Thursday, September 26, 2013

Understen is coming to get you!

Understen's Imaginär Koherens album from 2010 swept by underneath the radar of everyone, including Understen themselves. That's why it's a necessary privilege to be able to re-release this little gem of improv lo-fi psychedelia via the Highbrow Lowlife imperium-emporium.

Way back when, in 1987 to be exact, two frustrated Stockholm youngsters got together to make some music. I was one of them. Jan Ekman was the other one. We called the band White Stains. That initial phase got me actively interested in making music and that is something that hasn't really changed, ever. To make noise or rock'n'roll or both together with Jan was a lot of fun and I guess the peak of our first phase of collaboration was when we played at the Hultsfred festival in 1989, with Thomas Tibert at the mixing desk. This concert can be heard in its entirety on the The Somewhat Lost Horizon album, which will, incidentally, also be re-released this autumn.

Carl A & Jan E, Stockholm 1987. Photo © Max Fredrikson.
Jan drifted away as new folks entered the White Stains music machine but luckily we stayed in touch and remained friends. I guess it was inevitable that we would some day make music again. In 2009 we started talking about it and one thing led to another. This another would eventually be called Understen.

The result of these very loose sessions became the album Imaginär Koherens ("Imaginary Coherence"). It was released in a nice little box with a CD, one photo by me, one drawing by Jan, and some other stuff. Only 100 made and still not sold out... Ha! Always the same old story! Anyway, a nice box and, most importantly, a very nice album.

Acoustic guitars, improvised percussive bits, ranting, letting the MicroKorg run amok, voices, noises... Hard to describe, isn't it? We talked about David Crosby and Hawaiian hippies a lot, but those goals are hard to reach. Impossible perhaps. Or maybe we actually succeeded too well and transcended our own expectations? I think it's probably more of a David Crosby "zone" or a Hawaiian hippie "flow", to contemporize the lingo a bit.

A joyous disclaimer: The album was made entirely without music software, sequencers, data bloaters, left brain halves, causal rhythms, optitech inflation, terrabytean delusions of grandeur, quantized thought processes, syncopations filled with opinions, Aristotelean assumptions, Euclidian prejudices, etc. It's just wild human stuff plugged into your ears basically. That's how we think Understen should be – and sound.

As the album is now unleashed into an unexpecting digisphere, it might be nice to clean up some of the original videos too. The first one out is Returbiljetten - ej giltig!, which features our dear friend Sylvie Walder on beautiful ethereal piano. This one can be seen on the Highbrow Lowlife YouTube Channel, or, if you're too lazy to click the link, just watch it right here!

Understen's Imaginär Koherens is released by Highbrow Lowlife on September 26th, 2013.  Stream where you stream, buy where you buy. But why not buy at the Highbrow Lowlife webstore?

All material on this blog is copyright © Carl Abrahamsson, unless otherwise stated.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Contemporary occultism in glossy color

Nice and colorful publications dealing with esoteric topics are nowadays almost a dime a dozen, and that is of course a very good thing. The general interest in occultism and esoteric doctrines is proof of intelligence and constructive behavior in stagnant cultures. In particular, the intersection between art and the esoteric has nowadays become an integrated field of study in many academic environments.

One publication that caught my attention recently  is The AMeTh Lodge Journal, Vol I, No 2, published by Ordo Templi Orientis in London. This is the second issue of the Journal, and it strikes me as symptomatic of the intellectual climate we're currently in. A Thelemic fraternity, OTO, publishes something that successfully reaches outside of their own esoteric environment and into a culture starved of substantial spirituality.

No wonder, I should say, because this book/magazine behaves more like an art catalogue and is lavish and well produced on all levels. Where the occult underground used to be immersed in DIY and fanzine esthetics and methods, contemporary expressions lead the way in both esoteric and refined esthetic aspects. Another very clear example of this is Fulgur, the eminent UK publishers who've specialized in fine editions of occult material but have now branched out into flirting with the art publishing market.

