The Music of Morse

Anyone who has heard morse code can agree that the dits and the dahs have an inherent musicality. It should come as no surprise then that various artists have incorporated the use of morse code into their song writing.

Since the World War II Bheetoven’s Fifth Symphony has also been called the Victory symphony, due to the roman numeral V for 5. In morse code the letter V is dit-dit-dit-dah. During WW II the BBC begin its broadcasts aimed towards Europe with those four notes played on drums. Since the Fifth Symphony was written several decades before the development of morse code the opening bars of his symphony corresponding to V is a happy coincidence.

In 1967 the Oklahoma band Five Americans released their smash hit “Western Union” which reached #5 in the charts. Besides being a song about a telegram the group sings dits and dahs as part of the lyrics. The lead guitarist Mike Rabon was messing around on his instrument one day when he came up with a sound that reminded him of telegraphy. From that inspiration they decided to write the song.

The same year a decidedly less square group in Britain released their first album, Piper at the Gates of Dawn. In the intro to the opener, Astronomy Domine, morse code can be heard alongside voices talking about the space race.

Also from the counterculture in 1967 was the premiere album from Pearls Before Swine, One Nation Underground, released on the eclectic ESP-disk label (who also put out albums by the likes of Albert Ayler, Sun Ra and The Fugs). The chorus to their song “(oh Dear) Miss Morse”, :

Dit Dit Dah Dit
Dit Dit Dah
Dah Dit Dah Dit
Dah Dit Dah

was a clever way to get F-U-C-K played on radio stations without overtly breaking any laws.

Moving onwards to 1975 Kraftwerk put out the album Radio-activity. The original recording features a killer Minimoog bass line and chords played on the etheric sounding Vako Orchestron. Morse code signals spell out “R-A-D-I-O-A-C-T-I-V-I-T-Y” near the beginning of the track and again near the end. The second time it is followed by a reprise of the lyric “I-S I-N T-H-E A-I-R F-O-R Y-O-U A-N-D M-E” in morse.

In 1978 and emerging from the British punk scene we come to song “Enough Time” by The Stranglers off of their album Black and White. The morse code in this riveting song also drops an F-bomb in the phrase “Mother Earth we are fucked”.

Scottish poet and BBC radio regular Ivo Cutler penned the cute little humdinger “Little Black Buzzer”. This could be theme song for Amateur radio mountain toppers who like to climb mountains and transmit from the summit. This piece features a lovely bit of harmonium, Cutler’s preffered instrument.

Mike Oldfield put a secret message in morse code in his 1990 album Amarok. At the time he had been feeling salty with Virgin Records. The album had been intended to be one long piece, and for commercial stations that made it decidely unfriendly for airplay on popular radio. The album was seen to be almost unmarketable, and Virgin did little to promote it themselves. Mike attempted to generate a bit of buzz for the album himself by offering a £1000 prize of his own money to the first person who could find the “secret message”. The competition received hardly any coverage at all, and made the impact on sales pretty much non-existent. At the 48 minute mark of the piece is a bit of morse code spelling out “FUCK OFF RB”. The RB in this case would be Virgin Record’s Richard Branson the man who had first signed him.

Rush used the identifer for the Toronto Airport, YY Zed, in their song, YYZ, which contains the morse for those letters, most notably in the drums at the very beginning.

There are plenty of other songs featuring morse code within them. If you know of any I missed or should have put in this incomplete list please drop a note in the comments.

73 & 93, KE8COY, out.

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The Music of Radio – Musical Telegraphy

The history of electronic music is intimately tied up with the history of radio and telecommunications. Many of the same breakthroughs and devices invented by electrical engineers for communicating in morse code, telephone and radio were adapted for use by musicians. Electricity opened up new worlds of sound beginning in the 19th century.

