Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Massacre Live in Paris

 all photos from French blogs, provided by Yoko

On Friday the Thirteenth of October 1307, France's King Philip IV took down the Knights Templar with multiple arrests including its leader, Jaques de Molay, followed by forced confessions and executions.  It's been said that this gave rise to the Friday the Thirteenth superstition of bad luck.  History records the Knights Templar as a secret society originally formed to protect travelers to the Holy Land and to guard the relics at Jerusalem's Temple Mount, the site of the temple King Solomon built.  They were involved in the Crusades and later, after evolving into a wealthy organization, became the precursors to the modern banking system - probably a large contributing factor to why they were taken down.  Much folklore has arisen over the years regarding their esoteric activities.  It does appear they were strongly influenced by Hassan I Sabbah's Order of the Assassins.  Legend has it that the Assassins were the link that transmitted the knowledge and practice of ritual sex magick from the Sufis to the Knights Templar finally making its way to the O.T.O.   The Templars were accused of worshiping a pagan deity called Baphomet, an image later revived by Eliphas Levi then subsequently adopted with full gusto by Aleister Crowley who used it as his motto in the O.T.O. ( the Order of the Temple of the Orient.  The Knights Templar were originally simply known as the Order of the Temple.)  Crowley described Baphomet as an androgynous figure.  His occult research, consisting of communication with a disincarnate entity they referred to as "the Wizard" -  indicated that "Baphomet was Father Mithras, the cubical stone which was the corner of the Temple. " ( Confessions, p. 833)

Over 707 years later, on Friday the Thirteenth of February 2015,  Massacre, the free improvised music trio of Frith, Laswell, and Hayward played the Son le Hive festival on the outskirts of Paris.  Apart from the Friday the Thirteenth in France resonance, the connection between Massacre and the Knights Templar is that they both transmit esoteric information; the Templars with all the Holy Grail legends associated with them among other things.  In Delueze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus by Eugene W. Holland he says "the task of modern music is to render audible the silent forces of the cosmos."

Earlier, in the same book Holland compares Delueze and Guttari's philosophy with free jazz:

Free jazz, operating at the extreme without chord charts, and even without respect to recognizable key signatures, is an instance of continuous absolute de-territorialization of a song, while nonetheless maintaining its consistency as a piece of music.  Indeed maintaining or creating consistency without imposing unity, identity or organization - without resorting to bare repetitions of the same - might be said to constitute the holy grail of all of Delueze and Guttari's work, in ethics, politics, as well as aesthetics.

Apocryphal legend says that immediately after Louis XVI was executed a freemason leapt up, rubbed blood on his crown and cried out "Jaques de Molay, thou art avenged."  Massacre kind of did the same thing in concert.

 Deleuze and Guttari present a metaphysics of complex science, a metaphysics that accounts for the virtual as well as the actual.  It works well as a metaphysics of magick, alchemy and bardo training.  It  describes a metaphysics of free jazz, and of music in general.  One of the primary questions they ask is: how do you make a 'Body without Organs'? - a term they appropriated from avant garde playwright Antonin Artaud.  How do you make a non-organic body?  Parallels with alchemy seem obvious.  In  their magnum opus A Thousand Plateaus - Capitalism and Schizophrenia - my new Bible - Deleauze and Guttari massacre linearity and causality in an eclectic variety of subjects from Evolution to Sorcery, Psychoanalysis to Lycanthropy.  Theirs is a metaphysics of transformation, of the Process, and especially of Here to Go.  When searching the web for an introduction to D & G, I found one reviewer who suggested reading William Burroughs' cut-up novels and listening to Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica to get a feel for the nonlinearity of their approach.  Hakim Bey's Temporary Autonomous Zone has a strong D & G influence.They seem the ultimate guerilla ontologists, upending assumptions you never knew you had.

