For the first couple of times when I heard this piece I purposely tried not to focus on Maynard’s deep lyrics and avoid the sometimes very heavy burden they bring when trying to interpret the message hidden in them. I took my thoughts on a journey accompanied only by the musical landscape and my intuition. And so I drifted up to the black emptiness among the planets…
I traveled beside the Voyager to the rim of our solar system where we stopped and shared our last gaze towards The Pale Blue Dot. Towards our microscopic home riding on a sunbeam through the boundless universe of endless darkness, among eternity.
As our longing glance turned away from our warm and already distant womb we kept on slipping towards the great unknown and still strangely familiar blackness, accompanied by the technological greeting we brought along to be seen and heard by something or someone we might encounter. We travelled to the bottomless bosom of space and time, welcoming and daunting. To a place where the collective memory of mankind cannot reach. To our forgotten origin. To the violent factory of endless continuum of life and death, roaring with deafening sound in particle level. It is the place we begin: in dying giant stars exploding as supernovae. Beyond billions of years, travelling as elements and stardust. Swimming through black and bottomless abyss and finally colliding with each other in a graceful but chaotic dance governed by universal laws of physics. Uniting, impregnating and springing to life;
“We are born of one breath, one word
We are all one spark, sun becoming”
I could not avoid the chills going down my spine when thinking of the legendary speech by Carl Sagan to his students in astronomy. It’s a speech pompous and humble and so very current even today.
In my mind Pneuma embraces the same topic as Sagan’s speech. It takes it further beat by beat, towards the beginning of everything. Gently waking up the child, sometimes shaking him by the shoulders:
Open your eyes, child. Remember! Don’t be afraid. Because you are everything and everywhere. You exist as much as a grain of sand, starlight, gravitation and the silent rumble of the vacuum of space. Here is where you belong, you have your rights and obligations. As you are born as a free child of the stars but you have nailed your own foot down and chained your spirit to draw an eternal circle. Covered your face with masks to be accepted by the blinded eyes of your fellow spirits, looping on the same perfect circle. Tear yourself free! Reach beyond the prison of your flesh and see the world with your eyes wide open, shining the blinding light of an exploding star.
In my opinion Pneuma carries on the thematics of past albums: awakening and growth of a human being. Who is the entity speaking the words that call for awakenment? The experienced musician laying drowsily on the couch? The revisiting being travelling through multidimensional space, who planted a mixed feelings of panic and love in the young and undeveloped mind of a juvenile poet? Or is it the universe itself and all that is? In any case, something needs to wake up again after the calm and possibly deceitful feelings of self contentment.
Thanks go to:
Becky “The Grammarian” Smith
Laura “The Inspirer” Collins (IG @ljcshutter)