Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Guest Post On Magick Will

 This guest post on Magick is an excerpt from Klaas Pieter van der Tempel's "Pause, Play: A Higher Consciousness Handbook."  It seems this may be a good entry level approach for some people, a foot in the door as it were, though it's not my particular cup of tea.  Readers interested in seeing more can purchase the book here for under $3
Magick Will
What: Being conscious of our influence on ‘reality.’
Why: To take control of our mind, instead of letting it control us.
How: With imagination and will. Imagine something you desire, know that it can become real by being aware that you are everything (creator, sustainer, and destroyer), then let it go and see what happens.
Everything is magical, whether we can see it or not. Creation, time, evolution, change: these are all going on without us knowing how or why. Something must be making them happen. It could be a god. It could be us. It could be that everything is making everything happen.
Whatever else may be helping us along, magick is one way for us to tap into the source of that change; to become co-creators, consciously evolving from moment to moment.
Magick will is just another way of saying that we are engaging our consciousness in the steering of our mental and physical desires. If I feel like having sex because I’m horny, that’s not magical will: that’s just unconscious bodily programming. That’s how I was engineered to be before I was even born. But if I can overcome the fact that I’m being unconsciously programmed, and make use of my horniness for my own conscious purposes (perhaps because I desire to become a mother or father), well, then it’s magick will.
Magick will is the commanding of the unconscious fields of experience. We participate in creation through intent, through a will that is activated in deep thought, symbols, rituals, or prayers.
This will is not the will of the ego. This is the will of the transcendental ego, to which we can attune ourselves through mindfulness and other ways of changing consciousness. In the end, we are the will of the universe, flesh and bone, and the whole secret to magick is to be aware of this. To be mindful of our greater identity.
Our ideas about reality are a self-fulfilling prophecy. What we believe is true literally becomes true, within limits to be found through experiment. All magick means is doing this consciously: believing something because we want it to create a new truth, a new reality. We project desire into reality and expect to change that reality. In other words, a magus, or magician, is an experimental believer. A scientist experimenting with his or her own (state of) mind.
Anything can happen. And we can want anything to happen. So make things happen. Don’t just hope for it. Think things to happen. Imagine them to happen. Ask them to happen.
Most of the time we spend in our heads we are being more or less rational, constructing visions of the future or reconstructing a memory of the past. In other words, we are rationalizing and escaping the present by creating these huge scenarios of “I should have said this” or “What if that happens?” Try instead to let the picture of what you are thinking about to become clear to your conscious mind. Learn what your mind wants (and what it doesn’t want. See @Mindfulness). Then you can truly project what you want - such as the positive version of the picture or feeling you were having - and beget for yourself what you truly wish for. Reality will be made to conform to your will, once you know what your will is. * The world responds to your every thought. You may not always notice the results, as they may happen over time or in a different way than you expected, but they are there.
Your will is whatever you will it to be. But it has to be your will, and it has to be willed consciously.
How exactly do you know what your magick will is?
 The best way to know your true will is to transcend your normal state of consciousness. Align yourself with your higher self.  Be overwhelmed with purpose, will, and vision. Or use mindfulness. Here, you can catch the moment before a thought determines your feelings, behaviors, or perception. You can step outside of your mind. How do you think about stopping to think? This is obviously a paradox, one which any student of meditation will quickly be confronted with. You’d have to stop thinking about stopping thinking about stopping thinking, ad infinitum, before you would finally stop thinking. Or until something would snap and you became enlightened.
But here’s a trick. In your mind, connect this circle of infinite thoughts back to yourself. Don’t worry about thinking about not thinking about not thinking till infinity wears you out. Just let your mind do what it does. With your eyes closed, pass your consciousness through your body. Feel it and be fully present inside it. Then realize that your body and mind are one with reality. Realize that you are everything. Since you are everything, it is your intent, your will, which is the universal will, and vice-versa. As above, so below. Now realize your influence through this two-way connection. Realize your divine influence. You can direct your thoughts, as they are the thoughts of the all, and you can make them accord with your will.
All you need to do is release your expectations, not expecting anything to happen simply because you want it to, but having faith that those things will happen which are in accordance with the universal will. Just be careful to direct your will towards the reality you want and enjoy, not the one you dislike. Also, beware of doubts. Self-doubt has a tendency to form a negative feedback system between the conscious and unconscious mind. Magick usually works in the cases where there are no doubts; where your intuition tells you that something will happen. It also works where you’ve completely forgotten about doing the magick. So listen to your intuition!
Joseph Campbell once wrote the following. He said that “The best advice is to take it all as if it had been of your intention. With that, you evoke the participation of your will.” What Campbell is saying is that we never have to ask the question “WHY ME??” again. We can ‘decide’ to be our own creators, and reconcile ourselves with anything that has happened in our lives. We made it happen, whether it was the conscious or unconscious part of us, and we made it happen for a reason. Believe that everything happens according to your (transcendental, or magickal) wish, and you raise yourself from being a victim of reality to being its central hero(ine). Make the leap from “Why me?” to “BECAUSE ME!”
If we always expect things to happen the way we want, and then they don’t, and we get pissed, we’ve gotten our egos caught up in our magick. Instead, accept that existence is a mystery. We can’t explain all of it, nor can we change or predict all of it either. Understand that that mystery is a part of yourself. Even the things you can’t understand are a part of you. The reason for using higher consciousness instead of the ego in magick is to recognize the unconscious, the mystery, instead of wanting to consciously control everything. In other words, we have to let our projected desire go. Have the idea, feel it, project it, and let it go. See what happens.
An example: some years ago, I had been single for some time. So had one of my friends. One day, my friend told me that he woke up in the morning with an intuitive realization; “I am going to get laid today.” And guess what? He got some action. That made me realize that I could do the same thing; simply open myself up to a desire, and will it to happen. So I did. I put myself into an altered state of consciousness and told my ‘higher self’ that I was ready to meet the woman of my dreams. And then I let it go, and forgot about it. A few days later a young woman came to my front door for a spontaneous get-together with friends. She literally came to me. We hit it off right from the start, and she has been my girlfriend, partner, and soul mate ever since. Only after a while did I remember how magick had been a part of our meeting.
It helps to remember that the balance of forces in reality is always maintained. In magick, we should be aware that when we take, we will have to give something in return. Therefore the most important balance to maintain is to A) Consciously craft our reality, while also B) Surrendering to the experience. Take turns being a magician and a robot; being the one who creates a reality and the one who lives in it. Imagine your reality before you play in it. This is a balance of submission and control.
Here’s one very simple magic technique I stole off of a soccer player on TV. After he scored a goal, he pretended with his hand that he was waving a wand in a circle and then he poked through the imaginary circle. It was like a little magic ritual confirming the power of his will to score. If you need to put your magick will into something, try this yourself: speak out your will, make a circle in the air, then poke it. As if you’re holding a wand and using it to give something power. Then forget that you ever did something so silly and let your unconscious you take care of the rest.
 Or, if you’re planting a garden, create a circle of protection around it by pouring water around it and addressing the potential predators of your seedlings. Ask them to take only a bit of your crop, and not to ravage the garden whole. Or, if someone has given you their business card, write on the back of it what you hope this person will mean to you.
There are endless ways of applying magickal thinking. All it takes is awareness - awareness of self-as-everything and everything-as-self - and the will to co-create this world. And the magick works because you - we are the magick.
Wake up! You could be willing right now. Not just doing things; but being things while you do them. If you practice on simple things, like doing the dishes, conscious will will come more naturally when you’re doing something complex. Practice awareness; willed action. “I am. I am doing these dishes. I am doing this. This is magick. I am doing magick. I am doing. I am. I. I am. I am magick. Hello, me!” Do magick, any time, for any reason, in any way. Reread this section again a few times to make sure you’ve understood Magick and the Magick will. Final tip: engage your love before you desire something. Love is the link that can make things real.
This is the classical interpretation of magick. But you could just as easily turn it around, and say that ‘Your will will be made to conform to Reality.’ In other words, through magick, you can put yourself in accordance with the natural way of things. You accept everything, having understood that everything ‘is you’. This may be the more honest perspective. Which interpretation you use will depend on your preference.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Thousand Plateaus - A Contemporary Grimoire

Some remarks on Deleuze and Guatarri's  A Thousand Plateaus - Capitalism and Schizophrenia in light of the Alchemical Arts.

The verbiage in A Thousand Plateaus appears, at first glance, extremely dense, opaque and difficult to comprehend.  There are good reasons for this similar to why alchemical and magical instruction texts are elaborately coded. I suggest that ATP could accurately be subtitled A Manual for the Creation of Higher Bodies or some such. I will give indicators for looking in that direction but will refrain from giving too much away so that esoteric students may find their own way, adopt their own methodologies and practices.  We can approach this grimoire like Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poroit and deduce how to apply this material for our own creative output and spiritual growth.  This book is a work book, meaning that it takes work on the part of the reader to unlock the information.  This  helps ensure that the keys get received only when the student is ready. 

The first time I read ATP, a little more than a year ago, most of it went completely over my head though I would encounter passages of extreme brilliance that inspired sticking with it.  I figured that the majority I didn't understand would help subconsciously teach my brain the syntax of their communication.  After finishing it, I spent a year largely reading the literature about ATP, the rest of the D & G oeuvre as well as books, articles, and videotapes by or about Gille Deleuze.  I recently finished reading ATP for the second time and received a much better picture of this masterpiece. 