An assemblage forms the night before the show in the lounge of the Novotel Hotel on the River Sienne in the Bercy section of Paris.  The people who form the molecular constituents have arrived from New York, San Francisco, Sacramento, London and locally to assemble at this focal point for a brief few hours of unwinding, eating and catching up.  You wouldn't know it to look at it, but this place functions as a communication hot spot, a 'power spot' in the sense Carlos Castenada writes about.  I suspect this because seven years ago at this exact location, sitting in the exact same chair, Bill introduced me to Gordon, an Irishman with down-to-earth aristocratic bearing who sometimes traveled with U2s entourage.  He had just purchased a major Brion Gysin painting and I suggested it was very likely a reading artifact.  I asked him if he knew of a good English bookstore in Paris where I could pick up a copy of Moby Dick.  Gordon directed me to one in the Tuileries, the former residence of France's monarchy, where I found a copy.  Starting reading Moby Dick on the Metro ride back and saw the Tuileries mentioned on the first page.  I was at the beginning of the story both inside and outside the book.

Tonight's body without organs collective lounge assemblage ebbs and flows, changes shape, individuals and dyads depart/return, overseas calls come in with birthday greetings, news of art and music and soul development.
"Could you not have changed the name of the band Massacre for just this one show?," a Parisian asks still painfully mindful of the Charlie Hebdo brute world attack.  The question is answered with silence.  Take a violent signifier like massacre, de-territorialize it by putting it into a different context like a post-structural music assemblage, then re-territorialize Massacre as a progressive, life expanding music concert.  Massacre got its name by having its first ever gig on St. Valentine's Day.  The concert here in Paris is on February 13th so you could call it a birthday anniversary show though I don't know for how many years, my guess is that it's in the neighborhood of 30.  Figuratively speaking, if it was St. Valentine doing the massacring what would he massacre? 

A large flat screen constantly plays footage of advanced military planes and faces of generals gathered in their masses just like witches at black masses the whole time we are there.  A 50 billion euro sale of these from France to Egypt has just gone down and the media analysts can't stop re-reporting it; lots of talking heads and delighted hawks.  Perhaps this subconsciously contributes to an apocalyptic turn of the conversation: " gamma rays firing toward the Earth from deep space; the world is in a rough place; a child suggested that dystopian books such as Brave New World, 1984, and Farenheit 451 contributed to the reality of those bleak visions"
"But what are you going to do about it? .... keep playing, keep drumming."  Do the math on the word "drum" for the magick of this answer.  "Drum" and "Gurdjieff" are mathematically equivalent.

1984 reminded me of a scene from the movie JOBS, the Steve Jobs movie with Ashton Kutchner I recently viewed where he's introducing the Mac II with a famous ad that features scenes from the movie 1984 with Apple saying that would never happen because they made a tool, the personal computer, intended to bring out the heart in people (actually a conflation of two scenes).

Friday the Thirteenth, February 1970, Black Sabbath release their first, self-titled album which would reach #23 on the Billboard 200 music chart.  This Heat, one of Charles Hayward's early bands released their debut on a Friday the Thirteenth.  Music ignores human superstitions.  After soundcheck we have a few hours before the show, traffic is too heavy to go back to the hotel.  Backstage conversation:  "Lots of interesting things going on in physics, we're now picking up information from before the Big Bang.  The Universe appears structured like a Fibonacci Series.  CERN's 27 km Large Hadron Collider subatomic particle accelerator is partly in Switzerland, partly in France."  Subatomic particles ignore human boundaries. 
"Two books I tell all my students to read, Noise - A Political Economy of Music by Jaques Attali and Silence by John Cage."

Seb El Zin turns up around dinnertime with his cd Anarchist Republic of Bzzzz ( post- apocalyptic electro noise punk rap) looking for Bill.  He's putting together a recording studio in a mansion in Normandy with an old friend, Nicktus, the bass player for FFF,  Fédération Française de Funk whom I haven't seen for 24 years, but whom I have an appointment to visit with the next night at a small dinner party given by Martin Bergeaud.  Martin leads Dark Blue Orchestra, a group I mixed at Prairie Sun last year.

