Mudboy at Silent Barn

Post Author: Nate Dorr

“Each light, a life.” One by one the lamps and droplights are doused, and the stars come out. Through the vapor of a weakly sputtering fog machine they wink, deep blue pinpricks atop the non-invisible speaker tower and strewn across the floor before the seated audience.

There is an all-encompassing chorus of insects. Perhaps frogs. Night sounds. Vague illumination is provided by the diffuse glow of the windows and a trio of candles arrayed around a custom-built wood-housed organ, but the scattered stars most draw the eye. As well as, by their barest gleam, the dim form that picks its way between, swinging a bunch of smoldering incense like a somnambulant priest bearing a censer. Organ notes cycle blankly against the swirl of natural sound. “Each life, a light.” The air is sweet and smoke-embellished.

He calls himself Mudboy, but his manner suggests not such simple, earthy origins, but ceremony and reverence. There is something otherworldy about his motions. His recitation builds in force, then quiets. We are told we are standing in a field, and almost believe it. Back at the organ, new notes lurk amid the prior loops; fingers twist their sounds into new, dissonant shapes that dart and wander.

He is speaking again, as the sounds turn more violent, begin to claw, mewling, from shadowed speaker mouths. “I am Pig!” Words delivered as a kind of curse. Motions becoming shakier, more forceful as he crosses and recrosses the gulf of stars before us. “When I approach, babies get up and run.” Sounds building to cacaphony, tones overlapping and annihilating eachother. An animal stirs at my back, just someone’s dog, but the effect is startling. More startling, Mudboy’s words are suddenly being echoed into angered incomprehensibility. His eyes blink bitter red. With a lunge, we are suddenly blinded. There is a roaring in our ears, vision swims to make sense. As he spins, we see: he grasps one of the droplights, turning its harsh light directly down on us as he calls out again. And then he is swinging that light by its cord. A comet arcing just over our heads. The audience is transfixed, or I am; I am no longer aware of them around me. And then the roar breachs and falls away, the light dying, all easing out more careful organ sequences and wearied, stumbling drums.