Emphasizing the Gleaming (MP3)
Thomas Park reworks the national anthem.
Thomas Park, who records as Mystified, is a frequent participant in the weekly Disquiet Junto projects (at soundcloud.com), and a prolific member of the international array of musicians who contribute to netlabels. When posting some recent rewordings of an old 78rpm recording of “The Star Spangled Banner,” he mentioned, generously, that a recent Junto project was part of his inspiration. In making something new from the old recording of the national anthem, he emphasizes the gleaming — the four versions he has posted move from rousing, octave-leaping exuberance to something spectral and spacious. The third version in particular is simultaneously vaporous and introspective in ways one might not associate with the source material (MP3).
The U.S. national anthem is an interesting subject of interpretation because of how it stands as a sort of sonic parallel to the flag. It seems like a year doesn’t pass when someone isn’t criticized for singing it too slowly, or fumbling a performance, or dressing inappropriately. Park opens himself to criticism by so thoroughly reworking the material, far beyond recognizability. Yet in the end, what he has produced is so stately, it seems to deflect criticism deftly by suggesting itself as being deeply inspired. Then again, Park isn’t so sure what people will say, which is why he adds at the end of the brief liner note accompanying the tracks: “Any interpretations of these pieces are left to the listeners– Mystified viewed this project as an aesthetic one, not a political one.”
Full set available for free download at archive.org. More on Mystified at mystifiedmusic.com.
Update 2012.04.06: After posting this, I was informed by Park/Mystified that John Tocher was the person who introduced him to the source audio, not the person who recorded it. The source recording is, in fact, anonymous. This article has been corrected to reflect this information.
By Marc Weidenbaum