The opening band seems about as exactly opposite to Massacre as you could possibly get.  Sedate traditional jazz delivered inside the lines.  They seemed well received by the conservative audience.

Massacre ranged from soft aerial ambient spatialness to powerful rock without getting sonically overbearing.  It was a fairly large hall, maybe 1500 capacity, with a very high ceiling and clear acoustics without much reverberant reflection.  The sharply tiered rising rows does strange things to the low end from the front to back rows, but tonight it was sold out and all the people, with their collective sound absorption properties, made the low end just right.  At soundcheck, Pierre and his sound company had the PA dialed and all ready to go with more than sufficient headroom.  The stage was large and spacious, the light show very well done as you can see from the photos.  In other words, the perfect venue.  Mixing went well, I had a lot of fun and tried some different things with effects panning.  About 1/3rd into the show, an excited usher holding a device that looked like a tricorder with a wand on the front pointed to it and said it had gone up to 107 dB SPL exceeding the legal limit of 105 by 2 dB.  I apologized profusely and begged for forgiveness and not to be taken to jail ..., actually that's not true, I just acknowledged him and looked at the meter which read 102 at that moment.  I didn't have to change anything.  He walked away and didn't bother me for the rest of the show. 

Listening to the recording of this show, it completely blows me away i.e. de-territorialzation of all preconceptions about anything, purely here in this moment with all possibilities, parallel worlds, and alternate realities stretched out in all directions, hallways of choicepoints.  Infinity times infinity makes it's own Time playing with a drummer sworn to hele all.  Swiftnesses and slownesses, driving rhythms, dub rhythms and ambient space expanse.  There exist no words or literary writing style I know of that can adequately describe the experience with the music I'm hearing right now, Massacre in Paris 2015.  Music like this seems way ahead of painting and literature.  We'll let Deleauze and Gutarri have a go at it from A Thousand Plateaus, p. 313:

Chaos is not without it's own directional components, which are its own ecstasies.  We have seen elsewhere how all kinds of milieus, each defined by a component, slide in relation to one another, over one another.  Each milieu is a vibratory, in other words, a block of space-time constituted by the periodic repetition of the component.  Thus the living thing has an exterior milieu of materials, an interior milieu of composing elements and composed substances, an intermediary milieu of membranes and limits, and an annexed milieu of energy sources and actions-perceptions.  Every milieu is coded, a code being defined by periodic repetition; but each code is in a perpetual state of transcoding or transduction.  Transcoding or transduction is the manner in which one milieu serves as the basis for another , or conversely is established on top of another milieu, dissipates in it or is constituted in it.  The notion of the milieu is not unitary; not only does the living thing continually pass from one milieu to another, but the milieus pass into one another; they are essentially communicating.  The milieus are open to chaos, which threatens them with exhaustion or intrusion.  Rhythm is the milieus' answer to chaos.

Or in other words:

BAS-AUMGN:  "Ye that are Gods going forth uttering AUMGN ( the Word that goeth from
                              (A) Free Breath
                              (U) through Willed Breath
                              (M) and stopped Breath
                              (GN) to Continuous Breath
                               thus symbolizing the whole course of spiritual life. A is the formless Zero;
                               U is the six-fold solar sound of physical life, the triangle of Soul being entwined
                               with that of Body; M is the silence of "death"; GN is the nasal sound of knowledge
                               and generation.
                                                                                    - Crowley from Liber Samekh

Fortunately, it's looking good that this recording and other recent Massacre shows will be released relatively soon.  These descriptions might be clearer when you hear the music.

Saturday the Fourteenth, February, 2015, Valentine's Day, was a relaxing day off to accommadate transportation schedules.  Breakfast with Charles before he catches a train to London, he being the exception to the day off.  Met Bill and Michael Lemesre at the lounge communication post in the early afternoon.  Lemesre still works for Alan Douglas's company making sure that projects Douglas started get properly taken care of and finished.  He kindly gifted me with one of these projects, a book about Jimi Hendrix called Starting at Zero told entirely in Hendrix's own words.  There's also a film coming out by Peter Neal with the same title narrated in his own words.  Neal made a film, Experience in 1967 the only film about Jimi Hendrix released during his lifetime and the only film made with Jimiʼs full collaboration.

