Metamorphosis of Narcissus, Salvador Dalí

As a teenager, when other kids my age had photos of their favourite football team on their walls, I had a poster of Metamorphosis of Narcissus above my bed. It was the first example of surrealist art I had seen, and I found it fascinating. The composition is striking and the colour palette is quite unusual. It is full of symbolism, although what it all means was completely beyond me then. For the youthful me, it promised to put the art of painting on an altogether different trajectory from the traditional pictures we had been shown in Art Appreciation classes in school. It was something totally new, and that is always exciting.

I was reminded of that picture by a recent Hubzilla recommendation. It was for a piece called Metamorphosis by a band led by John Moulder. As is often the case, that name was unfamiliar to me, but the music turned out to be right up my street.

Searching for the Moulder name is surprisingly uninformative. John is a guitarist, but there are almost no descriptions of his compositional or playing style. He is fairly well known, in Chicago jazz circles, at least, but his branch of the varied genre of jazz is never stated in the reviews I have seen. Perhaps he is versatile enough to span many strands, as this quote suggests.

“Moulder’s musicianship is matched by his protean versatility. His work runs the gamut that includes starlit jazz balladry, gothic romance, bebop coruscations and slashing fusion.”

Neil Tesser

This particular track is a 10-and-a-half minute slice of sounds nested within a suite, within an album. It is one of those undemanding interlude fillers that move us gently along a parallel time stream, disconnected from the regimented tick of the clock. It might be the accompaniment to a time-lapse video of an artist as he first sketches an idea, then fills in the background, fleshes out the main features and adds the detailed finishing touches. A record of the transformation of a blank canvas into a piece of visual art. Or the metamorphosis of a mythical Greek character into a flower at the hands of the gods.

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