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Lost Highway Suite
Born in Graz, in 1968, the Austrian modern classical composer Olga Neuwirth began to play the trumpet at age seven and later studied composition at the University of Performing Arts Vienna, as well as the Electroacoustic Institute. She went on to work with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Flanders and, also as Composer-in-Residence, at the Lucerne Festival, followed by a long list of other noteworthy academic achievements. The present composition is basically cheerful, it certainly knows many moments of humor and occasional outbursts of warmth and joy, but it leaves me nervous and confused as to its direction. Have I been here before, is this a refrain, a parable for our disoriented times? Incredibly dense, monotonously electronic, mildly threatening, this impressive work of contemporary music combines an endless variety of musical styles and directions. Eminently worth listening to in these dramatic times! (sgs)
Lost Highway Records, 2008
The Grateful Dead internet archive – gives you access to the recordings of hundreds of their concerts, including rehearsals. If there is an intrinsic order to this treasure trove of information, I have not been able to discover it: concerts as early as 1966 mingle freely with much later dates to provide us with a mosaic of unsuspected dimension, not only taking us all across California but across the entire US, as well as around the world, including legendary venues such as the Fillmore Theater and the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco. There is much more: Live at Madison Square Garden, New York City, on 15 September 1990, for instance, gives us twenty-three tracks; Live at the Parc des Expositions, Paris, on 18 September 1974, boast twenty-six, entirely different tracks. (sgs)
Was It Not
The American singer-songwriter duo from Philadelphia met in high school. Both went on to study music. Their distinctive sound makes them stand out, the clear and concise voice of the versatile Samantha Gongol meanders over the rich carpet of ideas introduced by producer Jeremy Lloyd. Marion Hill have been covered an inordinate number of times over the last few years so that they have not been forgotten. The title song of their new album, their first in four years, “was it not” tells the story of a love that happened too long ago to be accurately remembered. It’s a melancholy song for melancholy times. Samantha Gogol brings to it the purity of her voice, sounding sweet and capable of expressing a wide range of emotions. (sgs)
Self-Released, March 2020
Light of Love
Florence and the Machine
The proceedings of this song, on outtake from their High as Hope album, go to the British Intensive Care Society. This is the acoustic version, rendered by Florence Welch with natural beauty while in self isolation in her home. For me this song also stands for all the performers who have had to perform without an audience lately. Performing out of your home is much more intimate than standing on a stage supported by the energy of hundreds or thousands of people merging into one big mass. You can’t hide who you are, you can only hide a little where you live, everything happens right in your face. In that sense, the camera was not too persistent in the case of Florence, and I hope it made it easier for her to bare her soul, which is what singers do in moments like this. Thank you! (sgs)
Virgin, June 2018/ April 2020
Persuance: The Coltranes
“New York City altoist Lakecia Benjamin has assembled an intergenerational cast of all-stars for this tribute to John and Alice Coltrane.” (Thomas Rees, Jazzwise)
The dynamic young saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin delivers her masterwork, a cohesive walk through the lineage of the jazz artform and her third full-length release. As Abiodun Oyewole said about the legendary album A Love Supreme: “Coltrane was a vessel, taking us to the house of god, he spoke to god in the language god knew, in the language of sound.” With this release, Benjamin opens herself up as such a vessel, speaking timeless truths through her horn over the medium of Coltrane’s classic compositions alongside elders of this artform who bore witness to the conception of this material. Three generations of musical titans gathered to celebrate and further the message of the great maestros of this improvisational artform, John and Alice Coltrane.
Ropeadope Records, March 2020
First of all, I apologize for not having thought to find out who wrote the Corona poem that I published in the March goodnews. It is by the poet, author and editor Kristin Flyntz. And did you know that we possibly owe our consciousness to a primal virus that settled in our brain a long time ago? There it combined its genetic code with that of our distant ancestors. This tiny code is still active within us, bundling genetic information and sending it from one nerve cell to the next in small virus-like capsules. These packets of information could play a critical role in how nerves communicate and reorganize themselves over time, which in turn is a prerequisite for a higher thinking function. (Cell, 20181/11) Someone who could think (and talk) up a storm was the cultural anthropologist Terence McKenna, who died twenty years ago this April, and who would have appreciated this kind of information. His book True Hallucinations is still way ahead of its time and a must read for any psychonaut. You also need to see the online Tribute to Terence McKenna his brother Dennis McKenna staged (link below). I haven’t seen every conversation, but my favorite episode so far shows Dennis with Bruce Damer, who advocates a culture of compassionate sharing, whereas Dennis shows the kind of attitude towards drugs and life in general I would like to see more of.
So far so good,
Susanne G. Seiler
Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.
Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.
Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding,
Even the paving.
Our hammers, our rams,
Earless and eyeless,
Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We
Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!
We are shelves, we are
Tables, we are meek,
We are edible,
Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:
We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot’s in the door.
