"So Righteous to Love": Devendra Banhart, interviewed by Trinie Dalton (Arthur No. 10/May 2004)

Originally published in Arthur No. 10 (May 2004)

So Righteous to Love
Devendra Banhart is here and he plays folk music. Trinie Dalton finds out where he’s coming from.
Photographs by Melanie Pullen.

A few months ago I hiked high on mushrooms in the Redwoods, and Devendra Banhart’s first album served as my bridge between fantasy and reality. His music isn’t about tripping out on drugs—I’m not belittling it that way—but its soothing quality makes one feel peaceful in any state of mind. As I interviewed him over the phone in late February about a myriad of topics, Devendra often returned to talking about folk music’s universality, about how one of its most noble purposes is to make listeners feel comfortable.

Hearing 23-year-old Devendra talk like this reminded me of how closely related late-1960s psychedelic rock bands were, in spirit and sense of idealism, to the folk singers Devendra loves so much from the same period: their considerations for listening to and hearing music were at the forefront of their playing. But Devendra’s tastes extend into the present, and there appears to be just as many neo-psychedelic musicians playing today as there are neo-folk rockers. Is it due to the current abominable political state? I don’t know. I didn’t care to discuss politics with Devendra because I was more fascinated by his reverence for nature—by his belief that music can bring one closer to not only self-understanding but also learning about one’s place in the environment, whether it be forested or urban.

Devendra’s new album Rejoicing in the Hands cultivates this respect for life under the auspices of yet another new hybrid-Banhart sound, this time combining old-time blues with the troubadour-ish balladry, psychedelic rock and acoustic guitar traditions of folk. The sound of this record is both familiar and absolutely unique, although Banhart’s singing does gets compared in the press to Marc Bolan’s and Billie Holiday’s to an unfortunate, almost annoying degree. Rejoicing in the Hands is perhaps his best work—it’s hard to say that, cuz they’re all so great—in that the guitar playing achieves more complexity, at times becoming as strong a force as the vocals. Not that his first two releases, 2002’s Oh Me Oh My album (Young God), and 2003’s The Black Babies EP (Young God), didn’t feature some fantastic guitar sounds, but until Rejoicing, I’d heard Devendra’s guitar as more a complement to his vocals than having its own individual drive.

I figured this increased guitar-playing skill must mean his shows are getting better and better, so I started our talk by asking him about performing live. His speaking voice became more melodic and animated when he talked of things he felt passionately about. When he began to talk about his favorite types of venues to play, things got interesting…

Arthur: You prefer to play galleries and churches…
Trinie Dalton: I try…I don’t entirely like playing rock clubs and bars because it doesn’t lend itself too well to the kind of music we’re playing. When I play a church, the acoustics are so wonderful. You have to play an environment that suits what you’re doing, and churches are built to have incredible acoustics. Some Aztec churches, the acoustics are built so wildly, they’re so psychedelically manipulative, that if you clap into a certain passageway, it responds like the sound of a sacred bird that the Aztecs worshipped. They really thought about it. It makes sense for people who play non-electric music, or quieter music to play in a place that augments that instead of in a place that drowns it completely out. Those people that are used to dealing with 8000 amps and four drum sets, the whole building [a rock club] is built to suck in the sound.

It gives your music a richer sound, or has a more spiritual atmosphere or something…or there’s more than just sound going on, with the other senses too.
There’s a vibe.

I think of your music as a mixture of folk and psychedelic. I read up on your big influences, but you didn’t mention psychedelic bands, more of the folky psychedelic rock, like Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention. Do you listen to that kind of music?
I really do. “Psychedelic,” to me, just means a sharp awareness of your surroundings, and a heightened aesthetic sense, and a sensitivity…it’s like this ultra-sensual state. Psychedelic words bring out that state in objects that might be considered mundane. Usually they’re in nature, because usually you’re not going to find psychedelic qualities in a stapler, you know? But a tree, you feel it. It’s like a magic spell, or alchemy, using certain words to bring out the psychedelic life and energy, the core, god’s vein, the blood of the gods.

