Written by: Dave Cantrell
Quite often there’s an intensity involved when writing about music, a sort of visceral through line drawn from the writer/listener’s intuition that manages to sneak its way from the auditory cortex into what it senses is the beating heart of the work before traveling back to report on its findings which are not infrequently expressed as a kind of hushed epiphany. Consider it a kind of reconnaissance mission of the soul, one that, despite being a tenuous-at-best source of insight, is nonetheless a powerful one. And as anyone that’s been reading my recent dispatches from the varied sectors of the Kramer outpost knows, there’s been no shortage of these intuitive pingbacks in recent months – some derived from the really rather astonishing Rings of Saturn 7″ wooden boxset, others from earlier video premieres for tracks off the very album we have before us today – but none of them have helped lend credence to the validity of that almost eerie feeling of connection like “Ladder to the Moon” and here’s why:
The most recent of those premieres was from still another Kramer-involved ambient full-length released June 2nd called Baptismal that found our fearless collaborator in the company of the truly, legitimately legendary Laaraji. In that short piece is mention of the fact that your correspondent began to suss the value of ambient/experimental works when he was exposed to the work of Philip Glass at the age of 23 via his 1979 opus Einstein on the Beach. What didn’t survive the editing process, however, was the fact that that discovery led me, with the help of knowledgeable friends as guides, to the obliquely-adjacent, equally mind-expanding, 3-LP Escalator Over the Hill project from Carla Bley and Paul Haines that had arrived six years prior, and it was having that work circling around my head while writing that Baptismal piece that not only helped shape what was an otherwise challenging writing prospect but brought a freshly rediscovered perspective to my own journey to this place I find myself at the age of 67. Thus, to click on the link for this final visual for the MFFEBM album and see what I saw? In the words of yesteryear, goddamned cosmic.
Now, to be clear, I’m not one to generally attach much meaning to coincidence in any form but in this case the mystery and sway of the track itself and the video that innately accompanies this latest – and final – Moths track to be visually realized (in collaboration with Kramer) by the reflexively visionary Tinca Veerman, gives me serious pause, and within that pause a pivotal understanding came into fresh focus: this is exactly the type of personal, internal ‘moment’ that art is meant to trigger. It is meant to move us in this way. That it sometimes hits nail on head as was the case this time for me is of no consequence. The point is that art at its most effective should fuse itself to your instincts, it should make sense in ways that nothing else save love can come close to matching. It’s what saves us without having any intention to do so, there is no mechanism in place and yet it manifests. And this, I’ve come to realize, akin to jazz and the most obliquely penetrating poetry, is what so-called ‘ambient’ music is by its nature capable of. While it’s true it may too often wander into quiet maelstroms without bearing, when done with purpose that submits to the mysteries inherent while capturing them by dint of intuitive focus and the corresponding lack thereof – you won’t get anywhere in any form of ‘the process’ without learning and trusting in the ‘letting go’ – composition of this type rivals the abovementioned and any others you’d care to nominate, and the example here (and those previous), in both sound and vision, confirms that premise with a flourishing subtlety.
Immediately present, an urgency of restraint soon meets a restless calm that unfurls through one layer after another – there is sound manipulation, there’s a lowing echo of doubled-up bass patterns that sustain the piece throughout, there are minor key discursions climbing up and down that drifting staircase in tandems that don’t match but do, there is the simplicity of a repeating synth figure appearing late that lends an inscrutable brightness toward the inevitable end – the overall effect suggesting a classical music that’s grown as much from the tendrils and fecundity of nature as from the intellect, as if that escalator does indeed follow itself over the hill and across an organic landscape. Whatever one’s impression the one truth that’s inescapable here is the steady bewitchingness of the thing, and whereas I’ve no idea how Kramer (or Veerman) manage to conjure such pervasively subtle intrigue in a wordless, five-minute excursion that is “Ladder To The Moon,” I do know when I’ve been taken for a ride and lifted, just as I know when I’ve encountered beauty, pure and simple.[The final word goes to Kramer: “The stars were a bit too far to wish for, so we aimed for the moon instead and landed intact. The chrysalis of ‘Music For Film Edited By Moths’ has become ten ‘Films for Music’… the finalization of a year-long music and video collaboration with Tinca Veerman. This is the final ladder, from which we now beg your permission to wave goodbye.”]