Friday, August 5, 2016

An African girl and the North Sea

Exactly a year ago today a young girl, Jessica Phiri on vacation from Zambia, tragically died off the coast of Holland.  My friend, Ruud Houweling, a longtime resident of the resort town where the family was staying, wrote Night Falls On The Town to mark the mood and atmosphere of the the three days that Rescue Crews searched the Sea in vain.  Ruud's story of the song's genesis is here.

We recorded Night Falls On The Town and the other songs that make up Houweling's forthcoming album release, Erasing Mountains, at E-Sound Studio in a suburb of Amsterdam and mixed it at Prairie Sun.  It's an ambitious artistic endeavor that's been successfully realized, we'll go into that another time.  This one song will give a strong clue of the poignant affectivity of this music.

Interestingly enough, just after we mastered the album, shortly after Ruud returned from California, Jessica's family traveled from Zambia to Zandvoort to attempt more explanation and get a sense of closure with her death.  Together with the German family host Jessica had lived with for a year, and a delegation from the student exchange program, Ruud informed the authorities about the song.  They invited him to be a part of a meeting between the mayor and the families. He hoped that sharing the song would show them the accident had an impact on the local community, as well.  Houweling, being a local veteran windsurfer, was also able to explain to the parents the nature of the rip currents on the Dutch coast.  It was a very special meeting resulting in new friendships.

The video does an outstanding job of visually reinforcing the bardo space Night Falls On The Town evokes.  The story contrasts the carefree life of the tourists against tragic death and what goes in between:

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