Zero Gravity 4:380:00/4:38
Album Notes & Listening Guide
Blending the beauty of the natural world with the divine, air-sculpting power of the flute, Prana invites listeners to experience an effortless journey into the dream-like essence of sound. This album was born at the intersection of my love of flute and yoga. Prana is a song cycle that I improvised with Bill Webb in August of 2009 through July 2010. For our 10th anniversary I released the stories from which our music emerged.
Through all stages of my life I have fervently loved the color green, due in part to my lifelong admiration of the Green Lantern superhero. As a child, I gravitated toward green food, like broccoli, peas, lettuce, pistachio pudding and mint chocolate chip ice cream. The most common color of the natural world, green has close associations with the plants. Green often represents growth, renewal, balance and harmony. Green Earth’s melody ponders the heliocentric nature of life, growth, diversity, photosynthesis, weather and breath.
Seismic activity has always fascinated me. Our earth is in constant motion. As we improvised Magma, I imagined the flute’s sound floating through the earth’s core. The pure elements of earth, air, fire, water...combined and recombined to form swirling waves of dynamic lava. Magnetic. Fluid. Pure. Unpredictable. Bubbly. Transformative. Impermanent. Powerful harmonic and melodic fragments represent molten materials that resides beneath our earth’s crust. Tectonic shifts. Liquid rock.
Weightless. Floating. Zero Gravity invites listeners to wander freely, untethered by the vicissitudes of life. Attractive force is suspended to the lowest possible amount, nothing at all. Zero first appeared in human history in Mesopotamia around 3,000 B.C., and the Mayans discovered it around 4 A.D. Mathematical zero and the idea of nothingness, while connected, are not entirely the same.
What do I really want to be doing right now? Where shall we go? What sounds fun? Plenty of room to dilly dally, linger, lolly wander, piddle paddle, and take our heavenly sweet time. With no start or finish line in sight, Zero Gravity pauses the busyness of a day, a journey or a lifetime.
Dozens of times per day people ask us, “How are you?,” often without waiting for an answer. When I'm asked, I instantly scan my thoughts allowing these words to serve as a catalyst to decide exactly how I want to be. I respond with “I am...,” while I strive to avoid responding with “good, fine, or ok”, words that generally avoid sharing valuable information. I choose how I want to be in this moment. These are two of the most powerful words that can be uttered. I am. What am I right now?
People from Africa's Natal tribes greet friends by speaking, "Sawu bona", which translates, "I see you." The customary response is "Sikonah", which means, "I’m here." To really see each other. Connection. We are here together. Sikonah is my response to a world that sees and hears me.
The flute has held a longstanding relationship with birds. Listen in to hear this conversation between the flute, birds and the rainforest.
The spark. The moment light begins. Ember was Prana’s first recorded track, born out of a decade of friendship and musical collaborations. On day one of recording, before we even knew what was happening, Ember was our sound check, my first time as an artist wearing headphones and a microphone; a toe dip into a new project that may or may not have come to fruition. We were clear, pristine and ready. After day one, I drove around town listening for a month. I loved the sound. By the simplest measure, Ember is merely two friends talking.
Spheres of light. Spinning. Reflecting that which is completely true and entirely unreal. Illusions and premonitions. After ten years of listening, my playlist count indicates that I’ve heard Crystal Balls more than any other track on the album. Inspired by an autumn walk through the Botanical Gardens in Fort Worth, Texas with a dear friend. I couldn’t tell you exactly why Crystal Balls my favorite, but it is.
Amen. Omn. Light that that has existed from the beginning. Light that responds to sound. Where does the light come from? How are we able to perceive it? "Ziji" is the Tibetan word for light. "Zi" translates as glitter, brilliance, radiance and splendor. "Ji" means dignity. While "Ziji" is often translated as “light”, quite literally it means confidence or dignity.
As this track began I instantly imagined myself age of 8 standing on the wooden bridge that once connected the street I grew up on in Winter Beach, Florida, to the Atlantic Ocean, a bridge that I had never existed in my lifetime. From my birth until I later left for the University of Central Florida, my family lived on this street. The east side dead-ended at the Indian River lagoon, an ample, diverse ecological wonderland for my brother and I to explore throughout childhood, just a short run or trip on the four-wheeler or bike to reach the water.
Woodley, the original name of our never-incorporated city, was founded in the late 1890’s, but the name was changed to Quay in 1902. In 1922 after an unsuccessful attempt for a real estate boom, we once again changed our name, this time to Winter Beach. In 1924 a wooden bridge was built to allow our small railroad and farming community to quickly reach John’s Island, part of the barrier island east of the lagoon. The small bridge connected the mainland to Hole in the Wall Island to Pine Island which connects to the western edge of the barrier island. However in 1946, twenty-nine years before my birth, the bridge was destroyed in a storm, then completely demolished one year later.
This destruction would mean my brother and I could still easily walk to the lagoon, but not to the beach. A 15 minute car ride across the Wabasso bridge, a feat impractical for two young explorers on their own. I’d never spent any amount of time thinking about the absence of this bridge, and only once in passing as a child heard that it had even existed. These powerful forces of weather shape our destiny in unexpected ways. Listen as the melody and harmony meld with the geophonic sounds of thunder and rain. Storm reminds us of the nature’s life-shaping power.
A tiny space in the middle. Only existing for a moment. Life. Makes. Sense. Here. Little room to stretch. Take a breath. Let go. This center, much like a true north, is often found after a storm.
In November of 2000, country artist Jessica Andrews released, "Who Am I?", a country music hit song that featured lyric’s, “Rosemary’s granddaughter.” I knew then that if I ever recorded an album, I wanted a song that mentioned my maternal grandmother, Evelyn Wallace. Her calculated wisdom and watchful eye guarded me through many of life’s challenges.
This track is otherworldly, a steep departure from Prana’s other offerings. Featuring whistle tones, multi-phonics and singing while playing, Evelyn’s Grandson is the only track where listeners hear my voice. The eccentric sounds are reminiscent of the first day I hopped off the school bus in middle school and ran next door to great-grandmother Bertha’s (Evelyn’s mother) home and played for her. I had learned how to blow air through the mouthpiece, but I knew no fingerings so I wiggled my fingers incoherently up and down on the keys, pretending to play.
Originally titled Lever, the piece was created because my favorite key to press on the flute is the lever key, used to trill between B and B flat with the right hand index finger. One simply cannot release their first solo flute album without severely deploying their favorite flute key. Wind Dance is dedicated to a reckless abandon of the human condition, where one is permitted to do that which we love without rhyme or reason.
When I hear Wind Dance, I see whisps of Arabian gin flitting through golden desert sand. I hear the magic of the wind, the same wind from which the flutes tone was generated, swirling to and fro, knowing neither from where it arrived or where it shall return.
Moments before recording, a friend’s father who served in the United States Navy took his final breath. Surrender includes full circle with birth and death. Dust and water. The tides of life that wax and wane. When I first moved to Texas from my home state of Florida some twenty odd years ago, I desperately longed for the sounds of the ocean, even playing recorded ocean sounds while I practiced to alleviate homesickness.
As I recorded Surrender, I visualized images of a ship's dining hall sinking into the sea. As portrayed so eloquently in the Titanic movie's account of the sinking, the dining hall and bodies floated around me, the cold water overtaking the descending melody.