Elisha GrayElisha Gray, co-founder of the Western Electric Company, is perhaps most well known as a developer of a prototype telephone. Some scholars consider Gray the true inventor of the telephone. Both Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray used liquid transmitters in their experiments with voice transmission over wire. The telephone seems to be one of those ideas that was floating around in the ether at the time, and it is my view that each inventor developed the work independently. In fact Gray arrived at the patent office to file his apparatus “for transmitting vocal sounds telegraphically” just two hours after Bell. After a number of years in the courts, it was Bell’s patent that the lawyers held up in a number of decisions.

gray_patent_01Though Gray may only be considered a kind of begrudged step-father in terms of telephony, it is clear that the electric synthesizer is the fruit of his seed. In 1874 after Gray had retired from Western Electric to focus on independent research he came up with one of the seventy patents attributed to him. In this case, the Electro-harmonic Telegraph. It was a chance by product of his work on the telephone.

In the course of his work Gray learned he could control sound from a self-vibrating electromagnetic circuit. This led to him inventing a basic oscillator made of steel rods whose vibrations were created and transmitted over a telephone line. The instrument consisted of a number of single-tone oscillators that could play over a range of two octaves. Each tone was controlled with a separate telegraph key.

After giving several private demonstrations of the instrument he gave a public performance at the Presbyterian Church of Highland, Illinois on December 29, 1874. A newspaper announcement stated that it transmitted “familiar melodies through telegraph wire”. In later models of the instrument he added a simple diaphragm speaker that amplified the tones to a louder volume.

musicaltelegraf

 

 

To be fair Bell came at the telephone also through his work as a teacher of the deaf and adjacent studies of music, hearing, sound, and human anatomy. While working for Western Union Telegraph he had been obsessed with solving the problem of creating a “multiple telegraph” -or a way to transmit a number of messages over the same wire. It was this work on the harmonic telegraph that spurred him on to eventually invent the telephone.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_musical_instrument
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisha_Gray

http://120years.net/the-musical-telegraphelisha-greyusa1876/

Exploding the Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws who Hacked Ma Bell by Phil Lapsley, Grove Press, New York 2013.

 

Post edited, March 5th.

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KE8COY, Listening

heathkit microphoneLast November I got my ticket to the world of Amateur Radio in the form of my Technician’s class license and call sign KE8COY. It’s been an absorbing few months since I started studying in Septemeber and making my first forays onto the local VHF and UHF airwaves, December and getting my first DX contact on a digital station during OH-KY-IN‘s Winter Field Day.

When I canceled “On the Way to the Peak of Normal” back at the beginning of 2014 I didn’t realize how much I’d miss the world of radio. And I’d always had it in the back of my mind, since around 2002, to go and get my Amateur Radio license. Yet it was one of those things that remained in the back of my mind for quite awhile. I had done little towards achieving the vision of becoming a ham, besides taking a one-day class at Hive 13. I didn’t pass the multiple choice test at the end of the day.

Like many projects it remained on the back burner and perhaps would have done so indefinitely if fate hadn’t arranged a chance meeting with Brent, KK4HMR at the lunch counter at Shanghai Mamma’s in mid-to-late August.

I knew KK4HMR as a member of the Hive and someone I talked to on the metro when we ran into each other, but that was about it. I also knew he had his ticket to the airwaves, and so Amateur Radio had often been a topic of discussion for us on the commute home. He told me about Oh-Ky-In which he had joined, and also about some classes they offered to get people licensed. I looked them up, went to some meetings, the classes, took my exam, got my call sign and license and am now back on the air, though in quite a different capacity than  when I was doing broadcast community radio. Radio has not left my life path, rather it is just changing octaves, moving to a different frequency.

There are many hobbies within the hobby of Amateur Radio and I’m not quite sure exactly which of those I’ll be exploring. I know I’d like to do some tinkering and homebrewing. I’m taking some tenative steps towards getting my General class license, and hope to dig in deeper in March. Yet one thing that has really struck me has been how much I have learned about magic by studying radio theory.

As a technology radio is pretty magical. The fact that they can receive and distinguish signals by grabbing them out of the air with an antenna is in itself amazing. People in the hobby talk a lot about “the magic of radio” -when under difficult conditions and with pieced together rigs someone in Ohio could communicate with someone in Australia, on the International Space Station, or bounce signals off the moon.

Ham radio is a contact sport -and so is magic. The whole point in radio is to make “contacts” to transmit and receive.

