Mysterious Descent is described as “a mythodramatic song cycle” based on the “extant texts of the Idnat Ohintsosh-ikh… the only existing records of the Koktimo civilization, the sudden disappearance of which remains a mystery.” I’m pretty certain that this backstory is the invention of trickster Brett Carson, a composer, jazz pianist and fixture in the Bay Area experimental scene. On this work, which debuted at the 2016 Outsound New Music Summit, he is joined by percussionists David Katz and Nava Dunkelman and violinist Mia Bella D’Augelli.
The piece progresses through twelve movements that are increasingly bizarre. Vocals, sometimes sung in English and other times spoken in invented tongues, conjure a glowing sea goddess that appears while taking out the garbage in the evening and elephants roaming the kitchen while getting a glass of water in the middle of the night. “Song of Vurvmoprinka” ends with a folk dance about a flaming phallus and cosmic vulva (T4), “Song of Urdogravikazhts” drones with violins and voices, then gives way to ecstatic shouting by a spirit who just wants to fuck with us (T6 – FCC), “Song of Dzochanibralk” is a sweeping rhapsody about phosphorescent flatworms, then descends into a wild freakout of chanting, piano, strings and bells, and “Last Song” wraps it up with a lovely kazoo (seriously) anthem (T12). Confusing, absurd and occasionally beautiful – like existence itself, and the weird myths we create to explain it.
FCC T6 – we’re being fucked with