"KEEPING IT LOCAL": Trinie Dalton visits BRIGHTBLACK MORNING LIGHT

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Nabob, photographed by Trinie Dalton

KEEPING IT LOCAL
Two transplants from the Heart of Dixie who went west to the land of mesas, pueblos and geodesic domes, Rachael Hughes and Nathan Shineywater have found a way to thrive beyond society’s mad dash to survive. Trinie Dalton travels to New Mexico to meet BRIGHTBLACK MORNING LIGHT, and hear their stunning new album in the pair’s natural habitat.

originally published in Arthur No. 31 (Oct 2008), with photographs by Lisa Law

Leaving Brightblack Morning Light’s northern New Mexico deep wilderness enclave, I finally get their obsession with the local AM radio. The daily monsoon moves in as I fly down the hill from their town in my red rental car. Mexican cumbia, a variation of the upbeat Colombian pop music, sounds interplanetary crackling through the fuzzy AM distance. I imagine it transmitting from some far off Mexican star, a star I’d like to visit. Crank the cumbia, see what it can do in a storm. Brightblack Morning Light’s Nabob Shineywater says AM is like Sun Ra. Yesterday morning, just after I’d arrived, we were hiking up a wash and Nabob asked, “Who are we to say Sun Ra wasn’t from another planet?”

The sky gets dark as wind kicks up. With the first lightning crackle and boom, the radio shorts and cumbia cuts out—quiet for a moment, then back up, hissing, scratched, and damaged. Have I blown the speakers? Has the radio station’s tower been struck? Each lightning bolt slicing vertically down the flat horizon causes more disruption. Nabob also mentioned that in Los Alamos, scientists recently disproved Einstein’s theory that light travels fastest. Radio waves now win that contest. Two days after the anniversary of the Pueblo Revolt of 1860—a big deal in these parts—thunder means the obliteration of human sounds. Recognizable dance beats are exchanged for something Frankenstein-ish: a live, electric orchestration so weird and marvelous it could only have been invented by Nature, the omnipresent force in this sandy region.

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