Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 29th
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


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Santa Cruz Gives

A look at the organizations we’re asking you to support in our new holiday giving campaign


Gratitude—For Each New Morning With its Light

The full moon of Wednesday brings light to Thanksgiving (Thursday) under the Sagittarius Sun and Mercury. Mercury in Sag offers humanity the message (Mercury) of thankfulness and joy (Jupiter). No other sign represents food, music and joy better than Sagittarius (only Pisces, when not in despair). Beginning on Thanksgiving, we can list what we’re grateful for. Then we can continue the list, creating a daily Gratitude Journal. What we are grateful for always increases in our lives. On Thanksgiving Saturn/Neptune square (challenging) is in full effect. This can manifest as traditions not being honored, disappearing, falling away. It can also create a sense of sadness, confusion, of things not working out as planned. It’s best to be as simple as possible. And to focus on gratitude instead. Gratitude is a service to others. It is scientifically and occultly a releasing agent. Releasing us from the past, allowing our future—the new culture and civilization, the new Aquarian laws and principles, the rising light of Aquarius, the Age of Friendship and Equality—to come forth. Gratitude and goodwill create the “thought-form of solution for humanity and the world’s problems.” The hierarchy lays great emphasis upon expressing gratitude. Gratitude illuminates all that is in darkness. Let us be grateful during this season together. Being, for others, the light that illuminates the darkness. A Poem by R.W. Emerson: We are grateful … “For each new morning with its light/For rest and shelter of the night/For health and food/For love and friends/For everything thy goodness sends.” (poem by R.W. Emerson). I am grateful for my family of readers.


The New Tech Nexus

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


Pluck of the Irish

Mid-century immigrant tale engagingly told in ‘Brooklyn’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Second Street Café

Pies and tarts for all tastes—from traditional to adventurous


How are you preparing for El Niño?

Getting ready to buy some rain gear. Cory Pickering, Santa Cruz, Teaching Assistant


Fortino Winery

Cabernet and superb fruit wine from Fortino Winery


Tap Dance

West End Tap & Kitchen’s impressive menu to expand to Eastside location