The Witnessing Of Paint In Its Drying Moments is an album of five very slow, minimalist piano compositions, created during a period of particularly intense grief and loss. Grief takes many forms, can return in great waves over decades, and loss is not exclusively the province of death. The grief of losing someone deeply-loved yet still living, a child for instance, can become unbearable – the dissonance of knowing their life is still happening, tangible but inaccessible to you, is a most distressing internal conflict. The dry humour of the album’s title belies the very real sentiment of loss and personal devastation I was feeling when these pieces surfaced, and which I only ever really keep at bay through persistent creative distraction.
After my initial impulse to choose the title, I researched paint terminology and discovered the analogy to be quite appropriate: paint has particular chemical stages of drying – from the evaporation of its fluid components to its final hardened state – which easily equate with emotional & psychological layers in the very gradual process of moving through deep grief.
Watching paint dry, usually a euphemism for boredom, may also describe a more internal state, perhaps something closer to a state of Zen, the observance of deeper emptiness and unchangingness in life. Progress appears imperceptible, sense of time is altered, one enters a white void. Motion is in being still, and invisible things coalesce in the spaces between moments, the spaces between self and other, the feelings between feelings…
The image on the cover is a detail of a photo I took looking into the bowl of a supermarket toilet, having just urinated in it. I had noticed that the flourescent lights overhead created some interesting reflections in the yellow water, and when further abstracted it took on an impressionistic, painterly quality. In a more levitous moment I thought of it as Taking The Piss. I still think the image is fitting for the music, it reminds me of a mottled watercolour describing a long jetty reaching out into a river….