This is mix 3 of a musical triptych about starting over - searching for lost identity. (Mix one is here, and mix two is here.)
The idea for the particular sound came to me when I was bicycling through the high desert of eastern Oregon in 2009.
I was out by myself in a vast hot space, filled with clean air and shimmering light, with the epic scale of nature and geology laid bare around me. It was brutally inhospitable and deeply comforting and intimate at the same time, and an environment well-suited for self-assessment. It was also scattered with the detritus of older stories, of pioneering settlers and farmers, who engaged directly with this raw landscape to establish a new life and independence for themselves. Those stories wove into my personal thoughts as I traveled, making my little bike trip feel like its own epic expedition into the western frontier.
A few years later I wanted to return to that feeling, and began searching for a way to encapsulate it in music. It was very difficult to find things that were differentiated enough to have character, while still fitting within the mental space I had staked out. Eventually I ended up with a patchwork of heroic - and somewhat corny - Western movie soundtracks, hallucinatory ambient sounds, local background noise from wind and animals, and languid, seductive steel guitar. I wanted something long: A soundscape with different parts telling a loose story, each brief enough to have structure but also long enough to get lost in - to let the mind wander - and use it to meditate on a theme.
That theme is, succinctly: Starting over with nothing.
Parts 9-12 are combined into a one-hour mix:
Part 9: Canyons
Part 10: Settlement
Part 11: Third Oasis
Part 12: Epilogue
Here's an Apple Lossless (ALAC) version, in 24-bit, for all you audiophile types like me. (735mb)
Here's an AAC version, suitable for playing in iPods and almost all other modern music players. (171mb)
Here's an MP3 version, suitable for digital players new, old, and ancient. (131mb)
The cover photo was taken by my father during a trip down the Baja peninsula 38 years ago.
All three of these mixes were hard to make, but this last one was especially difficult. I tried to compress it into an hour, but even at 70 minutes it just barely had enough space to breathe while still going all the places I wanted it to. This should have probably been four mixes, not three, but I'm not going to unravel them and start over. I did what I set out to do, and I'm happy with the result.
You can click here for the tracklist ... or just skip this link and listen to it without knowing what's in store for you. :)