Archive for the 'Musick' Category

Apr 01 2014

Sabbath Assembly – Quaternity

As It Is…

Sabbath Assembly - Quaternity

Sabbath Assembly – Quaternity

Sabbath Assembly is back with a third album, Quaternity, based on concepts and beliefs The Process Church of the Final Judgment.

I’ll admit, I was nervous about this album. The Process Church ceased to be some time ago (despite rumors that they’re responsible for all kinds of evil), and I was wondering when the well of hymns would either dry up, or feel too limiting.

I loved their first album (Restored to One), which reminded me of a delicious mix of Coven, and Jesus  music. Looking for more music like this led me to Jex Thoth (vocalist on the first Sabbath Assembly album), and the band Blood Ceremony (also highly recommended).  I honestly expected Sabbath Assembly to be a one-off band, and was pleasantly surprised when they returned with a second album of hymns (and a new and no less impressive vocalist in Jamie Myers), Ye Are Gods

The Final Reckoning is at hand, and we’ve reached the point I was curious about. Quaternity isn’t a collection of hymns this time (though the track “Lucifer”, with guest vocals by former Processian Anthony D’Andrea – who felt the original covers weren’t quite right,  is a Process hymn).  Rather, what we are presented with is an album exploring the themes found within the Process Church theology, via a number of original compositions.

This is not inherently a bad thing.  In fact, there is some stellar music here (“The Burning Cross of Christ” and “Lucifer” in particular). However, if anything, this feels like an album of a band trying to find its way out of a corner it painted itself into with its first two albums.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that corner – it’s an amazing corner to be in.  But when you have a finite amount of source material, you’re eventually going to have to come up with something new.

As such, one might compare this album to Einstürzende Neubauten’s album, Ende Neu, released in the midst of that band’s drastic line-up changes. There are good songs, but not always the “cohesion” present in other releases.  This is a band trying to find a direction to move forward in, while remaining true to its roots.

Lest it sound like I’m panning the album (I’m not), I guess I’m a little greedy in wanting more of the mystery of the Process Church, and the surprising joy I found in earlier Sabbath Assembly releases (“Glory to the Gods in the Highest”, and “Exit” come to mind). Quaternity also continues the trend started in Ye Are Gods of pulling the music forward to current times. If Restored to One had an incredible 60s “occult rock” vibe to it, the “60s” part of that is no longer as readily apparent (to me, anyway). The track “I, Satan” dives headlong into doom metal (again, nothing wrong with that), but the subject matter now feels distant from the Process Church, and more situated with in Sabbath Assembly.

A number of other reviewers have had issues with the final track, the 18:21 long “Four Horsemen.” – this is a meditation piece, for certain (not in the chanting/chime-y sort of way), a pastiche of Process Church doctrine and different styles of music – exquisite at times.

Do I like the album? Yes.  But for different reasons than the first two. I am mostly curious to see where the next album goes, as I suspect it will be more Sabbath Assembly, and less Process Church (or, perhaps, Sabbath Assembly as informed by the Process Church, rather than the Process Church as interpreted by Sabbath Assembly).  What this new direction will eventually look like (occult rock? doom metal? neo-folk? other?) remains to be heard.

If you’re curious about The Process Church of the Final Judgment, you might also take a gander at some of my other posts on the subject.

So be it.

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Feb 25 2014

Sing Omega

Today, I received something momentous and beautiful in the mail.

Goodies in the mail today!

Goodies in the mail today!

Sing Omega collects the lyrics (and more, and less) of David Tibet, from 1983-2013, in reverse chronological order, beginning with I Am the Last of All Field that Fell, and ending with Nature Unveiled  and LAShTAL.

This is a beautiful book.

Have I read all 550 pages in the 2.5 hours I’ve been home?  Of course not. But I know most of the book’s contents anyway, having been a fan of David’s band, Current 93, for quite some time now.

Around the time I discovered Coil (late 90s), I became aware of Current 93. Like Coil, the only way to find Current 93 (and Death In June, and Nurse With Wound, and sundry other bands that would eventually -for a while- fall under the “World Serpent” umbrella), was if you were at the right music store, at the right time, and happened to have a good chunk of money in your pocket. This made taking a chance on a band that you instinctually knew you would fall in love with at some point in your life, difficult, to say the least.

Occasionally, I’d run into a used CD.  My first actual Current 93 purchase was the EP, Crowleymass, which is, perhaps, not the best place to start. Later, a gifted copy of In Menstrual Night enlightened me a bit further as to what might be happening, even though there was still no reliable (and affordable) source for any other albums.