Tuning & Frequency: In magic we spend a lot of time tuning ourselves and the place we live/do magic. Through stillness meditation, music, incense, and other methods the magician or mystic changes their baseline frequency and filters out the “noise” of daily life. Once the basic tuning is done a magician can then work on establishing new patterns, or modulating the basic carrier wave. Modulation is adding any sort of information to a radio wave -either in the form of voice, data, or on broadcast stations, music. In magic the frequency is modulated through contacts, sigils, utterance, ritual patterns, etc.

Filters: In radio filters are used to either accept or reject certain signals. In magic we use filters when dressing an altar with a deity image, a card from the LXXXI deck, or putting a tool in a certain place. This seems to act as a limiter for the non-desired signal or contact, and open the space up to the desired influence.

Resonance: Resonance allows inner knowledge and ability to pass from one person, being or place to another person being or place. (Or object.) From wiki: “In physics, resonance occurs when a system is able to store and easily transfer energy between two or more different storage modes. However, there are some losses from cycle to cycle, called damping. When damping is small, the resonant frequency is approximately equal to the natural frequency of the system, which is a frequency of unforced vibrations. Some systems have multiple, distinct, resonant frequencies.” Resonance allows magic to pass from inner to outer, from being to being, place to person.

Harmonics and Octaves: Those of us studying Quareia have read over and over again that magic works in octaves. This principle is important in radio work as well. For a definition: A harmonic is a frequency that is a whole number multiple (2, 3, 4 etc) of some fundamental frequency, and an octave is double the fundamental.Radios naturally put out harmonics of the frequency they are operating on. This can cause intereference in some cases or can be beneficial in others.

Consider a magical working, say the pentagram ritual. When fully contacted it not only enacts the pentagram harmonic pattern, but brings in other frequencies from the inner worlds. The magician lets go (transmits) and receives. Then in life the magician continues to “radiate” the influences mediated to him and though him in various octaves.

Working with the weather: Another exciting aspect of radio for me is that it is giving me the motivation to learn more about the weather. I think this will carry over to my magical work as well. I would like to attend a “weather spotter” SKYWARN training at some point to learn how to identify certain types of storms etc. to be able to report to the national weather service, if needed. Besides that there is the way certain weather patterns effect the propagation of radio signals, in ways desirable and undersired.

Hams pay a lot of attention to space weather as well: solar cycles and sunspot activity. As well as effecting communication these have harmonics in magic as well.

There is also something called “gray line propagation” and this is where a signal can receive greater strength and distance during twilight times (dawn and dusk) and also at the equinoxes. Just as a magician might time a working to the natural phases and seasons, these timings have a bearing on radio work as well.

Then there is the whole science of waves in radio and nature. Radio just seems to be a rabbit hole I can jump down forever -as is the study and practice of magic. The study of both seems to be complimentary for me.

73 & 93,

KE8COY

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Underground Rivers

Underground RiversThis cycle of poems emerged in parallel to a series of dreams and visionary journeys into the underworld. The words were recovered, like aspects of soul which had gone missing, from the sewers beneath the streets of Cincinnati’s seven ancient hills. Once these missing parts had been restored to the body that had been torn apart, deeper sources of pure mineral water were sought in the hollow places deep in the earths interior, where Underground Rivers are known to flow.

Harry Smith emerged from an Andy Warhol screen test to give a transmission on Weird Old America. Navigating the sea is often better done when the captain works Blind At the Till. The Spider weaves Blazes In the Bone, setting down Taps into the Roots Canal near Oktoberfest, Ohio in Fort Loramie. Lafcadio Hearn appears as a Dreamer of the Dark crying at the biergarten after watching another episode of Mill Creek Blues. In the Courtship of Ma’at we all Learning to Swim, until we go Fly Fishing with Sun Ra, and make our way to an Underworld Garage Sale, where a used copy of the old mystery novel C is for Murder is found, with Cain Marks on its spine. Gasahol is drunk and After the After Party the reader dives into a Sketch of the Hellscape from which emerges a new method for How to Become a Conspiracy Theorist, because after all the City is a Dream. Bioluminescent Luciferins make for a Psychoacoustic Medicine. What Magic Is, is a chance to dance the Electric Snake Boogy at a Funeral for a Punk Rock Jacket, where the River Styx is Revisited. Time to clean out the Goose Shit Radiator and have a glass of Dionysian Wine before the Hand Returns to Its Work and goes on its course down Underground Rivers.