To begin with our detective work, we observe that the title, A Thousand Plateaus, plainly suggests multiple levels of reality.   It shares that in common with both Sufism and Qabalism.  A thousand is a lot of levels though it seems that number has other connotations than the literal.   On one level this book is about the creative process, how things come into existence and what happens to them after that; morphogenesis, how organic form arises and develops, only the authors don't limit themselves to the organic.  They appear willing to include the more speculative areas of research into the Unknown such as Carlos Castenada's shamanic adventures and experiments.  You could call ATP pragmatic metaphysics.

There is little commentary in the supplementary literature I've seen as to why they designated 1,000 plateaus rather than 10,000 or 100 or some other number.  One writer compared it to that compendium of Middle Eastern and Eastern folklore known as One Thousand and One Nights.  This seems an accurate reference.  The framework of that epic is that the virginal Scheherazade tells her new husband the King a story on their wedding night but doesn't finish it.  Due to a previous bad experience Shahrya, the King, has a questionable habit of executing his brides the morning after their wedding night before they can dishonour him; male brutality crushing female intelligence. Scheherazade defeats immediate death by telling Shahrya a story every night but not finishing it so that he'll have to let her live another day to find out what happened.

Before examining the ATP title symbolically, we note that both Deleuze and Guattari were directly influenced by qabalistic writers.  Two of the most prominent influences in Deleuze's The Logic of Sense were Antonin Artaud and Lewis Carroll.  Artaud studied qabalah while Carroll's major literary works are veritable textbooks on the subject.  Alice in Wonderland is on Aleister Crowley's reading list of occult books to study.  Both D & G cite James Joyce as an influence with Guattari said to be obsessed by him.  An English copy of Ulysses was on his bedside table when he died.  It seems well established that Joyce used extensive qabalistic artifice and reckoning in his most experimental works, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake.  One clear commonality between qabala and D & G is that they both attempt to describe how form comes into being then look at what might happen next. 

Why a thousand plateaus?  In qabala, a thousand = 3 because of the three zeros.   3 = Binah, the archetypal feminine. 3 also = The Empress in the tarot, another prominent female character whose path, Daleth, corresponds with Venus and is the doorway to the Supernal Triad - what gets considered the real world beyond the world of illusion and appearance.  Daleth connects Chokmah with Binah, the Father with the Mother or pure yang with pure yin, the creative with the receptive.  We have, so far, three strong female presences connected with A Thousand Plateaus: Scheherazade, the new wife telling stories so her man won't kill her, Binah, and The Empress.  I mention this partly in homage to Deleuze's love for tripartite analysis which one commentator said he was almost obsessed with. While this may superficially appear as mashing one system onto another, the importance of the feminine in transformational processes gets clearly delineated in Chapter 10 1730: Becoming-Intense, Becoming-Animal, Becoming-Imperceptible ...  Their concept of becoming-woman describes in another way a main theme in Aleister Crowley's Book of Lies, a theme symbolized by the N.O.X.  formula.  See chapter 35 in that book then read the supplementary chapters suggested in the commentary to see how Crowley articulates while hiding this theme.

We can go further with the ATP title.  In my 1994 Minnesota Press Edition the word PLATEAUS appears in a larger typeface than any other word on the cover.  Breaking down this word like a Lewis Carroll or Joycean qabalistic portmanteau we have:

PLA = ALP = Joyce's Anna Livia Plurabelle, another strong symbolic characterization of Woman. PLA also = 111 which corresponds to The Fool in the tarot which describes an alchemical process cognate with D&G's terms of deterritorialization, lines of flight, and new becomings.

T = Tau = the cross = The Universe (tarot).  T also = Teth, the cross path connecting Geburah with Chesed, balancing Power with Mercy.  Teth also = Strength (tarot) and shows yet another aspect of the Divine Woman this time taming a beast. Teth also = Horus.

EAU = the French word for water

S = Shin = fire.  S also = Samekh = Art (Thoth tarot), a card describing the alchemical blending related to The Fool.

The symbolic combination of fire and water at the end this of word PLATEAUS that I've mapped as a formula suggests more methods for deterritorialization, lines of flight and radiant becomings (solve coagula).  This method of metaphysical steam locomotion gets qabalistically presented at the very beginning of Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger I, another important manual for spiritual growth.

Finally, the subtitle Capitalism & Schizophrenia = 68 when adding the initials, a number which recurs regularly in Wilson & Shea's guide to qabalah, Illuminatus!  It denotes a particular kind of communication crucial to the alchemy of crystallizing rarefied bodies, bodies with an increased likelihood of surviving physical death.

Moving on ... before reading ATP for the first time I hadn't read straight up philosophy for quite awhile.  I didn't relate well too it preferring to get my philosophy from adventurous experimenters like Crowley, Wilson, Leary and Groucho Marx who put it into action.  What initially really turned me on to D & G's radical philosophical style was that they reference many sources well outside mainstream philosophy.  William Burroughs and James Joyce get recruited along with Nietzsche as early as page six.  They reference literature extensively: Marcel Proust, Franz Kafka, Jack Kerouac, Faulkner, Henry Miller, etc. to illustrate their concepts and lines of thought.  Music supplies them with a key concept, the refrain, along with other useful metaphors and examples.  John Cage, Stockhausen, Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart and Pierre Boulez are some of the composers whose ideas get thrown into the mix.  Francis Bacon, Pollock, Kandinsky, are some of the painters drawn upon.  Chapter 10 begins with the subtitle, Memories of a Moviegoer, then goes into a discussion of the film Willard.  Other subtitles in that chapter include: Memories of a Sorcerer, Memories of a Theologian, Memories of a Spinozist, Memories of a Molecule etc. ATP appears vast, encyclopedic with an incredibly broad range of subjects from the creation of nonorganic life to politics, economics, psychology, metallurgy etc. etc. ...and, of course, philosophy: the wisdom shared by friends.

Alchemy and allusions to spiritual becomings is only one layer in ATP in its massive multiplicities of shifting, yet interconnecting subjects.  One reviewer called it a TOE, a Theory of Everything.  To me, it seems more like a theory of "Nothing is true, everything is permitted." though that seems limited too.   The closest might be to call it a theory of "Here To Go" with the only problem now being that ATP never represents itself as a unified theory of anything.  It's loaded with multiple theories and concepts of all kinds backed up with a plethora of references and examples, but doesn't ever appear to be selling a particular point of view or advocating a moral position; just showing an enlightened perspective on how things work. 

The writing often appears ridiculously complex, but it varies and at times can be crystal clear.  The complexity, upon further examination, appears an experiment to raise the reader's intelligence.  Just trying to figure out wtf they are saying at times requires the reader to get smarter or perish in the ignorance of that subject.  The Deleuze Dictionary edited by Adrian Parr, D & G's ATP by Eugene Holland, and D & G's ATP A Critical Introduction and Guide by Brent Adkins proved very helpful. Once some penetration into the ATP syntax has been made, it will appear that the writing deliberately stimulates the reader's intuitive faculty much like Crowley and Joyce do at times in their own ways.

 Here's a great quote on the creative process simpatico to D&G's views.  This shows how the concepts found in ATP can get creatively and practically used.

You think novelistically as a filmmaker ... We had broad-reaching ambitions, and you're reaching for something unattainable like all the great musicians you admire - filmmakers.  And only by reaching for that do you get pieces of it.  And you get all the pieces and ultimately you decide this is how it must come together with the proper mixture of ... reality and intensity, but also magick and also inspiration that feels honest, and that's the vision we arrived at.

David O. Russell talking about his recent film Joy which he says is also a riff on the emotion of joy.  Although Crowley doesn't explicitly appear anywhere in ATP these quotes from the Book of the Law harmonize well with their concept of deterritorialzation:

I:30: This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.

II:9:  Remember all ye that existence is pure joy; that all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass & are done; but there is that which remains.

To be continued ...

Thursday, January 14, 2016

David Bowie - A Conscious Death?

Jimmi Accardi told me that all of Bowie's songs from his new album:

 are about dying.  The co-producer of

Tony Visconti, said that David Bowie's death was a 'Work of Art' without fully explaining what he meant.  He implied that Bowie timed the release of his new album to coincide with his death then later said that he believed Bowie thought he had a few more months. Bowie had composed five more songs he wanted to record.  The album was released two days before Bowie's death on his 69th birthday.  An interesting coincidence indeed.  It seems like he was prepared to go at any time, but still vitally and creatively alive until no longer physically possible. Visconti reports that the conversation about doing more recording occurred only a week before terminus.  Since he studied Tibetan Buddhism from an early age and was a student and practitioner of Magick, it can be safely assumed that David Bowie was well aware of the technology of consciously dying.  If that's not obvious enough, look at his performance of "My Death" from the film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.  I saw it last night, extremely poignant right about now, while making it clear that Bowie considered and confronted death more than forty years ago.  He had a long time to get it right.  It seems he did, and was able to communicate about it by making his death a Work of Art.  Visconti said that
was his 'parting gift.'  His parting gift appears to contain multiple perspectives on death by an experienced traveler who is almost there.

The album's name is a symbol, it's not a word or words; Bowie's gone beyond words, died to words  representing his art before he died in body.  It looks like a black star so everyone is calling it Blackstar, but that isn't its name, it's a representation of its name: a graphic symbol.  The symbol communicates infinitely more than its representation and can even become a doorway for adventurous astral experimenters.  I'm going to refer to it as Blackstar because I can't make the above graphic smaller.  The only other album I know of named with symbols in place of words is Led Zeppelin's fourth studio release also intended for magical purposes.  Both David Bowie and Jimmy Page have been quite open about drinking from the same source, Aleister Crowley.  On Hunky Dory Bowie sings: "I'm closer to the Golden Dawn immersed in Crowley's uniform of imagery."

