To be honest, I had a bit of fear and anxiety the days leading up to this trip. You see, this was the first trip, the first earthloops session, something I’d been anticipating for nearly 5 years.
It took me a while to get it together. A lightweight packable drum kit had to be made. Backpacking and recording gear was to be purchased. Everything needed modification. Design failures galore. Buy. Rebuy. Retry. It was a process that took time, commerce, and emotional energy. Many questions remained unanswered.
Could I get all this gear into a backpack that’s not too heavy for my small body? And how would it affect my knee injury? My broken toe? My long-ish list of other bodily failures . . . a herniated disc, cracked ribs, bruised metatarsals, and a torn rotator cuff?
It had been a couple years full of injuries. My nemesis of turning 40 and treating my body as if I was still 20. So I trained and recovered, recovered and trained. I bought a bike and spun on rollers for the whole winter. I added somatic exercises to my list of daily body work, along with yoga, massage and heat treatment. Meditation, hypnosis, organic vegan diet, proper sleep, supplements . . . you get the idea. I’d adopted many of these healing practices years ago, but the consistency needed to be increased in order to pull off this endeavor.
I’m no stranger to backcountry camping, but it’d been a few years since I slept in the wild for multiple days at a time (this is always a little scary for me until I get used to it, especially in bear country). Assuming my body will hold up to the challenge, there were still other concerns to contend with. How would the gear hold up? Would my drum kit break? Would I forget to record in the right resolution? Would I drop an SD card in a river? What happens if my mics get rained on? . . . endless irrational questions really, and so the best way to answer these questions was to just get on with it.
So there I was. At the trailhead, hoisting this heavy load onto my back. A smile on my face covered up the uncertainty that I felt. But thankfully, the hike itself wouldn’t be particularly long or strenuous. I’d planned a 3 mile route to the remote Bull Brook, which nestles in the drainage of Mt. Moriah in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The trail would take me most of the way, and then I’d bushwhack off trail upstream until hopefully finding a suitable spot to setup camp.
Three miles isn’t far, but with 50 lbs on my back and a torn meniscus, it made travel slow and meticulous. But it went well. The trail was pretty mellow, the bushwhack not too bushwacky, and I stumbled upon a beautiful location on the brook. It was open, drenched in sunlight. It had flat spots for the tent and the drums. I was even able to nestle the drums back against a rock wall that formed a mini-gorge within the stream. This provided a pinch of reflection for the sound to mingle with its surroundings.
There was a feeling of warmth and welcoming. I was happy and grateful for such a wonderful gift. This would be home for the next few days.
These days were filled with joy. How amazing it was to finally play some drums out in nature, alongside a friendly river. As I played I could see brook trout in the water doing their thing amongst the currents and eddies. There were summer song birds filling out the soundscape. Rocks to be hopped and logs to be straddled. Every creation felt a part of this creation, a wholeness, a wonderment.
It was more than I had asked for, or had expected. Another lesson that expectations are frivolous. My earlier pre-trip concerns had proven non-concernable, merely notions of apparitions amongst invented realities. Maybe I need to learn to surrender. To surrender to our mother, our planet, she knows all . . . yet we just think we do.
So without diving any deeper into the philosophical, I present you my friends with these earth-artsy drum loops. I will admit, they’re somewhat inhibited by lack of experience – they are the babies, the prototypes, the beta testers, the first takes – but within their naivete lies a freshness. There is beauty in the newness of things, and it’s my hope that this beauty finds its way into the beauty of your creative production. Dig it.