Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Black Widows, Mixing

There are black widows in the courtyard. There is one in particular, that in the darkest part of dusk crawls through the woven mouth of the drainpipe and hangs in threads spun from leg to leg of a dusty plastic patio chair.

I have a certain appreciation for the thing as I watch her from my room right now, suspended there, a black dot, blacker than the shadows behind, rounded and angled in that perfect stylized black widow way. Certain.

Any day I can climb into a combustible metal shell and allow myself to be projected across some distracted Los Angeles freeway, with all the other cars speeding alongside me, and I won’t think to be afraid. Yesterday though, I got close enough to photograph her, and with a sudden lurch of just an inch in my direction, she had me retreating back against the wall. I couldn’t spend ten minutes consciously sitting within inches of a spider like that, the way I can sit comfortably for a day with 35,000 feet between myself and the earth. It makes me wonder if the fears that should arise from technology aren’t yet woven into us through natural selection, and therefore we’re granted this unnatural tolerance...

I’ve been within mauling distance of a grizzly bear, have stood on a rocking canoe within a few feet of an anaconda, and spiders are always there. I feel like these creatures, however aloof, deliver a hush of awe and fear hatched deeper in the blood, cast back into millennia beyond the curtain of humanity, in something more primal, deeper down in the pit of evolution. They command the respect of their lethal potentialities and the uncertainty of their intentions. I mean, who wants to fuck with a woman that once devoured her mate?

In the immunity of daylight I could destroy her little silk cathedral, but somehow I like watching this thing hang in all her arachnid glory as I write, as the opposing window fills with a final hot orange glow. She tells me to stop and breathe, to come back to my actual life, to all that time that’s slowly being used up, diminishing to an uncertain end. She makes me revel in the sunset that comes with each vanishing day. She reminds me that there’s a black widow suspended beside us wherever we go, however we go, and we must honor it.

* * *

Mixing a song is like walking through this courtyard of black widows. The anxieties awoken in the process of setting the malleable into stone are rooted somewhere in survival. I know what it feels like to be eaten by a metaphoric pack of wolves - the spiteful fingers of harsh critics tapping on keyboards. You can’t please everyone, and some will punish you for it - directly, or worse, by neglect. With each shift in the mix, that second guess flutters through the window. Will this kill me? In preparing the track to be submitted to the mixer, I began to hear things that weren’t there, those phantom spider legs marching up between my jeans and my skin. No longer could I tell if the instruments were even playing in time, in the same key. I had to surrender. I had to trust myself that I had recorded what I intended, had kept the takes that I connected to, that what I was turning in was somehow ready enough to be immortalized.

The mix came back and I’m really happy with it. The anxiety is no longer that something is somehow wrong and will lead to my destruction, but that I have to figure out how to do it again with all I’ve just learned. I’m proud, and I’m lining up someone to master it - then I’ll put it on the internet so you can hear it and have it. No publicity push. I don’t want to enter back into that dynamic now. Why beg a hostile wolf pack for their scraps? I loved making this song - some of you are going to find it useful. It will be ours to share.

I’ll be mixing the rest of the album in a few weeks. I’ll keep you posted.