I see speculation about the possible meaning of Blackstar online so I'll chime in.  It was commissioned for the TV series the The Last Panthers so I wonder if he might have been mentally associating with the Black Panthers when he came up with Blackstar??  He might have also encountered the descriptive phrase, 'black star,' during cancer treatment as a term health care professionals use for one visual effect of breast cancer. 

Magically speaking, the black star is a pentagram.  One of the initial formulas you come across in the Golden Dawn literature is: pentagram = hexagram, represented as 5 = 6. It symbolizes the transformation of man into godhead - the next level, however you wish to consider it.  In the Blackstar image above, below the five-pointed star we see six star fragments. 5 = 6.   5, the pentagram, the star, symbolizes the balanced WoMan; each of the four lower points connects with one of the four elements, one of the four lower circuits with the top point being the element called spirit .  To me, the most basic meaning of Blackstar: black = death, an obvious correspondence, and star = man as per the G.'. D.'. formula.  When Bowie sings "I'm a blackstar," it translates as, "I'm a dead man," and he didn't want people to hear it until his life/death became that art i.e. Blackstar.  If he did follow the G.'. D.'. formula then the star also corresponds with the 6 part of the formula. The 5 becomes an equivalence to 6 when the 5 becomes a star, when the lower circuits (physical, emotional, intellectual, social) get balanced, function harmoniously and become crowned by spirit.  Then black = death while star = 6 = godhead, the next step, etc. Singing "I'm a blackstar," then seems like he's saying "I'm dead, but I've moved on."  The six star fragments below the main star could symbolize that WoMan has to be taken apart to reach the next level.  Death seems necessary for the real transformation.  Bowie's artistic personae transformed often and radically over the years.  He knew how to die before he died.

Another song on Blackstar is Lazarus, also the name of an off-Broadway musical Bowie wrote the music for.  It's a sequel to the film he starred in, The Man Who Fell To Earth. The opening for it last December was his last public appearance. Lazarus.

The possibility that Bowie applied Golden  Dawn symbolism in Blackstar maybe gets support from Brian Eno.  Paul Gallagher from the Independent news site in the U.K. writes about Bowie's last message to Eno:

Eno said. “I received an email from him seven days ago. It was as funny as always, and as surreal, looping through word games and allusions and all the usual stuff we did.

Over the last few years - with him living in New York and me in London - our connection was by email. We signed off with invented names: some of his were Mr Showbiz, Milton Keynes, Rhoda Borrocks and the Duke of Ear.

[This time] it ended with this sentence: ‘Thank you for our good times, Brian. They will never rot’. And it was signed ‘Dawn’. I realise now he was saying goodbye."

The only other individual I can think of to attempt to make his death a work of art, an educational gift to humanity, was Timothy Leary. As soon as Leary found out he was terminal he wrote an outline for his last book called Design for Dying which came out posthumously, completed by R.U. Sirius.  On the jacket it says: "Leary ... used his approaching death to create an exuberant new vision of what dying can be. Optimism, courage, joy and spirituality were central to Leary's final days and his death.  Design for Dying ... shows us how we too can make dying the high point of life."

This is a promo photo released with Blackstar.  David Bowie, the star, dressed in black showing optimism, courage, joy and spirituality.

Leary had two separate documentaries made of his final days and death.  In one of them it appears that Leary's head gets surgically removed from his body in order to cryogenically preserve it.  There's a riveting image at the end of someone carrying Leary's head on a platter underneath a glass case .  A similar image with a different head turns up in the video for Blackstar.  That head is the skull of an astronaut ( Major Tom?) subtly stylized and decorated with gemstones.  At the end of the video it gets used in what appears like some sort of magick ritual.  Both Leary and Bowie displayed adept qualities at qabala so it doesn't seem surprising they would use it in their final communications. The combination of "head" and "death" conveys a significant key for surviving death, a motif these two pioneers of dying consciously and elegantly portrayed in their final video images.  Blackstar becomes cognate with that motif.  Blackstar conveys a key to dying consciously.

Leary did have incredible optimism which he applied to dying.  At the beginning of the Blackstar video we observe a common symbol of optimism, often a trite cliche even, but reterritorialized with poignant affect in the context of this video and of death.

 The following is reprinted from RawIllumination.net.  It consists of comments I made regarding David Bowie, Robert Anton Wilson (RAW) and yours truly.  

I recall someone in the online Crowley course RAW gave posting a rumor or anecdote that David Bowie had been seen at a RAW talk in the LA area in the early to mid '70's. I never did discover the actuality of that, but it seems plausible. Bowie lived in LA at that time and traversed similar experimental territory with RAW. They both practiced qabala and magick and both used it in their artistic expression.

Bowie also appeared completely dialed in to the space migration, extra-terrestrial intelligence, Starseed Transmissions gestalt that RAW and Leary were promoting in the '70s. Starting with his first popular single, "Space Oddity," which under the right circumstances really does give the feeling of being way out in Space, then especially on the album "Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars." "Space Oddity" was released in the summer of 1969 to coincide with the launch of Apollo 11 while Ziggy Stardust was released in 1972 so it seems unlikely that Bowie picked up the E.T. Intelligence subject from RAW and Leary who were undergoing their own experiences around that time and had yet to publish their findings. I don't know how or where Bowie picked up on that meme. He could have, through his experiences with experimental theater and magick, gotten himself hardwired to the source — whatever transmission it was that gave RAW the impression he was in communication with some kind of Intelligence from the Sirius star system. Through his studies of Crowley, Bowie could have been in touch with the ideas put forth by Kenneth Grant who also had theories and inferences regarding extraterrestrials and Sirius. In 1975 Bowie filmed The "Man Who Fell To Earth" his first major role and he played an extraterrestrial. I felt there was much useful information, mood and atmosphere related to E.T. contact in there I remember leaving the theater elated to see the film end with an allusion to an occult symbol when Bowie tips his hat.

Bowie's music became the primary soundtrack and inspiration to whatever Sirius contact experiences I had in the early 80's. One of the weirdest synchronicities involved the song "Starman." It was the first song on side B of a Ziggy Stardust cassette I had. One day I rewound the tape, turned up the volume and began a yoga practice. The next song was surprisingly not from Ziggy Stardust, not David Bowie at all. I went to check the music machine and saw that I hadn't been playing the cassette at all. When I turned up the volume I was turning up the radio which just happened to start that song at exactly the same time.

Bowie was the lead musical figure and guiding inspiration, particularly his Berlin albums with Fripp, Belew, and Eno, to the punk/post punk art scene circles I moved in. A friend was in love with him so in 1980 she flew to New York and got tickets to see him on Broadway in "The Elephant Man." She told the theater manager her story and asked if there was any way she could see him only to be rewarded with a 40 minute private meeting in his dressing room after the show. She said he was very polite; they casually chatted about ordinary things.

In 1983 Bowie hit town with his Serious Moonlight tour. One of my top concert experiences, he definitely fulfilled the role of cosmic prophet/musical hierophant, a disseminator of Higher Intelligence. Through the set design, costumes and, of course, the music he projected a vision of global awareness and peaceful, tolerant, cooperative, diversity. One of the props was a large blue beach ball of planet Earth that they bounced around playing like they were gods. Truly a genius. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Greenpoint Part 2

Crime and rescue at Greenpoint.  I would seriously doubt this story if I hadn't heard it separately from both parties, corroborating point for point.  Shin Terai was getting ready to take a car to the airport from the studio.  He had flown in from Tokyo to visit and record vocal sounds and heavily processed spoken word for Chaos Face; the chaos was about to catch up with himI can't conceive of anyone doing this: he put his briefcase with money, plane tickets, passport, and a video camera down on the street by the front door and left them going back upstairs to get his bag.  Naturally, when he returned they were gone.  Shin Terai was, and probably still is, a soft-spoken, overly polite, upper-middle class Japanese businessman who owned and managed a hair salon.  He was also a loyal and stellar fan of jazz and avant-garde music who managed to make friends with serious musicians like Bill Laswell and Herbie Hancock by being a very helpful guide lending assistance in the local ways when they played Japan.  Shin Terai, though his name means fire of the earth, at that moment appeared completely unaware of how to deal with American urban survival.  He freaked and began repeating "O my Buddha, O my Buddha' over and over.'  DST, as he was known at the time - turntablist, troublemaker, and hip hop composer - happened by, saw what was going on and immediately jumped on a bicycle in pursuit of the stolen goods.  I don't remember if D actually saw the thief, but he managed to track him down to an abandoned building a block or so away and recover the briefcase and camera.  He saved the day for Shin Terai.  You could call it coincidence that someone who grew up in the South Bronx was around at exactly the right time to rescue a Japanese tourist from a devastating robbery or you could entertain the idea that the collective assemblage that worked out of Greenpoint took care of its own.  Protection by coincidence control?  The school works in mysterious ways.  To my knowledge, that was the only time anyone was ever assaulted or criminally aggressed upon around the studio.