Copies of this book, along with Platonic One’s High Gravity will be available at the Esoteric Book Conference in Seattle on September 26th and 27th at the EBC table.

Available here on Amazon.

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Outside the Akademy

akademie-xPhaidon continue to publish beautiful books. Akademie X : Lessons in Art + Life is one of them. It is a practical guide to the creative process and offers the processes behind the creative practice of 36 working artists and writers. Each “tutor” is featured in turn with c/v page followed by instructional/theoretical essays on working as an artist. Each artist in turn offers an assigned reading, viewing and listening list of various lengths. The format of the book is quite enjoyable and I took it as an opportunity to mimic the format as below.

Tutor: Justin Patrick Moore
Born/Lives: 1979 Cincinnati, Ohio
Training: Antioch College drop-out.
Public Library: As a self-taught autodidact the library has not only been the provider of my financial survival, but is a work place where I continue to pursue an ongoing edumacation.
Active apprentice in a school of the Western Mystery Tradition with a few affiliations to other lodges & groups.
Founder: Sothis Medias & Oneiric Imprint
Selected Writings:
Underground Rivers, poems 2015
The Dyslexicon issues 1-8, editor and contributor. 
Water in the Dry Land 2012
The Library Angel & It’s Oracle, in issue 4 of Abraxas
Music from Sirius: The Dreams of Karlheinz Stockhausen
Many Chapbooks from Aurore Press.
Radio Work:  Founder, The Psychedelicatessin 1998-2000 on the pirate radio station Anti-Watt in Yellow Springs. Programmer on Art Damage on WAIF 88.3 FM from around 2001-2003/4. Programmer on On the Way to the Peak of Normal (also on WAIF) from 2005-2014… taking over responsibility for the show in 2012.
Bands: The Astral Surf Gypsies (1996-2005), WildCraft (1998-), Neato Torpedo (I joined up with these guys in 2002). The Hollow Crown (2013 -)

As a kid I took a bunch of crayons and heated them up with a blow dryer and worked with melting them onto a piece of paper. This is when I first knew I was an artist. I knew I was a writer when I started mimicking the trashy fantasy novels and Dungeons & Dragons tie-in material I read. Later, in high-school, when I realized I sucked at playing the guitar and dissolved the first punk band I was in, I fell in love with the tape deck and the ability to edit a collaged sequence of sounds and speech. This was before I’d ever run across Burrough’s cut-up experiments or Genesis’ splinter-test theory on sampling as a type of holographic magic. My primary motivation in making my first tapes was to create something which would trigger a sense of deja vu in the listener. And/or cause them to question the very nature of reality itself.

Later I became involved in “The Art”, the quintessence from which all of the other arts flow: Magic (at the time usually spelled with a K).  I embraced Thelema and Crowley’s system. Though I now view it as flawed, it triggered a number of solar flares that set me on a path of continued creativity, yet also forced me to meet up with the unraveller on several occasions.

I hadn’t yet learned to appreciate the beauty of discipline, of work habits as regular as bowel movements. I still struggle with maintaining the practice because my mind is as changeable and whimsical as the wind. The only work habit I really have maintained is my work at the library, and too much reading.

After a year and a half of college I realized I would be better off dropping out. I had wanted a degree in religious studies and psychology, but realized the study of occultism, and the ideas of Wilhelm Reich and Carl Jung wouldn’t get me a day job. Perhaps I was just too immature and pessimisitic to see how I could marry my true vocation with a means for making a living in the world. All those Crass albums I’d listened to as a teenager had really sunk deep into me. It seemed safer to leave behind the trustafarians of the campus -though I will always have a love for Antioch and Yellow Springs- to focus on having a day job, and later a girlfriend who became my wife and a family. Along the way I have still managed to write and get published & self-publish, do readings, make music, play shows and have albums put out out and put albums out, and make the occasional visual piece. I continue to work in my training as an apprentice Western Mystery Tradition magician.