I still only knew Current 93’s reputation more than I knew the music.

It took moving to California, and the Bay Area for me to finally be able to investigate Current 93 (and the other bands I mentioned above) in a manner that allowed me to fall in love with each of them, as I had always known I would. The album that changed everything for me was All The Pretty Little Horses – simultaneously chilling, hypnotic, and possessing an unearthly aura of mystery; so beautiful, in fact, that I couldn’t stop listening to it.

I finally “got it.”

I’ve since amassed a rather extensive C93 library.

David Tibet’s songs – both musically and lyrically – are like nothing else you’ll ever hear. At times maddening, jaw-dropping, and transcendent, his songs are visionary, and completely support the term “apocalyptic folk” (in every sense of the term) that has been used to describe them. To listen to them is to immerse yourself in Christian esotericism the likes of which hasn’t surfaced in centuries – yet there is still a sense of play, innocence, and wonder. It is these wild juxtapositions (not to mention my genuine love of the music) that keeps me coming back for more.

Is that someone's signature on the Customs Declaration?

Is that someone’s signature on the Customs Declaration?

I’d always hoped that one day, I could pore over Tibet’s collected writings.

That day finally arrived.

The book does not disappoint.

If Thee Psychick Bible by Genesis P-Orridge is a textbook in magick and a manual of techniques, Sing Omega is pure gnostic revelation. If Tibet’s lyrics enrapture the listeners of his albums, the written versions are no less powerful. “Did I just hear that?!” can now not only be double-checked, but reviewed in context with other lines in each song, as well as with Tibet’s full body of work. Connections that may have eluded a listener, are now available for the reader to find.

Long Satan and Babylon went walking...

Long Satan and Babylon are walking…

The book itself is a hardcover, clothbound, with a ribbon bookmark sewn in. The book is 560 pages, contains not only lyrics for Current 93, but also previously unpublished poems, and lyrics written for other artists. The endpapers are facsimiles of Tibet’s handwritten lyrics for “The Invisible Church” from I Am the Last of All Field that Fell, and “I Looked to the Southside of the Door” from Birth Canal Blues.

As if all of this wasn’t full of enough awesome, there’s also an afterword by Thomas Ligotti.

The first edition is a print run of 930 copies, un-numbered.

You can get your copy for £41, directly from David Tibet.

I have no idea how long these will last.  I worried (unnecessarily, it turns out) that the week I had to wait between the day they went on sale, and the day I had the spare cash to order a copy would be my undoing. I don’t know if future editions are planned or not. If this plays out like Tibet’s other publishing endeavors, I suspect once these are gone, they’ll start commanding high prices on the secondary market.

This is a book to be enjoyed, picked up, perused, delved into, and referred back to, and savored. I had long hoped that a similar book would be published with Jhonn Balance’s writings – alas, it was not to be (yet?).

I am beyond grateful that Sing Omega has incarnated.

Given the prolific nature of Tibet’s musical output, I eagerly await the second volume.

I would also be remiss if I did not mention Current 93’s latest album, I Am the Last of All Field that Fell. This album continues the maturing of Tibet’s music that began with Black Ships Ate the Sky. It features a number of guest artists, including Norbert Kox, Nick Cave, and John Zorn(!) – this is beyond apocalyptic folk and neo-folk, and moves into an even more complex style of composition that only continues to innovate and challenge – and I mean that in the best way. The Black Ship sails onward to new but no less haunting waters. Even if you’re not familiar with Current 93, this is one well worth your time and money.

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Feb 13 2014

paths

I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that -in for a penny, in for a pound- I’ll probably never stop searching for meaning, for answers, for gnosis, and for ways to find them.

When I was an undergrad, and active in theater, I wound up writing an extensive paper on Jean Genet, focusing on his plays: The MaidsDeathwatchThe BalconyThe Blacks, and The Screens.  At the time, most of the authors I was reading could be summed up as “any combination of gay, criminal, and/or an addict” (Burroughs, Genet, and Charriere were all in heavy rotation, as well as others I’ve since forgotten about). I haven’t read Genet since the late 80s, but have recently reacquired a good chunk of his work. I’ll probably revisit him at some point in the future (currently reading Melmoth the Wanderer by Maturin, and loving it). My final paper on Genet for my second semester of History of the Theater was probably about 15-20 pages about Genet’s idea of “Theater as Ritual” which is an idea that resurfaced for me towards the end of my time in grad school.

Namely, in terms of Antero Alli’s ParaTheatrical Research.

I haven’t worked with Alli (though if I could go back in time, I would have considered this as a possible portion of my grad-school studies), but I’ve gotten to know him a little bit via Facebook. Interesting fellow. You really should check him and his work out.

