|Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock I shall build my Church,
And the flames of hell shall not prevail against it:
and I shall give unto thee the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven."
Matthew 16:18 19
||"And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl...
And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it:
for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof."
These famous passages from the Holy Bible have conjured fantastic imagery through the centuries and St. Peter's Gate, at least from a visual standpoint, contributes heartily to this tradition. Popular culture has immortalized the vision of towering, white, wrought-iron gates in the clouds, guarded by a white bearded Saint Peter holding a pair of keys. The two keys symbolize the destination we are supposedly bound for eternity, either the pearly gates of heaven or the hellish inferno of Hades. One of the twelve disciples of Jesus in the New Testament, Saint Peter is considered by the Roman Catholics to be the first Pope and the visible head of the entire church, based almost entirely upon the passage from Matthew 16:18 hereabove.
Interestingly enough, however, further analysis of the phrase "Thou art Peter (Petros), and upon this rock (petra) will I build my church..." reveals that Christ was referring not to Peter as the rock, but to Peter's confession in Matthew 16:16 where he states that Christ is the Rock. The greek words petros (detached stone) and petra (living rock, solid rock) show that Christ distinguished quite carefully between the two. As we learn more about the true distortions of history, especially where religion is concerned, it is quite reasonable for many non-Catholics to conclude that Saint Peter's authority and supposed supernatural capability of opening the doors of life and death has been overstated. Regardless, for countless artists and billions of Christians, Saint Peters iconic depiction continues to fascinate and inspire.
History aside, this particular album uses solo piano vignettes to explore this multi-faceted concept as an elaborate, musical voyage. Beginning with the anticipation of the journey on to the transition itself, passing through the awakening and judgment phases to ultimately find salvation and then reincarnation. This last step may be a surprise to some, especially to those who may not believe in its existence, but it is important for a couple of reasons: it allows the journey to come full circle by provoking a new beginning and it offers a legitimate chance for karma to play a major role as its energy stretches over several lifetimes.
As I have no first hand experience in this process, I would be foolish to attempt a written description of many of the stages herein as I did on my previous album "VIRTUE". And while this assertion might seem to disprove my previous argument for reincarnation, for the record, I am inclined to believe. Unfortunately, I am one of those who has no recollection of past lives. So I will simply share what holds true.
Musically, my goal with each composition was to evoke characteristics of the mood that might accompany that particular stage of the story. This allows more freedom in the interpretation as it doesn't restrict you to a specific emotion. I do know that any journey through the gates of heaven must be full of vast array of strikingly shifting emotions, so the music must be able to accurately portray these elements. And as with anything relatively unknown, there will be surprises, changes in momentum. To be more precise, the word "goal" should really be replaced by "I wish it to be", because my approach is completely intuitive. I rarely set out with a specific compositional framework in mind because it would limit the chances for something truly unexpected to appear. What does in fact happen is that my "subjective filter" comes into play at some point and quickly lets me know if I am going in the right direction.
Tuning in to ones subconscious while composing is indispensable, and truth be told, if you have done the years of preparation beforehand, it rarely lets you done. Something as basic as a title and an initial feeling can lead you into hours of exploration, places you just can't map out logically beforehand. Approaching "Judgment", I knew that I wanted to create a turbulent mood, but little did I know there would be moments of uneasy stillness as well. Yet these quieter passages create the dynamic that make the subsequent louder parts startle that much more effectively. As many have noted: the space in between is as important as the notes themselves. "Preparation" is presented in a more upbeat, hurried manner, as though the impending journey was unexpected. Or perhaps simply someone scurrying about at the last minute as they did most of their lives! For many others, preparation would be a very methodical, drawn out affair! "Retrospection" is one that I am quite familiar with - as most of us are. In this instance, it is approached romantically, with a loving, reminiscent look to the past.
The thirteen steps I've chosen to represent are in no way intended to be "official" nor were they taken from books on the subject. Again, just my own intuition and how I imagine the process to be. Their order, however, is something I considered at length. Deciding to favor the literary value first and foremost, I had to temporarily relegate the music to second fiddle while challenging myself that the final album must still flow from a point of musical continuity. It was an exciting approach, and actually much less limiting than one might envision. Due to the fact that the subject matter for each piece was inherent in its title, often the inspiration had a head start! This of course is the polar opposite of how most albums are made nowadays, with final running order decisions based solely on the strengths of the audio mixes and their ability to catch an immediate response from the listener.
In closing, I am left reflecting upon so many years of human history, and in spite of so much technological change, some things will never change. Life is such a precious gift, something indescribable in its majesty. As we grow older, it would seem that the most natural things in our world reach out to us the strongest. We earn to live each and every day, whether we live one life or indeed, many lives.
For myself, one of the most wonderful things about life is music, its ability to transport my soul, to take me to places I've never been. And considering that Ive just returned intact from being awakened, judged and then saved, all in the sky, never has this been more true than with St. Peter's Gate!
Enjoy your own journey...