The Bodily Press is happy to announce the release of Eliot Cardinaux’s Sweet Beyond Witness.
Unlike Cardinaux’s first release, American Thicket, which focused primarily on group-oriented free improvisation, Sweet Beyond Witness showcases Cardinaux’s work as a soloist and composer. Written and performed around the idea of what it means to witness beauty in this world, it is a baring/bearing witness to the latent destruction going on amidst that beauty − informed by and informing a political process, a poetic process, and a musical process of editing, composing, and improvising; to trace experience − lifting in and out of it, in order to see, from a bird’s-eye’s angle: potential.
Spoken in Cardinaux’s sensitive baritone, the poems touch on topical themes, while providing the space for a listener to contemplate them from a distance. From the short opening poem, “Lately,” a concise, stage-setting curtain call leading into the album’s patient world, to the long-form, fragmentary poetics, “Nativity” − the poems are diverse in scope and form, as well as content and mood. The same could be said for the piano pieces, from the fugue-like “Poor Devil and Chorus” to the witchy, upward reaching melodic vestiges of “Woodsdrip,” and the chidingly humorous post-modern Americana of “Dada.”However, the album holds together like a suite. The video portion portrays the visual aspect of Cardinaux’s poetry. A submerged narrative thread links each piece to the next, while varying themes are juxtaposed, often returning abstracted in different combinations, and through multiple iterations.
The album is available to download through CDbaby and Bandcamp, as well as on CD. The Bodily Press has also published an accompanying chapbook available on Bandcamp, of writings written by the poet, based around the process of making the album. The pianist and poet also shot and edited a full album-length film, and set it to the music. You can stream it below, and read the filmmaker’s description.
The chapbook contains writings addressing topical themes and their poetics. Containing an essay, “Cut the String – Toward a Dialogue about Music,” a series of philosophical writings and poetics, “Lines Drawn and Crumpled – Toward a Poetics of the Fold,” which includes new poetry and photography by the author, as well as all the poems on the album. Feel free to purchase on Bandcamp at the following link:
The video portion of Sweet Beyond Witness
Over the months I spent preparing my new album, Sweet Beyond Witness, for release, I shot and edited video for nearly every track I had recorded. Armed with just my iPhone, I traveled around and documented everything that caught my eye.
I drove to upstate New York to my family’s summer cottage, stopping as I never had on the way to the Thousand Islands, where I have been going every year since I was born. I tried to capture what I percieved as some of the natural and cultural aspects of that country. I shot a dump. I filmed a vast field of windmills. I even went up to greet the giant cow in sunglasses, “Lady LeWinDa MilkZalot,” who stands guard over the tiny town of Lowville, NY, where Kraft cheese is made.
I attended a counter-protest in Boston where white nationalists had set up a “free speech” rally, and were forced out of Boston Common by hordes of resisters.
When I toured Europe last fall with my friend and collaborator, the bassist Asger Thomsen, I shot video of stone statues in a square near Koncertkirken, where I played in Copenhagen, as well as at a Danish cemetery which houses the grave of philosopher Søren Kierkegaard.
I visited and documented the cathedral in Cologne, Germany, in whose city I played with Asger, Etienne Nillesen, and Jonas Engel, and which I learned took 632 years to complete. Before a concert I was playing with Asger, Mia Dyberg, and Axel Dörner, I discovered and witnessed through the lens at midnight, a tiny little sculpture garden in Berlin, of artwork made by the curator’s father.
Though the result might seem crude, having had only my cell-phone and an outdated version of iMovie to work with, I’ve often thought of these experiences as some of the most essential to my process, since. “What does it mean,” I asked myself during the beginning stages of this project, trying to assemble something meaningful out of the varying fragments I had collected — “to witness beauty in this world?”
The answers seem to float in an out of every realm — less like answers than thoughts, far from the trope of prophecy that talk of poetry can often elicit — from politics and culture, to art and its surroundings, whether natural or man-made; from the soci-political, and spacial, to the increasingly relevant idea of place, I hope this offers a context for the awareness this work has encouraged me to raise in myself, and to which, I aspire, we all can relate.
Thank you to all of you who have contributed, in myriad ways, to the unfolding realization that the most important lesson I can take away, is to keep on trying.