Back to the music, I’m so easily influenced and affected by music. I love Incredible String Band. But I’m not as big a fan of them as I am Clive Palmer, the guy who started them. He played on the first record. The real song to me, on that one, is Clive’s song… “You know my ____ friends/ Singing baby…” [starts singing it] I like Robin Williamson’s solo records, they’re incredible, and I like Mike Heron’s solo records. It’s unbelievable to think that they’re both fucking Scientologists now. Some of these records are just getting re-released, so they won’t just be available on bootleg anymore. Like Clive’s Original Band, and Clive’s Famous Jug Band. As far as British psychedelic stuff, Fairport Convention has never been too psychedelic, they’re more like rock-folk. Then there’s Trader Horne…Currently, I’ve been getting into more current psychedelic stuff, via my friend, Steve Krakow, who goes by the name Plastic Crimewave. He has a magazine devoted to all things psychedelic, that he hand draws and hand writes, called Galactic Zoo Dossier. He also has a band called Plastic Crimewave…he’s a scholar of the psychedelic ways, he’s an incredible person. It’s a good road to go down. A band that I recently saw that was the awesomest epitome of bar psychedelia, is Comets on Fire, they get everybody grooving.

Continue reading

ZIPLOCKED: RTX’s Jennifer Herrema talks with Trinie Dalton (No. 12, Sept 2004)

Ziplocked
Royal Trux are gone, but RTX lives on. Jennifer Herrema talks with Trinie Dalton about chasing that airtight classic rock sound.

Originally published in Arthur No. 12 (September, 2004)

Jennifer Herrema has spent the last 18 years establishing her reputation as a rocker through Royal Trux, her partnership with singer-guitarist Neil Haggerty. Described (or dismissed) by critics as “conceptual acid-punk,” “hate-fueled rock,” and “dissonant junkie” music, Royal Trux found a home at Chicago’s start-up indie rock label Drag City in the late-‘80s, where they released several albums before—and after—scoring a lucrative three-record deal with Virgin Records in the go-go mid-‘90s in the wake of Nirvana’s success. Today, Royal Trux are split in two: Neil records solo albums as Neil Michael Haggerty and Jennifer has started a new band, RTX, whose debut full-length, Transmaniacon, arrives in September.

Recorded with guitarist Nadav Eisenman and bassist Jaimo Welch, Transmaniacon is a wildly produced album that has the feel, scope and drive of the classic ‘70s rock—Rolling Stones, Kiss, Rush, etc.—that Herrema admires. The album fucking rocks, a powerful growling 11-song reminder that Herrema can stand on her own as a singer/songwriter in the traditions of not only great female rockers like Joan Jett, but also among those male icons who dominate Classic Rock World.

After years living at the Royal Trux stronghold in the hills of West Virginia, Jennifer now lives in Southern California, where she’s taken up longboard surfing. Her tan is insane, especially accentuated by her platinum blonde hair and eyebrows. She looks healthy, and I can’t help but think that her new So-Cal beach house has influenced her music; Classic Rock and the beach go hand in hand. Her inimitable sense of fashion is strong as always—remember, this is the woman who virtually defined “heroin chic,” for better or worse—and she’s just finished modeling local designer Henry Duarte’s new line of denim jeans.

Breaking from our interview, she plays me her new song “Kitty Grommet,” which will accompany a denim wetsuit she designed for a show at Tokyo’s MoMA in honor of Hello Kitty’s 30th anniversary. Kitty Grommet cruises the waves looking cute, but Jennifer’s raspy vocals undermine the tune’s Pokemon-ish superhero theme-song tendency by dishing out some death metal growls. Herrema says she’s been perfecting her growl since Royal Trux required her to invent vocals for songs that “weren’t classically pop, where the vocals had to present themselves more as an instrument.” All her new projects are a mature culmination of past experiences with music and pop culture. She discussed her ambitions and sense of accomplishment with both Royal Trux and RTX over cookies and beer, after answering the big questions: How did RTX come to be? And, what motivated the break-up of two of rock’s most notorious musicians?

Arthur: So, you stopped touring with Royal Trux, your dad got sick, and you were dealing with other things in your life. Were you writing these new songs during that time?
Jennifer Herrema: Yeah. We cancelled that last tour, and within a year I knew what I wanted this record to sound like. I got the sound in my head. I just let it be a sound, kind of an amorphous blob. I didn’t want to nail it in too soon or else I’d be over it by the time I got my shit together. So I just kept it in my head. A year went by. Jaimo and Nadav were sending me things. I was listening to Nadav’s engineering and production stuff. I flew them out to meet me, and we all got along really well. They’re awesome, totally inspired.

