Love. Supremely.

Hey kids.

I’m writing this in Brighton station. I’m making the long journey back north after a very inspiring time at the Love Supreme Festival.

Initially, I was wary. It was my first time at this particular festival and I didn’t know what to expect. The demographic was different to WOMAD or How The Light Gets In (my usual festi hangouts). I was struck by the number of aging soul boys and girls – no longer fleet of foot, and now wide of girth – until I realised that I was amongst that number. I also felt a distinct London/southern air to the proceedings. On one occasion, I even heard a teenager comment to his friend, matter of fact like, that his parents had chosen an excellent weekend to go sailing. Sailing! You don’t hear that kind of talk in the mean streets of Sheffield, S.Y.

So let’s get to the performances, for it was they which melted my soul. Mr Gregory Porter. Take a bow. He was deep like his voice. The air seemed to shimmer in the space between his notes and his humanity. He sang to a beautiful Sussex sunset, all orange skies and seagulls soaring on the thermals. I can safely say that I’d not been touched in this way by a live musical performance.

Ever.

Kamasi Washington. Heir apparent to Coltrane and Pharaoh Saunders. It was utterly wonderful to watch musicians at the very top of their game. In decades to come folk will surely discuss performances such as this one in the similar tones to the twentieth century outings of Bird, Diz and Miles. I noted the particular intensity in the eyes of Kamasi when he was playing. Something was burning bright; soul, life force, cosmic wisdom? At times you have to breathe inwards and acknowledge that black folks run very, very deep.

I was also taken by Kamasi’s astral maiden-cum-singer (Patrice Quinn). She was quite something to behold, and functioned as spiritual conductor for the band. That is, her purpose was to draw down all manner of wonder and love onto the stage for the purpose of enchanting us all. There was a point during improvising where the sound went awry. An electrical buzzing noise burst through the PA. Patrice simply lifted her arms skyward, performed some kind of Egypto-nubian-vedic realignment of her neck and face, and embraced the chaos. She channelled the electrical fault into the improviation! My mind was blown.

The Nightmares on Wax DJ set. Now I thought this was going to be a bit passé. I mean, I’m a fan. I own his Carboot Soul and Passion albums, but I’ve been grooving on his output since the late 1990s. I was thinking is he going to say anything new to me?

Well he did. In spades. However today, I’m finding it very difficult to put into words exactly what he did. I am reminded of the phenomena of dream forgetting. While grooving on Friday night, I could speak the language. I resonated deeply with the meaning of the message. He was stretching time with beats. A weird quantum elongation. His artistic messages extended across tens of minutes. Let me rephrase – you know when speaking to a friend, you might say “it’s a beautiful day today”? Well the messages in that performance, for instance “life is epic”, seemed to resonate for ages – an extended, beat-driven meditation on a simple idea. I of course was dancefloor shaman – shaking those bones for all who were able to hear. Magical.

Other honourable mentions go to Blue Lab Beats. I only heard the last two tracks of their set, but I was mightily impressed. Luckily, both they and I will be at WOMAD in a few weeks so I’ll give them a full listen then. Cameron James – pianist for Max Mosely who also guested on one of the Kamasi Washington numbers. If Nightmares on Wax stretched time, Cameron compressed it. In a single short musical phrase I heard Coltrane, springtime, train tracks; beautiful things. Cosmic things. He’s another artist I look forward to exploring.

Well, now the return to work and things mundane stretch out before me, and will dissipate the wealth of soulful spirituality that the festival has inspired. Redemption comes again in the shape of WOMAD at the end of the month. And, more than likely Love Supreme again next year.

Peace, love and music everyone!

 

Me

And when I’m off
No longer treading the boards
In the here and now
You might seek traces,
Remnants of the stuff I was

Don’t look for me
On LinkedIn or behind a desk
You won’t find me in
Bank accounts or
Material assets.
Neither in the
Achievements
I was always
Pleased to collect

Find me instead
In poetry,
In Montag, The New City Scribe.
In Scriberazone.
Find me also
In dance
(There will always be
A little piece of me
Groovin’ eternally
On the bestest of dancefloors)

But most of all
You will find
The biggest
Part of me
In all the people I have
Loved.

They were many
And they were dear

Who We Are

(for E.J Hart)

Don’t you sometimes wonder
Who we are?

I don’t mean genus
Homo Sapiens
Descended from
Homo Erectus,
The hominid,
And ultimately a
Spontaenous
Utterly serendipitous
Coming together of
Space dust
And light

No.
I mean
Who we
Really
Are.

Like when I look into the eyes
Of a random stranger
Or a baby in a buggy
I feel it is more than just
Space dust recognising its own
Or the basic biological processes
Of my hominid brain

I see something else.
Something which
In our modern science,
Only quantum theorists
Come close to describing

A thing unfathomable;
Infinite
Unbounded by space or time
Where ends are but beginings
And left becomes right

I see a recognition of the same
Infinite soul
In that baby
In that stranger
In me.

And the smile –
Unnecessary,
Utterly altruistic and beautiful,
Is our swimming
For an instant
In eternal rockpools of
Turquoise and light.

Frolicking;
Like the eternal children
Which –
I think –
Is
Who
We
Really
Are

Strange Deliberations of the Fates

If you were to have entered that room you would certainly have been taken aback. In fact, it was much less a room, more a cavernous space. Within, there was an unfathomable number of little beings rushing around, busily engaged in various tasks. They – the beings – were odd-looking. All were naked, although the concept meant less to them as they didn’t have any private parts to hide or expose. Their skin was a pleasant grey-brown colour and their heads were small and oval (wider than they were high). A pair of attractive almond eyes – like a cat’s – were set in each head.

The frenetic activity was taking place on a dizzying variety of horizontal levels in the space. The majority of the creatures were working at floor level, but there were also others who were busy on multiple mezzanine levels. Some were even suspended in mid-air from harnesses, gliding like trapeeze artists between levels and workstations. Lights, dials and screens entirely covered the walls and desks and this equipment was the focus of the beings’ attention. The centrepiece of everything was an enormous table set on the ground floor, upon which was a miniature landscape. The model was covered in thousands (or maybe, millions or billions) of small figures, which reminded me of plastic toy soldiers. A cluster of the alien beings surrounded the table and were engaged in what seemed like heated discussion.

I couldn’t understand their burbling, high-pitched language, however I later learned what they were talking about. Apparently, it was along the lines of the following. Continue reading

Fast Train To The Next Plane

Time
With all its quantum capriciousness
Warps the image reflected back at me in the glass
In what seemed like the previous instant
(Or perhaps it was an epoch ago)
A young face used to stare at me
Uncertain, hopeful and optimistic.
Those shades of expressions haven’t changed
But the face has;
It’s grey, lined and worn –
A testament to the fact
That I’m riding a fast train to another plane
And by that I mean death
And the adventure that awaits us all.
This aging face is like an affirmation
Of the things that man and and science does not understand.
It’s like looking deep into the cosmos
And fills me with wonder.