Speaking of Herbie Hancock, the first time I met and recorded him was at Greenpoint.  He came there to lay down a piano solo for a track on The Third Power.  Not knowing that much about him I had no expectations of what he would be like.  As soon as he walked in I got a strong feeling that I beheld the presence of a star.  He radiated that quality immediately upon walking through the door. When he began playing the Yamaha CP 80 electric piano you could hear it in his touch of the keyboard, by the way the piano notes came out. With the trained listening abilities of an audio professional or a musician you can hear not only the notes, but also the way they're played.  No entourage of any kind or any other celebrity trappings, only accompanied by his manager, Tony Meilandt, yet there was a distinct sensation of being in the room with an extraordinary talent.  That was the only time I worked with Herbie at Greenpoint.  I did record him later at another studio and was also around him when he curated the Tokyo Jazz festival that Material played at, but I didn't even remotely have a similar kind of experience.  Something about that slice of time at Greenpoint.

One night driving back to Manhattan after a session, Bill told me about this freak guitar player who grew in a chicken coop somewhere in the Ozarks.  For some unknown reason his backwoods family confined him to the large chicken coop and didn't let him have anything except food, a Les Paul electric guitar and a 50 watt Marshall stack.  For years he did nothing but play the guitar for the chickens who were apparently a tough crowd to please.  As a result he became a world class shredder on the guitar.  When they finally uncooped him, he vowed to never forget his poultry brethren and sistren by taking a bucket designed to contain Kentucky Fried Chicken cooked body parts, symbollically turning it upside down then placing it on his head to become Buckethead.  No one knew his real name or if he even had one, he was just Buckethead.  Bill told me this as if it were literally true.  At the time it reminded me of something like an old blues legend ala the Robert Johnson Crossroads story put into a contemporary comic book adaptation.  I thought this would be an interesting person to record, but it seemed about as remote as the ghost of Robert Johnson showing up.

Buckethead; photo credit unknown

Some months later Buckethead walked through the front door of Greenpoint and I met the legend in person. His guitar playing definitely lived up to the back story.  We hit it off right away.  He arrived with his friend Brain who I knew as the drummer for the Limbomaniacs, one of the first projects that I started to engineer for Bill over at Platinum Island.  They were there as part of the musical group  Bill put together called Praxis that also included two old-school funksters, Bootsy Collins and Bernie Worrell, as well as dj turntablist Af Next Man Flip (Lord of the Paradox).  Next Man Flip, the artist formerly and currently known as Africa Baby Bam from the Jungle Brothers might have changed his name for this project. Next Man Flip seems, in conjunction with the album title, a dead on accurately poetic way of characterizing this project.  The album Praxis made, Mutatis Mutandis, became a classic series of experiments in sound/music construction  connecting and conjugating various mixtures of the funk, rock, ambient, and electronica genres into previously unheard of musical territories; creation of new spaces with sound/rhythm/melody/noise; supple segments of guitar shreds; different rates of sonic  intensities and speeds ebbing and flowing; sounds of false start and tape rewind; funky liquid bass lines transmitting feel; new information from autonomous zones close and far.  Song titles provide descriptor clues: War Machine, Black Science Navigator, Dead Man Walking, The Interworld..., .../Godzilla etc.  Classic because it sounds as fresh and on the cutting edge now as when it was made.  It raised the bar and the bar is still there.  I haven't heard anything else quite like this genre collage/mash-up.

Four of the musicians had  intertwined musical relationships with each other both virtual and actual.  Next Man Flip was the wild card, maybe thrown in to meet the Discordian Law of Fives while injecting randomity and chaos into the proceedings; he contributed static transmissions through electronic whooshes, blips and beeps; atonal sound phrases naturally cut-up and stitched back together for new combinations and connections.  Buckethead and Brain were old friends who used to play together whenever Brain visited the Ozarks.  Bootsy and Bernie had a long history together, Funkadelic and beyond.  Bootsy was a major influence and virtual mentor to Bucket long before they met; Buckethead got to work with one of his heroes.  Both Bootsy and Bucket counted Jimi Hendrix as a major influence; both could be considered part of the Hendrix musical lineage.  Bill once brought us to Electric Lady studios (originally built for Jimi Hendrix) to mix a single Buckethead recorded for the Last Action Hero film.  Brain too was well stewed and soaked in funk influence via Limbomaniacs.  Bernie shapeshifts to sound like he's instantly at home playing with anyone.  Though there was considerable slicing and dicing sound construction when it came to the mix, much of the initial recording was done live.  All five musicians set-up around the room playing together as a unit, each one occupying a separate edge point of a pentagram star.

 Bernie, Af, Bootsy, Buckethead, Brain; photo by Thi-Linh Le

Mutatis Mutandis is an archaic Latin phrase that means 'the necessary changes have been made.'  The liner notes assembled quotes from Hakim Bey's Temporary Autonomous Zone.  Hakim Bey with his ontological anarchy would later sign on as Axiom's resident philosopher.  Bey is the alter ego of Peter Lamborn Wilson, a (mostly) respected Sufi scholar among other vocations having absorbed source teachings while on staff at the University of Tehran.  Besides Sufism, Wilson has written about Hassan I Sabah, Angelology and a few other recondite esoteric subjects.  Occultists and conspiracy theorists should pay no attention to his middle name, Lamborn, referring to Lam, one of the more significant XD (Extradimensional) characters Aleister Crowley communicated with.  Wilson, in the service of ontological anarchy regularly utilized concepts from Deleuze and Guttari.  The second part of the first track on Mutatis Mutandis is called War Machine, an important D&G concept I wrote about here.

The other pole seems to be the essence; it is when the war machine, with infinitely lower "quantities," has as its object not war but the drawing of a creative line of flight, the composition of smooth space and of the movement of people in that space.

  - A Thousand Plateaus, p. 422

The necessary changes have been made.

Ira Cohen, a friend of Lamborn Wilson's - they worked with the same guru, Ganesh Baba, at different times - was another cultural heavyweight to make his way into the Greenpoint orbit.  Cohen was a beat poet, publisher, filmmaker and shamanic photographer.  When living in Kathmandu, Cohen started the Bardo Matrix publishing imprint.  I recorded him reading one of his poems about that time.  He also successfully experimented with mylar photography on the third floor at Greenpoint hanging the mylar sheets on the wall that previously showcased featured paintings when I ran the space as an art gallery.  At that time, my friend Wade Hines (HuDost) was visiting and we were both staying at Greenpoint to master, after my regular session, his album that we had mixed in Florida.  Ira's photography is on several Axiom releases including T.A.Z., the one Bill made with Hakim Bey.  He might be called the official, though not exclusive, Axiom photographer.  Definitely something going on when you include Hakim Bey and Ira Cohen as part of the creative assemblage.

In Herman Hesse's Steppenwolf the protagonist, Harry Haller, encounters an electric sign over a theater which reads: MAGIC THEATER. ENTRANCE NOT FOR EVERYBODY. FOR MADMEN ONLY.  If there had been a similar sign over the entrance to Greenpoint in all likelihood it would read: NOTHING IS TRUE. EVERYTHING IS PERMITTED.  This magical motto, supposedly the last words of Hassan I Sabbah, leader of a sect of Nizari Ismailis known as Hashisheen in the 11th and 12 Centuries was adopted and used quite extensively by Bill Laswell around the time Axiom  came into existence. I used to have a t-shirt with the Axiom logo on the front, red graphics on a black background, and that signifier on the back.  I wore it when mixing live sound for Material eventually giving it to Gigi, Bill's wife, when she was pregnant with their son Aman.

What the phrase means exactly is for people to find out on their own, because, after all, nothing is true; probably multiple meanings; multiple artistic possibilities.  We get some clues by looking at how other writers have used it.  William Burroughs used it to dedicate or consecrate his novel, Cities of the Red Night:

To all the scribes and artists and practitioners of magic through whom these spirits have been manifested….NOTHING IS TRUE. EVERYTHING IS PERMITTED.” 

Robert Anton Wilson riffed on the phrase and Hassan I Sabbah's unique metaprogramming
techniques in Sex, Drugs, and Magick and also in the Illuminatus! Trilogy. Bill created a remix album of ambient versions from the Axiom catalog called Lost In The Translation that had a suite called Cosmic Trigger, the title of one of Wilson's best books. The suite consists of ambient mixes of Through The Flames, Cosmic Slop and Animal Behavior.
Laswell with Janet Rienstra explored the Hashisheen in depth in a spoken word/ambient/trance soundscape collection of readings from 25 different scholarly, historical, and underground sources on the subject.  It's called Hashisheen - The End of Law and features the voices of Burroughs, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Hakim Bey, and Ira Cohen among others.  The second track introduces The Old Man Of The Mountain (Hassan I Sabbah) with Genesis P Orridge intoning Nothing Is True. Everything Is Permitted.  After Percy Howard (Meridiem) reads a historical text, circa 1210, the phrase repeats, only differently.

This clip is the tenth track on Hashisheen called Sinan's Boast later reterritorialized into Sinan's Boat due to a typo that got picked up and repeated.  Boat seems much more accurate.  It's read by Ira Cohen.  Laswell reterritorialized it again to introduce a Pharoah Saunders track on Excavation - Unauthorized Cut-Up Vol. I. It's only 1:47 in length;  In a classic Tom Waits spoken word track he asks, repeatably as a refrain, "what's he building in there? ... what the hell is he building in there?"  If anyone ever asked that question about the activities at Greenpoint, they might want to listen to Sinan's Post for one answer.

 YouTube lists yet another variation on the title that also fits.

