Thursday, June 1, 2023

Album Review: Cecyl Ruehlen - Levitation Elixir

In the descriptions that Cecyl Ruehlen offers for his music, even his ripplingly ripe and refreshing LP Levitation Elixir, you will find a lot of wild imagery. He's not someone who is afraid to excavate nonlinear, extra-territorial (and even extra-terrestrial?) plains of meaning for the proper verbiage to inscribe the indescribable. I feel a kinship with him in that respect. One recurring motif that bubbles to the top of the pool of metaphors at his disposal, and which sticks to my sense of recollection in particular, are the optics of ooze. I have never encountered a saxophonist (or any musician) who has invited such comparisons before. The symbolism is more than glib self-effacement and actually appears to be indicating something inescapable and essential about his approach and sound; that is its acute morphology. There is a quivering vibrancy to his performances, one that percolates with potent life-igniting propellents, and which lacks a discernable consistency of form. His aural utterances instead shift and mold to their surroundings, like limbic fluid lubricating the senses and promoting all manner of festive, hybridized, fornicative frolics through wide-open possibilities and exploded alternative thresholds. Eugene Thacker identifies ooze (or slime) as a substance that reveals to us the uncanny; a world beyond our full and conscious perception. While Eugene views such a substance as a symbol of the limits of life as we know it, a substance that creeps in from the void, the impression of something formless and imbued with an unquantifiable essence is unavoidable. Life itself is its own unconditional limit, the measure of its own extended being. In its most naked and bluntest form, it arose from the ooze of a primordial era. Before there was language, cars, TVs, bows & arrows, wheels, and even campfires, there was the cold, gooey spark of creation twinkling in a pond of snot. What caused that booger stew to eventually mutate into trees, dogs, dolphins, dinosaurs, and, eventually, the human race is still a miraculous paradox. That infinite malleability is still the rule-brick that shapes mortal and conscious existence in all its forms. Its unpredictability is its only constant. Music may be one of the only ways of channeling the ancient rhythm of this churning babble of change, and I think it's spectacular the way in which Cecyl is able to tap into the seeping significance and indeterminacy of determinate structures with his gliding, infinitely malleable musicality in an elevation of the sticky threads that entwine mind and metaphor to our origins in the cache of organic alluvium which gurgled in some fortuitous, diverting slough and offshoot from the river of time.