It's not every week that I get to profile a song that is a touchstone for nearly all of my peculiar occult interests, but this week's Monday Magick will allow me to do just that! See, I am pretty obsessed with the goat-headed hermaphrodite demon-god of transformations known as Baphomet. I think he/she/it is pretty fucking important and have linked him/her/it to disparate figures and traditions—Hermeticism, Kabbalah, Alchemy, Hermes, Pan, Samael/Lilith, Shiva/Kali, Adam Kadmon, The Shekinah, Sophia, Adam/Eve, Cernunnos, The Green Man, John the Baptist, and Jesus Christ, for example—from across the occult spectrum in my own studies. I'm currently reading Tracy Twyman's 'Baphomet: The Temple Mystery Unveiled', a recent publication dedicated to just these subjects. Baphomet and related topics also played a significant role in the shenanigans that were going on in my personal life over the last few months. And of course he/she/it is a figure that has loomed large over my tutelage of the youthful apprentice I've recently taken under my wing. Baphomet, as representative of "the divine hermaphrodite" is just kind of a catch-all of esotericism I guess. As such, I'm happy to be able to delve, ever so shallowly, into the subject via tonight's featured song, "The Fountain of Salmacis" from British Progressive Rock grandaddies Genesis' 1971 LP 'Nursery Cryme'.
Coming from the early years of the career of a band that produced the likes '80s Pop royalty like Pete Gabriel and Phil Collins, "Fountain of Salmacis" is strikingly experimental. Certain elements of the band's performance—such as Gabriel's vocal—are not dissimilar to the styles exhibited by Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant and David Bowie during the same era. While the musical territory traversed by the musicians themselves—a highly baroque take on Jazz with a heavy Rock edge, liturgical flourishes and a bit of psychedelic haze—seems more in line with the likes of proggy contemporaries Gentle Giant and Soft Machine, or even the output of David Axelrod. It's a glorious pagan hymn that sends listeners on a magickal journey for the entire 8 minutes it lasts. And while a great deal of the song's magick is fueled by the soundscape provided by Collins, Gabriel, Steve Hackett, Tony Banks, and Mike Rutherford, it wouldn't be nearly as wondrous as it is if weren't a musical retelling of Roman poet Ovid's tale of Hermaphroditus and Salmacis. Born the son of Hermes and Aphrodite, Hermaphroditus was an extremely attractive boy who happened to arouse the desires of Salmacis, a water nymph, who after having her affections spurned thew herself upon the boy and reciting incantations demanded of "the gods" that they never be parted. The gods being the funny fuckers that they are, decided to merge Hermaphroditus and Salmacis into a single "creature of both sexes", or a hermaphrodite. Wanting some get-back, Hermaphroditus entreated his parents to curse Salmacis' spring so that anyone who might bathe in it should suffer a similar transformation. The actual fountain of Salmacis in present-day Turkey was said in ancient times to make men "effeminate" and cause "lewd behavior" in those who drank of its waters. Gender-swapping, such as that which is often noted amongst practitioners of shamanic traditions, is not an unfamiliar concept to students of the occult arts. Additionally deities such as Hermes himself, Dionysus, Priapus, and Shiva, in addition to Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten, have been depicted as intersexed, hermaphroditic, or otherwise androgynous in sacred artwork. Similar concepts dealing with the unification of sexual powers are also at play in the imagery associated with Alchemy, Rosicrucianism, Tantra, and the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah, not to mention various "left-hand" occult traditions. And of course Baphomet, who is representative of transformation, metamorphosis, the dissolving and coagulation of energies via both the creative and destructive forces, is perhaps the emblem of these ideas. I even see echoes of this very tale in Arthur Machen's landmark Gothic horror novella 'The Great God Pan'—which I mentioned in a Monday Magick post a few weeks back—and the Scottish ballad of Tamlin—which played an important role in recent goings on in my private life—both of which are focused on star-crossed lovers, horrifying metamorphoses and feature "fairies" or other "magick folk". That one song, which on the surface seems no more than a simple Pop music rehash of old mythology, can bring so much mystery to light is nothing short of magickal.
As previously mentioned Peter Gabriel would leave Genesis a few years after releasing 'Nursery Crymes' to embark on a successful solo career. Soon after Phil Collins would also branch out on his own and in doing so achieve a massive amount of success as a solo artist in the 1980's. He would however remain active as a member of Genesis who also enjoyed a few big hits in the '80s as well. Guitarist Mike Rutherford also achieved a great deal of success with his own side-project Mike + The Mechanics, who had a spate of hit singles during the same era. There have been murmurs about the possibility of the band getting back together for a reunion of some kind, but as yet those rumors have born no fruit.
