I look forward to each new Copernicus CD as others dote upon Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Tool, etc. and have been doing so since I first discovered the Ski Records Nothing Exists a quarter century ago, realizing I'd stumbled onto someone as unique as Capt. Beefheart, Root Boy Slim, Morton Subotnick, any of a small melting pot of unique sound artists purveying work that was disturbing, exhilirating, obtuse, passionate, brilliantly crafted, coming-apart-at-the-seams, and unique, no matter the genre.
Formerly Joseph Smalkowski, Copernicus has transmorphed more than once on his constantly exploding centrifugal axis. One of the true examples of artistic anarchy around, he managed to record LPs and CDs; gain a cult following; tour Europe, America, and Russia; issue videos of electrifying performances; and write a book that's a fascinating companion to Ken Wilbur, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Chogyam Trungpa, G.I. Gurdjieff, and the more abstract reality cartographers. When I peruse that volume, Immediate Eternity, I'm reminded of The Mumonkan, I am That, A Brief History of Everything, the whole schmear of bewildering spiritual bitmapping. When I listen to the music, it's as if the Doors never crashed and burned but locked into their own most psychedelic essences and decided the Living Theater, with whom Copernicus has been associated, was the E-ticket to the center of the cerebellum.
This disc is not only no different in its virtues but marks a swift return of Copernicus' most leonine persona. The last one, Immediate Eternity II, though as magnificent as any in his catalogue, was a tad restrained, so I wrote and inquired if it mightn't mark a mellowing of the incandescent Copernican core. "No such thing", replied he, "just wait and see", and so I've been awaiting Disappearance for four long years…now worth every second of anticipation. Pierce Turner, a gent formerly produced by Philip Glass and a singer who's come in for quite a few accolades (from Christy Moore, Pat Kenny, etc.), is a long-time associate of C, though Wikipedia, in its perennal Libertarian ignorance and prejudices completely ignores this. Turner appears prominently on the disc, playing keyboards, directing, and singing.
If you've heard his discs, though, don't expect anything like them. All Copernicus music is spontaneous, completely improv'ed, chaotic, ravingly psychedelic, and perfectly intuitively scored to the rants, cozenings, enlightenments, and madnesses he's conveying. Turner, despite a much more staid personna otherwise, has no problems whatsoever in joining in. Disappearance is actually a long continuo on the Immediate Eternity theories, here made hypnotic through a manic recital worthy of Richard Burton, Marlon Brando, and George C. Scott if they'd gone completely around the bend yet retained complete aesthetic command and entered into a new thought mode transcending consensus reality.
The propositions posited here are almost insidiously pervasive and will have listeners questioning their own unspoken anchor premises in many areas. But then, that's what real art does, and Disappearance represents a torrid meditation upon epistemology and existence, the kind of bridge between art, science, and spirituality that even Michio Kaku will appreciate.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles