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SEEING  WITH  THE  EAR

by Mark Esakoff

During the recording sessions for Panorhythmica Mike and I often discussed music in terms of visual imagery. It soon became apparent that the choice of metaphors we were using corresponded to the sounds we were each trying to get. We saw eye to eye, or more accurately, ear to eye. When one of us would use visual terms like "smoke", "wood", "purple", "green", etc. to describe music, the other would instinctively know what he meant. This visual-aural language we had developed between us during the recording process ultimately became the theme of the album… seeing with the ear.

Naturally, we tried to come up with a name for the album by combining something that’s visual-aural. I proposed the title "Panoramic Rhythms." Mike, immediately upon hearing it said, "Panorhythmic!"  It was instant, we both liked it. Later, he wanted to add an "a" to the end it so it would roll off the tongue… "Panorhythmica."  I preferred it without the "a", but he passionately argued for it. I conceded defeat.

The theme of seeing with the ear continued into the CD cover artwork. I contacted an artist friend of mine, Tom McKeith, who in the past had offered to do the next Chasm CD cover art as a favor. I had a concept for the artwork that included a face in which the ear and the eye were switched around. This image was in part inspired by a psychologist / philosopher named William James (1842-1910) who I remembered studying while in college. James hypothesized that if the ears could be surgically connected to the visual portion of the brain and the eyes to the aural portion, one would be able to hear colors and see sounds. I pictured this as an ear placed in the eye socket and an eye placed in the ear canal.

While discussing this, Tom mentioned he had just finished reading an article about people who actually have a neurological disorder similar to this called synesthesia People with this condition have severe problems sorting out reality. Luckily, we were able to sort out our conversation and actually began seeing ear to eye.  He was able to follow my convoluted inside-outlook. Tom took the idea as a challenge knowing it would be difficult to draw something like this without it looking scary or like a Picasso. His first attempt looked like this picture1. His second attempt looked like this picture2.  And the third attempt is what became the final cover art for the Chasm CD, Panorhythmica .

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