(Photo From Artist)
On Friday May 2nd noise heavy weights William Fowler Collins and Raven Chacon hosted a record release party in Albuquerque, New Mexico for their self-titled album as Mesa Ritual at the Postcommodity performance space, Spirit Abuse.
Spirit Abuse had attracted one of their larger crowds and had festivities going on since around 5 pm that evening. I didn’t show up until much later that night right about when Kade Twist started. His set appeared to be centered on contact based noise, as he used what looked like an antler of some sort to play a cymbal. Tahnzz performed next among an array of candles and antlers. Her set was enveloping, building and morphing as it progressed.
As the night wore on Collins and Chacon took the stage. What struck me first was about twice the decibels as the previous two acts. Starting from nothing their drones slowly crept forward. Collins and Chacon possessed a very deliberate control over their sound. They change it in miniscule, undetectable ways until many minutes later I realize it is completely different than when it started but had no recollection of when the change occurred.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
– Maya Angelou
For the longest time I did not believe that this could be applicable to music. I always thought that it would be a damn shame if you could not remember an artist’s performance. Well that night I learned it could describe a performance almost too perfectly. Mesa Ritual’s sound is constituted more by feeling to begin with and the experience is only heightened live.
Only a few minutes into the set I started to dip deep into a state of subconsciousness. The surrounding stopped mattering, where I was did not exist. I slipped passed coherent thought and interpretation of the sound to a place within myself where only the most rudimentary things mattered; the sound and the feelings it provoked. The few distinguished moments I could recall afterwards where when the noise had softened to the point where I was released only long enough to briefly remember where I was.
It was not a pleasant feeling; the emotions aroused were not of joy or bliss. Unease and question tainted the set throughout. Tension is what kept it all together. A grip stronger than any physical force relentlessly pressed down until the last fleeting moments of their set.
I have seen both William Fowler Collins and Raven Chacon on separate occasions, Collins in a solo set and Chacon in another collective. As powerful as the two men are apart, together was unprecedented.
I used to think that forgetting a musician’s sound was folly on the listener’s part, but it is quite the opposite. It is to the musician’s highest achievement to create something so formidable yet on such a simplistic level that remembering the sound cannot take place.
Mesa Ritual’s self-titled album is out May 20th via Sige Records