Many musicians, at some point, acknowledge a desire that has been building within them to create music not for anyone else, but for themselves, and, ultimately, by themselves.
Obviously, this is easy for pianists, and more difficult for single-line instruments, but now much more common. Drummer/percussionists, especially in jazz, have different problems. First, of course, is the lack of (clear) pitch, relegating percussion (in general) to be but a piece of what many think of as music. Indeed, there is much jazz without a drummer. Related to this is the tradition of the drummer as time keeperfunctionally really important, can make all the difference in a great record, but "the swing is the thing....."
Breaking these shackles was a slow process, and free jazz completely upset this particular apple cart, allowing drummers to become percussionists and equal partners with the other instrumentalists. Sanctuary
is the result of Phil Haynes
' personal quest for self-expression, and was a long time coming. After decades of experimentation, Haynes felt he had internalized the editing necessary to create coherency while being spontaneous, plus he knew that at least part of his solution was to play softly, which not only focuses one's attention, but creates an intimacy between performer and listener.
Perhaps Haynes' highest profile relationship has been with reedman Gebhard Ullmann
in his Basement Research group. Ullmann recommended the SFB Radio studios as being particularly alive and resonant and introduced Haynes to the staff. Prior to the recording session, Haynes practiced in the cellar of Ullmann's Kreuzberg apartment complex, much to the perplexity of the residents who wondered from where the strange, soft sounds were coming.
January of 1999 (!) saw two days of hour-long spontaneous sessions; four were created, three were selected and a final release set was made of by editing together various movements. So, in a way Sanctuary
is the equivalent of a live performance, with the same kind of focus on structure and development both within each movement and the overall set.
The album consists of twenty-seven tracks, most around two minutes in length. These are arranged in five suites, printed circularly named "Awaken," "Eastern Thoughts," "Western Habits," "Junkyard Blues" and "al Coda." Haynes' self-proclaimed "Zen meets West" attitude is quite apparent by the titles, and more importantly by the overall feeling of each suite.
While not every movement is soft, most are, and unless the playback equipment is good and the listening room quiet, headphones are recommended. Haynes' drum set consists of but five drums and six cymbals overall, plus a number of "found instruments." There is much space between the myriad of sounds that Haynes produces, creating a surprising amount of tension as a movement progresses. This tension, however, is dynamic in that forward motion and development are very apparent.
Even the louder movements ("Bop Be") have a delicacy about them in that he is alone and hence each sound is separated from the previous and the next. Just as important is the space between movements which allows for the natural decay to be heard. The variety of sounds, while impressive is less important than how they are tied together to produce a whole. Sanctuary
really is a concert and the only thing that is missing is watching Haynes on stage. Haynes welcomes you, with Sanctuary
into his personal sanctuary, and it is a fascinating place. Is this "difficult' music? Not really, just let go of expectations and allow yourself to get inside of it.
Words are mere echoes when trying to describe music, especially for this music, so here are three clips: Kabuki and Longer Shorter
, Wind in the Chime
I Awaken: Spirits; Aqua; Rapid Eye Movement; Pollock; Hands and
Stones; II Eastern Thoughts: Ritual Call; An Answer; Sympathetic
Membranes; Wind in the Chime; Kabuki; III Western Habits: Longer
Shorter; Whispers; Metal at Warp; ACME Mechanism; Free Radicals;
Wood Spirits; Cat Toyz; Puttering; Bent Offerings; Feline Dreams;
Cha-Cha Cha; IV Junkyard Blues: Dumpster Diving; Jurassic Lark;
Garbage on Parade; Run, Hide... Frack!; V al Coda: Bop Be; Chug-a-
Phil Haynes: drums, percussion, found instruments.