about the songs...
The Blessing & the Bliss is a new album of 13 original songs, my first album of new original songs since February 2013, hewn largely from personal spiritualisation experiences, as well as inspiration derived from absorption in the visions of Rudolf Steiner and the Sufi poetry of Rumi and Hafiz. These are songs from the heart… songs of higher love.
I began composing for it in January 2014… with two songs written in Budapest; ‘The lightning seed’ (actually written on New Year’s Eve), and ‘Spiritual love’. Although in fact, the first seeds for a track on this album were sewn in Bavaria in August 2013. On a bright blue day, a close friend said to me: “See… the clouds are like angels.” And indeed they were! Over a year later this emerged as a song called, perhaps unsurprisingly, ‘Clouds like angels.’
In December 2014, more songs began to emerge, beginning with one called ‘Old man’. This tells the story of an old man as he faces death; a wounded bird… wounded from carrying her burden, like Christ… and finally the cosmic suffering of the planet, and its redemption through spiritual consciousness. The music however, is upbeat, and the message hope-filled.
Leading up to that, the autumn of 2014 had been a time of great personal challenge for me, with a deep spiritual friendship dramatically changing its nature, leading ultimately to separation and sacrifice. A soul with whom I had become very close, the friend who had seen the clouds like angels, felt the strong need to pull apart in order to gain spiritual independence; a case of there not being too little love, but too much. It’s odd to try and describe it, because it’s so out of the ordinary way of things, but the friendship was sacrificed in order to meet no longer in the physical realm, with all its attendant attachments, but only in the spiritual. It was a renunciation of the earthly for the spiritual.
For her I then wrote ‘Do you love me still?’; ‘The pleasure was all mine’; ‘I suffer your silence’; ‘Crumbling walls’; ‘Until we meet again’ and the aforementioned ‘Clouds like angels’. The writing of these songs helped me to attain clarity and work out my feelings.
‘Do you love me still?’ was written on her birthday, October 18th, in her home city of Budapest. I was there to film for songs, but we did not meet. I wrote the song in my head, walking down the street where she used to live when we first met, Dohany utca, where the Synagogue is. I wrote it to the rhythm of my footsteps.
‘The pleasure was all mine’ is a simple, direct expression of gratitude for the love I received and continue to receive spiritually in our connection, even in absentia… a piano ballad. ‘I suffer your silence’ has a lighter, more ambient feel, musically, and expresses the uncertainty I felt before I understood why this emotional sacrifice was necessary. ‘Crumbling walls’ is an intense depiction of a mythic dream I had around this time, in which our higher connection was preserved whilst all around us crumbled, to the ordinary eye. This dream provided a great healing. ‘Until we meet again’ is something of a minor epic which closes the album, driven by a gently pounding tabla beat. It has 33 verses, charting my experience of our karmic connection.
Inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s visions and the Sufi poetry of Rumi and Hafiz, I also wrote ‘When we sleep’; ‘Be’’ and ‘We weep for your son’ in that period between December 2014 and February 2015. ‘When we sleep’ has a stately feel woven around pizzicato strings; it’s a magical incantation, describing how when we sleep our subtle bodies leave for other realms, and, to protect us then, the Gods themselves inhabit our dormant souls. This means that we are actually more spiritual when we are asleep than awake!
‘Be’ is like a sweet French folk song for children, musically… innocent and uncomplicated, with a Gallic lilt… and lyrically it speaks of the virtue of being in the ‘now’, in the present, to just be who we are! ‘We weep for your son’ has a vibrant and yet solemn Hebrew folk-song feel to it, relating the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ to personal transformation
Those two songs that I wrote over new year in Budapest, in 2014, ‘The lightning seed’ and ‘Spiritual love’ were the last to be recorded in July, 2015. ’Spiritual love’ is a soft skin-drum meditative ballad, whilst ‘The lightning seed’ refers to the seed of the Christ in the human heart, as predicted by the Zoroastrian Magi, present at the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. It thunders along, gathering momentum all the while.
One song… the 13th to be written… the mysterious stranger at the party… and one I had not in any way planned for, came to me on the night of March 28th, 2015, after a near-death experience where I stopped breathing, ‘flew’ across the room out of my body, and landed by the door, grazing my knee. I still have the scar. I called it ‘O my Jesus be sweet to me.’ As I awoke to find myself locked out of my body, a voice came to me: “Shall you go into fear or into the Christ?” I unhesitatingly went into the Christ. That moment was a blessing and a bliss of immense magnitude.
The album is 70 minutes long, and was completed with Tim Rock at his studio in rural Norfolk, England. Tim stepped in to save the day, when the producers who started the album with me had to pull out.