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Unbroken, Shifting Tradition [2010-08-04]

The sound of Tuluum Shimmering is like a sort of loop driven, timeless ethnic music without a region or a tradition, with more gamble and moxy than one might normally expect from something loosely akin to my laymen's understanding of new age music, but with any real identifiers stripped away.

After discovering Tuluum Shimmering, I came into contact with him through trading, and receiving his tapes, or if I wanted something that was out of print, he would send me a CDR of that release with a unique, handmade collage. From there private discussions ensued, as well as participation in public ones. I think he exists at a perfect time for his style. I think he epitomizes the best and most sincere incarnation of the "No Age" current that is zeitgeisting everywhere these days. Jake was one of the first contributors to my short-lived international podcast type of radio program "Delirious Sunrise" (http://posterityplaylists.blogspot.com/search/label/Tuluum%20Shimmering), and his 2 hour long podcast of tribal chants and audio workings for war dances was one of my favorites. So, when I came across the following a certain passage from TS (shared below) from TS, I decided to proceed with an interview, although he's admittedly a shy person, and the interview was cut short (conducted in February of 2010). Since his recent commitment to putting all of his music online right around that time, and also incidentally ending up in a situation with very limited internet access, I have not heard from him at all.

m[m]: Ok, the first and most pressing question for me is how you make your music. I don't imagine you clicking away at a computer when you do this kind of thing... Care to share?

TS: I have an array of intruments (sampling keyboard, flutes, violin, kalimba, percussion) which are then run, via a mixer, through a multi-fx pedal into a 30sec looper, and out to an amp. For recording, I mic the amp, which records to a hi-fi cassette deck. Everything is recorded live, with no overdubs or mixing.

m[m]: When I listen to your music, the imagery that comes up is both transitory and frozen. I can imagine being in a car watching foreign lands go by out of the window, or at times its balance of meditative and highly active qualities can bring to mind a sort of paralyzation, maybe "doscile" is a good word to describe it. Are you thinking about a destination when you do this? Or is it more about keeping an almost solitary capsule of integral sound going?

TS: I have an array of intruments (sampling keyboard, flutes, violin, kalimba, percussion) which are then run, via a mixer, through a multi-fx pedal into a 30sec looper, and out to an amp. For recording, I mic the amp, which records to a hi-fi cassette deck. Everything is recorded live, with no overdubs or mixing.

m[m]When I listen to your music, the imagery that comes up is both transitory and frozen. I can imagine being in a car watching foreign lands go by out of the window, or at times its balance of meditative and highly active qualities can bring to mind a sort of paralyzation, maybe "doscile" is a good word to describe it. Are you thinking about a destination when you do this? Or is it more about keeping an almost solitary capsule of integral sound going?

TS: The actual act of making music is an extremely important thing to me. Infinately more so than the recording of it, which I think of as a kind of faded remnant of a ritual act. Before I start making music I pick out a few notes on keyboard or flute, which act as a centre or anchor for the music. From then on it is entirely improvised in the moment, I never plan anything that I want to happen. In fact, once the music is going, I am not really concious of what I'm doing. It's a difficult thing to explain, but I get carried by the music, gradually losing awareness of the world, the sound forming a rushing vortex or stream around me. I play at fairly loud volume (at least as loud as my little amp can manage). I find this absolutely necessary to achieve total immersion in the moment. Then 25-40 minutes later I begin to become aware again, which is when I stop the sound. I think this must be when I run out of the emotional energy required to sustain that kind of state.

m[m]The words you use seem like you are alluding to something complex. Where do the names of your albums and tracks come from?

TS: The titles are occasionally things that come to me whilst listening back to recordings, but more often I re-read texts transcibed and translated from oral traditions around the world and wait for something to fit. It is sometimes a line directly lifted, but often a string of seperate words or phrases that seem right somehow. I'm not looking to encode a specific meaning in the titles, but to find something which somehow captures the feeling I get from making music.

m[m] I haven't heard some of the artists that were cited as influences by other people or yourself, and it seems pretty inventive to me. Were you in bands before this? Did you initially set out to try to achieve your current set up/sound? How did Tuluum Shimmering come to fruition?

TS: Well, I'm not really sure how I ended up doing this... I started making music for the first time about three years ago, at which time I had heard very little music, having only really listened to music for the first time a year or so before that. I just had an urge to get some instruments. I'm not really sure of the process beyond that. I never set out to get a particular sound, though of course my musical loves have undoubtedly shaped what I do immensely.

Sorry, I wish I could be more specific. It has just been such an organic process of music becoming an ever greater part of my life, I really don't know how it happened.

m[m]You haven't shared photos of yourself anywhere that I'm aware of, so it does leave a lot to the imagination with regard to the listener and how he/she relates to the music. I hear you're going to debut in a live setting some time this summer, would you care to share anything regarding how you feel about live performance or what you might have in mind?