Another modern prophet turned up in spirit at Greenpoint when Bill, at the behest of Chris Blackwell and with the blessings of the Marley estate, did ambient mixes of classic Bob Marley and the Wailers tracks for what became Dreams of Freedom.  I engineered about half the mixes and Robert Musso engineered the rest (or vice versa?) and mastered it.  The mixes were constructed with what I call "poor man's automation" meaning that it was mixed manually in sections to 1/2" tape then spliced together.  I would set-up effects on the different Neve auxiliary and bus sends for Bill to trigger as the mix recorded to tape.  Mixing each section down after it was prepped and balanced was like a live performance.  Rarely was it done more than once.

Mixing Dreams of Freedom in May of 1996 coincided with the15th anniversary of Marley's death.  Photos of him appeared everywhere on the streets of New York. His visage was spotted at magazine kiosks, advertisements on buses, people's t-shirts and jackets, billboards, Times Square etc.  Working with the pristinely recorded master tapes of Marley's biggest songs eight hours a day resulted in a strong sense of contact with his spirit, for me. I pretty much felt like I was going through an ever-changing bardo space the whole time; voyaging through Dreams of Freedom.  I was crashing in a room above the studio so would stay an extra hour or so after the session listening to out takes and any alternate tracks.  How often do you get to examine Bob Marley's master tapes like an audio forensic scientist?  I learned something useful engineering-wise just by soloing and listening to how the tracks were recorded.  A superb job by the original engineers.

No doubt this bardo experience got aided and abetted through Bill's conceptual approach to the mix construction.  Bob Marley's voice does not appear in this collection, the only vocals you'll hear are the Wailers singing backgrounds and choruses usually in a dense ambient atmospheric background.  This demonstrates a brilliant use of a literary technique applied to music:  Bob Marley becomes extremely present by his absence.  Present in spirit, heart and soul.  This is a ghost album, a conjuration, an invocation of Bob Marley's presence in the present.  He showed up and remained; it's all recorded; a legominism of his life's work.

Image designed by Russell Mills

Tetsou Inoue was also on hand contributing his electronic insect soundscaping calling forth a Burroughs Interzone environment; something completely alien, Other, and outside of any time reference; could be futuristic, from the ancient past, or simultaneous on another planet. He would set up his machines, filters and processors to run automatically with micro variability and randomity programmed into the flow then, once ready, we would go straight to tape sometimes crossing over into the Marley music translated into the Laswell dimension..  A good example is the intro to the first track.  His techno bardo ambience is heard elsewhere and may be the reason that every song is sonically connected; a continuous voyage through the dreams.

 Various aspects of the Laswell/Inoue/Musso/Fritz sound design for Dreams of Freedom remind me of Antonin Artaud writing about Balinese Theater music:

"There is also the broad pounding rhythm of the music - an extremely insistent, droning, and fragile music, in which the most precious metals seem to be ground, in which springs of water seem to gush up as if in their natural state, and armies of insects march through vegetation, in which one seems to hear captured the very sound of light, in which the sound of deep solitudes seems to be reduced to flights of crystals, etc. etc."

Deep solitudes reduced to flights of crystals brings us through a smooth space to Nûs. I first met Percy Howard, Hassan I Sabbah's narrator, when Bill brought me in to Greenpoint to record, mix and master Inside is the Only Way Out by Nûs.  Howard was the lead singer and principle writer for the group. He brought a strongly developed poetic and literary sophistication to the songwriting table citing Milton's Paradise Lost as one overt influence.  He also proved to be an extremely passionate singer. One amazing take, it might have been for Absolution, leaving him literally in tears from the intense emotional experience of delivering that vocal.  Nûs, as I understand it, is a gnostic term representing that part of the discerning mind that recognizes what is real.  Perhaps not unrelated to what gets known in modern parlance as a bullshit detector.  Nûs has also been likened to the intuitive mind.

Howard has a rich, pure, baritone voice that compares in strength and resonance with Robert Goulet or Tom Jones but in much more interesting musical contexts than pop schlock.  He's also been compared to Nina Simone.  After he left Nûs, Percy started his Merdiem troika of albums by assembling a band comprising Fred Frith, Charles Hayward, and Bill Laswell.  The four musicians playing Howard's mystically inspired songs proved a potent combination as reviews here testify.  Though Frith and Laswell were long time collaborators, they hadn't played together with Hayward before whom Howard had become acquainted with at a music festival in Italy.  Howard's nûs, his intuition to connect the three proved both prescient and far-reaching. Frith, Laswell, and Hayward gelled instantly both inside and outside the Merdiem framework and became a reformation of Frith's free jazz improv band Massacre, currently one of the most interesting and instructive expressions of progressive music on the planet as I've attempted to describe elsewhere in this blog flow.

To be continued ...


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Greenpoint Part I

A good example of what went on at Greenpoint, the recording studio Bill Laswell and Jonas Helborg assembled in Brooklyn in 1990, occurred in 1992 when I took a friend of mine, Chris Schell to see the space above the studio we were going to renovate and turn into a temporary art gallery.  It later became a performance space.  I'd made an arrangement with Bill to finish the construction on the third floor in exchange for 6 months rent-free occupancy.   Chris was a huge fan of Parliament/Funkadelic and I'd told him those guys often recorded at Greenpoint - Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell, Gary "Mudbone" Cooper, Gary Shider, and probably some others.  I had no idea who would be recording so it was quite a shock and surprise to see that everyone from Funkadelic was there that day including George Clinton, it was basically a reunion of the old school Parliament.  I don't know if they were recording or just meeting, when we poked our heads in they were casually chilling around the studio.  Chris seemed a little awestruck by the group as was I.  That was the only time that ever happened in my presence though I did work with them all individually at various times.

Greenpoint was the nexus, focal point and audio laboratory for some radical breakthroughs in music assemblage and production; recording and mix translation; the working spot for an informal community of musicians, engineers and technicians; rappers and poets, crazy Sufis and serious magicians; rock royalty (Ginger Baker, Buddy Miles) and jazz (Ornette Coleman, Tony Williams, Herbie Hancock etc.) and punk (Iggy Pop, The Buzzcocks) legends.  I've barely scratched the surface. Once I mixed an album for the English band God.  Yes, at Greenpoint I mixed God.  Painkiller (Laswell, Zorn, Harris) was born there.  Greenpoint was where Bill Laswell brought musicians together to forge new connections, modes and territories in music; it was a way station.  The current of music flowing out of there was always strong, highly charged, powerful, sensitive and diverse; buzzing with electricity; resplendently radiating musical multiplicities; sound constructions; expression of soul content.  

Geography plays a crucial role in all forms of creativity. I've noticed this most in music.  For a long time I've experienced and experimented with the notion of "power centers,"certain locations on Earth more conducive to artistic flow.  I didn't hear about this elsewhere until much later when watching a video Reshad Feild' made about ley lines while visiting his Sufi based school in Switzerland.  Praxis (Buckethead/Brain/Laswell/Worrell) was playing a festival nearby.

Touring as a soundman with The Tickets in the early '80s I began to notice that certain places brought out different qualities both personally and artistically.  We played a regular circuit in Western Canada repeating the same venue about every three months.  Saskatoon was where most of the band was from and was one of those cities where an inordinate number of musicians hail from for it's size.  Loverboy, Streeheart, Iron Maiden, all big Canadian bands at the time came out of Saskatoon.  We looked forward to the shows at the A4 Club there, they always seemed a notch above anywhere else; there was a different,very poignant vitality there. Whenever we played Saskatoon I had a strong urge to do a lot of yoga and magick, much more than anywhere else and so I did.  My first really successful ritual invocation occurred in Saskatoon and it scared me senseless.  I got the communication to not try that kind of thing for a couple of years; to make a foundation in the meantime.

I will state and affirm with 93% certainty that Greenpoint Studio was one such power center.  Not just because all kinds of world class musicians worked there, nor was it by any means lavish and expensive in its design.  It had a modest amount of really good equipment and the acoustics were good, but not great for a big room sound.  There was something intangible about Greenpoint, a vibe, that caused people to open up more than usual.  Things were channeled from the Outside and other things were dredged up from interior depths; invocation and evocation.  Near the start of one session with Bootsy Collins and Stevie Salas, Buddy Miles began to go off on an emotional rant about how the music business had destroyed Jimi Hendrix by giving him drugs, etc.  Buddy got so worked up that he began crying, a cathartic release.  Bootsy went over to calm him down.  Buddy wore Jimi Hendrix like a badge of honor and obviously had issues to resolve that spontaneously got evoked out of him.  A clearly evident sign of channeling happened at the recording for Painkiller's debut album when Mick Harris was screaming his nonsense vocalizations - they weren't words, just sounds.  One sound, "scud" got repeated a few times, one sequence going "scud, Scud, SCUD SCUD SCUD!!! in rising intensity.  About three or four days later the phrase "scud missiles" was all over the news at the start of Gulf War I.  I had never heard of them until then.  

More testimony to Greenpoint as a creative hotspot came from Jonas Helborg who told a friend of mine at a NAMM show that the sessions we did together at Greenpoint were some of the best he's ever done in terms of vibe  Jonas did a lot of sessions there, he was partners with Laswell in the studio until 1993, but I believe he may have been referring to his acoustic bass solo album The Silent Life.  I recall a strong mood of otherness during those recordings so I can guess at what he was talking about.  Dissident, the album Helborg put together under the group named Deadline also had strong moments.  His Laswell produced album for Axiom, The Word, with Tony Williams and The Soldier String Quartet was recorded entirely at Greenpoint by Jason Corsaro and myself.  It's an underground classic.  Helborg's record label since 1997 is Bardo Records.