AMeTh 2 is not only filled with the technology of magic ("The Pyramid of the Sphinx", "The Rite of Hekate", "A Thelemic Approach to Astrology" etc) but to an equal extent of material dealing with culture or occulture ("Aleister Crowley and the Ragged Ragtime Girls", "An Interview with Lon Milo DuQuette", "Oriental Grotesques" etc). This is what makes it doubly interesting. Creative cross fertilizations are possible when the door swings both ways, so to speak.

Although this Journal is considerably more internal than Fulgur's attempts with their equally well produced journal Abraxas, it still whets the appetite for more of the same kind of dynamic mix. If one has a serious interest in Thelemic occultism, then there's plenty of that. And the strictly occultural material is equally appetizing. My favorite in this particular issue is Geraldine Beskin's article on Aleister Crowley's grand attempt at bringing an all female ragtime ensemble to Russia in 1913. As with a lot in Crowley's life, this story is worthy of being turned into a movie by Terry Gilliam.

AMeTh Lodge Journal is a prime example of our fascinating Zeitgeist, in which an open-mindedness presented in four colors on glossy paper wonderfully well balances the murky, medieval attitudes of the current British government vis-à-vis individual liberty. I'm referring of course to recent suggestions that web sites with "occult" material should somehow be banned or blocked for British Internet users. It makes me think of Monty Python, for the sheer surreal absurdity of it. And of Joseph Goebbels, for completely different reasons.

Aleister Crowley was only some decades ago included among Great Britain's 100 most popular and influential people ever. The present temporary UK civil servant prime minister-cum-emperor will at most be remembered for his militant and blatantly stupid anti-humanism. May God bless him. History certainly will not.

You can order your copy of AMeTh Lodge Journal, Vol I No 2 by going here!

All material on this blog is copyright © Carl Abrahamsson, unless otherwise stated.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

PTV & White Stains: "At Stockholm" revisited

Genesis P-Orridge at around the time of recording AT STOCKHOLM. 

At Stockholm was the first full length album by White Stains. After a turbulent first year of existence, circa 1987-1988, the band had evolved from loud psychedelic rock to considerably more experimental vibes. A great instigator of this change was Thomas Tibert, who became an integrated member late 1988. This intersectional dynamic is clearly audible when listening to material from the era. Compare, for instance, the two final "93" singles (The Awareness and The Result) – essentially pop music in contemporary clothes – with the first ever White Stains performance at the Hultsfred festival of 1989: violent and experimental ad-libbing.

Other interesting things happened at the time too. I made plans with Genesis P-Orridge to set up a Scandinavian spoken word tour for a mini-version of Psychick TV, ie Genesis and then wife Paula. There were some poetry festivals occuring here at around the same time, so we traveled to Copenhagen and Gothenburg, and then also did one in Stockholm. The gigs were more like performances than readings, as there was backing music and live tape manipulations. In all, a very trippy mix of lightheadedness and heavy duty existentialist spiritual poetry.

While in Stockholm, we recorded readings of approximately the same texts that had been used live. This was in Thomas' wonderful home studio (called The Reality Studio, as a nod of appreciation to the 23rd mind of William Burroughs), where also all of the White Stains material was recorded, from The Awareness single up to the The Somewhat Lost Horizon soundtracks.

Genesis was ultra-professional (as always) and as far as I can recall most of the recordings were "first takes". After this wonderful and impressive experience, Thomas and me merged the voice and tape recordings with the White Stains tracks we had prepared before, during and after the visit. We also had help from the very talented Per Aronsson in the structuring of things.

Then the project took on a life of its own. My newly started publishing company Psychick Release also acted as a record label (or vice versa), and took on the challenge to release the album. In 1990, it came out and was very well received. The flow aspect with 70 minutes of non-indexed music was appreciated, as it facilitated/facilitates focused listening and not just impulsive track skipping.

Later on, the album was re-released on CD by Etherworld (US, 1995 approx) and Voiceprint (UK, 2004). It was even later on released as an LP by Vinyl On Demand (Germany, 2011, as part of a beautiful Psychick TV box set), and has always had a presence somewhere, somehow. I even saw a bootleg of the Psychick Release edition in Russia in 2007 – truly an honor, as it was so amazingly well made.

