Nümmü Tümpisattsiammü nümü sümüttü nümü We Rock Ochre People, are one people
The moon, shines full and silent. Naked toes claw uncaged, hungry, kicking up tiny sand storms across a pale, vast landscape. The wind withdraws eerily, wisping away across the rusty horizon, leaving us to enjoy this desolate haven alone. The view, post apocalyptic and beautiful feels like Helios’ Bless this Morning Year. I imagine we are running upon Mars or Saturn’s moon, Titan. A dead quiet envelops us as we bury one foot after the other into the soft, steep Ibex dunes, still warm from the strong sun that reigns here inTümpisa. Tümpisa (Rock Ochre Valley) Death Valley, California.
40 fingers and toes sink and sift quietly up 400 ft and many thousands of years. We sit in silence while stars slowly die, our four silhouettes propped against the clear, dark blue night. Sequoia holds me close, his golden embrace sets my heart aglow. My brothers voice gently breaks the stillness and soon the pure harmony of his wife’s words twist and drift gracefully through the air with his, ringing an ancient prayer out upon the sands of old. I will not soon forget this moment.
The desert is a sacred place. We have journeyed here in search of reprieve from the sustained blaring and glaring of unnatural sound and sight.
“Ain‘t it funny though sun and storm, hand in hand, sacred running through the roots and bones of every tree and man, seem still amidst the static chatter and constant neon sounds, growing louder, somehow, on this piece of ground…” -Lay of the Land
“The night sleeps in the dirty streets and the constant creep of the city, but I hear your silence ring out… and I breathe life, clear as it should have been…” -Breathe
These are lyrics from songs I’ve written about the constant noise surrounding us. How rare a moment, without a buzz of artificial sound. It’s important to think about this growing noise, to remember to seek open space where we can visit silence again. These places sustain balance in us, fill us with gratitude and hope, make us better people. The Rock Ochre People are full of this quiet gratitude, revelling in the solace of salt and sand.
Throughout Autumn of 2014, I toured the deserts, ghost towns and caves of the old west, gathering field recordings of rusty relics and rocks and performing in my new Western Dream Folk project, Roki (pronounced “Row Key”), an ancient name meaning “Of the Rock”. The goal was to capture the sounds of these majestic areas and incorporate them into live shows surrounded only by the natural settings and a small audience. Many of the shows were remote, powered only by batteries. I will set out on another desert tour (as well as a Montana prairie tour) this year with equipment powered only by solar energy. I want to bring people to the solace of salt and sand and open freedom, and later share the special sounds in a new album. The album will give a percentage of proceeds to the preservation of open lands.