Letter from Rich Shapero
With the completion of the CDs The Wolves and Animus, Wild Animus is complete. To those who are new to Wild Animus, welcome. If you’ve already read the novel, or have heard some of the music, welcome back.
Wild Animus is a storytelling experiment that takes you inside the world of a young man, Ransom Altman, who transforms himself into a wild ram. He is pursued by a pack of wolves through a northern wilderness, and ascends an ice-covered mountain to meet a presence he calls “Animus.” The novel describes Ransom’s journey in three parts—“The Ram,” “The Wolves,” and “Animus.” The three CDs, similarly titled, take you inside his experience, from beginning to end.
Like all worlds, Wild Animus can be entered from many directions. You can read the novel first and get the context for the story told in song. Or you can jump into the music, and return to the book for story details. Or you can read and listen as you go. Here’s how you might do that:
Read Chapters 1-4. Ransom invokes the ram and his transformation occurs. Now listen to the first three pieces on CD 1: “From the Flames,” “Ram,” and “Where Am I Bound?”. In the liner notes, beside the lyrics for “From the Flames,” you will see the number 68. On page 68 of the novel, the scene for “From the Flames” is described. (If you want to approach the story this way, here’s a tip: Etched onto each liner notes page is a number. That number refers to the page of the novel associated with the song.)
Now read Chapters 5-7, stopping at page 134. Listen to tracks 4-8 on CD 1. The novel gives you the setting and the human wrapper for the story. The music takes you on the ram’s journey. Finish Chapter 7, and play tracks 9-12. The ram escapes the first attack. He’s in the rocks, climbing. He makes a dangerous crossing over a bridge of spines, hoping the wolves are gone.
Now read Chapter 8. When you’re done, you’re ready to start on CD 2.
Wild Animus is the story of a search for meaning. Before the printing press, people told stories like this around a fire, and they were sung. The songs were lengthy and complex, but listeners found them deeply rewarding. I hope the same for you and Wild Animus.