02 March 2005



We can look back now, from the crunched-time of 2088, almost a century to the day from the so-called second Summer of Love (itself a spawn of earlier, soft-time), to consider that Western Civilization's treatments of 'drug music' has progressed on a similar span to our own; one of echo and regurgitation, of considered length and of appropriation, most notably that of the now dead cultures of Magic and Voudon.

Our ancestors drug music, we can see now, attempted to see parallels where there were none.

To begin with, we need to understand that music and drugs have long cross-polled and that the music that later became known, quaint though it now seems, as elec(k)tronica worshipped very different Gods to our own, hence the proliferation of 'tribal' and 'trance' in the lexicon of that primitive time, itself a paranoiac mirroring of non-industrialised manifestation rituals.

We can smirk, but this was a time when Kundalini-Autism were considered separate powers, used by the few, often at the expense of the many.

We need also to understand that the drugs music axis existed in a different way back then; music was considered either as a metaphorical substitute for chemical overpowermentalisms or as a spiritual guide, or enhancement to chemical pleasure.

But this was not all, and here matters get a little confusing to modern minds.

The drugs/music axis contained a third strain, one which has confused anthropologists for decades. This strain used drugs as a social/theoretical marketing tool, using everyday magical plants like Salvia Divinorum as a kind of incantation, designed to sell records (itself almost an absurd conceit when considered in the light of the Creation Laws). Here, the drugs and the music are simultaneously together and separate; so that music that mentions (invokes) the plant, or is even named after it, bears almost no relationship to the plant or it's metaphysical/ chemical action, which as everyone knows refuses to accept sound in any quantity and especially in the quantities (characterised by the same 'acid' 803 squiggles and rollinmg drums of 'trance-like' LSD and Ecstacy songs) served up. In short, this music neither echoes nor contributes to the Salvia Experience as we know it because the people who made the music had never had a Salvia Experience.

This of course, reverses the trend in anthropological thinking that suggests that Human brainchemistry must have changed in the last 75 or so years.

The trend in mid1960s to mid2020s drug music (especially that termed 'psychedelic') to include psychnoodlers, fuzzed grumblers, stonedwashed wailers and ambient crumpers has been well documented* but what is often missed out of the histories is that the cause of this was not neurochemical but ambisocial: a consequence of Humans confusing what is bearable under the influence of 'narcotics' with the music that actually relates to the neurochemistry in a meangingful way, either by describing the experience or adding to it (via the mysterious Learyistic scene-setting capabilities).

It is true that our ancestors did come up with passable drug music (and this may be regarded as homogenuinely related to modern neuropops), especially with regard to the now unlocal XTC (seemingly pronounced Eck-stass-see) but there were many more failed attempts, some of which can be heard on archaic recordings like 100 years of Sunshine, recently released in its original Stereo.

One artist of this prim understandments, however, may now be seen to be a direct descendent of the neuropop phenomena, and it is to these that we turn now:


The two humans behind Coil, though perhaps illiterate and nonsensical (check the spelling of the 'singers' name as a sign of emerging dyslex) appeared to understand the complex symbiosis of music and lysergic/psilocybinoid experience, in particular the twin prongs of existential terror and amusement and the (now explicit) understanding that while everything runs inevitably towards chaos and entropical delusion (predicted in the Aged Law of Thermodynamics) there is never a good reason not to dance madly in the middle of it all, grinning madly and laughing and just begging a little mental illness to slide your way.

Coil - AYOR

yousendit file

A.Y.O.R encapsulates this dichotomy perfectly; it rushes quickly from almost mournful drones (cf; mushroom sickness in pre-synth days) to ecstatic echolalic tonguespeak, the drums tumbling over themselves to get out of the dark and into the light, the 803 acid squiggles subtly deranged to sound like a thousand laughing and malevolent Roeg dwarves.

The key here is time.

Whilst most of their peers attempted to mimic the ecstatic 'tribal' drumming of the Dark Planets, thus misrepresenting pre-industrial messages for industrial ones and forcing the length of each track to a harfbending minimum of 8 minutes, the Coil humans get it over with quickly. Shedding in and shedding out, the trip concealed and concretized without the calming influence of stretch. A neuropop tight 3.5 minutes and it's all over. They don't equate lysergicity with length - which always seems insane to modern ears bearing in mind the time-stretching quality of LSD and psilocybin - and they simply put their heads down, crank up the generators and dance their polycarbones off.

*see, for example, Eyes Wider Than Faces: a neurochymical journey into sonart and tribalations by Ewester Plaid, Harper Edge, New York

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