heavy music

New drawing: UFO with whimsical landscape and night sky

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Here is one of my recent drawings, now available for sale on stickers, notebook covers, t-shirts, art prints, post cards and more at my RedBubble portfolio. (If you buy it, there won’t be an obnoxious blue copyright watermark.)

The original illustration is one of several UFO and alien-themed illustrations and paintings I’ve made over the summer (December to February in my end of the world).

This one was drawn by hand using ink fineliners on A3 paper.

UFOs are one of my perennial drawing and writing themes. Ever since the day I discovered the section on the uncanny in my high school library (a sunny winter’s day, circa 1994, with the books on Atlantis and Bermuda Triangle located by the window with some couches) it was as if the universe expanded. In the face of an awe-inspiring, massive universe, human concerns like war, violence, political borders and greed seem so small and petty. Look at the vast expanses out there, the further we look we find more to admire, we find more questions, we find incredibly complex and beautiful structures… It makes me think of the lyrics from Tool’s song ‘Right in Two’ from the 2006 album 10,000 Days:

“Monkey killing monkey killing monkey.
Over pieces of the ground.
Silly monkeys give them thumbs.
They make a club.
And beat their brother, down.
How they survive so misguided is a mystery.
Repugnant is a creature who would squander the ability to lift an eye to heaven conscious of his fleeting time here.”

Whether or not there are extra-terrestrial beings out there is a topic on which I’m a happy fence-sitter. I desperately wish Star Wars and Star Trek represented a genuine reality. I have pored over all kinds of alien books over the years, from the terrifying Whitley Striber’s Communion to Gary Bates’s Alien Intrusion – a fascinating exploration of a Creationist Christian approach to alien abductions that envisages them as manifestations of ancient Biblical demons, and again, I’m not going to posit my own personal view on that (I don’t identify as a Creationist but know many people who do and I’m not interested in ridiculing or attacking people who hold to a different origins story). One of my most-consulted reference books is the Reader’s Digest Almanac of the Uncanny, a wonderfully inspiring illustrated chronology of human beliefs, superstitions and interpretations of the metaphysical realm. I have also seen unexplained lights in the sky (okay, in retrospect they were probably easily explainable, but at the time I was convinced I’d seen something uncanny), and I come from a part of the world where it was fairly common to encounter people who had a tale of UFOs or demonic manifestations. So, who knows? I’m happy to stay open-minded, as well as keep a little skeptical distance… and I try to be reflexive about the fact that my desire for UFOs to represent a real manifestation of other worlds within our universe mustn’t override my capacity to reason through it.

 

Tabula Rasa (2014)

A year or two ago some fellow Tool fans told me to look into Soen. Eventually I got around to it and to my surprise discovered I really like this fantastic Swedish and American super group. The drummer formerly hails from Swedish bands Opeth and the mighty Viking warriors Amon Amarth (I shared a video of theirs on this blog earlier this year). I play Soen’s 2014 album Tellurian on an absurdly frequent basis.

Sons of Winter and Stars (Live in Studio) (2012)

Once in a while I come across music that is so beautiful (in my subjective opinion) that I just want to cry when I hear it. The Finnish band Wintersun does that for me.

I don’t know when I consciously realised that as much as half of the music I love the most is Finnish. My music collection is stocked up with bands like Korpiklaani, Finntroll, Amorphis, Turisas, and Norther. I couldn’t really account for what it is about their music and culture and languages that so intrigues me. I’ve seen a couple of Finnish bands perform live here in Melbourne, Australia, namely Ensiferum and Apocalyptica. I get the impression that a number of the bands are connected to each other. Here’s hoping Wintersun make their way here at some point in the not too distant future. Otherwise one of these days I’m going to have to take a metal fan pilgrimage to Europe. From what one of my husband’s German-born metal-loving co-workers tell me, let alone what I’ve managed to glean from watching YouTube videos with a profound sense of jealousy (!), Wacken sounds like an amazing metal festival. (Then again, I was able to nearly be showered in German metalhead vomit thanks to a very drunk fan watching the Rammstein set at Australia’s Big Day Out festival in 2011, so we do get to enjoy some of the sights and guttural sounds of the European metal scene over here.)

I love the folk metal genre in general, too, and it’s not just the Finnish bands. I saw Swiss band Eluveitie perform in Melbourne a couple of years ago and they were just brilliant. Easily one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen (a room full of bearded heavy metal fans moshing to bagpipes and low whistle has to be seen to be believed – it’s glorious). I was first drawn into folk metal via accidentally stumbling across Scottish pirate band Alestorm on a community radio station as I flipped through the channels. Since then, it was a short leap from Pirate music to Viking music. I fell in love from the first moment I heard a melodic scream about Valhalla (thank you, Swedish metallers Amon Amarth). On a completely related note, I named one of my cats Odin.

I find it interesting that I was always drawn to Celtic and Norse mythology and music inspired by those cultures. After a few years of my being helplessly drawn in that direction, my genealogy-researching history-geek sister uncovered a few direct lines of ancestry through our family to the Vikings and the Normans – we have evidence for Norwegian and possibly Swedish Viking heritage, and there’s also a thread in our heritage that appears to trace back to Finland, many centuries ago. It’s kind of cool to me to realise that countless generations ago some of my direct ancestors came from a part of the world that had always held a hitherto unexplained fascination for me. I feel like that validates my interest in learning more about a part of the world that’s about as far away from Australia as I can imagine. So, in the meantime, I’ll keep listening (and picking up random words in other languages as I attempt to learn the lyrics to the non-English songs).

Nocturne (2013)

Here’s another tasty piece of TesseracT awesomeness for your listening pleasure. On an entirely related note, I’m a bit annoyed I didn’t realise they were touring Australia until a day before they played in Melbourne. Bummer. Here’s hoping they come back sometime so I can see them in the flesh.