The bass playing kicks ass on this album.
Yeah, Jaimo’s psycho. He’s only 22 or something. He’s got this energy. He’s amazing. Very different guitar player than Neil, but at some point he will be as good as what it is he does. I felt like I hadn’t met someone [since Neil] who could nail what it is they do so well. He takes direction really well. There’s no need to reference things. I’ll be on piano or start humming the riffs and he’ll do it. Part of it was learning a language, how to communicate. I had a real rapport with Neil. It was intuitive. But Jaimo and I have that communication.

What happened with Neil? I know he’s busy doing solo albums…
Well, we’ve been together since I was 15. We email each other all the time. We just needed to separate, to have time to fill the holes. When you compliment each other so well there’s all these deficiencies that occur because you’re always pleasing somebody else, and vice versa. We’ll be much stronger people [for going out on our own], like two wholes. That way, whether or not we play together again, it’ll be a benefit.

Royal Trux was clearly collaborative, but did you feel like ideas of yours weren’t happening because of the other influence? Of course, that probably goes both ways…
Yeah, that’s true. I mean, I love all of Neil’s solo stuff. But it’s different than what I want to work on. So it’s just like, break it off into two entities. I want to nail something solid, not that that stuff wasn’t solid. I just want to simplify.

“Simplified” is a good word to describe these new songs. They strive to be perfect, as if you’re trying to make the rock song a perfect thing.
Yeah, distill it and put it in a jar. That’s why live they’re going to have so much room to open the fuck up. They’re such a studio creation. I wanted them to be all tight. Ziplocked, all the air taken out of them.

RTX makes me reconsider classic rock. Classic Rock has such a clichéd image. But the great bands became classic by trying to invent the perfect song. Achieving that loud sound. What you’re doing is an extension of that.
Definitely.

It sounds new too, though.
It’s not retro. There’s a checklist in my head, like where the guitar sits in the mix, how the kick sounds.

Every era has its Classic Rock. I can hear different eras in your songs. There’s the 80’s metal sound, Def Leppard or Motley Crüe, then the 70’s arena rock thing, and the female punk heritage, the Runaways or Plasmatics. Suzi Quatro.
Yeah, Suzi Quatro. The songwriting, I wanted it to be really tight.

I guess you’ve been influenced by all different sounds, since you wrote these songs over a long period of time.
But that’s where the subconscious comes in. You’re not trying to find something, you just keep playing until you’ve got what you need. That’s the subconscious bringing back all the things you love. I love that sound, and it was implanted somewhere back there a long time ago. I love millions of sounds. But I had to put parameters on the record. I didn’t want it to be all over the map.

One thing that’s different [from Royal Trux] about RTX is the vocals. In terms of ugly music—ugly as beautiful, disharmonic—this album seems less in that aesthetic vein.
There was never a period when there was a conscious aesthetic. We were never trying to coax a lesson. It was what it was, it was never trying to be ugly. And to put tons of reverb on it—going back to Royal Trux—it didn’t make sense musically to do that now. Singing with Neil, the song’s keys were different.

You sang a lot lower?
Yeah, I had to. Neil has such a high voice. I can go high, but in order for us to sing together I had to take a place. It was cool, I had to stretch. I forced my voice to do things that didn’t come naturally.

You have more range now, I can hear your voice more on this album.
Oh yeah, these songs were easy. The melody line is very natural. I probably won’t lose my voice as often. I don’t really abuse my voice that much. It was more live, wanting to hear myself. Royal Trux would have two guitar players, two drummers, bass, and Neil’s got lungs. I have to push. People say I don’t have to push, we can hear you, but it’s like, “This isn’t about you out there, it’s about me having fun, so shut up.” That can get rough on your voice. But that was rare. People tell me to stop smoking but I love smoking.

Did you get the name for your album from the Blue Oyster Cult song?
Well there’s the BOC song, but that’s with the MC motorcycle club thing. It’s a fictitious word and the alliteration of it sounded like the album to me. I mean, when pronounced correctly. Trans-man-I-acon. But there’s also this Japanese video game called Transmaniacon in which a book is buried under NYC. And there’s a science fiction book. So it’s not just one thing.

The sci-fi reference puts that song “Psychic Self-Defense” in a different context.
Yeah, the album needed a space there. The album’s supposed to be like a book, to be read through. Of course, each song should stand on its own. But lyrically, there’s a sense the songs make. The sequencing came really quickly, and usually it’s really hard. Usually, it’s like playing Tetris. Nadav and I were talking about sequences, and we used the first sequence we burned. We were like, “That’s it, don’t fuck with it.”

