Episode 033: Maman
In which we discuss Halloween, disappearing into thin air, and world tours
October. That means many things: Oktoberfest; The World Series; Halloween.
National Pizza Month.
October 24th is National Bologna Day. That’s something.
But really: come October, come spiders. I’ve been seeing soooo many spiders. At the lake. Outside the house. Inside the house. Enough already.
I don’t love spiders, but I try and respect all life…if they are in the house, I do my best to trap them and put them back outside.
My wife [and our intrepid editor] Denise on the other hand? She not only wants to crush them but also impale their heads on little toothpick spikes outside the house to warn off all the other spiders.
No choice then but to write a spider beat. Clearly, the hippest spider art comes from Louise Bourgeois. Her titanic late-period spider sculptures are almost unimaginable, and the most famous [and well-traveled] of them is 1999’s Maman.
I don’t think I could write something that sounds more like a spider.
Overall creepy vibe, of course. The crawling, breathy flute lines. The delicate, atonal choppy chord pad throughout. The little thirds melody in the middle that rises up, higher and higher each time, like a spider disappearing into thin air when it’s been startled.
Also, the way the beat starts so abruptly makes me think of the way spiders just seem to appear out of nowhere. Spidery magic.
Finally, the bass in this one…I use plenty of 808’s in these beats, a fairly common practice. But I tend to use them only as accents or downbeats while a more traditional bass sound (whether I’m playing live or via a virtual instrument) fills it up. Not this one. The bass is ONLY on the accents here.
Though Bourgeois is best known for her steel spider sculptures, she didn’t start creating them until she was already 80 years old – and her career stretched nearly as long as Maman’s legs, spanning 8 of her nearly 10 decades.
Bourgeois said that she chose spiders because their traits reminded her of her mother. “She was deliberate, clever, patient, soothing, reasonable, dainty, subtle, indispensable, neat, and as useful as a spider.”
Maman was created for the grand opening of Tate Modern in London in 2000 and remains in its collection. At more than 30 feet high and 33 feet wide, one would think it would have to be a permanent installation. However, the work has been on a constant worldwide tour since 2001!
In just the first 10 years after its debut, Maman visited New York, The Hague, St. Petersburg, Copenhagen, Havana, Belgium, Sweden, Paris, Boston, and Naples.
Whew. Who is taking that thing apart and reassembling it every time?
And boy did I love working on this reduction. There were so many photos of it on display all over the world, but I chose one outside Hamburger Kunsthalle in Hamburg, Germany. Two reasons:
Just love the way it looks against the brick building and ominous sky, and
Creepy scary German kids' stories. Ever read an original Grimm? Yikes.
You might expect to find me writing about how useful spiders are for the ecosystem. But we all know that already.
Instead, I decided to dig into how pervasive these small-but-feared critters are. Turns out there are about 40,000 species of spiders. Only a few pose any sort of threat to humans, though.
Wondering if there are any in your house right now? The answer is yes: yes you are living with spiders. They’re in 100% of homes. Apparently, each home has an average of 61.84 spiders in it at any given time.
I’m not sure how they came up with that spiders-per-home average, but I am sure this counting means I’ll be upping my spider-removal game as soon as this post goes live.
Until next week, thanks for reading Polyester City. If you have any thoughts, please leave a comment by clicking the link above. If you know anyone who likes Music and Art and Stories [and giant steel spiders], which is pretty much everyone, please consider sharing by clicking the link below.