TS: My feelings about live performance are very much coloured by my shyness, which makes it seem a pretty daunting prospect. I also feel a slight ambivalence about musical performance in the sense of an "artist" entertaining an audience. I think art, and indeed life, should be a communal, open experience, with no heirarchical realtionships (and preferably no involvement of money, which so colours human interactions). So I'm trying to think of ways to make it not a performance, but an open, collective, ritual experience. I'm not sure how yet, but I'll certainly be taking visual materials (film projections, possibly masks and other objects) and I'm also considering things like having flutes and bells lying around for people to use as the spirit moves them. However, I know all too well what a difficult thing this is for people in our society, myself more than most.... We'll see, I've no doubt it'll be an embarrasing disaster, but what the hell.

m[m]At a certain point, I didn't listen to much music, but I still listened to a lot compared to people around me, and I lost interest in doing visual art, directly plummeting into sound/music. So I can understand to some degree what you mean, but saying you "heard very little music" begs elaboration. Were you in isolation? What do you mean?

TS: Sorry, I should have made that clearer. What I meant was that prior to about about four or five years ago, I had never had any interest in music. I didn't own a single record and never listened to the radio. Then, I had a strong feeling that I in fact loved music, just had never heard the right kind. So I raided my dad's lp boxes playing everything indiscriminately, without the slightest clue who the artists were, what it might sound like and so on. I found that my impulse had been correct, with Coltrane's Ascension, Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz, Dylan's Basement Tapes and Beefheart's Troutmask Replica all having a colossal and instant impact.

m[m]What inspired you to do it all yourself instead of setting up a band or anything like that?

TS: I don't think it was ever a conscious decision, I wanted to start making music, so I did. Sorry, that's a terrible answer, I guess its just something which was never an issue.

m[m]You're obviously very spiritual, and you have said before that your recordings are part of a ritual. It's clear you have strong feelings about music. I know that some of your out of print recordings are being shared on the internet. How do you feel about that? If an internet label approached you about a release, what would you say?

TS: Haha, well, first off I think I should let you know that I've made some big changes relating to this question whilst this discussion has been taking place. I've actually decided to not put together any further releases (though there are still a few masters at different labels awaiting release). I will instead put everything I record, meaning all of the complete, unedited c95s I record to, on this site: http://www.wix.com/TuluumShimmering/Tuluum-Shimmering where people are free to listen, download, burn to disk, tape, share ect. as they please. I've put the first recordings on there already, and will hopefuly be updating fairly regularly.

Now, onto your question... Regarding the term spiritual, I think I should perhaps clarify my feelings. I don't believe in anything supernatural and I'm not religious in any sense. I do however very much think that music and all human creativity should not just be a central "part" of people lives, but not be considered in any way seperated from life at all. Lately I've come to feel/understand that ritual, music, costume, stories, beliefs and so on in different cultures are not the codified "cosmologies" or "systems" which western anthropologists so want them to be. They are open, communal, ever changing expressions of and reactions to the constant feelings, impulses, dreams, imaginings which people have if they don't suppress them, as they are forced to in our society. The greatest thing which is overlooked regarding all "ritual" activity is the pure joy of music making, dancing and transformation through outer costume and inner trance/imaginings, and the very deep and neccessary feeling of happiness and aliveness coming from this.

So whilst I do not/cannot believe in the supernatural or music's role in communing with that, I do very much feel the sheer joy and emotionally transformative power of music making as ritual act. I hope that in some way explains my decision regarding making everything I do available online. I don't make music for anyone other than myself, though it makes me very happy to share it with others if they get some pleasure from it. I've been feeling very uncomfortable about the status of music which is made in this way as property or product, and so this is the best way I can think of to sidestep that and allow people to hear what I do in the most open and honest way possible.

The quote mentioned in the above introduction: This is not intended as a defense or some such thing, but rather a simple expression of my feelings. I make music because I need to, out of an innate requirement, which I believe is somewhere in all of us. I would do this every day whether anyone else was listening or not, as important as eating and sleeping. I don't do this in order to make "product"; the only reason I record it or make it available is in the hopes that others may feel something of what I feel in the moment of creation. I find the idea that art should be individual/unprecedented etc. quite distressing. Since the beginning of humanity's existence up until the onset of our modern, deadening world, all art has been a beautiful, communal, all encompassing, sacred and cenral part of people's lives, existing in an unbroken, ever shifting tradition back to our first ancestors. That this disappeared, to the point where art's place in society is at best, trinkets to briefly amuse consumers, is deeply upsetting. My greatest hope, which I fear is immpossible, is that people may once again feel the joy of communal human feeling through the eternal music and dance and art. So yes, I very much hope that something of the skaters, and angus maclise, and john coltrane, and the whole great timeless mass of sacred human musics run through my fingers and breath when I make music.

http://www.myspace.com/tuluumshimmering

Delirious Insomniac
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