Sequencing is a crucial element on my favorite Classic Rock albums. Brian Eno is so good at sequencing, but he’s not Classic Rock.
I love Brian Eno. I read this article about him years ago and he was talking about metal. He said it was the first ambient music. That made sense to me, because it’s so compressed. The reins are so tight, so it sails.

Maybe he was talking about Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, all that experimental stuff, Tony Conrad. Have you been listening to the new bands doing that droney metal now? Like Sunn0)))?
A little bit. Joe Preston, of Thrones, he toured with us a lot. And he’s doing something with Sunn0))). I like Thrones and I really like Joe a lot. He’s such an awesome dude. When he toured with us he brought his cat.

I love how the song “PB & J” sounds like a boy band song, all robotic.
We used a harmonizer on that. It breaks your voice into different octaves.

You employ a good blend of classic instrumentation with effects and machinery.
Oh yeah, we use effects. I’ve worked with so many engineers, and they’re a different breed. Not to say they’re all alike. But they use effects to make songs seamless. Sometimes that’s cool, but other times it’s like, “No, this is an effect and let’s fuckin’ hear the effect.”

When you use a harmonizer, for example, I think of corporate bands, bands who are totally manufactured. You seem so against that but then you exploit the possibilities.
It’s a balance. I don’t know what the hell’s going on. But I love Kid Rock. I love his production. He’s such a good producer.

Production is what saves your songs from being retro. Each song is produced in a new way. “Heavy Gator” is also really good, it sounds like a warped record. How did you do that? Did you fuck with the speed of the vocal track?
It’s not fucked with. There’s no real vocal effects. I think I quadruple- tracked my vocals and the way they went against each other, it sounds a little warped. That was a cool accident.

Some parts are muted and some parts are loud.
That’s a production thing. A volume thing. The way it’s canned.

Did you record on all different machines?
ProTools. We use tons of great preamps and stuff, but I’m so into ProTools. I’m not against analog or anything, but dude. You’ve got great gear and you’re getting the sounds you want. I love the sound of digital. Digital distortion. I love the sound of analog distortion, the thickness and warmth. Digital distortion is this whole other beast. You can just fuckin’ go in, you don’t have to power up. We’ve got tons of rack effects, we’ve got all these plug-ins, and it’s all right there. So you can walk in the room and try something really quick, boom, it’s the ease of it. With analog, it’s a ritual, the tape, how hard you’re hitting tape. But digital, it’s just different.

You must be a distortion expert by now. Who are your distortion heroes?
I don’t know man, there’s a lot of them.

You came out of a tradition of distortion—Sonic Youth…
Yeah, there was a lot of that going on but they were a whole generation ahead of us. There was this place on Long Island called L’Amours, and you could go see Skid Row, or Ratt. In New York, I saw a lot of those bands that you’re mentioning, but it was incidental. The punk rock shit, Bad Brains, Cro-Mags, I loved that shit. I saw the Bad Brains a lot. I liked GBH a lot. I like Metallica, but I love Megadeth. I like Rush a lot, I just saw them last week. Kiss, I love them. I went and saw them three weeks ago. The songs are fuckin’ great.

Do you keep up on new east coast noise bands? A lot of it seems more electronic. Have you heard Black Dice?
I like Black Dice. I saw Neil play last summer with Dead Meadow. I thought they were good, but after 20 minutes, I thought, “This is great, now wrap it up.” Loved it, but then I wanted it to be done. Or else I wanted something drastic to occur.

Do you think they’re the new Led Zeppelin?
Fuck no. That’s blasphemous. Don’t even go there. I totally dig Zeppelin. How can you not? I mean, this is the problem: Zeppelin is Zeppelin. There will be no new Led Zeppelin, and if there is, it’s gonna suck, just by the nature of trying to replicate something that’s bad to the bone. So the new Led Zeppelin has to be that good at what it is. It can be fuckin’ polka, I don’t care. If you try to be be the next Rolling Stones, you’ve already lost. Because the Rolling Stones kick your ass. If you want to be number two, go for it. It’s all good and fun, but fuck it.

