Artist in Residence 2017, Aaron Beaumont
All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”
Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”
Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.
September 18, 2017
One of my earlier memories is a short exchange I had with my mom when I was somewhere around 4 or 5 years old, probably at the end of summer. I sat on my bed ruefully, and mom came in to investigate the cause of distress. I informed her that my gloominess was down to the realization that I was growing up, and the fact that I didn’t want to. You might say I’ve had a adult-sized dose of nostalgia from birth. While, paradoxically, I’ve usually welcomed change, moving coast to coast, switching schools nearly every year, marauding over the frontier of my comfort zone, I’ve been equally obsessed with preserving my own past, or guilt-stricken when I fail to do so. This summer I pawed through a mountain of boxes back home in Illinois, filled with travel maps, notes from classmates, restaurant receipts, train fares, soccer jerseys, book reports, and concert tickets — I’m not a pack rat (he tells himself in the mirror every morning)… at least not in the age of limitless digital photos and magical apps like Genius Scan. Obsessively documenting and recording one’s life is not unique — rather, it seems like a prerequisite of the social media age.
Grappling with this passage’s complicated depiction of madness (presumed to be clinical lycanthropy), while simultaneously grappling with whether or not to keep that 90s era 6 Days, 7 nights movie stub, or simply take a photo of it, finally revealed something of the crux of Nebuchadnezzar’s plight: he found himself suddenly bereft of a past. The sudden absence of my own history, of memories of any kind, would for me represent the purest kind of madness, and maybe the worst kind of hell. Uprooted, and thrown into a completely unfamiliar state, the king had no context or sense of identity — one might even imagine Nebuchadnezzar as having been “born” into some new reality, plunging from solipsism into a complete loss of self. Indeed, the relationship between what we are and what we imagine ourselves to have been is challenging enough at full mental capacity. Imagining such a state, and ruminating generally on the dynamic nature of identity and the fragmentary process of memory-and-meaning-making, guided much of my progress on my project during this phase.
“Sampling” seemed an especially well suited analogue to this exploration of identity, memory, permanence, and personal histories. As such, I’ve made use of dozens of samples from my own existing musical catalogue, all the way back to my very earliest recordings of the first songs I ever wrote. Similarly, I’ve used field recordings and audio samples from my own life – time I’ve spent with my family, the sounds of rooms and rivers and seashells and fireworks. Many of these field recordings did not originate for this project, but rather out of my own quest to simply remember and record things that are most important to me. I tried to choose from these recordings samples that represent a journey through the wonder and terror of newness and things that might relate the very human experience of birth, growing, and self-realization to the story in Daniel 4. I also tried to place more emphasis on the mania, darkness, and alienation of Nebuchadnezzar’s bestial state, represented in the unsettling disintegration sketched out in movement three with its chopped and mangled samples and heavy effects.
I’ve pieced all these materials into a very rough construction of the full musical collage, which I’ve imagined in five movements (expanding on the four sketches I included in post #2). In addition to considerable polishing, mixing, rearranging, and inevitably, trimming, I plan to record more live instruments to flesh out the sections, and especially, add non-sampled vocals for movements three through five.
All music written, performed, and produced by Aaron Beaumont. 2017
Follow the development of Aaron’s project by reading his first and second post as a 2017 Artist in Residence.
All materials are copyrighted by the artist and used here by permission.