Mystic Rhythms: Rumble (Music, Magic & History, Part V)

Mystic Rhythms: Rumble (Music, Magic & History, Part V)

If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and the Negro feel, I could make a billion dollars. – attributed to Sam Phillips, owner of  the Memphis Recording Service, and the man who “discovered” Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley (incidentally, Phillips denied having ever said this) (Arguably the first rock-n-roll recording, Ike Turner’s “Rocket ’88′”) It starts with the blues riffing of a poor boy named Bo Diddly. It rises in the duck-strut of a handsome dude named Chuck Berry. It ignites when a white truck driver catches “that Negro sound” in the gyrations of his Read more »

Mystic Rhythms: Anything Goes (Music, Magic & History, Part IV)

Mystic Rhythms: Anything Goes (Music, Magic & History, Part IV)

The sound is the freedom. The chord don’t mean nothing.– Ornette Coleman, interviewed in Andrew Zuckerman’s book Music   (Image from Powerchords: Music, Magick & Urban Fantasy; art by Bryan Syme) If blues is the Devil’s music, then its offspring – jazz, country, soul and rock – are its four horsemen. Thundering across electric highways, these fertile musicologies plunder everything they find. Jazz shares the outlaw origins of blues, but focuses more on instrumental prowess than personal catharsis. Supposedly named for sexual intercourse, jazz takes the most sensual elements of European, African and American music, and then heats them to Read more »

Mage 20 Q&A, Part III: Mage and Various Mass Media

Mage 20 Q&A, Part III: Mage and Various Mass Media

PART III: MAGE’S MEDIA INFLUENCES   (Jaz Coleman – chaos magician and bandleader of Killing Joke.) Q: What are some of your favorite movies, TV shows, comedians, and musical artists? And how might they have influenced your work on Mage? For starters, I prefer artists and shows with something important to say. “Mindless entertainment” doesn’t really do much for me. A sense of passion is also vital. Especially given the vast landscape of art and entertainment we can access these days, I have no time or patience for stamped-out commercial product. I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy big-budget spectacles Read more »

When Punk Was Real and Dangerous

When Punk Was Real and Dangerous

Inspired by a discussion about early punk rock, here’s a slice of early ’80s hardcore, back from the days when punk was learn, mean and dangerous, not turned into Broadway musicals and half-assed cinematic masturbations. Trigger warning for the lyrics – they are NOT pretty. Ironically, Tipper Gore felt that the song was “pornographic” because it depicts a real-life string of rapes committed by LAPD cops. How anyone could mistake this song as approval of that atrocity is anyone’s guess… but then, an understanding of irony (even the white-hot kind that early punk specialized in providing) is not exactly the Read more »

Mystic Rhythms: Music, Magic & History (Part I)

Mystic Rhythms: Music, Magic & History (Part I)

The first sounds a child hears are the rhythms of his mother’s heart. At birth, he breathes deep and cries loud. To the child, all things are musical… and as we grow older, music often helps us return to that childlike fascination. It’s primal, elemental, something beyond words even when it employs them. Music invokes a transcendental state – literally “crossing up and across” from one state to another. Is it any wonder, then, that faeries adored Thomas the Rhymer, or that aliens spoke to humanity through song in Close Encounter of the Third Kind? The harmonies, vibrations, beats and intervals of music guide the waves of Read more »

Mystic Rhythms: Symphonie Fantastique (Music, Magic & History, Part II)

Mystic Rhythms: Symphonie Fantastique (Music, Magic & History, Part II)

The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul. Johann Sebastian Bach Civilizations grow to empires, and empires spread. Musical traditions blend with one another, sharing modes, instruments and inspirations. Notation, style, instruction and instrumentation attain a dazzling complexity, striving to capture – in rigid forms of wood, metal and ink – an art too fluid to hold on to. Although some cultures keep “common” forms of music that anyone could share, most develop elite refinements that only specially-trained people can perform. Three distinct modes evolve: courtly Read more »

Mystic Rhythms: Ride the Lightning (Music, Magic & History, Part III)

Mystic Rhythms: Ride the Lightning (Music, Magic & History, Part III)

Now we can hear the voices of the dead. Remark overheard at the premiere of Thomas Edison’s phonograph The spark bursting from electrical energy in the late 1800s ignites an explosion of technology. Innovations of sound recording – first on rolls, then on discs, record albums, magnetic tapes, CDs, and eventually bytes of information – allow music to transcend the moment of performance and become what Led Zeppelin would later call “physical graffiti.” Thomas Edison unveils the phonograph in 1878 – a practical refinement of Lèon Scott’s phonoautograph, which appears first in 1857. Bulky and fragile, these hand-cranked instruments literally Read more »