In loving memory of a wonderful musician
MICHAEL ALLISON (Darshan Ambient)
August 7, 1958 – January 9, 2020
A Day Like Any Other – Spotted Peccary Music SPM 2406
Overall, A Day Like Any Other is an upbeat, melodic and energetic album, positive and well lit, no brooding darkness or strange zones. Most of the songs are a walk on a bright sunny day, moving right along and with a happy feeling, as reflected in the cover art created by Spotted Peccary graphic design master Daniel Pipitone.
1. About the album A Day Like Any Other
Instrumental electronica, with…
…layers so loopy and delicate, with components of cycling patterns, with surprising line breaks, with quick, associative leaps, and peppy repetition on this moment of insight or revelation. The music overall constantly has the beat, especially the brighter melodies, it is consistently energetic. With all of its richness and vitality, this day is, in the end just “like any other,” subject to an exotic location and a masterpiece of varied tones and sample sources, such as you might hear from synthesizers, strings, guitars, and chimes.
Electronics zoom in like a telephoto lens to see the dust inside yesterday and then tomorrow, and pulls back to consider the entire, ordinary day in which all these things occur. It also registers the mixture of repetition and variety in everyday life, with its insistence underscored by reiteration, to make a declaration about what is valuable, what is worth noticing, because that will so fascinate the listener. It is a day like any other, deliberately leaving open what “it” is meant to refer to, is “it” the meaning of this specific everyday moment? It’s a day like any other, calling us as it explores the complex and moving musical poetics of everyday life at the center of this work.
Darshan Ambient discovers a new, more vital mode of music, one highly attuned to what is happening right in front of our noses, all the time. In a way, he realizes a song could be born simply from paying close attention to the present and immediate, to what was happening outside the window, he turns away from the remote and the antique, and toward the common and familiar. Through his gift we are suddenly aware that this kind of “marvelous” event happens every day, and that only our inattention obscures it from view.
2. The tracks
The first track is titled…
“City of the Seven Hymns” (5:20) and features percussion and synthesizer beats with celestial organ and steel guitar, using precise and fresh images to notate how the listener’s ear perceives the minute and shifting details of an ordinary dusk in an ordinary evening at sunset.
“Ah! Sunflower” (4:01) brings strings and uplifting feelings, the resulting sensation itself serves as both the fruit of that recognition and a recognition about subject matter, about attentiveness to daily life, and about form, with intelligent light.
Flowing out of fragments he chose but might have otherwise never used, “The Echoing Green” (2:56) is a slower darker deeper track to listen and think about, in an associative fashion that is possibly meant to mirror the way consciousness actually moves in daily life, as if concealed in each drop of water is the sea.
Up the pace again with…
…piano sounds including the hammer strikes and reverb pedal wide open, embracing organic form, quotidian experience, and colloquial instrumental language, “Wishful Thinking” (4:33).
“A Little Wool Gathering” (4:38) so whimsical with strings bright pace, the listener’s jaw drops open at the wonderful, accidental congruence of this contingent everyday moment. Or so it seems now.
Next the sound is slower and darker, reflective and somber, “He Lamented His Thoughtless Acts” (4:34) echoing the colors of the setting sun in the sky and building facades, vividly etching the gritty details of the urban scene, with dizzy whirls between self and world, where the differences blur.
A succeeding sortie of heavy sustainment systems that allow long term survival, the bare necessities to live another day, behold “Light Fighter” (5:11). Here and now I cannot adequately tell you why I like it (I do) and why it works (it does), it features many new textures including passages of backwards sounds, perhaps from a piano. An efficient design, demonstrating the benefits of the element of surprise, lyrical superiority in the air, to simultaneously have superior maneuverability, and to possess suitable melodic effectiveness.
This next track for me…
…allows the present to mingle with memories of the past, in particular. Enjoy glimpses of the “Shadow Lines” (5:23) featuring guitar electronique, expanding loops which seem to effortlessly arrive at this commitment and devotion to the literal and unsymbolic day.
While the reference remains loose and indeterminate, “The Rain Has Flown” (4:49) favors a classical guitar sound, with electric guitar trills and decorations, a bit of steel guitar (country-western style slide guitar sounds) at a moderate pace that is not so up and also not so dark, to conjure up memories of other rhythm and rhyme.
The title song, “A Day Like Any Other” (4:02), has a nice energetic pace, strummed guitars with electric spices, a pronounced beat, a walk on a sunny day’s conclusion which turns the everyday – and everydayness – into its central theme and subject, as well as an object of representation, ‘a day like any other.’
The album’s listening adventure concludes with “The Republic Of Dreams” (4:44) perhaps a bit energetic for a sleep piece but illustrative of positive dreaming, an upbeat tune. It comes in with a quiet feeling and then rises in tempo and pace, to help us find out more, including how to control something marvelous happening, transforming everything. It then occurred to me that this happened more often than not, which catches the composer at the very moment of a conversion to an everyday-life aesthetic.
Michael Allison hales from…
…San Francisco, California. In 1992 after several years as bassist, guitarist, and vocalist, for groups like Nona Hendryx & Zero Cool, Richard Hell
And The Voidoids, China Shop and Empty House, he began a solo project using the name Darshan Ambient. The name Darshan is derived from the Sanskrit word darshana meaning something like “sight,” “vision,” or “appearance.” In 2008 his CD “From Pale Hands To Weary Skies” won Best Ambient Album for the New Age Reporter (NAR) Lifestyle Music Awards. His music has been used in films, documentaries and television commercials.
In an interview on the radio program Echoes (October 2013), Allison reveals that “Growing up with the Beatles and progressive rock, I’m always trying to be progressive with the music that I’m doing and that’s really what I, what I consider myself doing is more progressive music than anything else. And that could be anything. Progressive music could have jazz elements, classical rock, you know, that sort of thing.”
3. Where to buy A Day Like Any Other?
Written by Robin B. James, January 8th, 2020