What have myths become in our modern times but things written, things read, things believed in days gone by; things believed by people far less worldly or even intelligent than ourselves; ludicrous fantasies that attempted to explain a world before Science came up with the Answers. Facts trump stories, do they not?
As “sophisticated” members of Western Civilization, many of us may feel that we are no longer a mythic people. No, that was left far behind, probably even before Jesus, we might exclaim.
But myth is not what we think it is. Myth is not something we read, or memorize and retell. Myth is not an object. Myth is a capacity. Myth is the capacity, the tendency, to spontaneously create meaning and unity from the realm of internal and external “happenings” that constitute our daily existence. Myth is a verb.
Myth is alive and well in any act of creative art-making and is certainly alive in Thomas Carnacki’s latest creation: The Oar of Panmuphle. The brainchild of Bay Area DJ and artiste Gregory Scharpen, Thomas Carnacki inhabits a netherworld between musique concrète, sound collage, improvisation, and the haunted sonic explorations of irr.app.(ext.) and Nurse With Wound.
The Oar of Panmuphle takes its name from a novel by the author and playwright, Alfred Jarry (an author who is yet to receive his due respect)- The Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll Pataphysician. The album dances gleefully in the same parallel universe of surreal aesthetic relationships.
Each piece is dedicated to one of Carnacki’s friends. I believe that something magical happens when an artist sets out to create a piece of art “using friendship as a compositional starting point”.(1) Something of the soul of that person ends up encapsulated, translated into sound and essence. Each of the pieces on Oar come across as little dreamlike myths – myths telling stories not about a person’s life necessarily, but about their spirit. Carnacki is not trying to tell stories to “explain”, he is telling stories to inspire wonder and curiosity – a haunted retelling of the life of the soul.
On the front of the cd insert is a quote from Peter Greenaway (one of my favorite filmmakers by the way) suggesting that the work in hand was/is a labored affair. From the perspective of a listener, this album is fresh, inspiring, and a heartfelt tribute to the mingling of souls we call friendship.
(1) from the liner notes
Listen to some Carnacki here:
Buy it here: