Autumn Blisses

Happy Halloween! I know that technically it’s tomorrow, but there is to be a small party over at Ruth’s tonight and since I love Autumn more than any other season – and Halloween more than any other holiday – I thought I’d make a whole weekend of it, starting today.

Celebrations require music, so I made a seasonal Imix which can be viewed and purchased from the iTunes store here. I also made a Spotify mix which is slightly different, since iTunes and Spotify don’t have all the same tunes in their database. Both mixes contain many tunes that I consider to be especially witchy and magical because it’s that time of year.

I am especially enjoying the topical ‘Autumn Sweater’ by Yo La Tengo, and the very rustic ‘Bundles’ by Mariee Sioux. Mariee Sioux is one of my favourite female vocalists; I love the slightly unhinged banshee quality of her voice and the lyrics with their evocations of plant medicine and magic. At this time of year when the berries are all over the bushes in such an abundance, songs containing references to fruits seem all the more topical. Bundles reminds me slightly of Yoko Ono and ‘Yes, I’m a witch,’ which I love as a feminist title for an album. My favourite track on that album is the very atmospheric and reflective ‘Death of Samantha.’ I am reading a book about Yoko Ono at the moment and loving her very material use of sounds. Consider ‘Secret piece,’ which is a score. It reads like this:

Secret Piece

Decide on one note that you want to play. Play it with the following accompaniment:

The woods from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. in summer.

– Yoko Ono

I love this material use of the soundscape of the forest; this idea that in the same way that you can decide to use a piano as an instrument in a piece of music, you can use the soundscape of the forest. To me this is a sort of transformational magic, to turn the woods into an instrument. I have been slow to embrace Ono in my studies but when I was working on the Cut & Splice podcast series for Sound and Music I came across some of her early recordings and realised that her work represents a crucial link between feminism and the ideas of John Cage – two key ideas for me in my PhD. I love that she made a whole recording of herself coughing and a recording of her toilet flushing, and that she took these recordings of very everyday things into the (almost entirely male-dominated) world of experimental art and insisted on the importance of looking at domestic spaces and our bodies, in culture. I love her bravery and the risks she takes in Art. I think she works with sound in a really playful way, taking the whole soundscape as a material and making works that explore and celebrate our relationship to it.

Speaking of the woods and the soundscape, I am loving the crunchy walking on leaves everywhere and the dramatic scatterings of leaves that currently lie in drifts all over town.

I found a secret of my own today, walking home from Mark’s house; a narrow road lined on either side by houses made of the good red bricks that are so characteristic of Reading’s architecture.

I love the red bricks of Reading; like bread and wool, they evoke a sense of solidity, certainty, material comfort and shelter.

Finally in my Autumn Blisses post, I want to share the joy of the True Food Co-op which I have recently discovered. My bedsit is miniscule with very little cupboard space, so the ability to take all my little store jars and fill them with the exact ammount of stuff that my cupboards can hold is something of a blessing. I present goodness in jars, which fits in my cupboards perfectly and involves no packaging waste at all.

There is something most satisfying about taking a load of empty jars along to the Co-op of a Thursday evening and filling them up with pulses and grains and as I write this I am enjoying the earthy smell of haricot beans cooking on the stove. I love the little ticking sound the little electric cooker makes, too; it is a staple sound of days spent indoors.

Yesterday I also purchased peppers and green tomatoes to go in this evening’s soup. As well as enjoying this culinary combination later tonight I shall also be finally finishing off the previously frogged Mansweater. Wool, Soup, Bricks, Crunchy Leaves, Pumpkins and Beans.

I hope your Autumn is also full of such good, strong things. x

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