Music is magick!
This week's Monday Magick entry is definitely on the fun side. Don't get me wrong, it deals with all the serious mind-melting occult ideas I trade in most weeks in this space. But like any occultist worth their weight in frankincense and myrrh it doesn't take itself too seriously. Ironically, I was inspired to keep it light this week when a close friend, noting some of my recent behavior, particularly in connection with passing on occult knowledge to my new student, called me "a cult leader". I thought about the accusation long and hard and ultimately decided, sure, I can be a little cult leader-y now and then. Having admitted that I can't think of a better candidate for this column than "I'm Not a Seeker I'm a Founder" from Bristol, UK-bred "broccult" Psychedelic trio The Transperonals' 2011 LP 'Kiss Goodbye to Free Will (The Perils of Cheerleading)'.
Blending pretty straightforward rock, guitars, "far Eastern" sitars, and tongue-in-cheek Rap vocals replete with New Age mantras, references to Eastern mysticism, pop-Zen guru Ram Dass (who had come up in a big way during my recent occult journeying), and various occult truisms over a driving backbeat, "I'm Not a Seeker I'm a Founder" is just fucking fun! It's goofy, groovy, and littered with puns, but the guru-speak spouted throughout is often quite prescient, addressing some of the big basic ideas that one must wrestle with in order to think magically and practice any form of "magick" one might put their hand to. During the song's searing six-plus minutes they question reality, stress the importance of sexual union, and even allude to the "particle/wave" conundrum which I've brought up a few times previously in this space. And the fact that it's not super-heavy or heavy-handed just makes it so goddamn perfect for a Monday night excursion into the realm of magickal music.
Other than their name and where they hail from I'm having a bit of trouble finding information on The Transpersonals online. It looks like they've got a couple records under their belt, and their Facebook page looks like it's updated pretty regularly, so there's that. But that's about all I got. Poke around on YouTube some time if you're interested in hearing more of their music. It will definitely pay off for the occult-minded among you.
Music is magick!
Blood-stained hallways, guns, gold-dust, gas masks, and scantily clad babes are just a few of the things you can feast your eyes on in the new video for "All About the Money" from anonymous rapper/producer Spark Master Tape.
"All About the Money" is my current favorite cut from Spark Master Tape's newest LP, 'Silhouette of a Sunkken City', which is available for free download now via DatPiff.
Spark Master Tape
There's blood on the dancefloor in the video for "Ain't Your Girl", a jacktackular House jam from LA-based producers Bixel Boys and intercontinental DJ Poupon!
"Ain't Your Girl" is out now via OWSLA.
Lots of wild shit has been going down in the magickal realm of Imageyenation lately. Understandably, every one of these events has inspired a recent Monday Magick post in some way, and this week is going to be no different. Most recently I've undertaken the education and initiation of a young friend in the practice of my own unique brand of Left Hand magick, which has gotten a whole bunch of weird energy flying around. I've also started a new day gig where I'm forced to listen to Classic Rock radio rather than choose my own background sounds as I've been able to do previously. These conspicuous goings on have, understandably, made me want to take a brief listen to the '70s Rock chestnut "Magic Man" from Heart's 1976 debut album 'Dreamboat Annie'.
Fronted by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, Heart was one of the few female acts to make it big in the world of Hard Rock during the 1970's. As such they were in a unique position to write and perform songs that reflected and spoke to the perspective of a certain rough-n-tumble post-sexual-revolution womanhood. The propulsive, chugging "Magic Man", which tells the story of a rebellious young woman taken in by a svengali-like older man who leads her—her pious and maybe a little prudish mother thinks—astray, is just one of those songs. It's an ages old story—repeated in countless legends, fairy and folk-tales, The Pied Piper, and Arthur Machen's 'The Great God Pan' among them—of familial strife, and offspring taken and somehow "changed" at the hand of a freaky outsider. Is it merely sexual? Or is there something more nefarious (the phrase "let's get high awhile" is used) or dare I say diabolical afoot? Over and over again the strange and powerful interloper is referred to as a "magic man". And while he is also described as having "magic hands", which could be a nod to his perceived sexual prowess, he could easily be exposing the sweet young narrator to candles, goats blood, black masses or even the debauched rituals of sexual magick! Anything was possible in those years between the free-love and new-age-y Aquarian era of the '60s and the '80s which saw a return of McCarthy-style conservative politics and the rise of the anti-occult "Satanic panic". Sure, the song could just be about a horny young girl, but it could also be about a young girl who's horny for the guy with horns, if ya know what I mean?