2010 Arthur Magazine Gift-Giving Guide, approximately


Here’s a short list of recent gift-worthy work by folks who have either contributed to Arthur through the years, or been covered in the magazine. Promotional text for each item is in quotes, with order links at the end of each item’s entry, as close to the source as we could find. This list is not meant to be definitive—just some stuff that’s caught our attention recently that we thought Arthur folk might dig…

THE BEAUTIFUL & THE DAMNED: Punk Photographs by Ann Summa
Edited with an introduction by Kristine McKenna
Foreword by Exene Cervenka
Foggy Notion Books/Smart Art Press
Hbk, 9.25 x 12.25 in. / 112 pgs
“When photographer Ann Summa arrived in Los Angeles in 1978, the city’s punk scene was still fresh, diverse, smart, utterly original—and fertile territory for a young photographer. The Beautiful & the Damned is a collection of her portraits of the musicians, artists and fans who made Los Angeles such a crucial part of the history of punk. Taken between 1978 and 1984, the images mostly revolve around L.A.’s first punk generation, and include portraits of the Germs, the Screamers, X, the Cramps and the Gun Club, among many others. From there, the book expands its scope to accommodate the cross-pollination that took place between L.A.’s punk scene and the fine art community, (at the time, the audience for avant-garde artists such as the Kipper Kids, Johanna Went and Laurie Anderson was primarily drawn from the underground music scene), and the two other cities—London and New York—that played a central role in the birthing of punk. Photographed during their first U.S. tours are U.K. groups the Clash, Magazine, the Fall, the Slits, Bow Wow Wow and the Pretenders, among others. Visiting dignitaries from New York include Television, James Chance, Lydia Lunch and Talking Heads. Also included are portraits of artists who served as an inspiration to L.A. punks—Captain Beefheart, Iggy Pop and David Bowie, among others—plus candid shots of unidentified audience members. Includes 95 previously unpublished images.”

From the introduction…
“Everyone knows that punk rock is rude. What’s less known is that during its first incarnation in Los Angeles, during the late 70s, it was ecstatically beautiful. At that point mainstream culture hadn’t yet detected the scent of money on this newly-born music, and punk hadn’t yet been hijacked by adolescent boys bent on transforming themselves into human cannonballs. Punk was an intimate affair then. Nobody was watching or judging that original band of outsiders, because there was no money to be made, and nothing much to be won or lost at all. There was no reason for those people not to cast off the rules that had governed their world up until that point. And so they cast off the old rules, and made themselves a new world that was entirely their own. And, for a brief, glorious period they operated in a zone of complete freedom.
“The taste of freedom can be startling — you can see that in the faces of many of the people who appear in these pictures. They were surprised to find their tribe — surprised to discover they actually had a tribe. Surprised to learn they could be themselves and be embraced for it. Surprised to find they could create beauty, and live without the comforts of the middle-class homes they came from. What made all of this possible was the simple fact of community. Most L.A. punks of the late 70s were poor, many were high a lot of the time, and everyone was a little crazy. Nonetheless, they supported and shared with one another, and they saw the brilliance in each other.”
$39.95
Info: http://www.beautifulandthedamned.com/book.html
Buy: http://www.artbook.com/9781935202271.html

HOW TO WRECK A NICE BEACH: The Vocoder From World War II to Hip-Hop—The Machine Speaks
by Dave Tompkins

Stop Smiling Books
Color, 336 pages
“The history of the vocoder: how the Pentagon’s speech scrambling weapon transformed into the robot voice of pop music. How to Wreck a Nice Beach includes interviews with:
Afrika Bambaataa, Ray Bradbury, Florian Schneider of Kraftwerk, Peter Frampton, Laurie Anderson, T-Pain, Teddy Riley, DJ Quik, ELO, Rammellzee, Arthur Baker, Michael Jonzun, Midnight Star, Lester Troutman of Zapp, Holger Czukay of Can, Donnie Wahlberg, Egyptian Lover, Fab Five Freddy, Forrest J. Ackerman, Man Parrish, Cybotron and Wendy Carlos, composer of A Clockwork Orange and The Shining.
”
$25.00 ($10 off the cover price)
Info/blog: http://howtowreckanicebeach.com/
Buy: http://www.stopsmilingstore.com/howtowreckanicebeach.aspx

SPELL TO DRAW YOUR TRUE LOVE
by Dame Darcy

“This multimedia pink 3 ½ in. doll cake is really a little round box containing pink powder puff and magnetism glitter body powder to puff over your skin after bathing. Rose love potion bubble bath, Mini-Chalice, instructions for moon water and a magic wand for stirring your bath. Draw your true love to you now and forever!”
$35
Info/buy: http://www.etsy.com/listing/63883739/love-doll-cake-spell-draw-your-true-love

