sorcery is burrowing its invisible tunnels in every direction...
Baptism of Solitude offers an extremely rare and intimate glimpse into the mind of this extraordinary artist. Taped in late 1994 at his home in Tangier, the recording captures the cadence of a modern magus, his readings sounding almost like incantations as they wend their way seamlessly through the ambient soundscapes constructed by producer Bill Laswell. Setting the tone with a stirring passage from his 1966 novel "Up Above the World," Bowles conjures lasting images of love, fury, quiet desparation and supreme enlightenment, all of them inextricably entwined in a mosaic much like those found in the mosques of his adopted city. "There is a drumming out there most nights," he writes in his autobiography. "It never awakens me; I hear the drums and incorporate them into my dream, like the nightly cries of the muezzins."
As a melding of word and sound, Baptism of Solitude explores strange and exotic territory. The ironic union of inner peace and outward foreboding in the title passage is mirrored in the music: Bowles describes the "conscious force" of stillness in the desert over a background of distant winds and echoes, building to the realization that "the absolute has no price." The short line from the poem "You Are Not I" -- one of the few works Bowles attributes directly to a waking dream -- arises and fades in the momentary blink of an eye, fleeting but defiant in its declaration of individuality. Finally, the stream-of- consciousness sequences from "The Sheltering Sky" brilliantly capture the delirium of the character of Port, and "Nights" concludes with the ominous strains of an underwater bowed bass as the author intones, "No voice could be enough, what with this and that, the hours falling faster."
Baptism of Solitude is the first release from the META label, founded by Bill Laswell and Janet Rienstra (originator of the spoken word label Gang of Seven), with CD packaging designed by British-born artist Russell Mills. Dedicated to creating a real environment for poetry, prose, sounds, music, and images, with clear homage to the vision manifested in dreams, META represents the fusing of two languages to create a third: the soundtrack, a meta-language of the imagination.