Chapter 1 – The Musician

– The Musician –

It was the end. I am talking about Valkyrie’s latest piece of music that would play and play over and over in her head as though she had missed something. Nothing had gotten away, it was all there, it just needed to hover around a bit in a loop and run free for a while. Like those thoughts that thud against each other at 3am and you know any decision will not play out well. But this is a song, so it was more like a bird, panoptic and with wings.

In her mind the song is caught in a holding pattern on play and repeat, stretched on an endless washing cycle until it is time to be released, hung on the line, but no not yet. The depths are strong, the contours subtle, like moving shapes behind frosted glass. These are moments, euphoric, where the song lays in suspension, its belly almost full and neatly fleshed and smooth. Soon there will be no slinking in dark alleys, turning up in sunglasses and oversized coats, standing in hazy moonlight under earnest shifting clouds. Soon there will be no stepping back away into the shadows. For now, there is no need to push or change things like note lengths or volumes or move huge chunks of melody around to different places. But if this happens it is when there is an energy drop. You can feel it. An emergency. So, something daring, risky and experimental has to be done. And quickly, for some reason. All in that loud moment she has become aware of the music dangling and pleading for help – hanging in a memory of its former evolving self. Valkyrie is standing in the dark alley dealing with the energy drop emergency, and the air is misty. There’s no rescue truck anywhere and her sternum has filled with shards of glass and loss. She stops breathing, or only very lightly breathes, and becomes a waxwork of herself. The stillness, she needs this, for a surgeon’s focus to hold the piece and go in and operate. Nothing else exists.

But soon the song will be out and visible to everyone and no one. Visible to the ear and stripped bare for all the heart to see.

With every listen, Valkyrie’s emotions are drugged and dragged around by her shirt collar. The strength of the sound pulls her left and right and unresistingly she goes with the flow. It is warm and dreamy, an ocean of rise and fall with different waves of rhythm and melody. The song’s terrain runs through her blood – chasing in her veins like lost toys in flood waters. The song’s pattern has not yet metamorphosed, but she is certain it soon will.

The song plays in her head, in order, out of order, from the middle, at the end and back to the start and all over again. Not meant to be hellish, but maybe hellish for some.

Nearing its final shape and settling the score, the riffs relax, the sub-tune-cameos peep out and flex like clever stray cats on the autobahn; hungry and anticipating the artful darting between the cars, before the slow vanish or fast escape.

The song is now a sound painting. A contemporary medieval village spread out on a huge hacked and sewn together canvas with little scenes of busy people making stuff and doing things and talking about it in busy little groups of urban chaos.

A village of commotion and sound.

Valkyrie is sitting in her music studio in her house in a rainforest. Could it be better? She sits at the oversized computer screen looking at the bright patterns of the music software.  This is where the hours seem like minutes, and the ideas run fast in a kind of nowhere time. Most of the ideas slip out the door, others stay for coffee, lounging on huge couches, and others become surprisingly engaging and intoxicating. This is all contained on the screen, on the colourful rows of different instrument sounds, that look like a busy flight information board of incoming and outgoing flights.

This song is only just landing on the vacant lot next door to the airport – unscheduled and off-brand. The song merits access to the major runways of the music industry, but that is outside of her flight control.

She wears grey jeans that are not loose and funeral-black T-shirts – you never know. The clothing reminds her she has a body – not just a mind and emotions. Her clothes create a feeling of self-possession and structure, something she did not know as a child. There were no regular meals, no birthday parties – unless she organised one herself – and definitely no holidays. Her family home had been grave-silent, or loud at night and on weekends with the hate tones of her mother and stepfather fighting. Unlike the non-existent set meal times, the fighting was an anticipated constant. The worst part, although difficult to choose, was the lack of any communication or explanation. She was not spoken to, so did she really exist? It felt like she didn’t. It was a home of no music, no books, no questions and closed windows. Everything felt dank, stale and tired.

The words, her words, describing her childhood took a long time to arrive in her throat and give context to the kind of the world she grew up in. It takes time to carefully dissect the narrative of that crushingly empty and lonely existence. The feelings of deadness and invisibility never quite leave Valkyrie, but the life she lives now brings her a contrasting reprieve.

Here in her studio she looks out at the viridian sanctuary, the green-blue tropical vegetation breathing in and out the wildness of the forest. Her backyard. She has surrounding windows that frame the sunrise and sunset and when you stand in the middle of the room, the northern aspect is straight ahead. She faces north. There she can see layers of palm branches and fern trees like theatre curtains. Some are in the near distance and others are up close, touching the glass. The floor-to-ceiling windows are glass louvres that let in the cool breeze, from the many trees. When the music is loud, the louvres must be closed and the ceiling fan will whirl like a soft helicopter hovering.

My name is Leerie and Valkyrie is the musician, she and I are very close – sometimes there’s no distance between us, but more about that later.

Valkyrie is her own muse and the cause of her own amusement. She often pantomimes around the house with funny walks and vocal absurdities that can’t be easily explained. It’s all a wonder she says to herself, this being a person with a life, a place – with rooms and cupboards and crockery and stuff. Astonishing. Valkyrie is not short of a conversation with herself and is entertained and surprised by her own answers to her questions. She turns to an imaginary camera and responds to her hastily prepared questions, as though this part always takes her by surprise. And it does. The talking, the questions, the answers, this scenario, is a life-long rehearsal. Not quite a ritual or a scheduled event – and she is never quite sure if she will ever be fully prepared for the questions.

Life.  People. Their reactions and their very strange ways.

Valkyrie is far from mad.

I, Leerie, hang around, lurking with a bit of intent. I am alert to all that I love and care for. No pretention there. I like to watch over my beloved Valkyrie and take in all that besieges her. The clues, the things that are missing and the junk that needs explaining. I was born almost exactly a year before Valkyrie and we have much in common – I have known her for a very long time. One day I saved her life.

Hpe Street Productions