SCAR —Caron Vikre

 

This song was the final track on my 1996 release IN THE NICHE OF NONSENSES. As was often the case, the content of my songs reflected whatever I was reading at the time. I was curious in those days, and read a lot. I recognized a certain geometry in life and in subject matter of what I was reading, and enjoyed making remote connections.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, IN THE NICHE OF NONSENSES was constructed to be circular. So on this, the last song on the record, the serpent eats its tail and ends where the first song begins: with the ocean’s incoming tide. In that way, the story never ends. Or if it does, it’s only when the band breaks up, and Chinese food is no longer delivered.

 

 

 

 

SCRATCH AND CLAW —Caron Vikre

When I was compiling songs for my 1996 release IN THE NICHE OF NONSENSES I thought it would be fun to write a song around the clunky rhythm of a typewriter. We had one in our rehearsal space that I’d brought in and sat on top of band member Paul Knutsen’s bass amp. When it came time to record, Paul hauled the heavy thing into the studio and typed away. It was an old model with manual keys, so he had to punch it hard to make a sound. I’m glad he did it rather than me. I don’t think I could have kept it up for the length of the—tap, tap, ding—song.

WHO’S THAT TAPPING AT MY DOOR? —Roland Vikre

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The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
‘Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, tapping at my chamber door—
Only this, and nothing more.”
In this painting, reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe’s famously gloomy narrative poem  “The Raven” (1845), we see a striking resemblance to the artist himself in the role of Poe’s protagonist.

Poe’s story begins, on a bleak December evening with a young student attempting to bury his sorrows in the pages of an old book after the death of his girlfriend, Lenore. As he begins to nod off, he is startled awake by a late night tapping at his chamber door. Believing it to be a visitor and nothing more who has awaked him, he goes to the door but finds no one.

Troubled by the silence and once again longing for his lost Lenore, he whispers her name into the shadows only to be answered by the echo of his voice. This puzzling occurrence makes him increasingly fearful, but he tells himself it is probably the wind and nothing more.

As he returns to his chamber, he hears yet another tap, this time at the window, and louder than before.

With his heart racing, he runs to the window, opens the shutters, and watches as an ebony bird with a grave and stern demeanor flies in and perches above his chamber door.

“Tell me what thy lordly name is?” The student asks.

“NEVERMORE,” the bird responds.

“ No, really, what’s your name?

“NEVERMORE,” the bird says again.

“Will I meet Lenore in Paradise?”

“NEVERMORE.”

” All right then, when will you be leaving?”

“NEVERMORE.”

“ I mean how long will your shadow be thrown upon the floor?”

“NEVERMORE, NEVERMORE, NEVERMORE!”

Poe himself said the raven was meant to symbolize “mournful and never-ending remembrance.” Still, when you’re feeling downhearted and looking for an intelligent response to life’s questions, you might do better than to ask a bird.

c.v.

I CAN’T SWIM —Caron Vikre

This song is another from 1996’s IN THE NICHE OF NONSENSES. As I mentioned in my last post, Niche was a record intended to sound continuous, in other words, to end as it began. In keeping with that circular theme, I tried too to capture the world going ’round in sound—just random noises recorded outside as they happened organically. The sounds on this track were captured while on vacation in Carmel, California. There, I walked around town with a tape recorder in my pocket recording various things I came across. Things like: ladies talking about a menu in front of a restaurant, or a voice from a children’s record that happened to be playing in a shop. I had no idea which song these noises would end up on when I got home, and it didn’t matter. It fit the underlying theme, and that was the fun of it.

ALWAYS —Caron Vikre

This song, released in 1996, was the opening track to my fourth CD IN THE NICHE OF NON-SENSES.

NICHE was constructed to be circular. That is, the first song on the record begins in the same way as the last song ends, with the sound of the sea and waves crashing on the shore. When you play a CD and you don’t get up to change it, it repeats, so on NICHE, there’s no beginning or end, it just goes ’round and ’round.

