“We are the measure of all things. And the beauty of our creation, of our art, is proportional to the beauty of ourselves, of our souls…” – morning of the earth, ost reissue
2013 marked the 40th anniversary of seminal Australian surf film, Morning of the Earth. For the occasion, the film was re-released (along with a book) and director Albert ‘Alby’ Falzon did some press/events around the commemoration. At that time, he recalled a story that happened whilst shooting for the film in Bali. An Indian diplomat likened the beauty of the isle he was visiting to ‘the morning of the world.’ Falzon agreed, and there you have the peculiar title we are all familiar with. And, really, it’s quite fitting as this unique take on a surf film follows some exceptional surfers to beautiful locales, as they display not only their water radness but demonstrate their reverence for the world they play in.
Sustainable before it was even a thing, environmentally conscious before it was paramount; these surfers truly communed with nature. We’re talking: building their surf boards and huts from the land and ensuring they left no trace behind…all the while cruising to and fro some of the most perfect surf your eyes will ever see.
But, like any timeless film (surf or otherwise), the element that ties it all together is the music that accompanies these erstwhile journeys. Brooklyn based label, Mexican Summer (in partnership w/ Anthology Recordings) just released the original soundtrack – for the first time Stateside (along with similarly profound Crystal Voyager) – as part of their Anthology Surf Archive series.
Now, you might be thinking: c’mon surf soundtracks…a couple grooves, some reverb. I’ve heard it before. Not here. The tracks that accompany Morning of the Earth sound like they were plucked right out of your favorite dive bar jukebox. Familiar, dusty, psychedelic/Laurel Canyon-tinged numbers; filtered through the skilled hands of Aussie musicians.
G. Wayne Thomas produced the record, gathering Australian folkies and surfer-players to lend their talents to the film’s themes. Love and happiness, accountability for your footprint, untouched beauty…deep stuff for a surf flick that resonates and lives far outside the realm of gliding through perfect Bali barrels and beach hang montages (but don’t worry, there’s plenty of that, too). The album went on to claim the distinction of being Australia’s first Gold record for a soundtrack and standout single, Thomas’ “Open Up Your Heart”, held on t0 the #1 spot for a bit. Clearly, sturdy music that held some weight well beyond the screen.
When approached to write about the record – I toiled with the angle I’d take but later that morning, as I was checking the local surf report…it became clear: the music would accompany my own journey.
So, off I set for County Line on a cloudy Sunday morning.
The opening (and title) track tees up strings, hallelujah choirs, a mountain like crescendo… textured – dare I say, epic – stuff. I was in for one hell of a day.
“From the tallest mountain to the smallest drop of rain… each and everything created was of equal worth…it was the Morning of the Earth.”
From the get go, it’s apparent this song serves as the proverbial centerpiece at the table but also the precursor to the territory these guys are looking to explore: recognizing your place amongst all of earth’s great creations. Heavy.
A couple tracks in, Newcastle band, Taman Shud, make their first of three appearances on the album and nothing finer than track, “First things First”. Woodwinds, warm keys, an ear-worm pulsing chorus…it sounds like a 70s TV sitcom theme (respect).
“Ain’t ya glad that you’re living ‘round here…ain’t ya glad that you’re free? It’s so good to know that you’ve got a friend that will help you out til the very end of time… ”
Pretty life affirming stuff to hear cruising on PCH with the pale blue at one side and wife on the other. But, really, as the album rolls on, what sticks out the most are the consistent tenets all of these musicians are exploring. It’s positive, profound music that will leave you questioning your habits and daily approach. Of course, it also helps that it sounds damn good, too. Clearly, there was no miscommunication of the director’s vision down to Thomas.
Anyhow, here I was, not even halfway through the first spin and I was doing some pre-water soul searching.
Another standout for me includes: J John Francis’ “Simple Ben”. A near 8 minute plucky, rambler that – for a bit of background – accompanies a beautiful scene in the film where Falzon intertwines the life of a board being built from the land, with shots of its (presumably) maiden-voyage, in some picturesque tight-wound swell.
The character in the song, Simple Ben, is looking for: Sunshine through the autumn, sweet snow to the spring, corn by the water of an old mill stream…and with that, you give Ben home.
Simple Ben plays the protagonist in the center of this soundtrack. Happy in the water, happy on the land and grateful for the natural bounty he receives from his mother earth.
Stepping back from the inside of this a bit…the film’s narrative and soundtrack is preaching thoughtful living through the guise of beautiful surf. A well-orchestrated vision for a cohesive, multi-faceted project. The two exist hand in hand and the textures and depth of the record border on timeless.
I could go on stitching together thoughts on all of the tracks and how great my own day of surf was. But, really, with the current state of affairs these days…we all could benefit from listening to this record and the reaffirmation that the greatness of this place is best enjoyed with a happy outlook and knowing you did your part to help those beyond us – surely enjoy it, too. words / t hale