An interview with Mr. Gordon Raphael of ABSINTHEE
Sir David O’Clock
New York City > net < Seattle, WA
October 15 – 21, 1997
It was 1984, the end of the world as we knew it, when I first heard the music of Mr. Gordon Raphael, also known as GORDOTRON. I was living in Toronto, Canada at that time. My photographer, Mr. Ray Charles White showed me a tape in a cold and unforgiving winter night, saying that it was the music of a genius he met with in New York. The music was lush synthesized soundscapes, washed by gently flowing melodies and angelic harmonies, which carried graceful, smooth, soothing words. It was unmistakably West Coast music, a product of sea and sunshine and positive thinking. The words had a shy humor, a touch of loving self-irony. The message was very high-minded, very spiritual, it was not cutting, but rather a lick to the third ear.
I met with the artist first in 1987, in New York, after his return from Greece, where he lived on an island for some time. He was like his music, an extremely pleasant, soft and intelligent gentleman. He was impeccably elegant, dressed in black leather and silver jewelry. He had the aura of a visiting angel. As a matter of fact he told me that he is the archangel Raphael. I had no reason to doubt his ID. He had that unmistakable vibe of a rock and roll star. It was obvious that he was born to the stage, to the media, to the airwaves. There was nothing fake or phony in him. He lived in the East Village with his girlfriend Debbie. We kept in touch until they left for the West Coast. I saw him again in the early ’90s, when he played the Academy with the band Sky Cries Mary. Theirs was one of the best shows I’ve seen in New York. Now, in October ’97 we are in touch again, this time on the Internet. He is near Seattle, Washington, I am in New York City. This interview was done entirely by Email, in a span of a few days.
Sir David O’Clock: – Could you tell me about the Sky Cries Mary project?
Gordon Raphael: – After experimenting with living in New York for two years, and Los Angeles for one, I crawled back to Seattle in 1991 to find that the quiet village I had abandoned in 1987, had transformed into a gigantic rock-music circus with big spotlights and international attention. I had read an interview with Roderick, Sky Cries Mary’s founder and poet, saying that he planned to create a large theatrical troupe of dancers, light wizards (projectionists), musicians and artists, and that they would travel the world like a family of art-gypsies. I then found out that several friends (Drummer Ben Ireland, Light Wizard Cam Garrett and Sound Designer Mike Davidson) who had worked closely with me in my first original band ; “Mental Mannequin” 1980, and “Colour Twigs”1983, were collaborating in Sky Cries Mary.
I went to watch them perform, two weeks after I returned to Seattle. I remember trying not to like the band, because my old friends were “taken” into this new project, and I felt that they were all collectively hallucinating, and dancing on-stage, improvising blasts of sound and slightly out of control. There were six musicians, an incredible light-show of multi-layered images and two gorgeous female dancers decorated in tribal fantasy outfits. I did not want to enjoy this display of improvised tone blending and strange poetic rhythms, yet I kept being annoyed with the thought that many of their accidental creations were perhaps more powerful and beautiful than things rehearsed, planned and produced in studios. It was as if the unplanned music was coming out perfectly! I was very upset, and luckily – was asked to join the group to replace a departing keyboardist a week later.
…The first show I played with Sky Cries Mary was in Vancouver, Canada for six people who all yelled obscenities at us and ridiculed Roderick and his art. The second show was in front of one thousand people at Bumbershoot, Seattle’s largest music festival, and I realized that Sky Cries Mary was going to be very big and successful, and that I should very much be involved. Then we made albums for a small label, toured the United States and Canada many times, and even did a show in Tokyo, which was a fantastic experience for me. I contributed as a writer, sound explorer, keyboardist, guitarist and even bassist for about seven years, till I decided to work on perfecting my own musical vision with my new group, “Absinthee”. I believe that Sky Cries Mary did spread a lot of brilliant chaos, swirling moods and wild/free energy around to many cities, perhaps shaking the dust off and helping to pry open some eyes to beauty and creativity. It was a good example of seven people working together for a long time, in harmony…
Sir David O’Clock: – It was great fun to see you perform at the Academy. The band was a group of equals in every respect, everybody was equally good. I knew very well that Ben Ireland is one of the best drummers there is, but I haven’t heard him being so heavenly good before. The same can be said about everybody on stage in that night. Could you tell me about your current ‘Absinthee’ project?