In any event, I’m not writing about Alli, or Genet here, ultimately, but rather the quest – the need to touch that-which-cannot-be-named, to understand. One of my favorite quotes from Lon Milo DuQuette in The Magick of Thelema (1993) sums it up for me:

“The Magician does not necessarily want the burden of existence lifted from his shoulders; he wants to understand why he is carrying it and where.”

In fact, I used that quote as the opening salvo of my personal statement in grad school.

For a while, as I’ve written throughout this site, I was very interested in Crowley, the O.T.O., Thelema, variations on T.O.P.Y.,  and Chaos Magick.

These days, I find my interests to be much quieter.

One stream that I’ve become very interested is the traditional practices of my ancestors. My great-great maternal grandfather, Albert Hunter, was a Pennsylvania Dutch Pow-wow practitioner. I’ve also been quietly looking into Rune systems as well, and become interested in plant lore, and still have an immense love and respect for dreams and dreaming.

All of this, while working a 9-5 (okay, 8:30-4:30) job, and raising a two year old son.

In fact, part of the reason I’ve become interested in these traditions (and, honestly, I’d say they’re supplemental to my interests in “higher” magick, rather than replacing them), is to pass these traditions on to him. The day will come when he asks us “Mom, Dad, what do we believe?” and I want to have an answer for him.

A little while back, a group entered my awareness. I know none of the players involved, and the literature is prohibitively expensive. On the surface, however, their interests seem to be along the lines of where my own are right now. I have no idea how to make contact, or if I even want to make contact. My experiences with groups tend to inevitably end in disappointment.

That said, I hereby affirm my intention to at least read what literature of theirs that I can come by (and, let’s be honest, when your major texts are going for thousands of dollars on the secondary market, there are .PDFs to be had until other printings surface), and determine whether it continues to appear to be a good match.

One sign, I suppose, was that upon contemplating them last night, I was reminded of The Xenis Emputae Travelling Band. Last night, I loaded their discography onto my iPad, to listen to at work today. This morning, I found that Phil Legard (the main force behind XETB), posted a piece yesterday about a quasi-mystical horseman’s guild from the 19th century (fascinating reading, actually), specifically remarking about the use of a magickal “toad bone” to control the horses.

He provides references to a few works about the toad bone, including pieces by Andrew Chumbley.

Sometimes the universe winks back at you.

I should clarify that I would not call my current interests “Wicca” – I have no use for Gardner, nor his school.

Ultimately, I believe, we all need to find our own ways – our own paths, but they can and should be rooted in those of our ancestors.

If my son rejects all of this, I am totally fine with that.

If, however, he has an interest, then I want to be able to be the best resource and facilitator I can be.

But in the end, this is for me.

It is what I need to do.

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Jan 03 2014

Reclaiming Sonic Space

Published by under Musick

An excursion to an actual record store the other day has put me in a reflective mood.

I am a music hoarder. I don’t know how else to describe it.  At various times in my life, I’ve worked music retail, done college radio, and managed to amass music collections the size of the Library of Congress.

When I moved to California, I brought close to 2000 CDs with me. I left behind about 400 cassettes, and several hundred LPs.   There’s only so much room in a ’97 Nissan Sentra.  It was packed to the point where I felt like John Glenn in the Mercury capsule, as it was.

I have since gone predominantly digital.  It takes less space.  I own a handful of CDs, even less vinyl, and about 2-3 TB of music.  Everything from Johnny Cash, to Coil, to Black Sabbath, to Martin Denny, to 101 Strings sex albums.  Surf music from Pakistan?  I’ve got some. 70s funk from Poland?  You betcha.

As much as I love having literally just about anything I can think of at my fingertips (listening to Selected Memories from the Haunted Ballroom by The Caretaker at the moment), visiting the record store the other day has made me realize how much I miss the tangibility of recording media.  This isn’t some sort of hipster (or even audiophile) revelation of how “cool” records are.  I’ve never stopped thinking they’re cool.  My decisions to go digital were purely practical.

Love's Secret DomainBut as I purchased Love’s Secret Domain by Coil on vinyl the other day, I became immediately smitten with the idea of privacy, and temporality and ritual that comes with playing music from physical media.

If I am listening to music on my computer, or my iPhone, or my iPad (Lossless vs .mp3 debate aside), chances are, my device is connected to the Internet. Whether I choose to disclose what I am listening to at any given moment on social media (see my mention of The Caretaker, above), the device through which I am listening to it is connected to various other devices, and there is still the feeling of interaction (even if it is in the background), and my listening to music feels as if it loses just a little bit of its privacy.