In this respect it is worth contemplating what it means to be a local artist/writer. Someone who is dedicated to not just the arts and cultural life of a given town or city, but someone who embraces the deeper dynamics of the bioregion. As resources around the world dwindle, “being an artist” on the world stage may end up being more about setting up a stage in your back yard for community theater, a noise show, or a poetry reading. It may be more about turning the spare room in your house, and using your spare time, to set up the business of running a small and independent multimedia firm. It may mean creating a home where using Less Energy Stuff and Stimulation becomes a way of life.

The book Akademie X is thus a helpful guide for aspiring artists who would rather bypass the clotted arteries of the educational system, skip out on the exorbitant debt, and do it themselves.

Workshop 1: Get yourself a cheap spiral notebook. If it was trash picked, all the better. Begin the practice of keeping a dream journal. This is a place where you can let your mind and soul ferment. Every dream is a potential poem, story, painting, or at least a lesson telling you how you need to drink less alcohol and quit smoking cigarettes. To sleep better take cat naps and draw or write the hypnagogic imagery. These journals will become treasure troves to dumpster dive when the dreaded block has overtaken you. This practice is a basic way of opening yourself up to influences from beyond, and beginning to let them percolate in your work.

Warm Up Exercises:
-20 minute meditation
-tarot readings on the work in progress, using the cards to help decide direction of a chosen project
-freestyle chanting to loosen up

Elders: It’s always good to continue to have mentors to to for advice concerning the Great Work. Mine have tended to be more informal, so in keeping with born again pagan tradition, I consider them more as elders. Hang out with the older artists in your area and do some chores for them. You will learn so much.

Assigned Reading. As a library worker this list is extremely incomplete. 
-Delany, Samuel R. The Neveryona novels: Tales from Neveryon, Neveryona, Flight from Neveryon, & The Bridge of Lost Desire. These works are semiotic masterpieces. If you have time read all of his novels to learn how to properly construct a sentence. Dhalgren, Triton, Nova, Babel-17 and Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand are my other top Delany picks.

-Ballard, J.G. Highrise This book is an in depth look at the psychology of the XVIth tarot trump, the Tower.

-Robinson, Kim Stanley: Three Californias trilogy sets out three possible futures for Orange County. His novels Shaman, set in the earth previous ice age and 2312 set approx 300 years from now, are a great resource for anyone interested in landscape art.

-Lopez, Barry: Crow and Weasel. To learn about storytelling.

-Moss, Robert: Conscious Dreaming & Dreamgates. The basic texts from Moss to help you get started exploring the dreamworld.

– Ayers, Nigel: The Bodmin Moor Zodiac. An account of Mr. Ayers ritual walks and psychogeographical workings in Cornwall.

-Legard, Phil: Psychogeographia Ruralis. An essay on music composition, magic and psychogeography.

-Silverman, Kenneth: Begin Again, A Biography of John Cage
This fascinating biography gives many techniques to plunder from.

-Ende, Michael: The Neverending Story. Many keys to the mysteries are contained in this work.

-Dick, Phillip K.: The VALIS trilogy for basic gnostic reality rewiring.

