Listen was my first real album and while being a bit unrefined, the music is infused with an innocence, blissfulness, and a creative vitality.
I first met my friend Marek in the jungles of the Himalayan foot hills some 12 years ago, then again by chance several years later while at a rainbow gathering in Pennsylvania. He was living in Vermont at the time and invited me to do an improvised meditation retreat in his home there. My plan was to go back to California after a couple of weeks of that, but I met my new girlfriend while out on a walk and the next thing I knew I was sharing a little house with her and her cat in the very little town of Johnson. She worked at the natural food store down the street from our house and I quickly found a job being a nude model for the artists in residency at the Vermont Studio Center which was just down the street from the natural food store. Up the hill from VSS was this little college Johnson State. The college's music department had a nice recording studio and for something like $300 I was able to enroll in the recording class for the semester. My fellow classmates were very unambitious so (after sweet talking the late night security guy) I was able to have pretty much unfettered access to the studio. The next year was a nice chapter in my life, neatly contained by my home, Roo's natural foods (with attached coffee shop), the artist retreat, and the recording studio - all within walking distance and all surrounded by awesome Vermont. Every day was a blend of meditation/yoga, my lady friend, hanging out with the artsy community, doing a few hours at the VSS, then working on this album until late before walking home.The idea for the album was something I had been vaguely carrying around for a while and watching it come to life was a very profound and life-altering experience for me. Before that time I had done a few recordings here and there, but this was something very different - This was my first taste of touching some potential, which after some years taking my practice seriously was starting to reveal itself. Life was very satisfying, and bit by bit the album came together until finally my lady friend was off to India and I was headed back to California with my finished project.
On the cover is an old (semi-altered) photo of Hsu Yun - A Chinese Zen master who's story I first read about when I was in college. It was his story that first inspired me to meditate, which in turn inspired me to change the theme of my life from a "find something safe and settle down" one to a "see this life for the dream that it is and live accordingly" one. The reason I put him on the cover is that he seems to embody that profound state of listening from a place of true stillness.. I doubt he listened to much more than birds and streams back then though.
The album is exactly one hour long and is composed of a light half and a dark half. Each of the nine songs are in some way connected to the ones before and after, and the album itself seamlessly connects to PathlessWays which is the second installment of a three part series.
Listen - 2000
All songs writen, recorded, and performed
by Alexander J Caruso