Opening up iTunes and playing a song, while a deliberate conscious act, becomes one of many within the framework of how we use our devices. It’s meaning becomes diluted. The intention inherent in playing a piece of music gets lost in multitasking, either by the machine, or its user.

On the other hand, playing a record now means I need to interact more directly with a physical object – the recorded media.  I need to engage in the ritual of selecting the LP, removing it from its sleeve, placing it on the turntable, and starting the machine – the machine solely dedicated to playing back this piece of music.

I can play this piece of music for myself, or for a small group of people.  Additionally, should I use the piece of music in a ritual setting, there is privacy.  Spotify isn’t broadcasting my music choices across Facebook. iTunes isn’t calculating how many times I’ve played a track. This musical moment is between myself, and the turntable, and whoever else might be in the room with me.  It almost becomes a sonic Temporary Autonomous Zone. Like the ritual burning of incense, the musical moment is strictly in the present, and witnessed only by those who need to know.

In this age of the Internet, and social media, reclaiming this privacy feels not only refreshing, but is also a subversive act.

Try it. I’d be curious to hear how this works for you.

Or, as with anything, I could be making a mountain out of a molehill.

 

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Sep 21 2013

Reflections on Death In June – Friday the 13th, San Francisco

(submitted to and published by The Listserve – this is the annotated version with one correction)

At what point do you become that which you are trying to eradicate?

stageThis past weekend (9/13), I attended a show by the controversial band Death In June. Douglas Pearce (the sole continuous member) has been accused of being a racist, a Nazi, a fascist, and worse. The fact that he is openly gay, has collaborated with a number of Jewish musicians, and has played sold out shows in Israel is beside the point. I have listened to his music for years. I consider myself on the left end of the political spectrum.  I’ve read any number of interviews and clarifications that Pearce has made about his views. I have a graduate degree in philosophy. I have participated in a number of civil rights demonstrations across the country. I can safely say that I find nothing fascist or hateful about him or his music. This is my conclusion. I stand by it.

Others only look at surface images of the band, and project their worst fears onto it. Those are their conclusions.  I have listened to their arguments, and read their cases. I remain unconvinced.

The show I attended was protested by a group identifying themselves as anti-fascists. They have a right to do this.  I respect this.

Rather than engaging us in dialogue, however, they became violent – openly harassing (an ethnically diverse!) group of people waiting politely in line for the show.  There were fists involved. They tried to storm the venue. It was their assumption that we were all waiting to attend the next Nuremberg rally, and that we were Nazis who needed to be stopped.

The anti-fascists wound up physically harming a number of minority members of the audience.  Additionally, they had vandalized the club where DIJ played the night before, and succeeded in threatening another venue to the point of cancelling a sold out show (which has since been relocated).

irony

In 1920s-1930s Germany, the Nazi Party deployed a group known as the Sturmabteilung, or “brown shirts” to disrupt, threaten, intimidate, and physically harm political opponents.  How, qualitatively, were the actions of the anti-fascists different from the tactics of the Sturmabteilung? Tactics aside, how is it anti-fascist to declare yourselves the gatekeepers of what people can, cannot, should, and should not listen to?

In their quest for a villain, they became the villains. Rather than seeking common ground (of which, I suspect, there may have actually been much between them and the audience), they demonized us.

Additionally, they denied our humanity in an even more fundamentally important way –they denied us the choice, the chance to make up our own minds about what we were seeing and hearing. They failed to recognize our own abilities – our own rights – to recognize good and evil.

Walt Kelly, the creator of the comic-strip POGO, wrote in 1953, regarding the McCarthy hearings:

Traces of nobility, gentleness and courage persist in all people, do what we will to stamp out the trend. So, too, do those characteristics which are ugly…There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blasts on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.

In Jungian psychology, there is a term for this – “owning one’s shadow.” I hope that someday, the 8 protesters (not 20, as they claim) look into this, and find resolution.

Then, perhaps, we can all move forward and fight real evil – together.

Oh yeah.  The show?  Simply amazing.

drums

mask

doug

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Aug 12 2013

Network Awesome

Published by under Crowley,La Vey,Musick,Occult

A friend of mine pointed me to Network Awesome’s “offering” for the day…

Assorted Music(k), Magic(k), and Mayhem can be found here.

Current 93, Z’EV, an interview with Zeena Schreck, and Psychic TV‘s notorious First Transmission tape, among other things – sure to curdle your mind.

Enjoy!

Oh, and NSFW.  Duh.

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