Stephen Kent - "Living Labyrinths"

(2007, Family Tree Music)
Track Listing:
  1. The Longest Day
  2. Bird by Bird
  3. The First Spark
  4. Warthogs All
  5. Harmonic Time
  6. A Thousand Souls
  7. Re-Membering
  8. Walking The Leg
  9. Elevation
  10. The One
  11. For Dear Life
  12. Reconciliation

One of the very few great masters of the Australian Aboriginal didjeridu in contemporary music; he plows a deeply spiritual ambient journey in sound in a solo outing recorded live in performance on the summer solstice. Experience a brand new ancient world.

Living Labyrinths is the product of a series of unplanned conditions all lining up synchronously on the evening of the Summer Solstice, in Oakland California’s Chapel of the Chimes – a mausoleum, designed by a series of luminary architects including Julia Morgan, that houses the remains of over 300,000 people.

A couple of days before that, I received an invitation from Gregory T. Kuhn (sound designer, friend and sometime collaborator/sound engineer with early versions of my band Trance Mission in the 1990’s) to present ‘his’ slot at the annual Garden of Memory event at the Chapel of the Chimes. This is a Solstice evening of simultaneous New Music performances all over the labyrinthian corridors, chapels and cloisters of the Chapel of the Chimes

Never having been invited to play this event before I happily agreed to jump in. Greg’s concept was for me to play solo and selectively process the Didjeridu live through a series of harmonized delay settings he had specifically written, in the Maxx software program, with me in mind. At the root of his program idea are mathematical calculations based on sacred geometry and astronomy.

So on the Solstice I met Greg at the Chapel of the Chimes, found our location in the Cloister of the Cherubs, got wired and immediately pushed my fledgling multi-media boat off into a 4 hour exploration of the idea, experienced by a moving procession of the Solstice throngs that wander the Garden of Memory, and the spirits of the multitudes that reside there permanently. There was little sense of it as a “Performance”. More as a seamless musical JOURNEY into hitherto uncharted waters.

This was as organic an experience in creating music as I have ever experienced in 25 years of working with the Didjeridu. I was lost in the moment and lost in the voyage of discovery that this moment took me into. Beyond the first piece I played, which began in altogether familiar territory, I stepped into the unknown, the familiar refuge of most Didjeridu players, and never looked back.

The discovery, some months after the event, that the first part of my performance had been actually recorded, was a surprise to me. At the time of playing I had zero sense that any recording was being made. After hearing the results much later I only regret that the rest of the 4 hours was not also immortalized on disc (only about 100 minutes was recorded onto the Hard Drive).

The CD, Living Labyrinths, is pretty much a true reflection of what I played that day in the order in which I played it and with very few edits or changes – there are no overdubs and, in the pieces that make it onto the CD, no edits. Apart from the re-placement of 1 piece alone, the music on Living Labyrinths is exactly in the sequence that I played it live. Warts and all! So, yes, you do hear all the fluffed notes and dysfunctional moments that occur in the discovery of a blind alley here and there in this, the most openly honest and organic collaboration with technology that I have ever embarked on with solo Didjeridu.