I first heard about the Greenpoint studio when working on tracking sessions at Platinum Island for an album Bill Laswell was producing for Masabumi Kikuchi called Dreamachine.  Kikuchi had a rehearsal space that he rented in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn that he was going to give up.  I don't know if Bill had been actively looking for a space to set up his own recording studio or if it was a spontaneous decision responding to the opportunity, but I soon heard the news that Bill was acquiring the space to set-up a recording studio in partnership with Jonas Helborg who owned quality recording equipment including a vintage Neve desk.  Bill rented the entire 3 floor building though only the second floor with the studio had been completely finished.

Kikuchi naming his album Dreamachine, the album that lead to Bill making a studio seems like one of those strange coincidences that follows extra-dimensional (XD) explorers around.  I found out later that it had been a dream of Laswell's for many years to establish a self-sufficient production studio for his projects.  A recording studio can be poetically viewed as a machine for dreams to be expressed.  Bill had all the Material he needed (i.e. musicians, engineers, technicians, equipment, ideas) and with Greenpoint he was now in possession of the technical means to put a recording studio dreamachine together and make it work.  Also, for much of Greenpoint's existence, a bonafide dreamachine sat on a table in the control room area.  This is the stroboscopic light flickering dreamachine designed and thoroughly explored by Ian Sommerville, Brion Gysin, and William S. Burroughs in their various experiments to stay high without drugs.

Dreammachining - from beatnikhiway.com

The front door to the street at Greenpoint opened to stairs that led up to the second floor where the studio was and the third floor which eventually became an art gallery/floatation center/performance space/ and bohemian living quarters at different times for artists like Umar Bin Hassan, Anton Fier, DJ Spooky and yours truly.  The entrance to the second floor was on the left  and it opened to a foyer with a large black wood table in the center and shelves on the sides that stored cables and mics.  An ancient but fully functional freight elevator occupied most of the side facing the street.  The one telephone was mounted on the wall right beside the wide doors that opened into the studio proper.

Greenpoint was a former warehouse that had been reterritorialized first as a rehearsal space for Kikuchi then as a recording studio by Bill and Jonas.  The studio was completely open, one big room, with different zones set aside for different functions.  Most of the studio had a hardwood floor except the zone to the immediate left when you walked through the doors which was a carpeted control room area with a black leather couch in the corner.  Six foot by six foot by one foot blocks of greyish-black thick foam were stacked around the outer perimeters of the control room zone that faced the recording area to establish some sound baffling.  A large window was left open in the foam walls so that the engineer working behind the sound desk could look between the large Urei 813 monitors and have unimpeded sightlines to most of the studio.  As an engineer, there was never any doubt when you were recording that you were in the same room as the musicians.  This made the experience of recording far more immediate, direct and electric.  Since experience has led me to conclude that the consciousness and mood of the engineer affects the recording, the continuous space of control room/recording area seems a highly likely contributing factor to the extraordinary recordings Greenpoint produced.  In most commercial studios the control room is a completely isolated room.  The better ones will have lots of windows with clear sightlines to the recording zones and good communication systems in place so that you don't feel like it's a separate room.  However, there's always some sense of clinical isolation from the musicians when the tape or digits are rolling.  Not at Greenpoint.

The way I dialed in the tones in that situation, especially drum sounds, was to monitor loudly on the Ureis and then guesstimate the settings in  the signal chain as obviously the sound of the drums in the room will interfere with what you're hearing through the mics.  When the settings seem right you then record for a couple of minutes and check the reality of the recording without the live bleed, without the band playing.  You could then make further adjustments and check it again though as we went along most of the time the initial settings worked just fine.  You could learn to hear through the ambient bleed of the sound of the musicians in the same room.  Adjusting the recording controls and setting up the space became as intuitive as deciding what note to play next on an instrument.

Opposite the control room, to the right when you walked in, were shelves storing a modest tape library with both Laswell's archive and current projects.  Some of the titles were historic and tantalizing with labels that read Hendrix/Davis or Bambaattaa/Lydon.  That corner also stored instruments, amps, speaker cabinets and mic stands when not in use like the Hammond B3 Organ and Leslie cabinet that Bernie Worrell made extensive use of.  The far back wall had tables covered with Bill's vast collection of unusual and obscure pedals and stomp boxes, each one its own universe of sound variation and alteration; harmonic schizoanalysis, oscillation overthrusters and sounds too delicate and ephemeral to write about; the sound of a butterfly's wings.

Kikuchi had built a shell around the inside walls of the building to help the acoustics.  Sections of it were angled to offset parallel surfaces and subsequent standing waves.  A space for a closet size storage area had been left between the shell and the wall in the back left of he studio.  It ran about half the length of the studio but got progressively narrow.  It was big enough by the door that opened to it to put a bass amp and cabinet for isolation as was often done.  I was also able to put my PA in there and position mics far enough down to reamp sounds from the board during a mix to get a great small room/closet type of ambience.

The back right corner of the studio had a small raised platform to set up drums on.  Three  4 x 6  sheets of an unknown kind  of wood, maybe plywood, had been affixed to the back corner behind the drum platform to increase reflections, to make the drum sound bigger.  I had help discovering the sweet spot of the room early on.  Simon Shaheen was playing a violin while walking around the room then stopped in one spot remarking that it sounded much better there than anywhere else.  It was near the center of the room and a little to the left.  It became the go-to place to overdub vocals and solo acoustic instruments.

As there wasn't a dedicated iso booth, isolation was achieved by building small  "houses" around the speaker cabinets.  There were extra large blocks of thick foam which fit together real well for the walls of the house then furniture blankets could be draped over that.  This way you could have a loud 100 watt Marshall amp and cabinet in the same room as everyone else and still get great isolation.  Sometimes the front door of the house would be left open to let some intentional bleed into the room or to enable the guitar player to get feedback tones.  As mentioned, the back closet was often used to isolate the bass rig.  Occasionally speaker cabinets would get put outside in the foyer.  Since the room wasn't highly reverberant you could get away with putting an entire band in the same room including vocals with acceptable levels of bleed.  I once recorded a full live band for free jazz saxophonist Ivo Perelman.  Brazillian singer Flora Purim was also recording live with the band which included drums, percussion, guitar, sax and bermbau.  I created a vocal zone with a baffle by the tape library as far away as possible from the drums and it worked fine.

I recorded and mixed this at Greenpoint in 7 days; produced by Jean Touituo for A.P.C.  This photo, probably by Touitou, was taken within a block of the studio.  This was the neighborhood.

I wasn't around for the installation of the studio equipment, the transformation from a rehearsal space into a recording studio.  My friend, Ian Linault, a maintenance tech I knew from Platinum Island worked at Greenpoint fairly early on, he might have helped with the installation for all I know.  I don't know exactly what Ian did.  He told me that Bill would come in, surveil the scene then often make all kinds of lists - projects to assemble, things to get for the studio, etc.  I used to drop by after the gear was wired, but before being booked on any sessions to get the lay of the land, see the new territory  Bob Musso was around a lot, I think he was the one who showed me the new patchbay and signal flow.  I expect he had something to do with the equipment installation even if only in an advisory capacity.  Eddie Ciletti, now a world renowned audio angel through all his magazine articles eventually became the regular maintenance technician.

The first sessions I was booked on at Greenpoint were overdubs for The Third Power album Bill was putting together for an Axiom release.  Quite appropriate as Greenpoint became the third power over time, however you want to take that.  The Third Power started its life as a Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare record before mutating into a Material record with a broad selection of the funk, rap, and jazz elite including: Herbie Hancock, Henry Threadgill, Olu Dara,The Jungle Brothers, Shabba Ranks, Maceo Parker, Fred Wesley, and Pee Wee Ellis among others; of course many of the Usual Suspects (Bill's go-to musicians) joined the assemblage, in this case: Nicky Skopelitis, Bernie Worrell, Aiyb Djieng, Karl Berger and Jeff Bova.  Much of it was recorded at Greenpoint, but there were also sessions at Platinum Island and B.C. Studio.  It was mixed by Jason Corsaro at Platinum Island.

Various models of quantum physics, the philosophical exposées of Deleuze and Guatarri, and multiple occult systems all refer to immanent fields of virtuality that surround and possibly influence actual events.  In quantum mechanics you have Heisenberg's notion of potentia - "'objective tendencies,' or 'propensities,' connected to an impending actual event."   The parallel worlds model also applies to the virtual.  "In Deleuze's ontology, the virtual and the actual are two mutually exclusive, yet jointly sufficient, characterizations of the real" (Boundas, The Deleuze Dictionary).  Magick has various qabalistic worlds as well as the practice of scrying the astral planes to explore the virtual worlds immanent to the actual.  The shamanism of Carlos Castenada talks about the non-material, unknown world of the nagual that surrounds the material tonal world.  I will say what I can of the nagual at Greenpoint along with the tonal.

