Matthew Levi Stevens :
One of the main projects that lead to the formation of Act of Faith in 1984 was an attempt to record ambient sounds & textures that would provide an appropriate accompaniment to Pathworkings or Rituals exploring the Tunnels of Set. We used the information outlined in Kenneth Grant’s ‘Nightside of Eden’ – the actual notes & pitch given, the names and how they should be sounded, etc. – and put this together with our experiments with ritual instruments, analogue synthesis, and ‘hands-on’ tape manipulation.
I would be interested in knowing how other members of this page may have made use of music and sound: the actual use of instruments in a ritual context, or selections of recorded material that have aided or facilitated meditation, Pathworkings, visualisation, etc. From simple ‘mood music’ to functional ritual soundtracks.
The tapes were recorded back in 1984, mostly on fairly basic, crude equipment - although we did have the use of an old twin-oscillator analogue synth that had belonged to Throbbing Gristle (one of those with a patch-bay, a Korg?), and the loan of a simple 4-channel mixer from Coil (the same one that Sleazy had used to mix tapes for the early Zos Kia/Coil gigs). The primary composers/performers were myself and my then (artistic & musical) partner, Raoul V. It was put together from synth pulses & tones, textures created through manipulation of tape (often looped) on an old reel-to-reel, and use of instruments such as the infamous Tibetan thighbone trumpet, singing bowl, and damaru… real Post-Industrial ‘musique concrete’ meets Ritual Ambience!
The ethnic instruments - which we could never have afforded at the time - were provided by our friend Dave Philbedge, who was then Manager of the ‘Tibet Shop’ in Coptic Street, near the British Museum in London (incidentally the supplier of just such instruments to Psychic TV, 23 Skidoo & Current 93). For added ‘Thelemic’ atmosphere, we also made use of Aleister Crowley’s Enochian Chants - from the same tape that David Tibet made use of in Current 93, and released as the LP ‘The World As Power’ - we all got them from the same source… And also the sound of the surf washing up on the beach at Cefalu, which an Italian friend had sent us. ‘Pen-pals’ all over the world then…
Our friend Geff Rushton was supposed to be involved - but after being on ‘LAShTAL’ at the start of the year he suddenly decided he didn’t want to be involved in another Crowley-themed project so soon; also the guy behind Zero Kama/Nekrophile Rekords was going to send us recordings of instruments made from bones (his specialty at the time!) but it didn’t happen. Also Min (from Zos Kia) recorded some sibilant muttering and chanting for us to use…
We were young at the time (17), and very much under the influence of our older friends, as we all began to move away from more ‘Industrial’ sounds towards ideas concerning ambience, imaginary soundtracks, ritual, etc. Whether it would have worked as an actual ‘release’ I very much doubt, but it is perhaps of some interest as an ‘historical artifact’ - it was certainly ‘effective’ for the purpose it was created for. Friends are looking into the possibility of salvaging the tapes, cleaning it up to see if ‘something can be done with it’. I’ll certainly keep you all Posted.
Thanks All for your kind interest: Fra MLS