Lucifer Rising

Every now and then, the consumption of art brings us into an uneasy moral conflict. The fact that Roman Polanski abused a 13 year old certainly doesn’t make it easier to like his movies. And it definitely got harder to enjoy Noir Désir, after singer Bertrand Cantat killed his girlfriend. Is it legit to listen to music made by a murderer? This question also looms heavily over the work of Bobby Beausoleil.

Bobby Beausoleil

Bobby Beausoleil recorded most of his discography in jail. The circumstances of his crime are quite confusing, as there are a lot of contradicting testimonies and just as many contradicting theories surrounding them. Even Beausoleil himself modified his story of the incident over the years.

According to Beausoleil’s latest version, it all goes back to a drug deal at the infamous Spahn Ranch, where the Manson Family found a home in the Summer of Love. Beausoleil was supposed to organize drugs for a rocker gang and got ripped off by the dealer Gary Hinman, who sold him bad mescaline. He paid Hinman a visit to demand the gang’s money back and the situation got out of control as Charles Manson arrived on the scene, slicing off a part of Hinman’s ear with a sword. After Manson left, it took Beausoleil over 24 hours to take the fatal decision of stabbing Hinman, as Manson had commanded.

Beausoleil was arrested on August 6, 1969. Two days later, Manson proclaimed Helter Skelter, which cost the lives of over a dozen people, a fact that certainly wasn’t to the advantage of Beausoleil’s trial. The promising guitarist was sentenced to death. His music would have remained unheard, if the death penalty wouldn’t have been abandoned in California in 1972. Considering the limitations of recording in prison, Beausoleil’s innovative mixture of progressive, electronic and pastoral sounds is astonishing. His opus magnum is the soundtrack Lucifer Rising, a suite he started composing when he was still a free man.

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When director Kenneth Anger first witnessed a performance of Beausoleil and his Orkustra in 1967, he was instantly struck by the charisma of the young guitarist. “You’re Lucifer”, Anger reportedly said, as he approached Beausoleil after the show to ask him whether he wanted to play the main role in his next movie. Beausoleil agreed, under the condition that he could record the soundtrack for Lucifer Rising.

It took over ten years until the project finally got realized, as the director and the musician ended up in dispute after they first started working on the movie. In 1970s, Anger revived the project and asked Jimmy Page to do the soundtrack. As Anger wasn’t satisfied with the score of the guitarist of Led Zeppelin, Beausoleil took over and assembled a group of fellow convicts to record the soundrack. The grandeur of his suite surpasses the awkward movie, which finally came out in 1980. The inner movie the music creates makes the film somewhat redundant.

 

Though most of the members of Beausoleil’s Freedom Orchestra didn’t get much out of the movie, the composer was apparently moved by it, as he saw the story as an allegory of his biography. Just like the fallen angel Lucifer, Beausoleil had been abandoned from everything he loved and was struggling to overcome his doom. Music was his way to find freedom within the prison walls.

The mighty 4LP-Boxset The Lucifer Rising Suite released by The Ajna Offensive documents the sheer creativity of the Freedom Orchestra. Besides the soundtrack, they recorded another one and a half hours of material, some of it stunningly innovative. The track Metamorph gives an example of the free form wizzardism the Freedom Orchestra developed behind the bars:

 

But who is this man born on November 6, 1947, christened Robert Kenneth Beausoleil? Truman Capote investigated Beausoleil’s feeling of guilt during a visit in the San Quentin prison and published it in the form of the short story And It All Came Down. In the interview, Beausoleil denies to divide actions into good and bad, showing absolutely no empathy with its victim. However, Capote’s text seems to be mostly fiction, as Beausoleil stated several times. More recent interviews picture a character that regrets his killing. A person that went through a transition from a violent outlaw to a humble artist.

Beausoleil, now aged 67, remains imprisoned until today in Oregon State Penitentiary, where he keeps on painting and making music. After 45 years in prison, Beausoleil has been denied supervised release 17 times already. On February 25 this year, his current parole hearing has been postponed without further explanation.

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Биоконструктор

We’ve been hearing a lot of bad news from Russia lately. To change this for an instance, we have a charming transmission from Биоконструктор (Biokonstruktor). The clip recorded in 1988 has only survived in poor quality, but it definitely proofs that new wave arrived in the USSR, although with some years delay.

 

Биоконструктор recorded one sole album, which was only available on Reel-to-Reel-Tape, until it got reissued on CD in 1994. Luckily, four tracks can be found on vinyl too. Side A of the split-album with Прощай, Молодость! has room enough to show the modest artistry of this band. Synthetic swansongs to dwell in the nostalgia of a cold past behind the iron curtain.

Full Moon Mix: Cosmic Library

As the full moon slowly rises above these headquarters, we launch the first installment in a series of monthly mixes. The first episode is dedicated to the wet dream of the avid record collector: library music. The nerdy reader might be aware of these strange records, intended to accompany film and tv.

Library records are sought after mostly for their funky drum breaks, but they occasionally also deliver electronic delights. So do the sessions collected for this mix. The studio musicians involved in these recordings, which date back to the late seventies and early eighties, enjoyed a freedom that allowed them to experiment, time being the only limit. What they created sounds like music for astronauts. Cosmic soundscapes to advertise space travel.

1. Trevor Bastow – Kinetic Research (Bruton Music)
2. Sauveur Mallia – Uranium Astral (Tele Music)
3. Astral Sounds – Compression Ratio (Music De Wolfe)
4. Jean-Pierre Decerf & Gérard Zajd – Reaching Infinite (CAM)
5. Rick Miller – Future Directions (Parry Music)
6. Keith Mansfield – The Plus Factor (KPM Music)
7. Ariel Kalma – Barimpa (Editions Montparnasse 2000)
8. Pierre Alain Dahan & Slim Pezin – Neo Rythmiques (Tele Music)
9. Klaus Weiss – Walking Drums (Golden Ring Records)
10. Gerhard Trede – Montage 1 (Selected Sound)
11. Bernard Fevre – Fantasm (L’Illustration Musicale)
12. Peter Patzer – CPU (Crea Music)
13. Georges Rodi – Outer Galaxie (Crea Sound)
14. Arsen Gedik – Neptune (Musical Touch Sound)
15. Christian Poulet – De Zero A L’Infini (KoKa Media)
16. John Cameron – Flotation (Bruton Music)

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Welcome to the Moon Lagoon

This is a journey into sound. Expect the unexpeted as we venture into the suburbs of this town called music. In the far-flung corners of popular culture we dig through the debris of decades gone by. Buried under James Last LPs, Madonna maxi singles, Metallica CDs and ipods filled with The Killers, we find music that suits our ears. Ghost musicians that feed our hungry hearts.

The me that assembles these sounds gravitates towards all kinds of genres. However, the music you will find on this here page is rather peculiar. Most of it is obscure and long forgotten. Moon Lagoon is a place to honor the underrated underdogs. Nameless synth pioneers, little known studio musicians, unsung singer-songwriters and jazz bands omitted by the history books of jazz.

Our starting point is a track predestined to open this ceremony of otherworldly sounds, Drachentrommler by the mysterious Clara Mondshine. Like a few other releases on Klaus Schulze’s label Innovative Communication, the enchanting album Luna Africana is enjoyable in either 33 or 45 rpm. Be it fast or slow, this stellar song illuminates the night.

45 RPM (intended speed)

 

33 RPM