But now it's back to the old homestead again, as Highbrow Lowlife presents the full 70 minute flow version again, remastered by Thomas Tibert for your uninhibited listening pleasure.

To celebrate this release we have posted a classic video clip from the era, aptly called At Stockholm, at the YouTube Channel. It was made by Fetish 23 in 1990 for the Psychick Release Video Trance Mission, vol 1. It features Super-8 footage of our little Temple Ov Psychick Youth spoken word tour with Genesis in 1989, including meetings with Nick Cave and Freddie Wadling. There will be more videos from this era uploaded soon.

AT STOCKHOLM 2013 REMASTER is available all over the digisphere from September 19th, 2013. Purchase includes a PDF booklet containing all the lyrics. Why not get this album straight from Highbrow Lowlife's own web shop? If you'd like to listen before buying, try Spotify or other quality music streaming services. Thank you.

All material on this blog is copyright © Carl Abrahamsson, unless otherwise stated.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sinnelag: dark state of mind

Only once in a while do I retract from long term musical partnerships (and then only temporarily). Usually collaborations are fun and rewarding within a Third Mind framework. Usually they bring out entirely unexpected music that would have been impossible to make on my own.

However, I've come to notice that it works the other way around too. When I'm totally alone with the audio structure spirits, the communication becomes transcending in a much more brooding and darker way. Sure, I can recognize elements and attractions that are mine and mine alone, but I'm more and more surprised in the solo setting these days. It's as if the Third Mind has become the norm and in long term musical partnerships one gets the hang of it after a while. The unexpected becomes the expected. Not creatively Kosher.

Some years ago, I started making music on my own again. This time without any concept or umbrella (like an "album"). I was just curious to see where the intuition would lead me. I encouraged myself getting into a particular emotional mood, and then worked from there. All the instruments and studio gear were left out in the living room for weeks, driving me and my little family crazy. When I felt like recording, I did. Usually very late at night.

The result of these expressions eventually became the album Själabränning and I called my solo project Sinnelag (approx "State of mind" in Swedish). It was issued on CD in a limited edition of 100 copies in 2010. Then I basically let it slip and slide.

Anyway, recently I thought it could be interesting to listen to the album again. It was. It was dark stuff galore. What a dark trip! I think I actually got rid of some heavy emotional residue in the process of making that album, because I can recognize it all in there somewhere. Music can indeed be therapeutical. Thanks to the audio structure spirits.

Now, it's all been digitally remastered, and it does sound a lot better. Thanks to Thomas Tibert, who is such a skilled mastering person! Of course this music needs to be out there in the digisphere. Now it is. For your listening pleasure (?)... All over the digisphere... Right now!

There are some Sinnelag films too, as if the weird sounds aren't enough. To celebrate the digital release of the album, Highbrow Lowlife has just posted Pollen av aska on the YouTube Channel.

The album Själabränning is available at all major digital outlets, including iTunes and Spotify, from September 12th, 2013. Why not try out Highbrow Lowlife's own digistore?

1. Själabränning
2. Katarsis igen (Ljudsouvenirer)
3. Jag tänkte en gång på att samarbeta
4. Undra en smula
5. Exformation
6. Någon annans dröm
7. Pollen av aska
8. Stormiga ytans reflektion
9. Monstropolis sjunger för de döva
10. Skenrus
11. Omegahanen

All material on this blog is copyright © Carl Abrahamsson, unless otherwise stated.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Atlantean Art & Occult Poland

I hope to see you in Gdansk, Poland, this weekend, Friday the 13th (!) to Sunday the 15th. I'll be lecturing (well, speculating is probably a more apt term) about Aleister Crowley and Rudolf Steiner at the Lashtal Press Conference, and look forward to that a lot. Gdansk is a beautiful city and I have dear memories from when Cotton Ferox played there in 2008.

