as though i didn't know already that the source of life is an absolute mystery
by sam ashley

with 'blue' gene tyranny, marina thies and cécile bouchier
-- kubus -- sat 25. feb. 2006 -- 8:30 pm

using omens in the composition of music.

'reading omens means something like the projection of a question onto a screen, to objectify the answers that come back. beyond that the process can probably never be explained, since omens occur whenever one notices that the universe can't be explained. the screen can be any action or event. one could say that omens are experiences that are metaphors for another experience. this is interesting because 'reality' is such a metaphor, a dream about the true nature of the universe.' [sam ashley]

in this piece two musicians play together, but they don't hear each other. sam ashley performs songs at the first floor at podewils' palais while blue gene tyranny plays the piano. live video is the only material link between them. the video helps establish their relationship, but doesn't communicate musical cues. their performances are recorded, and after an intermission the music is mixed and presented together with the video. the public can listen for 'coincidences' that occurred in the performances.

like a fish clinging to water

about 24 years ago i was infatuated. i was infatuated with the dream of a 'wild man of borneo' life, hanging around in hammocks with people exclusively devoted to mysticism. since they didn't exist, the people i was chasing were kept out of reach by my desire. instead i had another adventure, coincidentally related to the lesson i was learning, an omen.

i had gone to amazonas. after a short time in a small colombian village on the amazon river i went by boat to iquitos peru.

in amazonas i had been through a lot of military checkpoints. and in the towns teenage soldiers carrying machine guns offended my sensibilities (the usa is like this now, but that's another story). in protest i took secret spy photographs: pictures of military things, especially when photographing was forbidden. after a few weeks i had gone pretty far into this project, and had even snuck onto a military airbase to take secret spy photographs of army airplanes. that time i had gotten away, but i had almost been caught.

dumbly, i went further, and tried to photograph at a state-owned oil drilling field located some distance from iquitos. a friend from iquitos had accompanied me. he and i had separated, and he was arrested. the army had also captured my camera -- and the pictures from the military airbase were still on the half exposed roll. i saw troops of soldiers with lights and rifles, looking for me. the government sent the pip (high level federal police, like the american fbi) after me.

while i was being chased by the 'death squad' i tried to find a way to help my friend get free, and to find a way to escape from peru. after many funny experiences i escaped to bolivia, and my friend was set free, unharmed. although he was i think only around 19 or 20 years old the pip had held him for 6 days and had not even informed his parents. at that time peru had a worse record for 'disappearances' than any other latin american nation.

at the climax of this adventure i was in the lima airport in line to get on the plane to bolivia. i realized that a military person was checking everybody's passport against a list of names. it could only have been a list of people they wanted to arrest. i got out of the line and asked the spirits. the answer was that i would go through. i went back in line, willing to get through. for one or two people in front of me, plus me, and one or two people behind me the soldier was too lazy to check, and just waived us through. or he decided, by some feeling, that we were not suspects wanted by the peruvian government.

this experience related to one i had had many years earlier, in which i had escaped from a kidnapping rapist. that time it was clear that i had escaped by luck. but the peruvian moment was an important step in shamanic learning for me, since this time the good luck had also been created shamanically.

the text material i perform in this piece will be derived from this story.

sam ashley

sam ashley has devoted his life to the development of an experimental, non-traditional approach to mysticism, and for more than 30 years he has used this in music and sound art. almost all of sam's work features trance. it is usually about luck, coincidence and hallucination, and often it utilizes authentic 'spirit possession'. sam ashleyhas performed solo or collaboratively around the usa and canada, western and eastern europe, in several japanese cities, in indonesia and cuba.

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