'Dreamboat Annie' was Heart's debut album which produced another Classic Rock radio staple, "Crazy on You". Apparently the promotion for the album led to certain folks believing Ann and Nancy were involved in an incestuous lesbian relationship. One run-in with a media personality who brought up the non-existent affair inspired another of the band's biggest hits, "Barracuda", the first single from their sophomore LP. Heart was still a pretty big deal during the Satanic panic era, but their career cooled off after that. All indications are that they're still active, recording and touring.
Music is magick!
Spark Master Tape, the rapper/producer known for his bass-heavy chopped-n-screwed esthetic is finally back with the long-awaited follow-up to 2013's 'The #SWOUP Serengeti', a 22-track LP titled 'Silhouette of a Sunkken City'!
Fans of Spark Master Tape's signature low-end-laden beats, pitch-shifted vocals, almost cartoonishly thugged-out subject matter, and shockingly poignant lyricism will not be disappointed.
Hopefully he won't make us wait so long for another serving of the #SWOUP next time.
Download it now for free via Dat Piff below.
Spark Master Tape
I choose to believe that "Drone Bomb Me", the new single from ANOHNI (formerly Antony Hegerty, of Antony and the Johnsons) is not about what it's actually about and therefore not as heavy-handed as it actually is.
It just works too well as a sexy Electro-R&B number to let it go down as a dedication to Obama blowing the shit out of people.
"Drone Bomb Me" is from ANOHNI's forthcoming all electronic LP, 'HOPELESSNESS', which was recorded in collaboration with Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never and is due out May 6th on Secretly Canadian.
The last few months have seen some weird ups and downs here on Monday Magick. Those mood and tone shifts have largely been inspired by my personal life and my feelings about magick as it relates to my daily experience. This week I'd like to get back to the more analytical tone I've frequently taken in this space in the past though. And I plan do so by revisiting "Magic Doors" from Bristol, England-bred Trip-Hop pioneers Portishead's 2008 LP 'Third'.
"Magic Doors" earned this feature in the easiest way possible; it had "magic" in the title. But repeated listens to the song—with it's fractured, almost Meters-esque drum break, cowbell, droney Middle Eastern-inspired instrumentation, dramatic piano chords, and Free-Jazz horn breakdown—revealed deeper layers of relevance to the practitioner of "the dark arts". The lyrics reference change, transformation, desire (a term which is inextricably linked with "the will", a concept that is all important to magick), dreams, and disassociation of the self. That last subject—disassociation—is intrinsic to many forms of magick—from the shamanism of the ancients to the "mind control" techniques unleashed by the MK Ultra program—and the process of initiation in general. When vocalist Beth Gibbons belts the words "I can't deny what I've become", "I can't be someone else", "I'm losing myself" and "I can't divide or hide from me, I don't know who I am" it may sound to some like she's just voicing confusion and unhappiness. But to the initiated it sounds more like a magician wrestling with their experiences both magickal and mundane, and the personality split that is often required of those who engage in magickal thinking and are forced to confront "the dark night of the soul", "The Abyss", Chapel Perilous, or the demon Choronzon. Ego death is never easy. But it never sounded so funky.
Portishead released 'Third' in 2008 after making fans wait over ten years between it and the release of their monumental eponymously titled sophomore LP in 1997. It's been eight years since then and they still haven't released a follow-up. If history is any indication we probably have a lot more waiting to do.
Music is magick!
ScHoolboy Q abandons the bucket-hat and takes thuggin' to all new and totally supernatural heights in the video for his cold-as-fuck new single "Groovy Tony".
"Groovy Tony" is the first single from Q's still-untitled forthcoming follow-up to 2014's outstanding 'Oxymoron', which is due out this year.
Robots are brought to life, with sexy results, in the new clip for Disco-Pop groover "My Toy" from French Electro act Breakbot.
"My Toy" is from Breakbot's sophomore LP 'Still Waters', which is out now on Ed Banger Records.
Over the last few weeks I've been trying to keep things light here on Monday Magick. But this week we're gonna get back to the darkness you've probably come to expect from our weekly magickal musical feature. Well...sort of. Ya see, "Where Evil Grows", the 1971 Psychedelic Folk-Pop single from co-ed Canadian duo The Poppy Family is still kind of light, even though it's totally all about "evil".
