"In a higher manner the poet communicates the same pleasure. By a few strokes he delineates, as on air, the sun, the mountain, the camp, the city, the hero, the maiden, not different from what we know them, but only lifted from the ground and afloat before the eye. He unfixes the land and the sea, makes them revolve around the axis of his primary thought, and disposes them anew."
~ Emerson "Nature"
The overall impression of Chuck Perrin’s latest recorded endeavor Bass & Word quickly brings Kerouac’s spoken word recordings or the now classic Eden's Island by Eden Ahbez to mind, Perrin with Bertram Turetzky on contrabass combine forces to act as catalysts to the spontaneous life force springing from words, sounds and imagery. Employing the words of some of the masters (e.g., Neruda, Dylan) as source material, this is their valiant attempt to unlock the mind, soul and grapple with the ever-present, yet pushed-away questions of life and the eternal. Further examining its branches, Bass & Word reveals itself not merely an academic exercise or standing on the shoulders of giants away from the workaday world. Perrin stands tall in his own right by threading in his original words which articulate life’s experiences in all its agony, glory and interstitial moments.
Right from the start, Perrin jars listeners into consciousness with “Rough & Tumble.” This upending piece reminds me of surfing for the first time and being engulfed by a wave and dragged along the embedded stones of the shoreline. Within the unhinged “Jaberwocky” by Lewis Carroll, it's pleasing to hear Perrin voicing the musicality of the Tumtum Tree. Unlike the Jojoba shrub, the Tumtum Tree revealed itself to be fictional upon lookup. This is one of those better to be heard than read moments of poetry when spoken word can take flight vs. remaining flat on the page. Perrin’s enunciation of this phrase rounds out the overall cacophony of this work stacked atop slanting percussion. Poetry and music may allow us to delve into the sharp recesses of the mind, explore new realms and expand perceptions. However, all is illusory and transitory, as we frequently think we know where the performing artist is and going to, but it's the innate nature of the artist (and/or their image) to shape-shift and be on unexpected wavelengths. These notions have given rise to an entire cottage industry (running the spectrum from the remarkable Crawdaddy Magazine to the nadir of A.J. Weberman going through Dylan's trash) built on compartmentalizing and explaining seemingly elusive musicians (e.g., Lou Reed, Lennon, Zimmerman). With Dylan’s “All I Wanna Do,” Perrin inflects the work with the appropriate level of nasalness needed to express “That Wild Mercury Sound” which cannot be classified nor contained.
Neruda’s “Ode to a Violin in California” unfurls and sprawls out like the desert or pavement atop the desert. Even in translation, Neruda’s “green ink” comes off as accessible, generous and humane as evidenced in the rising and falling cadences of “Poem 53.” Perrin’s original “The Thrill” elucidates those given days or moments that are just “off” despite focused efforts to get back on track. Parents and workers can readily relate to the phrase, “steady breaths have given way/ to habitual moans & puffs of frustration” due to all the frequent exigencies. In this instance, poetry may take shape atop fragments jotted on the backs of escalating summer electric bills. Upon initial listening, I was immediately convinced that “Chinaski” was a Bukowski original vs. Perrin’s own homage to ol' Hank. With all of its seedy signifiers, it’s that evocative of the Black Sparrow bard. In full autumn splendor, Bass & Word: Song of the Roots taps into poetry’s subterranean power to reconnect the wonder, while courageously opening up to reconsider the world above.
"Therefore we love the poet, the inventor, who in any form, whether in an ode or in an action or in looks and behavior, has yielded us a new thought. He unlocks our chains and admits us to a new scene."~ Emerson "The Poet"