SMITHEREENS
by Steve Aylett

Scar Garden Press
122 pages
“Collects 19 stories including ‘The Man Whose Head Expanded’, the prophetic ‘Download Syndrome’, ‘The Burnished Adventures of Injury Mouse’, the full text of ‘Voyage of the Iguana’, the last ever Beerlight story ‘Specter’s Way’, ‘Horoscope’, and the closest thing Aylett has ever written to a traditional SF story, ‘Bossanova’ (featuring a robot and two spaceships!) There are also animal-attack-while-writing reminiscences in ‘Evernemesi’ and top-of-the-line declarative bitterness in ‘On Reading New Books’. Snails, whales and cortical drills. Aylett’s last collection.”
$9.55
Info: http://www.steveaylett.com
Buy: Amazon

SWEET TOMB
by Trinie Dalton

Madras Press
Paperback
104pp.
“The story of Candy, a candy-addicted witch who resents her inherited lifestyle. After a fire burns down her gingerbread house, she leaves the forest and ventures out in search of the excitement of a more urban environment. Along the way she encounters a self-mutilating puppet, tastes meat for the first time, and falls in love with Death, a skeletal woman with a shoe fetish. Proceeds benefit the Theodore Payne Foundation.”
$7
Trinie Dalton blog: http://sweet-tomb.blogspot.com/
Info/buy: http://www.madraspress.com/bookstore/sweet-tomb

BLOOD SPORT: THE LOUISIANA COCKFIGHTERS MANUAL
by Stacy Kranitz

Square 80 pgs Premium Paper, lustre finish
Cultural ethnography by photojournalist Stacy Kranitz.
Hardcover with dustjacket, $100
Stacy Kranitz: http://www.stacykranitz.com/
Preview/buy: http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1752353

PURE COUNTRY: The Leon Kagarise Archives, 1961-1971
Text by Eddie Dean
Process Media
9.5” x 9.5” • 204 pages • 140 Color images
“Throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s, many of country music’s biggest stars played their favorite shows on the small backwoods stages of rural America’s outdoor music parks. These intimate, $1-a-carload picnic concerts might have been forgotten if it hadn’t been for the documenting eye of music lover Leon Kagarise, whose candid photographs of the musicians and their fans provide the only surviving window into this long-vanished world. Kagarise captured dozens of classic country and bluegrass artists in their prime, including Johnny Cash and June Carter, George Jones, Dolly Parton, Bill Monroe, Hank Snow, The Stanley Brothers, and many other greats. Pure Country presents this collection of rare color images for the first time, revealing an archive considered by historian Charles Wolfe to be one of the richest discoveries in the history of American music. Foreword by Robert Gordon.”
$35.00
Preview/buy: http://processmediainc.com/store/books/pure_country.php

DEFEND BROOKLYN by Dave Reeves
“We have all your favorite colors, as long as your favorite color is black.”
$24 tshirt, $40 hoodie
Info/buy: http://defendbrooklyn.com/

ENVISIONING SUSTAINABILITY by Peter Berg
Subculture Books
208 pages
“A collection of the important essays that helped define the bioregional movement and established Berg as an icon in the environmental community. Spans three decades of Berg’s life work, combines the candor, humor and vision that helped shape the sustainability revolution.” Don’t let the unfortunate cover throw you off. This has some classic San Francisco Diggers-era Berg pieces from now-unobtainable broadsides and posters in addition to the aforementioned pivotal bioregionalist texts.
Paperback $11.69, Kindle Edition $8.99
Buy: Amazon

MAKE A TERRARIUM IN AN OLD LIGHTBULB
Informational video: Arthur blog

NOMAD CODES: Adventures in Modern Esoterica by Erik Davis
Yeti Verse Chorus Press
352 pages
“In these wide-ranging essays, Erik Davis explores the codes—spiritual, cultural, and embodied—that people use to escape the limitation of their lives and to enrich their experience of the world. These include Asian religious traditions and West African trickster gods, Western occult and esoteric lore, postmodern theory and psychedelic science, as well as festival scenes such as Goa trance and Burning Man. Articles on media technology further explore themes Davis took up in his acclaimed book Techgnosis, while his profiles of West Coast poets, musicians, and mystics extend the California terrain he previously mapped in The Visionary State. Whether his subject is collage art or the ‘magickal realism’ of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, transvestite Burmese spirit mediums or Ufology, tripster king Terence McKenna or dub maestro Lee Perry, Davis writes with keen yet skeptical sympathy, intellectual subtlety and wit, and unbridled curiosity, which is why Peter Lamborn Wilson calls him ‘the best of all guides to modern American spirituality.’ Cover artwork by Fred Tomaselli.”
$17.95
Buy: http://www.buyolympia.com/q/Item=erik-davis-nomad-codes