After the show last night Fred gave everyone a copy of his new cd, The Natural Order, a duet collaboration with saxophonist John Butchner.  However, to say that Fred plays guitar and Butchner plays sax is a massive understatement as both instruments are thoroughly de-territorialized from their conventional uses and re-territorialzed in a huge range of sonorities, textures, articulated noise with wormholes tunneling and jaunts instantly transporting the listener somewhere outside known territory.  At times the two musical assemblages sound like extraterrestrial or extradimensional nonhuman entities in a dialog with each other, or sometimes telling jokes.  Highly recommended, it's on Northern Spy Records.

Earlier, Bill had presented copies of his new cd Space/Time Redemption, another duo album with Bill and Milford Graves.  This music can also take one very far out, but subtly and gently until you don't realize how de-territorialized out of habitual perceptions you get.  This music is powerfully shamanic, and that should get taken as a warning.  I hear strong African magic, ascension or "out-cension" through the sound of ritual forms, astral bells, hints of Coltrane circa Cosmic Music and A Love Supreme, a flavoring of Sun Ra, also Bas-Aumgn to a strong degree, panoramic sustainer and psychopomp.  It lives up to its name and song titles: Eternal Signs, Sonny Sharrock, Another Space, Autopossession, Another Time.  Also highly recommended for altering consciousness, this music could be used to accompany what some schools call Objective Prayer.  It can act as a carrier wave. Tum Records.

After lunch I headed outdoors to a cool, not quite drizzily overcast, sun spot, beautiful Paris day. Underground to the Metro to Montparnasse capturing local street/atmosphere assemblages on video for a future project.  Then again vectoring below the streets,  Metro to Opera, a historic building built in 1669 for the National Opera.  It's right around the corner from Cafe de la Paix which I also videotaped from a variety of angles.  This cafe is where Gurdjieff did a lot of writing.  It's also the site of the one plausible meeting between Gurdjieff and Crowley.  I thought it interesting that on the side of the Opera building was inscribed Académie Royale de Musique, its official name shortly after it was built, and that it was right beside a primary communication spot for Gurdjieff.

"For Attali, music is not simply a reflection of culture, but a harbinger of change, an anticipatory abstraction of the shape of things to come.  The book's title refers specifically to the reception of musics that sonically rival normative social orders.  Noise is Attali's metaphor for a broad, historical vanguardism, for the radical soundscapes of the western continuum that express structurally the course of social development."

- Ethnomusicology writing about Noise, The Political Economy of Music.


  1. Replies
    1. Bill Laswell sucked me in to his orbit the first time I heard him, and he has only gotten more interesting over the years, I think Bill would agree that you are a key element Oz.

  2. Perhaps for folks who arrived late to the blog or who aren't music experts, it might be useful to explain that "Massacre, the free improvised music trio of Frith, Laswell, and Hayward," is Fred Frith, the prominent guitarist, Bill Laswell, the well -known bass player and Charles Hayward, who has played with numerous musicians, including Roxy Music's Phil Manzanera.

    Sitting here in Ohio reading this entry, I discovered by Eugene Holland is a professor at The Ohio State University:

    I look forward to hearing the live album.

  3. I was born in Ohio. Thanks for the info, Tom, and the exclamation piikea1.

  4. Oz, your outlook on things, your spirituality, they are so unique. And the fact that you are a sonic wizard just makes it so much more interesting.
    I often times feel too ordinary to fully understand you. Ignorance certainly has a lot to do with that. Luckily, listening to music you have mixed or recorded immediately makes me forget about this vast gap and it makes me feel like I ununderstand EXACTLY what you mean, with the music being the medium and the mix being the message.

    Anyway, I am looking forward to hearing the recording from the show and to getting a copy of the book you are working on.

  5. Was this recording ever put to album ?
    warm regards
    Svend E Kristensen