-Holmgren, David: Permaculture, Principles and Practices Beyond Sustainability

Snyder, Gary: The Real Work

Assigned Album Listening:
-The Incredible String Band: Wee Tam/The Big Huge
-Shirley Collins: False True Lovers, Power of the True Love Knot, Love Death & The Lady.
– Current 93: Thunder Perfect Mind, Of Ruine or Some Blazing Star, All the Pretty Horses
-Karlheinz Stockhausen: Hymnen, Tierkreis, Licht opera cycle, Trans, & Sternklang to get started
-John Cage: Complete Sonatas & Interludes for prepared piano, Anarchic Harmonies, Thirteen Harmonies, any and all.
– Nurse With Wound: Second Pirate Session, Soliloquy for Lilith, Funeral Music for Perez Prado, An Awkward Pause, etc.
– Coil: Musick to Play in the Dark vol. 1 & 2, Love’s Secret Domain, Remote Viewer, The New Backwards, Ape of Naples, ElPh vs. Coil and the rest of their discography.
-Joe Meek: I Hear a New World, It’s Hard to Believe It compilation
– Sun Ra: Other Planes of There, Atlantis, The Solar Myth Approach
-Crass: Feeding of the 5,000, Christ-the album
-Chumbawumba: Jesus H. Christ
-Negativland: Escape from Noise, Helter Stupid, Dyspepsia
-Legendary Pink Dots: Nemesis Online, Asylum, A Perfect Mystery, The Maria Dimension, Ancient Daze…
-Nocturnal Emission: Blasphemous Rumors, Invocation of the Beast Gods, Nightscapes, Stoneface Spiritflesh, Mouth of Babes
-Terry Riley: In C, Atlantis Nath, Shri Camel, Aleph, Chanting the Light of Foresight, Harp of New Albion, Assassin Reverie, Book of Abbeyzoud

Assigned Film Viewing:
-Mullholland Drive (2001)
– Last Year at Marienbad (1961)
– Gummo (1997)
– El Topo (1970)
-Innauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954)
-Suburbia (1983)
-Blood Sucking Freaks (1976)

 

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The Merry Month of May

THINKING: I was an outsider in a recent conversation regarding smart phones. A question was raised at the table I was sitting at about smart phones and shopping. I was the only one without a smart phone. Whereas everyone else at the table thought the smart phone enhanced their shopping experience, I was the only one who thought it detracted from experience in general. My life is enhanced, through the power of  Via Negativawithout this device. So many people are attached to their phones, as if with an umbilical cord. If they are without this little bit of tech, they freak out, wondering how the fuck they will survive. I think in the near future it will be a safe bet to see a bumper crop of Twelve Step groups whose purpose is to help those who are powerless over constant cell phone use.

I’m not the only one who has been thinking about these things. Jenna Woginrich of Cold Antler Farm has recently given up her smart phone, while Chris Martenson and John Michael Greer rapped about the God of Technological Progress in a conversation back in April. Chris pointed out that any time he brings up the fact that the U.S. is unraveling, that we are running out of fossil fuels, people stop and wave their smart phones at him, as if waving it is proof that we are still on an ever upward and onward march to the stars.

While it can sometimes feel like I am alone in not having a portable device that distracts from interacting with the people I am actually with and the places I am actually at, it is nice to know some folks are opting out.

FEELING: The silence and stillness necessary for the discipline of magic are difficult for me. Sometimes I feel like anything I create will just be adding to the noise of the world, and wonder if I should refrain from posting a blog such as this, refrain from writing or making music, and if that would help me cultivate stillness and silence. An extended living performance of 4’33”. Monastics do the world a service through the cultivation of silence, holding a place of stillness that spreads outwards into the community. In America at least those types of spiritual communities are few and far between. It is unglorified work, as is so much of work that is done in a true spirit of unconditional service. I struggle with surrendering my wants and desires to what is needed of me. I find there can be a balance, but maintaining that balance is difficult, and requires constant calibration.

Josephine has written that it is important to know when not to do magic. I think the same could be said for making art as well.

DOING: I mixed up my third batch of kraut this past Monday night. It’s something I really enjoy -eating and making. It’s so much easier than I originally thought it would be. This third crock is made in the style of kimchi -though it ain’t kimchi. It’s got three heads of cabbage -two green, one red- a bunch of radishes, carrots, ginger, garlic, shallot, and serano peppers. This batch smells really fresh, as far as fermented vegetables go. The last batch which was just cabbage with dill, caraway and mustard seeds had a more earthy scent as the lactobacili did their thing.