Gordon Raphael: – I was told that there was a seventeen year old girl named Anne Hadlock who composed poems, performed oil painting, and could sing in a range from extraordinary beauty to tortuous dark screams. I had been constructing “industrial” synthesizer based symphonies in an extremely heavy mood, somewhere between rage, heartbreak and despair. I lived in a basement with no windows to the sky, and had assembled a magical collection of old Moog, Arp, Jupiter 6, and Prophet -10 synths, and a very mighty ASR-10 sampler which I assembled everything on. I had fifty pieces of music that I planned to complete (most had been under way for several years ) and make into four separate collections. I was curious to add a female vocal and perhaps a cello on several of the tracks.
Upon first meeting Anne, I was hesitant to tell her some of the working titles of the songs, because I imagined they might be too twisted or “freaked out”. She then showed me a book of photographs she had produced, and many pages of poetry. I must say that the images of her former girlfriend receiving hypodermic injections at an alcoholic rehab center, despondent self-portraits and words of religious pain and torment shocked the hell out of me, and made me feel like my own ideas were somewhat tame by comparison! That same evening she played me some tapes of her singing, and once again I was shocked, because her tone was so enchanting, melodies so bold and defined – and completely adventurous. I tried to tell her that she had the voice of a major star, and to stay away from my music which was weird, underground and sonically disturbing, but after hearing my rough tapes she confessed that this was indeed the music she had been looking for to express her storm of feelings, and she would start right away creating melodies, structures and words to these groaning electronic blasts and bleeps. Within a month we had ten songs recorded and played several shows and a TV appearance. It turned out that her family operates a magnificent analog 24 track recording studio (Bear Creek Studios), complete with antique classic microphones that Anne had been singing into since she was four years old, located in an elegantly restored barn surrounded by meadows, streams and tall pine trees in the countryside! At first her mother thought I was a vampire (which is close to the truth), but soon her family loved the music we created together and began helping us record the songs “properly”.
Vampires and angels are as close to the truth as it is possible. We are maybe different in terms of colors we fancy, but we are the same in being God’s grown up children. We render special services to the endless process of Creation: angels are there to guide the souls, vampires were released to bite the bodies, they are equally powerful, beautiful, elegant beings, like all God’s children. Vampires are fond of the colors black, red and the metal silver. Angels tend to wear white and gold while flying against light blue skies. Humans find comfort and forgiveness in the colors green and khaki, and they love the cold touch of stainless steel, it relaxes their skin.
Vampires and angels might work opposing fields, but they often mix. They might fight, when a public demonstration of God’s power is needed, but it is always just a stylized fight, since they are both immortals. They form partnerships on projects, become friends, even marry, as pre-arranged by the Eternal’s Will. They are out there to balance each other’s powers, act in tandem to teach and challenge the young. Now, that Apocalypse is upon us, such angel-vampire collaborations became the norm, the two lineage freely intermingle as they cruise time and space, executing what the words say on the scroll. ‘Absinthee’ must be a product of such collaboration in between the forces of Heaven and Hell, a well armed and spiritually sound unit of grace and determination, ready to lead the Industrial Revolution, with One New Day in mind. It is a mystic alliance, born under rainy skies, from memories of Sun and dance. The plan is to transcend as many realities as possible, to save, to redeem, to create millions upon millions of winged fans, who would wave to the light which go at 144 beats per minute…
Sir David O’Clock: – Could you tell me about the creative process?
