Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Aug 28th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Switched On

event ShpongleShpongle’s extraterrestrial electronica brings psychedelic music full circle

Four decades ago, Pink Floyd unveiled what was arguably history’s first psychedelic trance song: a synthesizer-driven instrumental called “On the Run.” Listening to that piece today, it isn’t difficult to imagine Pink Floyd as electronic music’s answer to Marty McFly, the time-traveler who played rock music for a pre-rock and roll audience in Back to the Future. “In times ahead, psychedelic music will be played on electronic instruments,” the band seemed to be saying. “Your grandkids are gonna love this stuff.”

Many moons later, electronica has become the music of choice for the psychedelic community, as anyone who has attended Burning Man can attest. As if to announce that we are now fully immersed in the future that Pink Floyd envisioned, the psychedelic trance band Shpongle has chosen to end its latest album, Museum of Consciousness, with “Tickling the Amygdala,” a spacey piece whose midsection mimics the rolling 16th-note synth sequence from “On the Run.”

Simon Posford, the “hallucinogenius” who guides Shpongle’s tonal travels, isn’t surprised to see the psychedelic counterculture embracing digitally generated music. “I think that when you are in a psychedelic state of consciousness, the appealing sounds are otherworldly, alien and unique,” he offers. “You don’t really want to hear a singer warbling about love lost, love gained, or earthly matters; you want to be lost in the universe among the cosmos and surreal dimensions whilst reality shatters around you. Electronic sounds, by their very nature, aid that experience.”

Posford, who got his start as a recording engineer, is known for his innovative production style. Making imaginative use of elements like layering, effects and panning, he crafts soundscapes so thick and multidimensional that even after many listens, there are still new treasures to be found. 

Shpongle incorporates cutting-edge electronic technology into its visual presentation as well as its sound. At live shows, Posford performs inside the Shpongletron, a DJ booth surrounded by screens and surfaces adorned with video-mapped images. At Shpongle’s Catalyst gig on March 11, he and his band will show off the Shpongletron 3.0, which makes use of LEDs, projection mapping and infinity mirrors (mirrors set up in such a way as to create an endless series of reflections). Posford feels that this king-sized trip toy is Shpongletron creator Peter Berdovsky’s best work ever. “Together with the music, it creates an immersive psychedelic world,” he notes.

Conspicuously absent from the “10 or 11” musicians who comprise Shpongle’s current lineup is Posford’s longtime collaborator Raja Ram, one of the pioneers of psychedelic trance music. “He doesn’t like to tour,” Posford explains. “He’s 73 years old—the last thing he wants to do is sit on a tour bus playing six shows a week. He did it all in the 1960s. He’d rather be with his granddaughter and play special shows like Red Rocks in Colorado.”

Truth be told, Posford would just as soon follow Ram’s lead. Asked if insufficient technology is holding him back from fulfilling any of his artistic ambitions, he playfully notes, “It would be nice to have a clone to send out on tour while I stay in the studio.”

As long as we’re dreaming up sci-fi scenarios, perhaps Posford had some thoughts on what the psychedelic music of the future will sound like?

Not one for false humility, the DJ ventures, “Shpongle?” Then he stretches his imagination a little further: “Who says we’ll be listening to music in the future? Maybe we will just be brains in a fish tank immersed in an ocean of consciousness, beyond sound and beyond color.” 


Shpongle plays at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 11 at The Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $18/adv, $23/door. For more information, call 423-1338.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Meaning of ‘LIFE’

With a new documentary film about his work, and huge exhibits on both coasts, acclaimed Santa Cruz nature photographer Frans Lanting is having a landmark year. But his crusade for conservation doesn’t leave much time for looking back

 

Seasons of Opportunity

Everything in our world has a specific time (a season) in which to accomplish a specific work—a “season” that begins (opportunity) and ends (time’s up). I can feel the season is changing. The leaves turning colors, the air cooler, sunbeams casting shadows in different places. It feels like a seasonal change has begun in the northern hemisphere. Christmas is in four months, and 2015 is swiftly speeding by. Soon it will be autumn and time for the many Festivals of Light. Each season offers new opportunities. Then the season ends and new seasons take its place. Humanity, too, is given “seasons” of opportunity. We are in one of those opportunities now, to bring something new (Uranus) into our world, especially in the United States. Times of opportunity can be seen in the astrology chart. In the U.S. chart, Uranus (change) joins Chiron (wound/healing). This symbolizes a need to heal the wounds of humanity. Uranus offers new archetypes, new ways of doing things. The Uranus/Chiron (Aries/Pisces) message is, “The people of the U.S. are suffering. New actions are needed to bring healing and well-being to humanity. So the U.S. can fulfill its spiritual task of standing within the light and leading humanity within and toward the light.” Thursday, Aquarius Moon, Mercury enters Libra. The message, “To bring forth the new order in the world, begin with acts of Goodwill.” Goodwill produces right relations with everyone and everything. The result is a world of progressive well-being and peacefulness (which is neither passive nor the opposite of war). Saturday is the full moon, the solar light of Virgo streaming into the Earth. Our waiting now begins, for the birth of new light at winter solstice. The mother (hiding the light of the soul, the holy child), identifying the feminine principle, says, “I am the mother and the child. I, God (Father), I Matter (Mother), We are One.”

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

His Dinner With David

Author + reporter = brainy talk in ‘End of the Tour’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Land of Plenty

Farm to Fork benefit dinner for UCSC’s Agroecology Center, plus a zippy salsa from Teresa’s Salsa that loves every food it meets

 

If you knew you had one week to live, what would you do?

Make peace with myself, which would allow me to be at peace with others. Diane Fisher, Santa Cruz, Network Engineer

 

Comanche Cellars

Michael Simons, owner and winemaker of Comanche Cellars, once had a trusted steed called Comanche, which was part of his paper route and his rodeo circuit, from the tender age of 10. In memory of this beautiful horse, he named his winery Comanche, and Comanche’s shoes grace the label of each handcrafted bottle.

 

Cantine Winepub

Aptos wine and tapas spot keeps it casual