SunshineCrustBakingFactory-140x200READING: Book designer Stacy Wakefield‘s debut novel, The Sunshine Crust Baking Factory, published by Akashic Books had me mesmerized. The story is told in first person from the point of view of Sid, a girl around the age of nineteen or twenty, who arrives in New York City with a mind to join up with some anarcho-punk squatters. Only problem is most of the punk squats are already full and getting into one requires intrepid navigation of the politics of those scenes. She thinks she is lucky to be hanging out with a Mexican hardcore kid named Lorenzo who played bass in the band Disguerro, and who toured with some of her favorite bands.  She is smitten with him. When they leave Manhattan behind to find a squat of their own in Brooklyn, they end up joining up with a groupd of folks living in an old bakery that had been abandoned after a fire. While Sid does the heavy lifting in getting the first floor ready for her and Lorenzo, he disappears to play in bands, hang out with skinny chicks, and basically avoid doing any of the work that would make the place into a home. After a fight she starts hanging out with the founder of the squat, a rugged outdoor survivalist type by the name of Mitch who looked more like an athletic jock than a cool punker. The story goes on to relate an adventure Mitch  and Sid have together rescuing the belongings of another squat before the Mayor has it demoed. It highlights the tensions around being a tough female in an otherwise all male house, the shouldering of responsibilities, and how things aren’t always how they seem at first. The reader of this lively tale gets to have their eyes opened along with Sid’s. This tale of lovelorn youth, squatting, survival on the streets, punk music and personal space made for a compelling read. Sometimes it’s not enough to go and be a part of a scene somewhere, instead you have to find and make your own home and be comfortable where you live (while also still sticking it to the man).  Stacy Wakefield shows that she is not only a great designer of books, but a superb storyteller. I’ll definitely be looking out for her next novel.      

LISTENING: I’m in a state of high anticipation for Elizabeth Hand’s forthcoming novel Wylding Hall which is about “the mysterious death of their lead singer, the young members of a now-legendary British acid folk band hole up at Wylding Hall, an ancient English country house with its own dark secrets. There they record Wylding Hall, the album that makes their reputation– but at a terrifying cost, when Julian Blake, their new lead singer, disappears within the mansion and is never seen again. Now, years later, each of the surviving musicians, their friends and lovers, meets with a young documentary filmmaker to tell their own version of what happened during that summer. But whose story is the true one? And what really happened to Julian Blake? ” As a lead in to getting a copy of the book in my hands this July (its already out on Audible) I decided to read Jeanette Leech’s book Seasons They Change: The Story of Acid and Psychedelic FolkI’ve had the book since it came out in 2011, but for whatever reason, never read it straight through. I’m glad I’m doing so now, because it has me listening to a lot of different albums. Yet the one that is on repeat the most for me has been Vashti Bunyan’s Another Diamond Day. I’d listened to the album a couple of times about five years ago or so, but I guess it didn’t move me the same way it is moving me now. The standout song to me is Rainbow River.


Besides Vashti the groups and people who’ve been on my playlist have been: John Renbourn (loved the Nine Maidens album), Pentangle, Davy Graham, Shirley Collins, The Holy Modal Rounders, Pearls Before Swine, Nurse With Wound (digging The Surveillance Lounge and Requital for Lady Day). Also Steeleye Span, Comus, and John Coltrane’s version of My Favorite Things.

DREAMING: I dreamed I got off the bus on Winton Road. I walked across the street next to the wall of Spring Grove Cemetery. I knew a way to sneak into the cemetery through a hedge. Once I got inside I marveled at how beautiful the cemetery was, and started whistling the tune My Favorite Things. 

 

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High Gravity book release at Catland in Brooklyn

 

 

 

 

 

 

There will be a book release event for PLATONIC ONE’s new illustrated novel/grimoire HIGH GRAVITY: Werewolves, Ghosts, and Magick Most Black  published by Oneiric Imprint at Catland Books in Brooklyn (987 Flushing Ave. Brooklyn, New York) on Friday, March 6th at 10pm. The event will feature a reading from the book by Ken Henson, and poetry readings by Russell Dillon, Katie Byrum, Sarah Francis, Amelia Ferguson, Elyse Johnson, Blake Evans, and Joe Trame.

Click Here for a Free PDF book sample.

Ken Henson is a Curtis G. Lloyd Fellow of the Lloyd Library and Museum and the author and illustrator of the treatise Alchemy and Astral Projection: Ecstatic Trance in the Hermetic Tradition (2014). He has been published in Abraxas Journal and Clavis Journal, and he recently collaborated with the Philosophical Research Society to restore and reissue Manly P. Hall and John Augustus Knapp’s Revised New Art Tarot (2014). Blue Jay Slayer, the art/poetry book Ken created with Matt Hart, is due this spring by Aurore Press. He is an Associate Professor and the Head of Illustration at the Art Academy of Cincinnati in Ohio.