Gordon Raphael: …- This is the most interesting question I have ever been asked in an interview! Please allow me to begin with some general thoughts about creating my own poems and music. These are passages from two of my home-made books:
“…I find that I use a magical system of materialization that converts energy into form. I compress an explosion of emotion and ideas into a single second. I receive a vision and trap it on paper- or onto magnetic tape- or into a computer’s memory, at a blinding speed: Partially out of fear of losing even one electron of the original impulse, and partially because I am in a hurry to know what I saw- what happened…”
“…I invent scales, modes and tunings; rather than modulating from key to key, as in traditional music, I move backwards and forwards in time. High pitch, fast echoes for forward motion, low backwards sounds for retrograde action. I like my sound well produced, but not entirely organized. I don’t want to be in control all of the time- I let the music run away from me, then I chase after it and hope to catch up with it somehow…”
I was shown crayons at an early age and a big light went on. I won a painting contest at age 6, on the merits of a portrait of a birdhouse with an entrance and an exit. Many musical groups performed songs, which when I heard them, opened up unseen doorways; as if the future had come to visit me with brilliant glimpses into my own meaning and destiny. Some department of God has fought all demons and obstacles so that I could stubbornly and stupidly create thousands of songs, paintings, concerts, videos, poems and my favorite specialty: discovering haunting noises channeled through old synthesizers and echo machines. Sometimes people tell me I have done something special, and much of the time people ignore my work, but the process of making new art and music always whispers to me each day. Even when all common sense and logic told me I could be hungry and homeless, the path of supersonic sound always took me out to eat and put me on a great adventure. I am gifted to have met and made friends with many marvelously talented and wonderful people that live on this Earth, where I have wrestled with machines and wires to produce space cats, distant sea-bells and dragon singing voices.
(Sir David Writes:) We are kept alive by nothing but visions, promises and illusions: we see sights no one else can see and we hear sounds no one else can hear. We do little else but are trying to stay transparent so the message can pass through unobstructed – reproduced, meaning: translated for world wide pop consumption, but not the slightest bit distorted. We are the living dead, scattered around in mostly hostile spots, from Europe to the enchanted forests of the American North. One universally rejected race, ready to take the nearest flight to nowhere. We have no other alliance, but the source of all the grace we have received. Egoless and solitary we guide the dead to the saving light. One lives in a forest and sets up his altar there, while the other finds temporary refuge in New York, where he is not allowed to pray. Another one hides in the desert, in the shade of a rock, feeding on – letter by letter – an old, yellow book.
We live on the stage. That is the only place, where we can be ourselves, where we can take off the mask and show who we really are. Yet we are afraid of being on the stage, for the risk is so high. Off-stage life is nothing but a labyrinth of Byzantine lies, which we have to adapt to, in order to survive, while on stage even one phony gesture can break the magic. It’s no wonder how often we dread the mornings, nor that each moment feels to be so decisive, irreversible, final. I am an old man now. I do my work only to forget my loss.
Sir David O’Clock: – Could you inform me about your present gear?
Gordon Raphael: – My electronik dungeon contains a blackface Arp Oddyssey, A whiteface Arp Oddyssey with illegal Moog resonant filters hidden within, Arp Solina String Ensemble for plastic orchestras, Mini-Moog model D with three incredible oscillators and the richest filters ever made, two Micro-Moogs with the most bizarre ring-modulators and ribbon pitch control, a shiny silver, orange and baby blue Moog Source. Pro-One (a real little miracle maker), Prophet-10 dual keyboard analog synthesizer with Midi and built in stone-age sequencer. Jupiter-6 for long space-trips, JX8-P and JD-990, each by Roland. Chroma-Polaris polyphonic, which has filthy dirty and greasy fat sounds which are often necessary! These keyboards I have mentioned are the synthetic portion of the paintbox.
