The Incendiary Cycle is music about California. It is music about conflict, transformation, nostalgia and loss. Borrowing from free jazz, minimalism, and no wave, the music of The Incendiary Cycle is dynamic and energetic, sometimes evolving gradually, sometimes changing dramatically in a sudden tectonic displacement.
In California we live in a metastasizing industrial civilization, yet we also celebrate what is left of our dramatic natural endowment. In The Incendiary Cycle I employ fire as the common element linking the natural and industrial worlds. In nature, fire clears out dead wood and germinates the seeds of new growth. In the industrial world, fire enables Promethean man to manipulate and transform nature. We have radically altered the natural world from the state we found it in the 1800s, but we also continue to alter our industrial world. Fire once drove the steam locomotives and the Kaiser Steel. Now the steel mill and the steam engines are gone with the orange groves and the aerospace plants, replaced by vineyards and high tech. Our relationship to nature is both adversarial and symbiotic. Our ongoing struggle with fires, floods and earthquakes continues to validate our self-image as pioneers and innovators.
Joan Didion wrote in Where I Was From,
“To be a Californian was to see oneself, … as affected only by ‘nature,’ which in turn was seen to exist simultaneously as a source of inspiration or renewal (‘Born again!’ John Muir noted in the journal of his first trip to Yosemite) and as the ultimate brute reckoning, the force that by guaranteeing destruction gave the place its perilous beauty.”
As the natural world challenges and rewards us, this continuous transformation also produces ambivalent emotions. Whether Californians have been here for three years or three generations, they mourn the loss of the place they knew when they arrived.