On Confessions Of Breath
by D. Fyans

'Cast down the walls. Breach and breathe. Inhalation. BREATH, inside and outside. This concerns the thorax. The muscular walls of the rib-cage, of the defences of the thorax, exposed to the winds. Your breath has been set free, not taken away. An understatement: mouth to mouth contact with distance, as though with an infinity of air. And because the walls are down, there is no swelling.'
JF Lyotard, The Inhuman, p.182

Breathing, such an automated system that we barely give it any credit, but Breath, now there's a different beast altogether.

I've recently taken to standing in rooms full of people and armed with trumpet and pedals and publicly undergoing what can only reasonably be described as a mental breakdown in a very literal sort of a way. Rationale and structure are thrown wholeheartedly out the window, self-awareness and external noise fade to a distant point and some kind of rapturous enlightenment steps forward out of the depths. In that instant, there exists a process, some weird triumvirate of breath, thought and action. Laying down the first notes, you mark out your foundations, map out the starting territory and then embark. Any small expulsion can change your course, drift navigation in full flow.

The pure mechanism at play here, the directness of action means that breath equals sound is something very far removed from my usual modes of performance. Where normally an emotional landscape has been constructed and the small, gestural actions of interacting with controllers navigates through it, this is a much more primal, direct sequence of events.

Constant action and reaction, the feeling of freefall, out of control notes and passages stack, textures are built and then destroyed, this is true fluxus architecture, all the while breathing through it, changing pressures and embouchure, trying to overcome the inertia of dense walls of sound and pull the whole thing into a different location, the tapping of the ur-consciousness, the switch we normally leave set to its socially acceptable, rational mode. This is non-space, here we converse with gods and demons, we invoke their causes (and effects), we shine a torch into our dark corners and Will becomes a solid crystaline construct.

I can't say for certain whether it is the physical exertion of forcibly breathing for extended periods of time or the honest mental flaneury of improvisation (or the combination of the two) which leads to the attainment, for a fairly short lived period of time afterwards, of an enlightened state. For a while post performance, everything feels sharper, clearer, the days demons have been expelled, meditative breathing and mental traveling lead to a zen-like state, the constant background noise a little less tumultuous when drifting in through that golden window.

Improv Business by Erstlaub

n.b. The recordings above are de-contextualised static renderings of points in time and should not be considered as indicative of the actual flow of energy during performance.