Exploring qabala becomes a way of reaching into the nagual or the bardo; extracting affects and information.  While assisting Jason Corsaro on a mix at Platinum Island, for Ginger Baker's Middle Passage, Nicky and Bill showed me a paper with large letters that read AXOM.  It looked very powerful, but I was a little confused because I didn't know what it meant.  I told them it reminded me of axiom without the i.  I guess they had just decided on the name for Bill's new label forming under the auspices of Chris Blackwell's Island Records.  They put in the i (eye) and it became Axiom.  It is indeed a powerful name especially for a rhizomatic source of creativity; creation of new worlds; records that are veritable monastaries of rare musical content and expression.  Yes, monastaries, which means they should get collected and preserved in anticipation of the upcoming apocalyptic breakdown of society expected any day now if we don't get it together.  Axiom adds to 201 which makes it equivalent to RA, the Egyptian Sun God; "... the axiomatic deals directly with purely functional elements and relations whose nature is not specified, and which are immediately realized in highly varied domains simultaneously ...  The immanent axiomatic finds in the domains it moves through so many models termed models of realization. " (Deleuze & Guatarri, Mille Plateau, p.454.).

Many Axiom releases weren't recorded at Greenpoint yet several important ones that I worked on were or had overdubs done there including Jonas Helborg - The Word, Material - The Third Power, Sonny Sharrock - Ask the Ages, Praxis -Transmutation, Nicky Skopelitis - Exstasis, Material - Hallucination Engine, Sola  - Blues Across the East, Mantra and I'm probably leaving some out.   Before we went to Jajouka to record Apocalypse Across the Sky (Master Musicians of Jajouka) I used Greenpoint as a staging area to set up all the equipment we were bringing including the generator.  It all worked as history has made obvious.  I did the same thing when we went to West Africa to record Jali Kunda: Griots of West Africa and Beyond.  It was done for Ellipses Arts and not for Axiom yet the process was similar to any other Axiom field recording.  This is considered an important album in the West African music genre and was an important one for my career as it to led directly to meeting Aja Salvatore of KSK records and a lot more West African field recording. 

The first session I engineered at Greenpoint was with Bootsy Collins playing electric rhythm guitar.  We wanted that super clean funky rhythm guitar sound so the guitar was plugged in direct and Bootsy played in the control room right behind where I sat at the console.  Bootsy was playing as soon as the music started, coming up with an outpouring of ideas for a part as if directly wired to a fountainhead.  Easily a dozen different rhythm ideas flowed from the the guitar within the first couple minutes which Bootsy would forget almost instantly, like painting on a river, but I knew from experience to start recording right away.  After the first run-through we rolled the tape back listened to the different ideas until a pattern was chosen to structure a part for the song.  Looking back, this appears a reasonably clear indication of Greenpoint as a recording hot spot as we were about to find out over time.

The timing of the opening of Greenpoint perfectly coincided with my leap into the unknown of freelance engineering.  Actually it was probably the catalyst, whether I was conscious of this or not, for quitting a reliable and secure job as staff engineer at Platinum Island to become independent.  One significant technical difference was that Platinum Island had a lot more equipment.  Greenpoint had gear every bit as good as a major studio there was just less of it.  Jonas Helborg had managed to pick up two small (16 channels each as I recall) vintage Neve 8058 mixing desks with 1066 channel strips for a song somewhere in Eastern Europe.  Apparently after the Iron Curtain was lifted you could get amazing deals on vintage audio gear in the former Soviet Bloc countries that was often sitting unused with their owners totally unaware of the treasure trove they were sitting on, getting rid of it at far below the market value it would bring in the West.  Neve consoles or channel strips of that era  just simply make the best sounding recordings you will find in this engineer's opinion.  Most of my favorite sounding projects have had a vintage Neve involved either at Greenpoint or later at Prairie Sun in California.  The tape recorders, both multi-track and the  1/2" 2 track for mixdowns were Studer A80's, state-of-the-art at the time.  I can't remember the full outboard assemblage.  I know there was an Eventide H3000 multiprocessor, a AMS RMX reverb, a Yamaha Rev 7 and SPX 90 multiprocessors.  There was a dbx 160x compressor and maybe one or two other compressors that I'm not recalling.  When we mixed we would rent the Neve 33609 for transparent stereo buss compression until one was purchased.  Jason Corsaro's Massenberg stereo parametric EQ ended up there before too long.  The Massenberg was and still remains the holy grail of analog precision equalization.

One of the earliest basic tracking sessions at Greenpoint was recording the album that became The Word by Jonas Helborg.  In the beginning was the word, and the word is ... listen to the album if you can find it.  It's an instrumental record with Jonas, Tony Williams on drums, and the Soldier String Quartet.  There are no words in The Word.  I assisted Jason Corsaro recording the basic tracks, Tony and Jonas facing each other playing live with Jonas set up about 25 away from the drums behind a few of the foam baffles.  Jonas played a Wechter acoustic bass guitar that he had helped design.  It's not an upright bass, but rather looks more like an oversize 4 string acoustic guitar and is held and played in a similar fashion as an acoustic guitar.  

The microphone selection wasn't that extensive yet so I learned a valuable lesson watching how Jason improvised with the drum mics.  Jason asked if there were any paired condenser mics for recording the drum overheads and I replied that we only had the stereo Sony ECM 959 condenser mic that I used with a DAT recorder for ambient field recordings.  It was a good sounding mic, but ran on batteries and only had a stereo male mini plug connector hard wired to it.  I didn't consider it a professional studio mic so was surprised when Jason went ahead with it and got a great recording, pristinely capturing the incredible rhythmic articulations of Tony's cymbals and the ambience of the rest of the kit.  Later, I used that mic a lot for recording drums with Bob Bachtold at E.J. Gold's studio.  As far as I know, that was the only time it was used for that purpose at Greenpoint as someone, probably Bill, got an endorsement with Shure which included a pair of SM81s that sound excellent on overheads.

After a couple of days tracking with Tony we had enough pieces for an album.  Most of the masters were first takes; everything he played was absolutely amazing; king of the jazz drummers.  I only remember one brief rhythmic straying off course which Bill easily fixed by putting a Fairlight bass drum sample on one downbeat.  I took over engineering on the third day overdubbing with Jonas who was also blowing my mind with the reach, originality and fluidity of the melodic voicings he was playing while rhythmically locking with Tony.   They say consciousness has magnetic properties therefore musical consciousness and expression would also be magnetic to bodies that could respond to it.  I can't help but consider that Tony's playing spurred Jonas to greater heights.  Likewise, I can imagine that Tony knew or intuited that Jonas had the potential to play at that level inspiring him to drum in peak form.  A few nights later I recorded string parts arranged by Jonas and played by the Soldier String Quartet. Jason's mix of  The Word at Platinum Island was as stellar as every other musical contribution to the album.  He created this ethereal reverb for the strings that made them sound like they were both floating and fluid at the same time.  Jason is a genius at discovering completely unique ambient spaces by processing reverbs and delays, combining effects with effects bringing forth unknown synergies of sound.  My guess is that he started with the Breathing Canyon program in the Eventide H3500 and went from there.  This treatment of the strings gave them a quality as equally fluid as the drums and bass.  One overall affect of this music thus emphasizes the continuous, hydraulic nature of energetic forces as opposed to the static, block-like objects we commonly view the world as.  "Treating reality as a set of flows rather than a series of discrete objects results in a very different account of reality." (Adkins, Guide to A Thousand Plateaus).  Listening to The Word could result in a very different account of reality.  It also seems a spiritual milestone.  I don't know what it was exactly, but Jonas brought that kind of depth both to the compositions and the atmosphere at the recording.  I did lend him two books by E..J. Gold, The Joy of Sacrifice: Secrets of the Sufi Way, and The Human Biological Machine as a Transformational Apparatus.  Bill thought he might have picked up some song titles from them.  I can't really tell.  

Speaking of the nagual ... Time at Greenpoint often seemed to operate in a different way.  Since this wasn't a commercial studios, all of the sessions were projects for Bill, Jonas or for friends that Bill lent the studio to.  In that case, he would never ask for a studio fee only asking that the engineer and tape costs get covered.  This meant that there was never the pressure of being on the clock, of having to link creative production with a set period of clock time like you would at a shoe factory.  That pressure having been lifted, it seemed that you got a lot more done at Greenpoint in a lot less time.  There were never marathon sessions, we usually worked six to eight hours at a time.  Yet there was an enormous amount of work accomplished there.  Much of that can definitely get attributed to Bill's focused intentions as a Producer and the magnetic pull that had on the sessions, but still there were many times in my experience where we got more done than should have been possible in the amount of clock time that went by as if time dilated

When two observers are in relative uniform motion and uninfluenced by any gravitational mass, the point of view of each will be that the other's (moving) clock is ticking at a slower rate than the local clock. The faster the relative velocity, the greater the magnitude of time dilation. This case is sometimes called special relatavistic time dilation.

In our case, one observer is in Greenpoint making music without much awareness of clock time boundaries (a form of micro-fascism) while the other observer is outside entirely governed by clock time.  Different rates of velocity.  The name of my engineering company is High Velocity.  I got this name from the Tim Leary book, The Game of Life.  The last sentence in Leary's autobiography Flashbacks is: "It's about time."

A clear incident relative to time stands out.  I don't remember the artist or who the overdubbing musician was, but it was a rare session that had a deadline for some reason.  The musician was having a little trouble with the part and getting anxious, he didn't know about the deadline.  Bill told him with complete sincerity that there was no rush, that he had all the time in the world, and not to worry about how long it took.  I had to mix the song after the overdub and Bill knew that so it was interesting to observe his total disregard for ordinary time constraints, confident that it would all get done in time.  It did.  The musician relaxed, knocked out the overdub and I had no problem or extreme rush to mix it in time.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Freedom vrs Fascism

 Most of this was written immediately after hearing about the events in Paris.