Let's face it, despite the devilish title, "Where Evil Grows" is probably a parable about the "dangers" of casual sex. According to the lyrics "evil grows in the dark, where the sun never shines"...Evil grows in "cracks and holes"...Evil "is a part of you" which "grows" whenever the male narrator "looks at" you ...if ya know what I'm sayin'? Maybe I'm way off base here? But the metaphor feels pretty heavy-handed to me. Just about the only other thing "heavy" about "Where Evil Grows" is the diabolical keyboard riff that opens the song and the instrumental break that comes in around a minute and twenty five seconds into the track which prefigures the Grunge sound pioneered by Nirvana about twenty years later. In case you're wondering how the "evils" of sticking growing appendages into dark orifices fall under the subject of "magick" (if you don't know that all magick is sexual, and all sex magickal I don't know what to tell you) the final verse of the song finds lead vocalist Terry Jacks waxing Thelemic by pledging not to violate the "will" of his sexual/magickal partner. So there.
"Where Evil Grows" was taken from The Poppy Family's second and final LP 'Poppy Seeds' which was released by London Records in 1971. 'Poppy Seeds' remains a bit of a vinyl rarity and has apparently not made it to modern music formats. Group members Susan and Terry Jacks both went on to release solo albums. Terry is perhaps still best remembered for his hit single from 1974 "Seasons in the Sun".
Music is magick!
A bearded man, his skull, a sexy girl, strange rituals and mysterious hooded figures feature in this lo-fi home movie-style clip for pounding Electro-Rock anthem "Schedel" from Amsterdam-based "Doom-Pop" act Jonkoklapper!
"Schedel"—which translates to English as "Skull"—is from Jonkoklapper's self-tiled debut album which is due out April 7th.
Spark Master Tape delivers more staggeringly surreal street visuals, and gets censored by the Illuminati for it, in the new video for "Tenkkeys", a trap-meets-boom-bap concoction of trunk-denting 808 bass and expertly chosen samples.
"Tenkkeys" is from Spark's still forthcoming 'Silhouette of a Sunkken City', which is no due out April 15th.
Spark Master Tape
The last few weeks have been pretty fucking terrible. As such I've made a handful of attempts at posting "feel good" songs in this space rather than the dark-n-gloomy shit Monday Magick is often known for. Sadly, last week ended with a real kick in the gut. As such, this week's entry, "I Believe in You" from LA-based-but-Portland-bred Synthpop act YACHT's 2007 LP 'I Believe in You. Your Magic is Real.' is going to continue the trend by being unbelievably upbeat to make up for how crappy my life is.
Built around plucky repetitive Punk-inspired guitars and rinky-dink organs that ride waves of deep programmed bass, "I Believe in You" splits the difference between live-band Indie Rock and studio-whiz-kid Electronica. Vocally and lyrically it owes something to the surreal goofiness and arty nerdiness of groundbreaking Indie/Alternative acts like the Talking Heads, the B-52's, and They Might Be Giants with its narrator, YACHT frontman Jona Bechtolt, spewing forth a silly stream of conscious line of hypothetical questions designed to inspire more magickal thinking and behavior in the listener. The real magick however comes from the chorus, where a sweet female vocal intones via a catchy-as-hell melody that "Your magic's real" and asks "why aren't you using it" before assuring us that "the magic" inside us "is infinite". The positivity of being urged "not to worry" about using one's inner magic, that we can use it to literally reshape our reality and "have the world to yourself", and that that magic is "infinite" is practically overwhelming. Over the years YACHT have slipped a lot of magickal messages into their music, but "I Believe in You" is particularly magickal in the most life affirming way possible.
When it was released in 2007 I assumed that the title 'I Believe in You. Your Magic is Real.' was drawn from Michael Jackson's then-recent MTV Awards speech where he made a similar declaration while thanking street magician David Blaine. After several years and several very magickal releases from YACHT which have belied a deeper understanding of the occult in general and Illuminism in particular I'm not so sure. Their most recent record, 'I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler' was released late last year. They're on tour through the Spring.
Music is magick.
Watch A$AP Ferg and guests ScHoolboy, Meechy Dark of Flatbush ZOMBiES, and Young Dirty Bastard get their vintage '90s thug shit on in the new video for the grimy-ass banger "Let it Bang"!
"Let it Bang" is from Ferg's forthcoming sophomore LP 'Always Strive And Prosper' which is due out April 22nd.