Speaking of which, Cotton Ferox will return to Poland on the 17th of November, to perform at the Trans/Wizje festival in Warsawa. More news on this event will follow as we get closer to the date. I will also have an article in the issue of T/W that will be released for/at the festival. The theme of the article is the human being's need for magical play, externalized through dolls of various kinds. The theme of the concert, however, will be something completely different: temporary dissociation. "What else is new?", right?

Alchemy, antimodernism, anachronism or just Atlantean art?
I try to keep up with the art world (but often fail), and I become very happy when I occasionally come across something that is in every way "art" and not just a shallow, mental exercise. Christine Ödlund has now turned Galleri Riis in Stockholm into a plantation site for her stinging nettles, complete with audio amplification, beautiful drawings and animated films. In all, and as usual, a unique vision executed in a superb and creative way. When you feel you've entered a total environment and a magical energy field that is uniquely the artist's, then that's truly a reason to rejoice! The question remains though: what are the nettles actually saying to each other?

You can read more about this phenomenal exhibition right here!

All material on this blog is copyright © Carl Abrahamsson, unless otherwise stated.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Gathering of the Tribe: Beware of Brilliance!

Quite a while ago I got my hands on Mark Goodall's book Gathering of the Tribe – Music and Heavy Conscious Creation (Headpress, 2013). I thought I'd read it and write the review without much ado. Boy, was I wong! Actually, I'm still stuck in the book... Help! But this is not because that it's hard to penetrate or difficult in any way. On the contrary. I'm still stuck because I want to.

Goodall's HEAVY journey through a multitude of various musical styles is simply so brilliant that I want to stay in this deranged stream of wonders and frights forever. What appears at first to be an eclectic guide for record collectors is in actual fact a real mind opener in itself. Not only because of the incredible weirdness Goodall describes, but also because of how he does it (and his friends too). This is a brilliant, illuminating and highly well written book.

Try this out for size: Cosmic Sounds, Jazz and the Spirit World, Freaky Folk, The Law of Octaves: Esoteric Music, Psych-out and Countercultural Occult, Sorcery and the Cinema, The Devil's Interval, Mindfuckers and Electric Storm in Hell: Weird Soundscapes...

What sounds like a free form poem from a creative dark Beatnik mind is in fact the chapter listing.

Why "Beware of Brilliance"? Well, I can assure you that if you methodically not only read this book but also listen to the music it describes, you will be changed. It will be irrevocable. You have been warned...

I can say no more. I want to dive right into the book again, and listen to the hellishly divine sounds it promotes. Maybe we'll meet in there somewhere, between Stockhausen, Alice Coltrane, Sun Ra, Graeme Allwright, Gurdjieff, Louise Huebner, Furekaaben, Jim Kweskin and a host of others... Goodbye for now!

Gathering of the Tribe – Music and Heavy Conscious Creation
By Mark Goodall, with Mick Farren (RIP), Jill Good, David Kerekes, Richard Woodcock and others. HeadPress, London, 2013.

All material on this blog is copyright © Carl Abrahamsson, unless otherwise stated.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Elisabeth Punzi & The Mushroom Clouds

After having worked with so much weird music together since 1989 or thereabouts, Thomas Tibert and me decided that it would be fun and challenging to make some real pop music instead of the usual Cotton Ferox-structures. So that's what we did, from 2009 and onwards. The Mushroom Clouds were now catapulted into an unsuspecting cosmos.

Back in 2010, we had amassed a bunch of tracks that were very conventional, yet trippy and perhaps even intelligent. Then we gave some serious thought to the vocal issue. Who could vocalize our vision?

The best answer to that question was within reach: Gothenburgian chanteuse extraordinaire Elisabeth Punzi of Whipped Cream-fame drifted into the studio like elegant royalty and, as they so frequently say on TV these days, "delivered". The first result of this collaboration is the EP called EP I, which is available in the digisphere from September 5th, 2013.
Beauty and the Beats: Elisabeth Punzi flanked by Mushroom & Clouds, 2010.
There will be more from The Mushroom Clouds of course. Each EP will be a collaboration with a female singer and we hope to work with many different kinds of voices and singing styles in the near future. If you want to be involved somehow, just e-mail us.

