Ray experience maybe limited to cinema.  And then something happened, totally unexpectedly…

…to be continued!

Extraordinary Experience 1.4: Reflecting Sunn 0))) Coda

•2009/08/21 • Leave a Comment

1.4/1.4

Have you ever heard music without listening to it?  Extraordinary Experiences work in strange and mysterious ways and the tsunami reminiscent sound of Sunn 0))) is no exception.   It is amazing to experience an epic wonder so compelling it affects ones perception of realty on a broad scale.   After the Sunn 0))) event questions resonated indefinitely around what, how, and why get involved with this unique situation.   Such challenging circumstances are often an opportunity for growth by sensations of sounds: noise, volume, structure, speed in conjunction with my perceptions of:  memory, presence, expansion, and other extreme dynamics.

CLICK IMAGE: Prelude video

CLICK IMAGE: Prelude video

Witnessing Sunn 0))) live is like listening to music without hearing it.  Hearing ears are straining to process rapidly accelerating vibrations but played at a pulse slowing speed of contrastingly high or low pitch.  Sounds are moving mentally/emotionally, and in this case not just changing perspective, but literally moving the individual.  The volume is so massive that ones whole body becomes the outer ear.  Eyes fixate and scan no-light, lots of light, flickering lights, all projecting from up, down, below, and behind the stage accentuated by three fog machines producing voluminous amounts of haze rendering it challenging to measure distance.   Overstimulating at least three senses: eyes, ears, and touch blurring…is that sound heard or felt?  The vestibular apparatus searching endlessly for balance, but in this exercise of excess the only way orientation may occur is internal meditation or when the performance ceases.  Disorientation leads to the curiosity for orientation and without the sheer will to experience the extraordinary it seems most natural to leave this exhausting presence.  Loud noises often are near the top of peoples greatest fears, and when confronted with an ultimate volume of sound beyond complete comprehension combined with blinding light and darkness and constant body shaking, does one psychologically ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ a potential situation attempting to induce synaesthesia?

To enter into an experience at the limits of the senses is a challenging experience questioning the nature of normal and potentially resetting ones perspectives without the ability to go back.  There is a kind of beauty in the simple and pure  pursuit of sound not as an expression of oneself or ones time but a presentation of itself as a presence unto and for the sake of itself.  And for some that maybe extreme, and perhaps for others it just is.  Whether or not it is boring or exciting is irrelevant to the existing vibrations and this celebration is an opening to engage them on a deeper level closer to the sublime.

Vibrations converge as if they were coming from one destination, moments in a single location and other times multiple place surrounding all.   Contrasting strummed micro notes in combination with macro feedback is a variety of scale expanding and contracting spaces of sound.   Imagined spaces vary from places of everything to scenes with nothingness, feelings resemble flying in the sky,  floating in the sea, walking through a desert, alone on an iceberg, in a small room, staring at the stars, or about to go into a deep sleep.   Each of these places had their own kind of rhythm, perhaps universal, that was easily identifiable.  At times I wonder if these imaginations are intentional from the sound or am too focused on the music.   Once again, I have lost track of time and with that also memory.  The cleansing is a nice opportunity to start hearing again for the first time and truly listen to vibrations at large.

Sunn 0))) is  extraordinary live presenting an experience which seems virtually undefinable.   Empathy for the sound works well with a negative theology approach.  Although this is challenging with tones where their is little or no space between the notes exploring what is not there often reveals as much or more than what is.  The tones call to question the nature of rhythmic music, chaotic noise, and sound itself.  The gravity of their black hole of vibrations are both primitive and futuristic, raw and organic yet, technologically sophisticated.  Ultimately, one could wonder if gargantuan vibrations are yielding something greater than we understand like realigning hierarchies of individuals and spaces of the environment in which it is played.   Let there be Sunn 0)))…

Please read the other BLOGs below on Sunn 0))), watch the videos, and feel free to comment and share feedback about your experiences.   Thanks for reading about this Extraordinary Experience, subscribe to our BLOG or check back for upcoming situations include taking to the sky and wind with one of the worlds largest kite festivals and moving to the sea SCUBA diving with Manta Rays at night including an underwater video with sound by a former Sunn 0))) guest member.