Russell Dillon is the author of the collection of poems Eternal Patrol (Forklift Books, 2013), and the chapbook Secret Damage. He began life in New York, continued it in San Francisco, and now continues it further in New York where he is co-editor for Big Bell.

Katie Byrum is a native Kentuckian who currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. For sixteen years, she has worked in the food and beverage industry, studying whiskey and its effects on the human psyche. She co-curates two poetry events in Brooklyn, the witchy series COVEN and the Tri-Lengua Reading Series.

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Noison

NOISE IS THE POISON

Listen with pain. Hear with pain. Ears are wounds.” -Einsturzende Neubauten. [1]

Noise is a musical poison. Administered in the right dose and decibel it can be quite pleasurable, inducing a state of ecstasy, just as certain poisons, when taken in minute amounts or with proper adjuncts, are known to create feelings of rapture. Sustained noise can have the effect of sending the listener out of the body in a manner akin to the phytochemical compounds used by shamans for traveling the astral plane. And just as plant poisons can cause death at the right dose, so can noise cause the careless listener to go deaf, destroying the ears natural range of hearing.

Yet over the course of the 20th century and into the 21st composers and musicians have been fascinated with noise. In part this can be seen as a response to noise pollution, which has accelerated with the proliferation of industry and fossil fuel technology. Both art music and popular music have either embraced, or merely coped with the advent of dissonance as the nineteenth century ended and the twentieth began.  Indeed, the genre of “Industrial” music arose at the apex of the planets immersion in factory industrialism during the 1970’s.  One of the primary concerns of this style of music is the use and transformation of noise. Even on the downward slope of industrial civilization, noise pollution continues to be a factor affecting the health of wildlife, plant and human communities, in both rural and urban geographies.

The human sense of hearing has now become accustomed to manipulated and distorted sound. In American culture (the only one I can speak of from experience) the general taste for music runs towards that which has been adulterated in the recording studio. Pure acoustic music (of whatever genre) is ranked low on the scale of popularity. A survey of U.S. teenage internet users revealed that jazz and classical were among the least favorite in 2012.[2]  Folk fared not much better, while pop, rock and “other” remained dominant. While much noisy experimentation has occurred in both classical and jazz, these are also the genres that rely the least upon overdubs and added effects. It would probably be more painful to stick a teenager in Cincinnati’s Music Hall to hear the Symphony Orchestra than to take them to hear Merzbow.

American culture has become so addicted to the poison of noise that the antidote of silence, or even relative silence causes more pangs of desperation than further subjugations to audio pollution. The stillness to be found alone in a quiet room with no music at all -and no smart phone to fiddle with-  is more of a threat than the damage caused overloading the biological and spiritual circuits of humanity through total media saturation.

For some music fans and musicians the transformation of noise and subsequent immersion within it may be the path of least resistance. Through immersion comes tolerance, and the immune system is strengthened, able to shrug off the daily assault of noise in all its varied forms, allowing it to become part of the casual background radiation of life. Others may have to renounce music all together in order to be cured. They ascend the mountain to find a hermits cave where they will dwell alone for a time, secluded in a cloister where no new releases are delivered, and the entire catalog of humanities past musical recordings are not available to them. Here they will learn to listen inwardly, and perhaps come to the realizations as John Cage had, reflecting on the omnipresence of sound and subtle vibrations.

Yet most modern humans don’t have the option to turn off the noise or drop out of society all together. When we tune out, we must do selectively and electively, walking the path of the hermit inwardly rather than outwardly. Even in the city one can learn to tune the lamp of illumination to the silence of the void through the practice of meditation.

What is clear is that the modern listener must formulated a plan for transmuting the poison of noise. Making large allowances for silence, while also allowing for moments of diving head first into digital chaos seems to be healthy responses in a world where our own power and control over noise is minimalist. To that end it is helpful to trace the mythos of rock and roll, one of the most pervasive genres around.

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