We will try to make this an audiovisual adventure too, so that each song gets its own video – or vice versa.

We have now made our first public contribution as conventional songwriters. It feels good and we're very pleased with the result. And we are currently writing new songs for future adventures. Don't worry... We won't leave the experimental or the ambient or the electronic or whatever behind... But The Mushroom Clouds will always be a POP experience from this day and onwards.

We hope that you'll join us on this musical mystery trip!

The Mushroom Clouds' EP I is available from The Highbrow Lowlife Webshop, iTunes, Spotify, Wimp, Amazon and all the others...

To see Mushroom Clouds and Cotton Ferox videos, please click here...

All material on this blog is copyright © Carl Abrahamsson, unless otherwise stated.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Roving Report 2013-35

Howdy people! Autumn has now officially begun and there's a chill in the air to prove it. Wonderful! Time to get back to working routines and an evaluation of the times we live in. Some recent developments deserve special mention, and this little missive is meant to be a condensed update of sorts.

To celebrate autumn, Highbrow Lowlife today release an album by Cotton Ferox called A Mega Golem Official. Some of you may remember this piece from Vicki Bennett's Radio Boredcast project back in 2011-2012, but now it's out there on its own: Spotify, iTunes, Wimp, Amazon et al... Wherever you usually shop or stream, it's there.

The Mega Golem is a project that is well under way now. It's a magical creature (vide the Golem in Meyrink and others), that is made entirely out of art. Currently several artists are helping me to build this new life form. This official Mega Golem transmission constitutes the being's penis and testicles. This in no way implies that it's a specifically male creature though.

To read more about the Mega Golem project, you should consult The Fenris Wolf, issues no 5 & 6, both available from Edda Publishing.

Another Highbrow Lowlife-related recent manifestation is the posting of videos on our YouTube channel. We currently have five different videos uploaded there, and strongly recommend you have a look. This recent week, we flagged for the upcoming first EP by Elisabeth Punzi & The Mushroom Clouds, due out in the digisphere on September 5th.

The Mushroom Clouds-project is quite a big step for Thomas Tibert and me, as it deals with another form of music than we're used to: POP! We sincerely hope that you will enjoy our collaboration with the multitalented singer Elisabeth Punzi as much as we have.

The All Alone-video was made by Thomas Tibert, and the Lucifer's Rainbow one by me (with extra special thanks to the lovely Sara George).

New from Trapart Books is an amazing book called " ''''''' " (being an exposition and elucidation of an eternal work by The Hafler Trio). The book is a poetic description of Andrew McKenzie/The Hafler Trio’s ongoing series of workshops and ideas. Part musical creation, part personal development, part experimental Gesamtkunstwerk and part complementary education. Available late September in a standard and a deluxe edition. At that same time, there will also be a brand new Trapart web site.

New from Edda Publishing is an art book by Fredrik Söderberg called Jung Haus. And my own very first novel Mother, Have A Safe Trip (an occult science fiction sex thriller). Both books will be out early October, and more news will follow of course.

I have recently enjoyed new music by the Swedish band/project Purple Elk. Dan Söderqvist is a genuine gem in Swedish music (consider Älgarnas Trädgård, Cosmic Overdose, Twice A Man...), and his new project Purple Elk (together with Jan Ternald) is no exception to his solid rule of psychedelic and beautiful brilliance. Purple Elk play contemporary psych with a literal as well as emotional H.P. Lovecraft vibe (the author more than the band of the same name). You can listen to Purple Elk right here. You not only can. You should.

Another Swedish project that's been on my mind to write about is Ev Of Isis. The dark, brooding and menacing beauty of Swedish Josefin Hinders and American Amanda Schoepflin drag you away – willingly – on an inner journey that is scary and enthusiastic at the same time. Multiversal mind movie music and delicious dark femmebient of the finest brand. You can listen to Ev Of Isis right here!

That's it for now. Until the next time, enjoy the works in this little dispatch irresponsibly and make sure to spread the information further!