Abide as That. Ramana Maharshi & the Song of Ribhu
Jason Brett Serle
Sri Ramana Maharshi (Venkataraman Iyer) was a Hindu sage and enlightened teacher, born in 1867 in Tamil Nadu, India, where he died in 1950. He left a large body of teachings, often in the form of answers to questions by his students or commentaries on Advaita Vedanta. The Ribhu Gita or Song of Ribhu, was his favorite passage of the Shivarahasya Purana, a mainstay of Shiva and Shaivite worship. “In the same tradition as the Bhagavad Gita or the Ashtavakra Gita, the Ribhu Gita, literally the Song of Ribhu represents the highest declaration of Advaita Vedanta, spoken by the enlightened sage Ribhu to his disciple Nidagha on the slopes of Mount Kedara in the Himalayas.” Jason Brett Serle is an English writer, musician, filmmaker and NLP Master whose love of Ramana Maharshi and his supreme clarity has led him to annotate this classical text. (sgs)
Mantra Books, October 2019
The Buddha’s Wizards. Magic, Protection and Healing in Burmese Buddhism
Thomas Nathan Patton
In Myanmar or Burma, the belief in traditional healing, in wizards, their powers, in cures and curses, is still widespread though the art went underground when strongman Ne Winran ruled the country (from 1962-1988). Witchcraft is rare in Buddhism, The Buddha’s Wizards is a “historically informed ethnographic study that explores the supernatural landscape of Buddhism in Myanmar to explain the persistence of wizardry as a form of lived religion in the modern era.” The author is assistant professor of Buddhist and Southeast Asian studies at the City University of Hong Kong. He does not only discuss the everyday aspects of religious belief but also analyzes the political situation in a country that has remained largely hidden from western view. (sgs)
University Press, April 2020
Notes from an Apocalypse. A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back
As a father of two young children, Mark O’Connell finds himself worrying whether the times we live in justifies having kids when so many are talking – and expecting – the apocalypse. He decided to visit some of the groups who bank their lives on this gloomy view, following up on people who think about TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) – but only all of the time. O’Donnell didn’t know what was about to happen when he reported on preppers, white supremacists, the death zone of Chernobyl or billionaires who move to New Zealand to avoid the worse. We follow him as he tracks down a diverging posse of people with alternative to extreme worldviews, and he make us laugh, about their conspiracies, their clumsy acronyms, their arsenals of survival and their literal way of coping with life every step of the way to hell. (sgs)
Penguin Random House, April 2020
Entangled Life. How fungi mark our worlds, change our minds and shape our futures
“In Entangled Life, the brilliant young biologist Merlin Sheldrake shows us the world from a fungal point of view, providing an exhilarating change of perspective. Sheldrake’s vivid exploration takes us from yeast to psychedelics, to the fungi that range for miles underground and are the largest organisms on the planet, to those that link plants together in complex networks known as the ‘Wood Wide Web,’ to those that infiltrate and manipulate insect bodies with devastating precision. Fungi throw our concepts of individuality and even intelligence into question. They are metabolic masters, earth makers, and key players in most of life’s processes. They can change our minds, heal our bodies, and even help us remediate environmental disaster. By examining fungi on their own terms, Sheldrake reveals how these extraordinary organisms—and our relationships with them—are changing our understanding of how life works.“
Penguin/Random House, May 2020
Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day
Shetty writes, “I grew up in a family where you could become one of three things: a doctor, a lawyer, or a failure. My family was convinced I had chosen option three. Instead of attending my college graduation ceremony, I headed to India to become a monk, to meditate every day for 4–8 hours and devote my life to helping others.” After three years, one of his teachers told him that he would have more impact on the world if he left the monk’s path to share his experience and wisdom with others. Heavily in debt, and with no recognizable skills on his resume, he moved back home to north London with his parents. Shetty reconnected with old school friends—many working for some of the world’s largest corporations—who were experiencing tremendous stress, pressure, and unhappiness, and they invited Shetty to coach them on wellbeing, purpose, and mindfulness.
Simon & Schuster, April 2020
By the numbers
nature | National Geographic, 30 March 2020
How animals count
psychoactive | New York Times, 1 April 2020
The search for a predictable cannabis high
psychoactive | Futurism, 2 April 2020
The twenty best oil brands
life | The Economist, 4 April 2020
Making chocolate in the jungle
science | Freethink, 4 April 2020
Clinical trials on plant-based SAR-Cov-2 vaccine underway
life | Mother Jones, 4 April 2020
New York chefs feed hospitality workers
science | Inverse, 6 April 2020
New physics for forty-year old technique
nature | Smithsonian, 6 April 2020
African monkeys came to South America more than 30 million years ago
culture | The Atlantic, 8 April 2020
Watch, listen and learn for free
life | Mother Jones, 10 April 2020
How two black sisters are fighting inequality in New York
life | The Guardian, 10 April 2020
The future of traveling by train
science | Futurism, 11 April 2020
Ring detects Covid-19 ahead of symptoms
psychoactive | Inverse, 13 April 2020
How psilocybin recalibrates the brain
life | Futurism, 13 April 2020
Pope Francis endorses universal basic income
culture | Hyperallergic, 13 April 2020
Artists teach kids online in English and Spanish
science | British Psychological Society, 15 April 2020
Satirical study of online interactions
psychoactive | Rolling Stone, 20 April 2020
Cannabis beverages more widely available in the US
eco | The Guardian, 21 April 2020
After lockdown: great plans for pedestrians and cyclists
eco | The Conversation, 21 April 2020
Popular in Malawi and elsewhere in Africa
culture | First Dog on the Moon, 24 April 2020
Are bats to blame?