The Unfolding

It has been over a week since I made a blog post to My Song of the Day for Today. The past week has been quite full, with Covid-deferred appointments finally starting to happen again.

Yesterday, a reader reached out through my Contact page with a brief but sufficient message, “Hey Steve, song of the day please?” That was all the prompt I needed and, really, it always gives me great enjoyment to discover some new music (or land on an old, familiar piece), then to think about the music and write an article to share with you.

A week ago or more, I spotted an unfamiliar artist and title in the suggested videos section of my YouTube feed and decided to check it out. “The Unfolding” is a pre-release from the album of the same name by Hannah Peel & Paraorchestra, due out on April 1, 2022. The iTunes Store/Apple Music classifies it as electronic music, so I’m not sure it completely fits the mould of “Classical Sunday.” However, it has solo voice and subtle orchestral elements that I found quite captivating, so I felt a slight blurring of the boundaries was justifiable.

The official video for “The Unfolding” is an ambitious work. It begins in near darkness, and as a bit of sunlight spills over the horizon, we see a mainly barren landscape with an almost post-apocalyptic, or perhaps even prehistoric quality, though the silhouetted mountains have a primordial kind of beauty in that low light. After about a minute, mysterious little lights emanate from the ground that is still shrouded in dark by the shadow of the mountains. As these lights persist, we see they uplift stone shapes that float across the gradually-more-lit landscape. The stones float above the ground, coming together to form something similar to an inukshuk (a human-made stone structure made by the Inuit and other Arctic and Indigenous peoples… these also can be seen further south, such as places along the Trans-Canada Highway in Northwestern Ontario, Canada). The scene also brought back memories of the monolith in the prehistoric, present and future segments of the epic Stanley Kubrick film, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

The “head” of the stone structure appears to be looking around the bleak terrain, maybe in search of something, and eventually meets up with another tower of stone moving along the land. They stop and lean into each other as if bowing in respect. The forms settle upon the ground then seem to become electrified and are surrounded by glowing pillars, or monoliths, which cast a light pattern onto the taller structure, as if it were becoming some other-worldly spacecraft. Maybe this is the stone species’ path to adventure and wonderment? It’s quite mystical.

Then, we see the energy dissipate from the structures and at the end, they appear as lifeless boulders, like all the other rubble scattered across the vastness of the desolate land.

In my interpretation, the music video portrays a kind of evolution or lifecycle where a species develops, comes together in community, thrives, then mysteriously disappears to extinction, whether naturally, or maybe by an immense and willful act of destruction.

Perhaps it is a message to us humans, one of the most recent species on our planet and the ones doing the most harm to the fragile ecosystems of our living world. At the beginning of this month, the United Nations published yet another report on climate change, reiterating many of the dire warnings we’ve read and heard for years. The ever-declining number of years in which to “do something” receives a pretty consistent response: lots of media coverage, plenty of opinions and promises by governments, but no concrete, long-term, meaningful actions beyond the latest election cycle. I hope nations finally join together and do something, and very soon. Otherwise, I fear the state of the world that our grandchildren and their children will inherit from us and the questions they’ll ask about why our generations failed to act in the face of repeated, urgent warnings.

Here’s to hoping the young ones will instead have many different questions to ask in their innocent, safe curiosity as they venture out into the beautiful world.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

Here is the official video for “The Unfolding,” created by Stefan Goodchild, a freelance developer, motion graphics and interaction designer and coder from Bristol, UK, on the Real World Records YouTube account (the record label launched in 1989 by English singer, songwriter, music producer, and activist Peter Gabriel).

With my best wishes, and gratitude for friendly reminders,

Steve

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