There's a new museum in town, and I have a sound piece up in it! On Sunday 6/8/08, the sparkly Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco open the doors of its cool Daniel Libeskind building. It's too bad they wouldn't let him rock his stuff in my Mom's neighborhood, cuz he surely rocked it here. Most of the building used to be an electrical sub-station, and then on the edge of it, he built a giant blue steel cube tipped on its point. This blue cube is dedicated to The Aleph-Bet Project, a sound installation curated by John Zorn based on letters of the Hebrew alphabet. It's a series of 10 sound pieces by groovy folk such as Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, Terry Riley, and MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. I chose the letter Hei and my piece is called HEAVENSHOW.
Listen to HEAVENSHOW:Me and Jason Ditzian performed the music, it was recorded by Ezra Gale and mixed by Eli Crews. If you live in SF you can see/hear it for cheap on Thursday nights. We'll be performing it live there later in the year, Here's what it's all about:
Hei represents divine breath. The Source of Life breathed the world into existence with the sound of this letter. As the fifth letter of the Alef-Bet, it corresponds on a physical level to the five fingers, the five senses, and the five dimensions; on a spiritual level to the fifth day of creation and to the five levels of soul from instinct to transcendence. Hei is a name for the Eternal and the introduction of Hei to a human name (Sarai to Sarah) indicates a connection to the Eternal. The final Hei in YHVH both guards and reveals the power that rests in the great name.
HEAVENSHOW explores breath as creation and revelation. The piece is full of breath, processed in many ways: through my body, through wind instruments, through electronics. The changing iterations of the breath serve an invocatory function; echoing the use of Hei in amulets. Most of my recent work is based on texts of sex and magic from Babylonian Jewish amulets from the time of the Talmud. In HEAVENSHOW, the central text is also Jewish from Babylon, also visceral and creepy, but around 1000 years older. Here an army of zombies in Ezekiel 37 are re-animated by Hei, the divine breath:
This is what G-d says to these bones: 'Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you will live... ' When I looked, the sinews and flesh formed over the bones and skin covered them, but the bodies had no breath in them. Then G-d said to me, 'Prophesy to the breath! Prophesy, son of man, and tell the breath what the Lord says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, so that they may live.'