New Release: Sweet Beyond Witness
by Eliot Cardinaux
As some of you know, I have decided to pack my bags, and take leave of the city of Boston, where I have lived for the past four years. As I prepare to move out to the rural countryside of Western Massacusetts, again, I am finally gaining some much needed perspective on my life during my time here. There is evidence of that fact.
Over the months I spent preparing my new album Sweet Beyond Witness, for release (it comes out today, by the way), I shot and edited video for nearly every track I had recorded. Armed with just my iPhone, I traveled around and documented everything that caught my eye.
I drove to upstate New York to my family’s summer cottage, stopping as I never had on the way to the Thousand Islands, where I have been going every year since I was born. I tried to capture what I percieved as some of the natural and cultural aspects of that country. I shot a dump. I filmed a vast field of giant windmills. I even went up to greet the cow in sunglasses, “Lady LeWinDa MilkZalot,” who stands guard over the tiny town of Lowville, NY, where Kraft cheese is made.
I attended a counter-protest in Boston where white nationalists had set up a “free speech” rally, and were forced out of Boston Common by hordes of resisters.
When I toured Europe last fall with my friend and collaborator, the bassist Asger Thomsen, I shot video of stone statues in a square near Koncertkirken, where I played in Copenhagen, as well as at a Danish cemetery which houses the grave of philosopher Søren Kierkegaard.
I visited and documented the cathedral in Cologne, Germany, in whose city I played with Asger, Etienne Nillesen, and Jonas Engel, and which I learned took 632 years to complete. Before a concert I was playing with Asger, Mia Dyberg, and Axel Dörner, I discovered and witnessed through the lens at midnight, a tiny little sculpture garden in Berlin, of artwork made by the curator’s father.
Though the result might seem crude, having had only my cell-phone and an outdated version of iMovie to work with, I’ve often thought of these experiences as some of the most essential to my process, since. “What does it mean,” I asked myself during the beginning stages of this project, trying to assemble something meaningful out of the varying fragments I had collected — “to witness beauty in this world?”
The answers seem to float in an out of every realm — less like answers than thoughts, far from the trope of prophecy that talk of poetry can often elicit — from politics and culture, to art and its surroundings, whether natural or man-made; from the soci-political, and spacial, to the increasingly relevant idea of place, I hope this offers a context for the awareness this work has encouraged me to raise in myself, and to which, I aspire, we all can relate.
Thank you to all of you who have contributed, in myriad ways, to the unfolding realization that the most important lesson I can take away is, I can keep on trying.