Take Care,

Aesthetichemist 0)))

Extraordinary Experience 1.3: Performance of Sunn 0))) Quintet Live

•2009/08/19 • Leave a Comment

1.3/1.4

The second night of  Sunn 0)))  begins with four black-robed musicians entering a fog filled stage.   A veil of blue light is projected from lights above and below the performers.   Two organists and two guitarists generate a high-pitch sustained bell-like ringing tone as if rubbing the thin edges of crystal wine glasses in a slowing circular motion.  Waiting….waiting…  A fifth robed individual enters the center stage with his hooded face down and slowly bows waving out his right arm and then gently bringing it up to grasp the microphone stand with both hands.   Turning away from the audience the individual embraces the stand in his hands and draping robe.   The microphone is removed from the stand by the vocalist clutching it closely to the loose fabric of his robe.   The microphone is raised to his bowed head and the audience patiently waits.   Finally, he slowly turns extending his head upward and raising his arms overhead with the microphone  in the right hand while carefully holding the cord in the left hand.  The cord of the microphone gently sways.  The vocalist drops his head downward…

CLICK IMAGE: CHANT video of Sunn 0)))

CLICK IMAGE: Chant video

Layers  of ambient textures with mysterious creaking sounds occur.  The two guitarists stand motionless facing each other from opposite ends of the stage nodding a signal to gently strum.  The guitars sounds meld into quiet wavy soft slow sustaining chords and the vocalist is talking in a low deep prophet-like voice reading ancient texts.   The vocalist sounds are of English-like words yet, rarely discernible.  When he is speaking, with his hands he holds the microphone close to his face occluding his mouth in a long never ending exposition of words.   Eventually, he twists his hands as if he might be crafting an imaginary globe and the room goes silent as he holds it out as an offering toward the audience.

The lights slowly shift colors to green as the vocalist waves his fingers in a conducting-like manner.   Sounds of the vocalist fade in-and-out back-masking.  He begins chanting in a repetitive pattern of unique sounds rising in harmony and falling with a low guttural push that is seemingly gyuoto monk like.  The vocalist looks to be trying to connect with something almost trance-like.  Two keyboardists hidden behind fog sit behind him layering  resonating  feedback of organ chime sounds with drones coming from loose undulating guitar strings.

Lights turn to a blood red as the singer turning away from the audience bows his head. Waiting, the soft ambient buzz becomes even quieter.   The  vocalist raises his arms and microphone now extending his whole body as the sound of the guitar screech comes in and then a tidal wave of feedback saturates the room.     The vocalist bends over and covers both his ears as the vibrations from the two guitars and the keyboards create a dense field of sound that is so big and full it is hard to discern anything but a group of wavering frequencies that are amplifying an impenetrable wall of sound.   The earthquake-like vibrations continue reminiscent of an ultimate glacial vibration like an iceberg that is barely revealed through its surroundings.   The vocalist screams building a crescendo of echoes  increasing in volume, density, and speed blending with the colossal vibrations of the room.  A keyboardist switches to using a trombone mimicking the unending wailing howls of the vocalist.   Gradually the sounds of the other keyboard and guitars begin slowing in a descent of quietness with the high-pitch piercing shrill of screams continuing on and on.   Finally, the screamers shouts begin to decrease in density as he moves to a kneeling position and bows his head to the floor.

Continue reading on the two-day event with reflections in Extraordinary Experience 1.4…

Extraordinary Experience 1.2: Sound of Sunn 0))) Duo Live

•2009/08/13 • Leave a Comment

1.2/1.4

The lights go out and the only thing visible is a few small flickers through the amplifier grills.  The stage fills with fog machines from the floor on each side and in the center.  Waiting…waiting…the room quiets.  With the blackness of the space and the density of the fog it is getting increasingly challenging to see.

Click image for Sunn 0))) Duo video

CLICK IMAGE: Void video

A sharp shrill feedback of a guitar transitions into a squeal and then the first chord flooding the room with slow motion vibrations.  The initial surge of pressure of the chord is a relief from the high pitch shrieks to the ears.   Leaning into the stage, my body, and the floor are undulating in a vibration that feels like a helicopter has been turned off in front of ones body.    The thrust of the first chord is a low frequency combined with the black fogginess of the room approximates having a large warm but soft waterfall being turned on instantaneously overhead.  The sensation is encapsulating continuing gradually over the course of a minute as undulations appear to slightly space apart and become a lower frequency.  The chord is (IMHO) as much if not more engaging the kinesthetic senses than the acoustic if one tried to separate them.