HOWLIN’ RAIN “The Good Life” EP
Birdman/American
Ethan Miller from Comets On Fire’s other, earthier acid rock band. Features two originals sandwiching a daring cover of the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “Burning of the Midnight Lamp.”
$2.97
Preview/buy: iTunes

TED LUCAS “Ted Lucas”
Yoga
Beautiful wise hippie folk music from 1974.
cd $12
Preview/buy: http://yogarecords.com/artists/tedlucas/

IASOS “Realms of Light” dvd
Inter-Dimensional Music
“Iasos has created heavenly visuals to accompany the celestial music on his Realms of Light album. There are visuals for all 8 pieces on the music cd. The visuals are synced with the music with delightful precision. Like the music, some of the visuals are stimulating, and some are relaxing. And all are heavenly, uplifting, beautiful, and celestial. It took Iasos 4 years to learn video special-effects, and then another 3.5 years to actually create the 65 minutes of visuals to go with this music. But finally, here it is! Underlying Purpose: Music is capable of inducing Divine Emotions. Visuals are capable of inducing Divine Thought-Forms. When these two work together synchronistically & synergistically,their combined influence can trigger or “ignite” expanded States of Being. THAT is the Intention behind this DVD.”
$22
Preview/buy: http://iasos.com/detalist/rol-dvd/

EARTH ”A Bureaucratic Desire for Extra Capsular Extraction”
Southern Lord
“For the first time the debut recordings of Earth are available in one concise, beautifully documented capsule. All 7 tracks have been carefully remastered by Mell Dettmer to make a more burly, mammoth and crushing audio experience. Includes liner notes from Dylan Carlson with artwork by Simon Fowler and package design via Stephen O’Malley.”
CD $10, 2xLp $18
Preview/buy: http://blog.southernlord.com/?p=297

ROTARY SIGNAL EMITTER 12-inch picture disk LP by Sculpture
Not even sure if these are even still available—they only made 300 of them—but…gee whiz. Coolest low-cost audio/art object since the Buddha Machine? Yes.
Preview/info: Arthur blog

2011 calendar and poster by RON REGE, JR.
Little Otsu
“Experience the mind-blowing combination of colors and drawings that make up this incredible 2011 fold-out calendar & poster by the talented Ron Regé, Jr. On the calendar side, the amazing devolving drawings form a comic-like linear backdrop to the twinkly bars of dimensional months. Turn it over to find a detailed panoramic scene of hot-air balloons and mountains and lands surrounding a giant inverted triangle of “abracadabra” magic. So at the end of the year, you can flip over the calendar and still have a great poster to hang on your wall, giving this calendar a second life.
Measures 8” wide x 9” tall folded and 24” wide by 18” tall when unfolded. Printed in Hayward, CA with vegetable-based inks on 100% post-consumer recycled 80# cover stock.”
$12.00 USD
flat poster (limited ed. of 50) for $16.00 USD
Preview/buy: http://shop.littleotsu.com/products/2011-calendar-poster-by-ron-rege-jr

“THROUGH THE PSYCHEDELIC LOOKING GLASS” calendar by JOHN COULTHART
“A full colour calendar comprising all-new artwork in a psychedelic interpretation of Through the Looking-Glass and what Alice found there. The 1860s collide with the 1960s in lurid efflorescence!”
£15.00
Preview/buy: http://www.johncoulthart.com/pantechnicon/lookingglass.html

2011 AUTONOMEDIA JUBILEE SAINTS calendar
32 pages, 12 x 16 inches, saddle stitched
“Hundreds of radical cultural and political heroes are celebrated here, along with the animating ideas that continue to guide this project – a reprieve from the 500-year-long sentence to life-at-hard-labor that the European colonization of the “New World” and the ensuing devastations of the rest of the world has represented. The Planetary Work Machine will not rule forever! Celebrate with this calendar on which every day is a holiday!
$9.95 / Pay for two, and we will send a third calendar for free!”
Preview/buy: bookstore.autonomedia.org

PLASTIC CRIMEWAVE’S GALACTIC ZOO MIX TAPE CLUB 2011
“Plastic Crimewave, creator of the Galactic Zoo Dossier magazine for Drag City, proprietor of the Galactic Zoo Disk reissue label, leader of spacepunkers Plastic Crimewave Sound, and general music historian/head has reached the end of the fifth consecutive year of his Galactic Zoo Mix Tape Club, and will be taking subscriptions again with another year of Mix Tape-age starting in December. You get six 90 min. tapes (one every other month) with exclusive artwork and the sounds of rare and populist psychedelia, glam, acid folk, prog, boogie, power pop, soft rock, shoegaze, protopunk, hard rawk, experimental, bubblegum, etc. for a mere $30.”
Info: Arthur blog
Paypal at plasticcw@hotmail.com, or send a check or cash to 1061 N. Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60622.

