A family member recently asked me, in more or less words, “Why Wormwood?” I hadn’t stopped to consider this question for a long time. It has just been a given, a reality of what we are. I want to thank this family member (Thanks, Aunt Kim!) for asking so that I was prompted to put the many thoughts I’ve had about the name into words. So, for all of you out there who may be wondering, here are some words about this thing that we call “Wormwood.”
It all began as we were sitting on the stoop one balmy summer night drinking absinthe (as many nights as a 26 year old bachelor artist begin) and spitballing ideas for what to call this duo we’ve found ourselves in. Needless to say, wormwood, the iconic ingredient in absinthe, was right there on the tip of our tongue. At first utterance, my gut told me that it was right. A sort of “love at first sight” moment. There was a poetic attraction to the word through the way it felt, sounded, and the imagery it suggested. The “wood” pointed towards our acoustic instruments carved from spruce, maple, and pernambuco. The “worm” held both the musical “ear worm” as well as the process of decay where worms recycle old life into new.
After this initial attraction, we began to learn more about this word and discovered the use of wormwood in herbal medicine. When consumed, one if the benefits is that it creates an internal environment which purges and resists harmful, invasive organisms. Wormwood, the herb, is a purifier of the body. Wormwood, the sound, we will soon discover.
Finally, absinthe is a drink made most famous by the Lost Generation of artists converging in Paris in the early 20th century. It is said that this was their drink of choice as they shared ideas, created their work, and made merry late into the evenings. Much of their work and approach have inspired both Baylen and me. Specifically of interest to Wormwood is the work of the surrealists and their attempts at reaching into the subconscious mind as a source for unfiltered creativity. Improvisation is the closest musical act that I have found that reaches towards this place. There isn’t time to think. There isn’t time to trace along some pre-prescribed plan. The conscious, verbal mind must shut off. One must enter The World Unspoken.