A single green light scans the stage occasionally passing over and revealing a partial silehoutte of one of the two guitarists veiled in black hooded robes.  Waiting…waiting for the next shower of sound to occur  it finally does feeling as intense as the first.   The vibrations saturate my skin, hair, organs, brain, and entire body inside and out.   It is as if my nerves and blood are moving around but not sure how to respond to the new sensation, I touch my arm feeling my outer-body acknowledging the inter-shake.  It feels unfamiliar yet soothing having an all-over massage.  At times I focus on the feeling of my body and at other times I try listening to the sound.  Changing my body’s direction it feels like the vibrations are surrounding me from all directions with little orientation in the rooms darkness.   The sound is LOUD but given the relative penetration of the vibrations to the area of the room it is curious how thunderously quiet it is for how dense and much volume the vibrations consume.

Patiently, here comes another wave of guitar chords now wobbling in one place like washing-machine slowing down with everything in it on one side.  The wobbling gives a different sensation of  both slow and fast time rather than just decelerating.    The process of these chords repeats and I wait for it to end.  The vibrations are constant and I imagine them as infinite as if they might never stop.  It is like the sound has no relief, it is relentless.   No breaks or change in volume and decibels is slight.   People are leaving the room.  Increasingly I wonder what am I doing here?   Usually, I go to a concert to listen to music, however,  I really am not doing that, or am I?   Is feeling the music without much listening an appropriate response, seems logical to me, but should I be listening, or is this a different form of listening?   Not to mention the issue that I have just called this ‘music’ which it seems to be closer to a Swedish massage than music and it feels too structured to be noise.   Maybe this is a manifestation of pure abstraction…

Another long pause as the guitarists seem to hold a note that starts ringing in increasingly faster cycles until the sound appears to twists into a single repeating constant solid beaming note.   The ray-like zapper-buzzing sound is almost in between the monolithic bass heavy chord waves and the high pitch treble shrills.   It is like a balance of physical and acoustic aspects of the vibration but its constant nature appears like the sound stopped or flat-lined as it has honed in on this one point.   As the sound closes in it seems as if it is going away or perhaps about to cease.  It is speeding up into a razor-sharp blade  at lightning speed.   The accelerating line of sound appears motionless and constant almost a rest, break, or even silence but at the usual volumet.  I scream to see if I can hear myself.  My vocal chords vibrate but little sound is able to exit the already densely filled vibrations of the room.

The thin band of sound slows as the stage becomes  a cloud-like fog with a blue light pulsating from the middle.  I imagine the pulses emerging from a planck-like energy from within the intensely focused beam of  high speed sound.   The slow duration between the waves of sound seems to slow things down even further, if that is possible.   The pulse of my body is even decreasing closer to the rhythm of the sound.    At times I will look at my watch at take inventory of how much time has passed, sometimes if feels like seconds and other times an eternity.

The vibrations of the individual guitars appear to oscillate in opposite directions as one of them accelerates in a vibration and frequency moving into a higher pitch and the the other one decelarates slowing in a lower pitch.   Time seems to converge at the moment when the slow and the fast meet in the middle of the vibrations for an instant.   Then the notes expand in opposite directions moving the vibrations throughout the room from different speakers.   The sounds appears to sometimes echo one another and at other moments they seem to be a be a far off indicator of the vibration about to occur.   Compared to the initial mammoth vibrations the sound is becoming increasingly dimensional and expanding from its  monolithic origins.

As the fog decreases and the stage lights up a soft red revealing the robed musicians waving their instruments at their speakers.   The vibrations of the feedback  appear noise-like until I realize they are a compendium of the initial screeching that began the show, large waves, low-pulsating rumbles,  beam-like zappers,  and other undulating rhythms that I have not focused on.  Separating the sounds is challenging as they weave among one another in a chaotic fusion of random jazziness.  The musicians remove their instruments and holding the amplifiers channeling the feedback by moving the knobs and shifting the sound around the room.   Eventually, the robed conductors depress the power switch and the speakers go silent.   My body still shaking for about ten seconds, I imagine the sound continuing on.  What just happened?  How much of the concert have I really been paying attention to and how much of it did I simply imagine or miss during a meditative drift?  What now?…tomorrow the second night of the show…to be continued!