To grab slices of reality and bend them into tasteful lies I use these Sampling devices: ASR-10 by Ensoniq, in the taste test- no difference between old sound and stolen sample, then two old Mirages in rackmount form to make cheap phony imitations of life’s tones. The Korg M-1, which saved my life in New York City is a little trick I use when all else fails. To process and water these noises, there sit two white shiny units by Castle : a super double flange chorus echo, and an extra-super double phaser, both of which I found dusting away in a pawnshop in New Mexico, for next to nothing. Then the Blue metal MXR Digital Delay,and it’s matching MXR Flanger, two antique digital reverbs by ART, the DR-1 for robotic rooms and broken spaces, and the Proverb for “almost believable” stairways and concert halls. A Midiverb II and two more digital delays complete the rack which stands eight feet tall.
I use a Mackie 32 input mixer, a Rane six channel mixer and two silly patch bays to feed the signals to a Tascam DA-88 digital tape recorder which works excellently for frightening home produced soundtracks. On Sundays I go into my other chamber to whip sounds from 1974 Fender Jazz Bass, Fender Stratocaster, Gibson Les Paul Sunburst and Gibson SG, all played through Rat fuzz box, phase shifter, flanger, stereo chorus Crybaby Wah-Wah pedal and shipped directly into a Leslie spinning organ speaker and a very old Supro guitar amp, which is very tiny and has an oval speaker and a killer tremolo switch.
Sir David O’Clock: – Who are your main musical influences? Do you listen to other people’s music at all? Are you a lifelong fan of anyone? Do you follow the words when you are listening to other artist’s works? Are you able to listen to the whole of somebody’s new release in one single sit?
Gordon Raphael: – I eat music for fire and inspiration, its my main meal. Certain recordings by musicians, composers and bands have been the glue that holds me together and the lamp which illuminates my way. They came to me in this order, roughly: The Beatles, Cream/ Blind Faith, Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, the Who, John McLaughlin with Mahavishnu Orchestra almost made me sprout wings. Yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer because of the intensity, keyboard artistry and imagination, Jethro Tull. These last three made many albums I still love dearly, but ceased to create records I liked after 1976. England’s Gentle Giant and the wild Italian genius of Premiata Forneria Marconi – both of these also took some sort of dive from grace in 1976! Genesis broke the boundaries of my mind as long as Peter Gabriel was with them, and for one album after that.
In the classical world I am impressed with Bach, Chopin, Ravel, Robert Schumann, Bela Bartok, Rachmninoff, Franz Liszt, and some Beethoven. Then there came David Bowie, an idol for many albums, (up to “Let’s Dance”), T-Rex and Iggy Pop. Kraftwerk, Roxy Music when Brian Eno was there, King Crimson, the old albums only!! After these a blackened wave of strange sounds hit me starting with Devo, Joy Division, Siouxie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, Psychedelic Furs, and Popul Vuh’s soundtracks. I fell out of my chair while driving over a bridge in Vancouver, Canada when I heard the Breakdown re-mix by Colourbox, then Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil and X-Mal Deutchland. My life became different the night I first heard Skinny Puppy live in 1985 ( also in Vancouver!) they had keyboards and synthesizers that were anything but polite and fuzzy! I never heard another group balance horrifying sounds and beautiful textures and production as well as they did. Next- the Cure, Jane’s Addiction, Mudhoney, Pearl Jam (check out the song Black on their first album!), Alice and Chains first record and EP “Sap”.
Lately I’ve discovered Portishead (first record), PJ Harvey, Peter Hammil, the Legendary Pink Dots, Teargarden and the recently departed Jeff Buckley who I saw do his solo tour and two other shows with his fantastic band, a tragic loss to the world. I have been very puzzled lately for the lack of imagination and power in music. For two years it seems that the industry has pumped out bland and poisonous baby-food instead of good records. I like a lot of techno and house music, its amazing and I have no idea how they make it unless they’re dancing in a club while they do it: but it doesn’t stick with me in my heart or ears after I’ve gone home, not like a twisted melody or torched lyric. To finish, I just happened to wander into a club here in Seattle and heard ‘Subcircus’, a new group out of England. The next day I ran to get their album, and did listen to it all the way through in one sitting, sure I can do that with a band I really dig, but it’s rare. I think I am in love with them, and I believe they represent a new generation of super-talent about to burst forth from the soil and swallow the industry with their energy and freshness. I shall keep my ears open, and please remember that there are many artists and tribes that I’ve heard “getting down” and “making noise”, that I’ve gotten into, but these mentioned have truly kidnapped my soul, and quite brutally (enjoyably so).
