For All – On Cold Mountain: Songs on Poems of Gary Snyder
Listen to “Spel Against Demons” from For All – On Cold Mountain
A Pulitzer poet, Gary Snyder is revered — alongside Alan Watts, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac — for his literary contributions to Eastern thought. Snyder’s passionate respect for the environment often earns him the title of poet of deep ecology, wherein the non-human and the human worlds carry equal moral weight. On this album, W. A. Mathieu set several of Snyder’s translations of the eighth-century Chinese poet Han Shan — one of them Han Shan’s more “beat” poems:
Once at Cold Mountain troubles cease
No more tangled, hung-up mind.
I idly scribble poems on the rock cliff.
Taking whatever comes, like a drifting boat
W. A. Mathieu’s song cycle For All “is as eclectic as Gary’s poetry. Gary and I came from the same generation of eclectics and generalists. His poetry has always seemed to me intricate and well made, but not until I set these few poems did I realize how beautifully woven they really are.”
“Spel Against Demons…engages the listener with both form and content in a nontraditional way. The hiss of the singer is supported by tight tremolos and minor-mode language. It…adds dramatic and harmonic interest on…a straightforward, accessible program.”
– Kraig Lamper, American Record Guide