Extraordinary Experience 1.1: Prologue Sunn 0)))

•2009/08/11 • Leave a Comment

1.1/1.4

As a child, the first music I remember trying to listen seemed overwhelming.   High notes felt piercing, low notes–shaking,  rhythm–trance like, and  melody out of this world.  Now,  occasionally I will come across a group of musicians peeking my interest with something I perceive as new or unlike anything I have heard before, but often I simply listen to familiar music of memories.

Click image for Sunn 0)) video preview

CLICK IMAGE: Prelude video

Sunn 0))) is a group of two musicians (plus guests) that challenges the notion of memories and sound.   They were originally formed as an, “Earth,” cover band.   Earth also, from the Seattle area as well is known for playing repetitious, slow, and droning music.  “Vol 2: Special Low Frequency Version,”  (1993) is a prime example of Earth, lasting a full 76 minute CD length for one song.   It starts off with 12-16 guitars and basses playing together at once and then goes into a 45 minute ringing of tones that gel together into one harmonic chord expanding indefinitely only to finish the song which ends in a reverse manner just as it started over an hour ago (if one was still paying attention).   I have experienced Earth playing in the 90’s: when one member sat in a chair and the other faced his amplifier the whole concert,  or when they left the stage and let the amplifiers create the sound just staring at the speakers from the audience, and most fittingly when they never took the stage letting the amplifiers and the sound be the visuals a fitting performance that seemed to signify the end of an era.   After a ten year hiatus Earth returned to the amplifiers to create a sound that was now more about the space between the notes than a wall of sound.

Enter Sunn 0))), two guitarists working to produce Earth-like sound, but named after the amplifier that Earth (and their influence the Melvins) use Sunn.   Sunn amplifiers were named for the warm-bright tones they produce a buzz so forceful it mimics a a summer Sun ray zapping the skin.  Originally when Sunn 0))) began as a group ten years ago they would include parts of Earth’s Vol. 2 song as if resurrecting the seemingly infinite song years later.    Sunn 0))) has continued to bring parts of this and other Earth songs over the years while developing ways of harnessing the feedback from the character of these uniquely over-driven amplifiers.   Other musicians with eccentric tactics have joined Sunn 0))) to try and mold the solid monolithic and barely moving sound of what might be considered a big humm or ohmm like chant or noise (or noize as the euphemistic spelling).   People who were from the Melvins, Earth, Choirs, Jazz musicians, Classical musicians,  and Black Metal musicians have joined forces to shape, shift, and move the never-ending beam of Sunn 0)))’s sound.

Describing the sound of Sunn 0)))  is a challenge in the sense that it seems that it is mostly about the vibration.  The pulsation of the speakers appears never-ending as they push in-and-out without stopping.  The sound could be described almost as one sound, even one volume, maybe one note.  Perhaps one vibration?   It is an ‘Extraordinary Experience’ to engage the sound of Sunn 0))) live, and it is not for everybody.  In the next BLOG :  “Extraordinary Experience 1.2: Sound of Sunn 0))) Duo Live,” I will reflect on some big questions resulting from the speechless situation tweeted live (please goto Extraordinary Experience 1.0 @: http://twitter.com/aesthetichemist).  Is this noise, noize, music, or simply sound?, you decide.

Extraordinary Experiences: Exposed

•2009/08/06 • Leave a Comment

‘Extraordinary Experiences’ is a reference for situations moving toward our threshold of understanding.    It is inspired by people, places, and things which push notions of sensation and imagination by exploring our capacities for new aesthetic experiences.    This BLOG will feature aesthetic situations at the limit of their materials, processes, and ideas for engaging time and space in exciting ways.    Future ‘Extraordinary Experiences’ BLOGs will attempt to bridge gaps among different genres such as: athletics, literature, and sound to stimulate and further develop our sensitivity and navigation of quantum and universal senses.  Please feel free to comment, share ideas for publishing your ‘Extraordinary Experiences,’ with aesthetichemist, and subscribe to this BLOG.   Also, check out our sidebar for live on-site twitter updates, youtube, and myspace links.

Enjoy!!!    🙂