I am struck at the moment by the curious coincidence of two completely opposite polar expressions, one of freedom, the other of fascism happening on the same day.  We define fascism as anything that imposes a stricture, censorship or limitation on individual expression. "The word of sin is restriction," to quote a famous freedom fighter.  Taking another life or causing injury to another makes for the ultimate act of fascism.  The cowardly attacks on innocent people in the name of some malefic ideology or cause shows how out of control the diseased black hole of fascism has become in recent years.  It's a severe sociopathic disconnect to take innocent lives in justification for some so-called religious viewpoint: a curse upon violent terrorism.

Contrasted with the news of the attacks in Paris is a video of "sacred begging" from Alejandro Jodorowsky to help finish funding his latest film project, Endless Poetry.  It was sent to me earlier today by Yoko Yamabe.  I watched this passionate affirmation of life before resting for a few hours catching up from long hours in the studio this past week.  When I got up I heard the news of the violence in Paris.  The only time I met Jodorowsky was at his apartment in Paris with Bill Laswell and Michael Lemesre.  Paris is a city I love and am deeply influenced by.  The bardo philosopher Gilles Deleuze was born and lived in Paris his whole life after the war.  He pragmatically advocates "lines of flight," often through art and culture outside the fascist rules of any system or authority of control - what he calls "the state". Jodorowsky's film project plea gives a perfect example of what these lines of flight to individual freedom might look like.  My response to the sickness of the recent violence is to highly recommend a viewing of this sacred begging.  Philosopher/magician/hierophant that he is, naturally Jodorowsky communicates on multiple levels transmitting signals far beyond a plea for financing.  For example:

A true piece of art has to change the very spirit of people.  The very soul.  When I go to the theater I should exit a different person.  The movie must give me something, hope, knowledge, a hidden beauty kept inside that I didn't even know was there.  ... We need to make movies that heal, optimistic, joyful, creative marvelous movies.

Again I highly recommend watching the whole video.  It's only six minutes and two seconds long.  At the end you can see Jodorowsky laughing at himself  for the passionate dramatic delivery he just did.

About six weeks ago I wrote: "The amorphous violent war/jihad of terrorism from any kind of ideological fanaticism also declares a war against music."  The attack on music is now as direct and literal as it gets.  We have argued that the will to power of the creative act can effect changes in the world at large starting with rippling strings of quantum entanglement on the sub-molecular scale that eventually surface as alterations of human behavior on the Einsteinian/Newtonian level of everyday reality. Fight fascism with creativity; Endless Poetry.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

What Is A Recording Studio?

A specialized environment to record light and/or sound.  A tabla rasa, whatever you want it to be.  A contained vessel for shamanic journeys into sound spaces bringing back a souvenir (the recording) to communicate those spaces.  An experimental laboratory generating compound sonic assemblages with resulting quantum entanglements.  A landing pad for the descent of higher entities, i.e. the living percepts and affects - the sense, feeling and mood of the music; the intuitive ideas it inspires; the baraka it communicates; the gnosis released when lightening strikes.  We'll be looking at a particular sound studio, Ancient Wave, the one I work at locally, the new World Headquarters for High Velocity Sound Engineering.

The intention of a recording studio is to bring great music into the world.  Music can come from anywhere, but certain conditions help increase the odds.  When  I asked Paul Bowles what, if anything, he did to help inspire creativity in the people he recorded his immediate answer was, "make the musicians comfortable."   Usually the first thing people remark about when visiting Ancient Wave studios for the first time refers in some way to the high aesthetic of the space.  That may have something to do with the quality of craftsmanship, planning and tender loving care that went into the construction, design and finish of the studios.  It's warm, organic, and woody.  It also sounds really good in every room.  You can get some idea by visiting the website.  It has a little bit of a Tibetan or Japanese Zen quality to it. A Lamasery or Dojo for sound recording. Dojo translates literally as "place of the way."

All processing done via electronics in a recording studio, everything done in that domain, directly affects and changes things at the quantum level.  Having some recognition and understanding of that level can help get one more inside the music.  The quantum level is where magick occurs; Bell's Theorem and quantum entanglement offer explanations for "spooky action at a distance." The quantum level is a level of forces, intensities and speeds in a riverrun of ever-changing motion; here to go.  Consciousness affects the making and recording of music at the quantum level and music in turn affects consciousness at its quantum level.  The architecture and environment of the studio, the space it creates or allows to be created also affects consciousness. Feng shui for the quantum level, the realm poetically and affirmatively seen as sacred and holy by mystics and explorers of all stripes  because of its far-reaching effects; its power of will to create.   The name Ancient Wave reflects this awareness and sensibility.

Comparison of classical and quantum harmonic oscillator conceptions for a single spinless particle.

The crown jewel of Ancient Wave is the 40 channel vintage Trident TSM desk.  It has a rich, clear analog sound with extraordinary depth and dimension.  Its friendly, musical sounding EQ paints in broad strokes as is common with boards of that era ('70s and early '80s).  The sound is so good out of that desk that it seems to negate any need for tape to get that classic analog sound though a Studer 1/4" analog tape recorder is available for people, like myself sometimes, still in the cult of tape.

I  rely heavily albeit lightly on the Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor, a $7.7k boutique unit with a modern, warm sound, and subtle, but effective transparency of operation.  It's the Buddha of compression, a silent, glowing affinity with all sound and vibration.  It cracks me over the head with a stick whenever I fall asleep.  Another machine, a $10k Sony reverb computer (I don't remember model numbers only how much they cost!) has a virtual library simulating some of the best acoustic spaces on this planet: King's College Chapel, Power Station Studio A, Cello, the Parthenon, Sydney Opera House,  etc. etc.  I can add acoustics from spaces all over the world.

 Ancient Wave Studio B

I've been describing Studio B where I work with my Pro Tools HD upgraded by Ancient Wave to accommodate 40 outputs and boosted with increased computer speed on my Mac Pro.  Studio A is the recording room and also features a vintage Trident desk, a Series 24, I believe, with 40 channels.  It's a smaller desk, but still has the trademark rich Trident sound and extra-dimensionality (XD); great vintage sounding mic pres too! All of the microphone food groups are well represented at Ancient Wave - tube, ribbon, condensor, dynamic - and there is an excellent selection of instruments and amplifiers available to use which includes a 1924 Steinway Grand Piano, a Hammond B3 Organ with a Leslie cabinet, and a vintage pump organ from the 1920s.  A full microphone, instrument, and amplifier list is on the website.  Services at Ancient Wave include recording, mixing, mastering and production consultation

Ancient Wave is a labor of love, skill and intelligence assembled by the dyadic cyclone Saul and Elena Rayo, prolific solo recording artists of local, regional, and universal renown.  Together they bring a musician's sensibility and aesthetic to the design and operation of the studios.  Saul, in particular, has a passion for the art of recording.  He is also a talented producer.   Technician and engineer Michael Eaton is the one who literally put it all together and remains a vital cog in day-to-day studio operation.  Miguel is a veteran of the LA and Las Vegas music scenes with a background owning and operating a recording studio.

A few well-known clients already have benefited from the facilities at Ancient Wave.  Evolutionary Minded: Furthering the Legacy of Gil Scott-Heron  produced by Kentyah Fraser was one of the first projects mastered there.  American philosopher Dr. Cornel West called that album "... prophetic art at its highest level."  Rappers and poets featured on that include Dead Prez, Chuck D., Killah Priest and Abiodun Oyewole from The Last Poets.  Another early mastering job was done for the piano jazz trio Too Noisy Fish for their album Fight Eat Sleep, recorded, mixed, mastered and produced by your extremely humble reporter.  New York Jazz Record magazine named it album of the year for 2013. Two albums by the Sufi and psychedelia inspired Neo Folk World Rock ensemble HuDost were mixed at Ancient Wave this year.  The first one, The Word Is... is a collaboration with Steve Kilbey the lead singer from The Church.  One song, Omega, features additional lead vocals from Jon Anderson of Yes.  A personal favorite of mine, a cover of Velvet Underground's Sunday Morning was recorded as a homage to Lou Reed the day he died.  The second HuDost album mixed there is Sufi Kirtan which expands the Sufi practice known as zikr (remembrance) to include prayers and chants from the esoteric side of all the major religions.  It's only been out a few months and is in the running for a Grammy nomination.

 The soundtrack for Retour, a contemporary dance performance by the German dance collective laborgras was mixed and mastered at Ancient Wave in 2014; music composed and arranged by Phoebe Killdeer.  Also, some interestingly evocative soundtrack mixing was recently completed for L.A.'s Blasting Company.  The animated show is called Over the Garden Wall and will air on the Cartoon Network.  New releases were mixed this summer for Austin James and the free jazz trio Bro Jazz.

This summer also saw mixing for a few up and coming rappers with Aja Salvatore for KSK records in Studio B.  These were Cyhi the Prynce (signed to Kanye West's label and a guest on his album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy), Fat Trel (signed to Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group), and Jon Connor (signed to Dr. Dre's Aftermatch label and performs on Dre's new album, Compton).  Aja and I also mixed a track with local singer Deja Solis (Hamsa Lila).  Deja is renowned in burner circles for being the model for the huge statue at Burning Man every year.  She's also an incredibly soulful singer.

Other local Ancient Wave projects include Rustler's Moon, the well received, debut release by novelist and singer/songwriter Sands Hall.  This one was produced by Saul Rayo.  The medieval, celtic, pagan, psychedelic folk group Lasher Keen recorded their vinyl limited edition Mantic Poetry, Oracular Prophecy in Studio A.