Sir David O’Clock: – Could you describe to me the place where you are staying and working right now, including the architecture and surroundings?
Gordon Raphael: – Right now I am staying in an old (1898) pink Victorian house in Seattle’s “alternative” district, Capitol Hill. Anne Hadlock bought this house in the Spring and we worked all Summer long to fix it up from a broken down, scary house with holes everywhere and ceilings collapsed, into an antique home with many stimulating rooms, including a clawfoot bathtub beneath a spider web shaped window. The floors are old gorgeous light Pine wood, and there are mannequins, hanging dolls on the fireplace, with a bright yellow kitchen decorated in Mexican floral tiles. I have a blood-wine colored room with windowed closet doors, to see my second hand psychedelic shirts and various costumes through. My electronic lab is in the back of the second floor, overlooking two silver cathedral spires adorned with crosses, and a collection of scraggly spooky trees. Up a spiral staircase behind me is a huge attic, unfinished and quite dirty/broken. It reminds me of a haunted place where children once played long ago, and there’s a door that opens out to a three story drop to the ground. Lovely!
ABSINTHEE practices in a shed out in the countryside near Bear Creek Studios, in a place called “Dead Duck”. This place has a full PA and drumset, guitar amps and keyboards in the garage, also with hanging lamps and mannequins- amidst paint cans, chain saws and boxes of old dusty stuff.
Then there is the Pro-Tools Computer Music building out there facing a green pond with a Monet Bridge built across it. The frogs are very loud and big, ducks swim and protect their young, and six large orange and white fish prowl beneath the surface. All of the property at Dead Duck is on fields and pastures with raspberry bushes, Roses everywhere and about a hundred trees, all over a hundred feet tall. This summer Anne and I stayed there for three months while we rebuilt the pink house with her family. I got familiar with Pro-Tools and composed many sound-jams with more tracks and convenience than I had been used to. The rain and sun playing on the Pond, along with the incredible freshness of the air makes it a gem for creative hard labor.
Sir David O’Clock: – It is great to know that you are doing so well. Your place must be really cozy, you are fully equipped for the XXIth century and the three months out in the countryside, working on projects with such superb cast of people must have done tremendous good to your spirits. The Gods seem to love you, indeed. The sense of being so privileged, the sense of being accepted and needed, the sense of power and the vision of an even brighter tomorrow must be strongly present in your music. Could you tell me about the songs in the first ABSINTHEE release?
I am curious about how each song was born, what inspired them, what style of music they belong to, and so forth.
Gordon Raphael: – I have been a lot of places in this lifetime. The fact that I have this material equipment and space to use it and time to write and record is a blessing. I must admit though, that there has been, and continues to be attacks and catastrophes of the spirit and will in my own heart. The songs were mostly born out of a desperate need to express heartbreak and rage that could barely come out except as noises and rhythms. Trying to find true acceptance and understanding in this world, and even within myself has been elusive and sometimes horrifying. I have seen myself and many others I care about go down into drugs, hospitals and the tomb for lack of love and ability to cope or heal. Some parts of me can see how a brighter tomorrow is a definite possibility, for I have had many brilliant days and nights, even recently. But the shadow of grief and the persecution against smiles has devoured me, and continues to persue. Many of my song structures represent screams I don’t know how to make, and force I am searching for, combined with the beauty I can recall or foresee. In order of their adaptation into Absinthee material the songs emerged thus:
‘Quietly the Grief’ – My first creation in which I sampled an Arp Oddyssey synthesizer bass sound (one of my true specialties!) and sequencing it with electronic percussion ( also made on the Arp). The rhythm I had in mind was a Kraftwerk type of mechanized blasphemy, while pretty bending bells and kalimbas floated in a dream-sphere over head. The bass was the only melody until Anne created a vision of being crucified to unlock the secrets that were eating at her brain, and begging not to have her old wounds and shame re-opened. When I saw her sing this song for the first time as I was recording it, I was stunned and quite unprepared for her directness and daring jumps of notes, from the dark pit up into the sky.