BLACKOUT Arthur mixtape
49-minute compilation curated and sequenced by Arthur editor Jay Babcock to stimulate or simulate a sweet blackout, featuring music by Moon Duo, White Hills, White Noise Sound, Lords of Falconry, Endless Boogie , Masters of Reality, Messages and Enumclaw. Mixed by Bobby Tamkin (Xu Xu Fang), with cover artwork by Arik Moonhawk Roper. All proceeds go to Arthur Magazine. Pay-what-thou-wilt digital download starting at $4.20…
Preview/buy: https://arthurmag.com/blackout/

THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON ARTHURING
A tax-deductible donation of any amount may be made to Arthur by going here: http://www.arthurmag.com/donate/

Happy season,

The Arthur Goofs
Austin * Marfa * Joshua Tree * Portland, Oregon * Greenpoint * wherever you are

Trinie Dalton on COCOROSIE (Arthur No. 10/May 2004)

This article was originally published, with photography by Melanie Pullen and page layout by W.T. Nelson, in Arthur No. 10/May 2004…

Glitter and Gleam
The two sisters who are CocoRosie have made an astonishing, haunting debut album. Trinie Dalton finds out how they did it.

CocoRosie’s debut La Maison de Mon Rêve capitalizes on its sexy feminine allure to seduce the listener into a dream state, one that’s half bliss, half nightmare. CocoRosie’s two singers and sole band members, Bianca and Sierra Casady, could be compared to sirens if their wailing was deeper instead of high-pitched and tweaky like Billie Holiday’s on 45rpm. Listening to La Maison gives you an opiated sense of well-being; here are two beautiful young ladies singing sweet harmonies together, their lyrics about Skittles and diamond rings and other things being disturbed by an undertow of discontent. CocoRosie songs put old folk tunes into new perspective; take the sardonic lyrics that critique Christianity in their cover of “Jesus Loves Me”: “Jesus loves me/but not my wife/not my nigger friends/or their nigger lives/but Jesus loves me/that’s for sure/‘cause the Bible tells me so.” The last song on the album, “Lyla,” is about a child prostitute sold into slavery who “ate McDonalds all day/ and never had a chance to play.” Toys, penny whistles, Casios, and thrift store drum machines keep the beats: they’re reminders of sinister deeds. The magic of childhood is built up then trashed like a sandcastle.

The acts of reminiscing, relishing and examining childhood were a natural place to start for two sisters who hadn’t seen each other in years. Bianca was living in the U.S. while Sierra studied music in Paris. Once Bianca decided to move to France, they found their interests finally overlapping, as Bianca had just begun to write songs…

Q: Sierra studied gospel and opera. Did you study music too?

A: Not at all. I didn’t even start singing really until over a year ago. I used to read poetry out a lot but there was something unsatisfying about it. Then I wrote a small series of songs that weren’t very typical, they didn’t have choruses or anything, and I did a show where I sang them a capella. I felt really good singing. That was right before I went to Paris. I had never sung in front of an audience.

Q:Was it scary when you first started performing?

A: Yes, it was. It was scary but it was a wonderful high simultaneously. I got sort of addicted to it. It was way more intense. I think that my writing is more accessible through music, or more enjoyable. Sierra has been singing most of her life. She always sang. In junior high she was in a choir, she got really into choral music, had a special teacher who encouraged her. Immediately her teachers saw that she had an operatic soprano voice and pushed her into that. She just went for it. So she spent the last five years in music school. She did really well, got many accolades, won awards…she was told that she should go for it. But it takes 100%. Not just of your time, but you can’t want anything else. It’s a thing that’s so hard to succeed in, that you can’t even lie to yourself, you have to want it all, and she didn’t. It was creatively stifling. They didn’t encourage her to compose, or try other types of music. It’s as if that’s your only job in life.

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