Eric Alexandrakis has released a musical spoken word album, Terra: Music Is The Medicine Which Keeps My World Spinning In Harmony [Living With Post-Cancer Trauma Via Music’s Healing Powers]. The album itself focuses on the effects of music therapy on various ailments and traumatic experiences by mixing Eric’s cancer treatment experiences with his own unique brand of avant-alternative music.
Of the album, Eric says:
“Scientific studies have shown that music can have positive effects on a variety of ailments, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, domestic abuse, addiction, and many others. Sometimes we’re also knowingly, or unknowingly affected mentally by trauma from past experiences, and/or potentially from medical treatments for various ailments, such as in my case, cancer. Only in recent years have some of those affects been acknowledged within the mainstream, and only recently have I been able to acknowledge that I too have some trauma residue from my experiences with cancer, and, well, also from life as well.
“It’s not a cliche. Music is indeed the most powerful force on Earth. It can make you laugh, cry, sing, dance, run, love, hate all within the same few minutes. For me, staying balanced relies heavily upon my ability to stay creative, because music is my medicine, and it can be everyone else’s medicine as well.”
I’ll start by saying that I am a huge believer in music therapy, so I was very excited to check out this album. My son has autism, and although he is mostly non-speaking, he responds beautifully to music. Music plays an important part in his therapy and school—helping him to use language, move his body, express himself, and regulate his emotions. I love that music therapy is becoming more mainstream.
Terra has a whopping 50 tracks, ranging in length from four seconds to ten minutes each, with the exception of the song “Terra Medicina” which clocks in at one hour and eighteen minutes. The songs have some very interesting names, such as “The Revealing Science of God”, “It Was Me [BUNNICULA’S WHIP ‘N DIP DEMO KARAOKE MIX]”, and “Domestic Abuse.”
The Poetry Foundation defines spoken word as “A broad designation for poetry intended for performance. Though some spoken word poetry may also be published on the page, the genre has its roots in oral traditions and performance. Spoken word can encompass or contain elements of rap, hip-hop, storytelling, theater, and jazz, rock, blues, and folk music. Characterized by rhyme, repetition, improvisation, and word play, spoken word poems frequently refer to issues of social justice, politics, race, and community. Related to slam poetry, spoken word may draw on music, sound, dance, or other kinds of performance to connect with audiences.” I very much enjoy spoken word and slam poetry. In fact, one of my favourite artists is Hobo Johnson, who has put a modern twist on spoken word and helped to popularize the genre.
Unfortunately, I think Eric Alexandrakis misses the mark on this one.
Terra begins with a monologue about the journey of life, and what constitutes a good life. There is no musicality, rhyme, repetition, or word play. The rest of the 49 tracks alternate between this style of monologue, and mostly lyric-less techno, synthesized beats that sound like a combination of computer noises and radio static. The song “Baggage Claim” is essentially just beeping—it sounds like the audio of an alien spaceship landing in a cheesy sci-fi movie.
I respect that this project is obviously very dear to Alexandrakis. I believe that Terra was therapeutic for him to create, and I think that’s wonderful. I also think that sometimes when an artist is extremely passionate about a project, they sometimes forget that other people need to be able to connect to their music as well if they hope to receive positive reviews or turn a profit. Multiple monologues about your thoughts on life make a great podcast, but not a great album. Songs that run for over an hour come off as egotistical and pretentious, not artistic. It might be difficult for listeners to find a connection to an album that is obviously so, so personal to Alexandrakis. There were a few songs, such as “Good Girls Won’t Waltz With Me” and “Daylight Daylight”, that have beautiful instrumentals, flowing lyrics, and showcase Alexandrakis’ lovely singing voice—reminiscent of 60’s psychedelic rock. I really wish that Terra included more of these songs because they were great.
In the opening track, “Nightflight to Venus”, Alexandrakis defines having a good life as “having happiness, security, and the freedom to express myself”. He has certainly expressed himself with this album. I wish him all the best.