Self-portrait by Ashen Swan
Ashen Swan is a 23-year old Korean-American musician from the Chicagoland and Ellicott City, Maryland areas, hoping to create music that heals and allows people to reflect and rest. He hopes to start playing shows again, if the opportunity ever arises.
Invisible Life is Ashen Swan’s project released on June 1st. It follows his past projects, Circadian, L’appel du Vide, and Pale Blue Dot, aiming for a warmer, nostalgic feel. He used warbling cassette tape loops made from old cassettes previously owned by his parents and field recordings, recorded in Maryland, adding a certain character to the already sprawling soundscapes created with guitar and piano. It's inspired by themes outlined in Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, such as sacredness, faith, memory, loss, temporality, and the beauty of mortality.
Ashen Swan shares:
"Invisible Life is an attempt to capture the essence of home, wherever it may be and whatever routines it exists in, as a reminder that beauty exists in the plain and simple, often hiding in plain sight, and that life abounds everywhere if we just have the eyes to see it.
“It has seemed to me sometimes as though the Lord breathes on this poor gray ember of Creation and it turns to radiance - for a moment or a year or the span of a life. And then it sinks back into itself again, and to look at it no one would know it had anything to do with fire, or light .... Wherever you turn your eyes the world can shine like transfiguration. You don't have to bring a thing to it except a little willingness to see. Only, who could have the courage to see it? .... Theologians talk about a prevenient grace that precedes grace itself and allows us to accept it. I think there must also be a prevenient courage that allows us to be brave - that is, to acknowledge that there is more beauty than our eyes can bear, that precious things have been put into our hands and to do nothing to honor them is to do great harm.”
Photo by Grace Jooeun Kim