The world is chaotic even in its uniformity. In a bastardized Taoist way, one can either embrace or shun this basic universal tenet. Gurdonark’s (Robert Nunnally) music though beautifully melodic, accepts this unpredictability and gives it a voice. I believe this acceptance runs far deeper and as Nunnally releases most of his music under the Creative Commons Attribution license — meaning that anyone can use his music for any purpose and all they have to do is credit Gurdonark. Setting your music, your creativity, free in the wild is an affirmation of chaos.
Gurdonark’s Constellation Blackbird, his latest release, is like listening to a warped and transfigured music box. There are ten tracks on Constellation Blackbird, and though one can hear a striking similarity with all the songs, Gurdonark infuses the melodies with confusion and uncertainty. You might be riding backwards on a glistening carousel, but your destination is in a very different place from where you started.
Constellation Blackbird opens with “Pause”, with starts us in a cathedral, a slight buzz of modern life runs in the background, and then the track glitches us into a slightly different mood, a different place. In its short three and a half minutes, “Pause” errors in feeling and other subtle changes, all the while letting the listener know this will be an atypical beautiful album.
We fade into “Bravado”, a track that climbs quickly into vigor and drops off into idleness. The third track, “Thoughts” begins with one of the most beautiful melodies and then enters into a harmonic turmoil. There is grace in this pandemonium.
“Ramble” is fun, a jester playing the harpsichord, there is no care, only joy and celebration.
“Dalliance” marks the end of Side A, if you will. It is a track that clutches onto the chaos, but does not try to reign it in. One gets the feeling of walking in a city and on one side of you a woman plays a glass harp and on the other side of you a man plays the vibraphone. The songs are disparate and your mind try to make sense of these sounds. As you grasp a hold of some semblance of order, one of these street musicians changes their song and you are thrust into the sonic uncertainty again.
“Small Pond”, the sixth track, begins with more depth than the other tracks though still minimalist at its core. The track wanders seemingly lost, but that just might be the listener unable to grasp unrest of the tones. Languid and luscious, “Casual Uncertainties” has the soothing effect of a crib’s mobile slowly guiding a child to a wonderful sleep. The eighth track, “Constellation Blackbird”, hearkens back to the this first half of the album, stillmelodic and still embracing the beauty of confusion — it cannot even end when it is suppose to.
I like that Gurdonark has released Constellation Blackbird on the netlabel We Are All Ghosts which is more known for its ambient and drone albums. Gurdonark, with tracks “Niave”, has the ability to show ambient music fans that there is more than one type of ambient music. And if I was taking Constellation Blackbird too seriously, Gurdonark closes out the album with the amusing “I Cannot Play My Mother’s Marimba”, but just as gratifying as the rest of the album.
The photograph at the top of the page, “Texas Daybreak”, is by Robert Nunnally and is licensed CC BY.