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'Mythological Chaos' Album Debuts at Goodbye Blue Monday

Hafftka painted "Frame of Mind" in 1999. He said much of his musical and visual work is inspired by dreams.
Hafftka painted "Frame of Mind" in 1999. He said much of his musical and visual work is inspired by dreams.
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Michael Hafftka

BUSHWICK — Michael Hafftka is a hero battling a porcupine, a fool conquering a pirate ship, a neo-expressionist artist with etchings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a guitarist releasing a new album.

To Hafftka, who sees dreams as a piece of reality, all of the above statements are true — and he hopes his audience will feel the same when they hear his new album "Mythological Chaos."

Hafftka (whose etchings really are on display at the Met) and classical cellist Valerie Kuehne have joined to produce the record, whose "experimental avant-garde electro" tunes they will debut Monday night at the Bushwick venue Goodbye Blue Monday.

"The music reaches such a tremendous frenzy...I was thinking in Biblical terms, like the world, order is created from chaos," he explained of the album's name.

Hafftka, a long-time painter who has also published a dream-inspired book called "Conscious Unconscious," said his improvised classical music derives from the same need for free expression that began when he was a child.

Born in New York in 1953 to Holocaust survivors, Hafftka attributed his creative desires to an awareness of their struggles.

"My thirst and love for freedom were affected by my parents' finally having gained freedom," said Hafftka, who began painting at 20 when he had a "series of visionary experiences and mystical dreams."

"I felt like I was always creating," he said of the era in his life, "sort of like the concept of aboriginal dream time like even in sleep you’re constantly creating...The dreams were revelations to me. I saw them all as having artistic meaning."

He included the dreams in his book, "Conscious Unconscious," including one segment called "The Ass and the Porcupine" about his brutal fight with a porcupine.

"I wanted to cover the porcupine's beady little eyes...I thought it would be subdued and powerless if it were blind," he wrote. "I succeeded in blinding it but it fought more vigorously...we were tumbling in all directions."

His eventual strangling murder of the beast "took on mythical significance," said Hafftka, who narrates some of the "Mythological Chaos" songs with his stories. But his lyrics are indiscernible and his voice becomes another instrument, said Hafftka, a "primitive singer."

Hafftka and Kuehne are performing at Goodbye Blue Monday on 1087 Broadway at 8 p.m.