‘Let Them Sleep’ – I made a piece of “fake jazz” electric piano and spaced it out with phase shift and robotic repetitious percussions. I wanted something like “acid jazz trance”, but eerie and Indian like Mahavishnu! Then Anne placed a poem spoken and whispered over it, ” The moon stains, the morning of death- that cold red blood lying awake ,shatters the sun like the cup I cry over…”
‘Say My Name’ – I wanted to invent a song in which a simple mighty Moog synth-bass would imitate the off rhythms of Piano House music, yet in a scratchy industrial way. I discovered that the up-close sound of cabbage being sliced was a main ingredient in horror movies, especially when people got the head’s chopped off. So I sampled cabbage and used it along with electrocution sounds, Italian movie voices, electric garage door openers and many over-distorted drum sounds. I added screaming voices and backwards 808 drums, all put to a funky Prince style beat, though heavily processed to make scary explosions. Then the second part blooms into a six part harmony putting dirty violins against grinding bass notes.
Anne whipped this one out in the first week we met, and turned it into a major pop song with angry chorus that never leaves your head.
‘Wishing You Were Here’ – I originally used the 909 drum machine to create military marching power, as an insistent fat synth bass carved out a low energy groove in one key (E), and over the top – glorious orchestras squeezing through space flying from key to key over the poor bass, stuck in one place forever. The tension created here I really like and it’s either very rough and pounding, or pretty and thoughtful, depending on where you focus. Anne once again floored me with her first ideas for this track.
She sculpted a mountain of a melody over everything, giving it a form I never anticipated. She perfected this from a “groove”, into a real song, and the ending poem, screamed at the top of her lungs, is one of my favorite Absinthee moments.
‘Proof’ – All of the songs so far originated as pure instrumental experiments in the original ‘Elektronic Dungeon”, a basement where I lived for seven years. This one wanted to be a trip-hop abstraction when it grew up. I discovered about fifteen new timbres, or noises on the Pro-One, and my Roland JD-990, and when these were baking in the oven, spiced it using a repeating real bass figure (ostinato pattern?), and gently sprinkled subliminal textures all around, as if a conversation could slightly be heard- one planet over to the right. This was the last song Anne wrote, sang and recorded with me while she was seventeen years old. By this session, we were invited to record the vocals through the pristine old Neuman microphones and tube compressors at Bear Creek, being helped and encouraged by Manny, Joe and Ryan Hadlock. I was using the original track recorded on my home DA-88 recorder, and taking that to the “real” studio for the vocal sessions. Invariably Anne would break a glass during the recordings, and I would be in the control room completely losing my mind because of her melodies and lyrics that I was hearing for the first time. I would hide in a corner, because I thought the giant smile on my face would be too much for everyone. At times I would put my hand over my mouth to hold down laughter, because what I was hearing Anne come up with was so very good that I didn’t know what else to do.
‘I Dream Angels’ – All sampled cellos and violas, with underwater orchestra quietly mixed in. Our first night ever really writing together, me at one keyboard , then one guitar – her singing from a silver book of her personal writings. We write the basic song then, and the next one as well in the big room at Bear Creek Studios, ceilings fifty feet high and candles all around. When she later recorded the vocals for real, I cried real tears as I mixed the tape. Her lyrics and begging tone and melody just ripped my heart out.
