“I Do Not Want What Heaven Gave Me”

I don’t want it either. And what is “it,” exactly? Is “it” some sort of divine blessing, or a message, or a power? How am I supposed to use “it”? Dino Spiluttini doesn’t want “it.” And yet, I think he yearns for something “other” from a supernatural source, something more real and tangible than what we experience in our fast-food religious culture, with its manufactured praise bands (triple yuck!). That’s how it is in America, anyway. I don’t know how it is in Vienna, where Spiluttini is from. Still, the seven songs that comprise I Do Not Want all point to the past and unearth complex emotions about love and loss, life and death. The permanence of history, of time, the passing into the future, or beyond life. They read like a hymnal: “Praise,” “Psalm,” “Chant,” “Requiem,” “Hymn,” “Prayer,” “Mass.” Indeed, Spiluttini was inspired to compose these pieces after his mother showed “him the place where their ashes would be interred after their deaths.” The music was culled “hours of organ recordings from that very church,” adorned with additional piano, and unleashed unto us. As he copes with mortality, he allows us to read into his work the importance – how important depends on the individual – of cultural history and how much it impacts personal history. But then, what do we do we do with that? How do we process an “it” or an “other,” clearly something being grappled with in this music? Even if we can’t come to terms with “it” ourselves, we can use art like this to turn our magnifying glasses outward, to see what’s happening out there in the world today, to react to policies and actions that do not allow all people the luxury of introspection or personal history. We are leaving old legacies behind us, beginning new ones. When we’re ready for reverence, though, we’ll call on Dino Spiluttini.

--Ryan Masteller