Ne pas céder sur son désir

Mr Lubomir Terziev from the American University in Bulgaria has written an enlightening and revealing review of my album Cassis. We artists need this kind of guidance and I am forever grateful. Here it is:

Cassis: Ne pas céder sur son désir

Centuries before Horace came up with his famous ut pictura poesis (as in painting, so in poetry), Simonides of Ceos formulated the same similarity between poetry and painting in much more specific terms: “Poema pictura loquens, pictura poema silens” (poetry is a speaking picture, painting silent poetry.”

I am not much of a believer in the continuity between the semiotic systems of the different arts, and yet if I were to extend Simonides’ analogy, I would say that music could sometimes work as a “painting of sound.” This phrase represents accurately my response, on the level of affect (blended, inevitably, with cultural memory), to Alexander Kyd’s album Cassis.

The fluttering guitar chords in the eponymous opening piece – Cassis – transport me to a grassland area in the summer. The tall green blades lean to one side pressed gently by the breeze. I wish this picture were a product of my own imagination, but I should admit it is evoked by the memorable grassland scene in Tarkovsky’s Mirror.

With a Wordsworthean “gentle shock of mild surprise,” Pegasi I pushes me uphill towards a peak that I may never reach. It’s as if a force, physical rather than mystical, carries me on, and I cannot resist it. Not that I want to. In Pegasi II, the climb is over, and the trumpet makes me see myself in an armchair amidst a well cultivated yet natural garden. I am filled with sweet nostalgia over the peak I never reached.

Faithful to its title, Sever wrests my mind out of the embrace of memory and brings me back to a present bond with the world out there. This time I see myself on the shores of a lake. The waters are alluringly still. I am blissfully alone, and yet I expect, with a hardly perceptible anxiety, the remote voices at the beginning of the piece to re-appear. They never do.

The voices do re-appear towards the end of These Waters Remember I. That’s all the comfort I need. I don’t need physical human presence, just a trace of it. I am transfixed. Now I don’t want to move away from the lake (no peaks, no seas can tempt me). I remember Horace’s dictum “Caelum, non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt” (They change the sky, not their soul, those who travel across the sea). I am self-sufficient and content to contemplate the unruffled surface of the lake. Don’t give me any fake depth, please. Thank God, the other three parts of These Waters Remember, despite the occasional screeching pizzicatos in Part IV, satisfy my yearning for the calming depth of the surface. The voices at the end of the “water” sequence come as a rewarding repetition of the human trace.

Fountains Fraught with Tears gently ruptures my peace on the shores of the lake. What bugs me is the surplus of harmony. Questions creep up in my mind. Why am I here? May I be missing out on something in the world beyond the lake? Do I need “real” human presence?

Obsidian, the last piece in the album, comes to prove that the best cure for surplus is surplus. With its uncompromisingly repetitive leitmotif and, towards the end, with the echo which sounds like ghostly human voices, Obsidian seems to be telling me: “Stay put near the lake! Don’t you dare blame yourself for your jouissance!”

Lubomir Terziev

03 August 2020