For me, every song too has a shape. Some are boxy and square while others are something else. This particular song is rectangular. It’s long and wide and lyrically dense. So ALWAYS is a rectangle inside a circle that never ends.

There are other bits of geometry onboard, but they require fine tooth combs that would only interest a dentist.

WAX AND FEATHERS —Roland Vikre

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Some time ago in Greek mythology, Athenians Icarus and his clever father Daedalus were imprisoned by the mean King Minos on the island of Crete.

Minos had commissioned Daedalus who was a skilled inventor, puzzle-solver, and master craftsman, to build a labyrinth to house his Minotaur. The Minotaur was a mythical monster who was kept alive to feed upon the king’s enemies.

Without going into it here, let’s just say Daedalus betrayed the King by conspiring to have one of those enemies escape. Naturally that upset the king, and Daedalus and his son too, were incarcerated.

Frightened by the Kings wrath and not wishing to remain imprisoned, Daedalus devised an ingenious plan to get himself and his son off the island.

With a little bit of wax and a few hundred discarded gull feathers, he fashioned for Icarus and himself some wings as an imaginative mode of transportation. Before undertaking their escape, Daedalus expounded a piece of cautionary advice to his teenage son:

“Alright Icarus, I know you’re not going to like hearing this, but when we take flight, whatever you do, don’t have fun. That means no flying too close to the sun with your waxy wings, or flying too close to the sea where they might get soggy. Are you listening? Icarus? It’s really important that you pay attention here because bad things can happen if….”

Unfortunately, for Icarus, he was not listening and bad things did happen. After strapping on his wings and jumping out the window, he did just what his father asked him not to do: he had fun.

He had fun flapping his feathers over the sea, and fun flying as high, and as close to the sun as he could. He had fun, fun, and more fun until he realized the wax on his wings had melted, his feathers had fallen, and he was plunging to his death in the cool blue water.

What a lesson!
What a fun way to go!
What a way to have the Icarian sea named after you!

c.v.

INSECT WORLD —Caron Vikre

In 1994, halfway through the recording of my third CD ALCHEMY TATTOO, I came down with an illness that kept me in bed for nearly six months. It was a strange affliction, one in which I became hypersensitive to everything—particularly sound. Human voices, no matter how soft, were more than I could tolerate. For that reason, I remained for its duration in self-imposed isolation. Little by little, though, I encouraged myself to take short walks outside where I could get some fresh air and quietly sit beneath the shade of a Japanese Privet tree in my backyard. Prior to being ill, I was not much interested in nature. Or, at least, I appreciated it from a distance, as though it was some lovely, separate thing. As I got better, I took a closer look and discovered it, and I, were not separate at all. Nature’s nature and my nature were profoundly interwoven, as were the natures of all beings. As obvious as that now sounds, it was a life-altering realization for me, and the songs on this record and subsequent records reflect my changed perspective.

THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE —Roland Vikre

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In Christian mythology, God has a scroll. A certain “lamb” opens the scroll, which contains seven symbolic seals. Upon opening each seal, the lamb releases the wrath of God in the form of four symbolically attired beasts who arrive atop four symbolically colored horses. The myth is an instructive affair foretelling the Last Judgment by way of an apocalypse (Greek for “lifting the veil” on something hidden from the rest of mankind).

The first horse is white, and his rider holds a bow and wears a victor’s crown. He is associated with, among other things, military conquest.

The second horse is fiery red, his rider holds a large sword and he’s all about violence and war.

The third horse is black, and his rider holds a pair of scales which represents the way bread would have been weighed back in the day and he symbolizes famine.

The fourth and final horse is pale green. His rider isn’t carrying anything, but he’s followed by Hades and is named “Death”.

In this legend, these nasty creatures in their symbolic form foretell the havoc that is to be wrecked upon mankind. While it has been the daunting task of Christian scholars to speculate and debate their return, we may consider ourselves lucky that these galloping meanies have chosen an antiquated, and relatively slow mode of transportation.

c.v.