‘Lie to Me’ – Guitar , Bass and Drums, originally recorded in my old basement. I added an improvised guitar solo through the whole song which was run through my sampler for an impossible tone, and later spent an entire day trying to learn what I made up in a few minutes! One of my favorite Anne melodies ever ( have I said that before?)
‘Come For Pain’ – written during a break in the recording studio with Sky Cries Mary. One guitar through distortion into my headphones. I mailed Anne the tape while she was riding horses in Calgary, Canada and when she returned, she entwined the most threatening, frightening and provocative lyrics into this song. She would come down into the basement wearing an evening gown, and get on her hands and knees down on the dusty cement floor and just howl this one into the poor ’57 microphone while I played an echoey red SG guitar. Its a country western dominatrix anthem; very twisted and perhaps evil.
‘Veil of Tears’ – Anne suggested I write an ambient electronic song with a deep sexy slow groove, so that she could moan and make an erotic “spoken/gasped word” all through it. So I did. We hired Seattle’s secret funk drumming legend Davis Martin to play on it so the machines could get off,
and really get down.
‘Stars’ – She was touring with her horses all summer, and I stayed in the dungeon writing new disasters in the hope that one would open her floodgates of inspiration. This is the first and only piece I’ve ever written on the Prophet-10. Its such a large instrument that it scares me. Often it just collects dust and spider webs. But all my other instruments were gone, in the studio for Sky Cries Mary. I came home one night and put six layers of the most alien tones I could conjure. Anne liked it a lot, and put the lyrics
“Stars dance – in my head” all through it. She sings it so berserk and tender that you can see exactly which stars she is talking about. And not all of them appear to be friendly.
‘Queen of Sorrows’ – I was thinking electronic transistor drums with a Hendrix type guitar pattern. OK, yeah, right… but this one turned out quite well, in my opinion. Its hypnotic and buzzes all over the place. Plastic string machines add to the ethereal mixture, and Anne sings a distressing piece about the “Queen of Sins” who’ll give you everything. She hits a note so low, using her natural voice that it makes you wonder. It’s lower than I can go.
‘The Night Beside’ – I noticed that Anne was starting to respond quite favorably to menacing guitars playing slow, depressed chord changes. So I set out to give her a grinding dirge that she could go to town on. It has a bass melody I like a lot, and tiny horrible drum parts, played on keyboards.
Her poem is about giving in to harm, about the Night being her bride and about her fear of the Sea, endless and threatening.
Strange it might sound, but it’s true: the graceful island people of Indonesia are afraid of the sea. The Ocean is the frightful empire of Nyai Loro Kidul, the terrible Goddess of the South Seas. All over Java, Borneo, Bali, Flores, Sumbawa people regard the mountains as heaven and the sea as hell. Yet they are the best sailors and boat-builders and they can stay an awfully long time underwater, when diving for pearl and sunken treasures. They build shrines to Nyai Loro Kidul on rock outcrops, away from the shore. The shrines are guarded by giant snakes, which live in the cracks and crevices of the rock. The snakes are serviced by green and gold robed priests in bejeweled headdresses. The priests play flutes and various gongs and cymbals, in syncopated rhythms and intertwining, delicate harmonies. The music induce trance in both snakes and people. These shrines are frequented by sailors, before and after long and difficult voyages, and sailors brides, bringing offerings praying for their husbands to come home safely from out of the fog, thunder, rain and winds of the monsoon. Very few people have ever met with Nyai Loro Kidul and had a chance to tell. She is dressed in translucent shades of green and her crown is decorated with emerald eyes, they say.
Sir David O’Clock: – It is very reassuring to know that you ABSINTHEEs take your work seriously. There are painfully few people who know what they are doing, even less, who can or want to verbalize the complex, cosmic process of the actual creation. Angst, anger, resentment, the sense of loss are luxuries not many can afford. So is collaboration. It is great to know, that you work in harmony, with mutual respect,, that you can hear each other, that you can talk to each other on the level of equals, in the language of Gods.