The difference between MONDO and magazines like Rolling Stone can clearly be illustrated by comparing their list of the year's top ten records with ours. First of all, we don't have one. And if we did, R.E.M. wouldn't be anywhere near it and Coil would have achieved Gold Disk status-alchemical gold. Their most recent release, Love's Secret Domain (domestically available on Wax Trax!) is a fascinating aural descent into a rather delightful and exalted Inferno. This is a realm inhabited by rabid Spanish guitars, Annie Anxiety impersonating herself as drugged-out Mexican whore, sampladelic mixing techniques, warped electronic voices, neurologically correct noise, didgeridoo, oboes and bowed strings cast South of Heaven, Burroughsian cut-ups of film dialogue, all fornicating somethin' awful in a multidimensional sonic landscape, and presided over by those charming and intelligent Goat-Gods, John Balance and Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson. Those familiar only with John and Peter's past lives as members of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, may be surprised that in this chaotic landscape the lamb lies down with the lion. Pieces of surprising beauty-such as "Dark River," sounding like the grinding and scraping of the celestial spheres or some monstrous bells-are also to be discovered amidst the musical mayhem. Once granted an audience we enjoyed a lively hour and one half unraveling the social, psychedelic and sexual notions of the secret celebrities at Threshold House, London. And now Ladies and Viruses, the Anti-Popes of Pop -Diana & Jas.
MONDO 2000: As a magazine that promotes freedom of information we are interested in the way in which the media is often used for the opposite end, to control, repress and distort information. What's the climate in England right now?
PETER CHRISTOPHERSON: I don't think that in England there is anything that appears to be a coherent plan or organized government system, it's just that the media is so biased and so narrow that it tends to view things with the most stupid and fundamentalist attitude. Those things [repression & distortion] kind of happen by default really.
JOHN BALANCE: I disagree with Peter because the state here has been set up since 1800 or something as a like royal espionage thing, which turns into MI5 and I think that in England far more than in America what they call "transgressional publishing" hardly gets started before there's a backlash. And I'm very suspicious of any magazine or someone from England who will call us up and want to talk to us with view to publishing radical viewpoints, because I think they're in serious danger. Like Burroughs said, "If you're not paranoid, there's something wrong with you." It's getting stupid! I'm getting extraordinarily paranoid, but I think I have a perfect right to be. And look, if it gets to the press and the whole media circus, then that's just second hand information, the first hand has been suppressed or will never see the light of day. But there's a very long tradition of that kind of control. From the very first printing presses in the 15th or 16th century, a control has always been exercised over the method of distribution of information. Operation Sun Devil was the beginning-you know the computer seizure stuff-of something much large. I think it's a pre- echo of something that's going to become legislation in several years.
M2: How do you see this coming about?
JB: I could see where the holding of corporate computer codes or something will be an offense, a federal offense in itself.
M2: There's been an interesting case relating to that here in Berkeley recently, involving some students. They're trying to determine the legality of searching and ransacking electronic files and they're finding that the same legislation that would apply to someone coming in and burgling your house is somehow not considered applicable.
PC: Yes, exactly. I mean obviously the authorities bring it down on the side which suits them best. They don't consider the fact that electronic information may not be viable or that transmitting pornography in digital code across a telephone or something is in fact not the same as distributing pornography. None of these things have been tested.
JB: Actually, they have. In fact there have been cases here recently prosecuting people in possession of disks and files that could be decoded in a pornographic way.
PC: It always falls in their favour. I mean why don't they get prosecuted for decoding the code? If it remains as code then it is nothing. It is in the ether. It's pre-existing. It's all a panic born of confusion. There are myriad accesses and these people just want to close down everything that they feel is threatening which is obviously a human response but not one that I'm in favour of.
M2: Yeah, we have a situation that's come up here concerning smart drugs. The FDA has not officially outlawed a number of compounds that have shown some promise in intelligence increase and cognitive enhancement. But we saw an internal memo from the FDA customs and the U.S. Postal Service with instructions to just confiscate people's prepaid packages. Has that been happening over there too?
JB: All of our packages are opened if that's what you mean.
PC: I mean the reason that all this stuff has never been classified by the FDA, isn't it because the AIDS activists have managed to be allowed to bring certain drugs in and that includes the nootropics and stuff?
M2: I think that has a lot to do with it. There's a whole underground chemistry movement that's taken off in Northern California relating to AIDS research.
PC: Well, no doubt they're going to be clamping down on that.
JB: There's been no lobbying campaign even on behalf of the AIDS activists to get anything into the country here. It's only just by chance that there's still a legal loophole. As soon as any serious media attention is drawn to it's so-called abuse, no doubt they'll close those loopholes. It's considerably more financially viable to have these drugs tested in the public the way that they're being tested now rather than having to set up trials in prisons and what have you. So, I feel the reason that they are allowing a certain amount of minor usage in this way is to find out what the risks are without involving any expense. We're all guinea pigs.
Bite me! Beat me! Arrest me!
M2: In your fax to us you mentioned some rather ridiculous laws that have recently been passed regarding personal sexual choices.
PC: Yes, the S & M rulings. There was a celebrated court case here called Operation Spanner in which Lord Lane ruled that consensual acts of Sadomasochistic sex which involved sexual gratification, as opposed to any other sort of gratification, were criminal acts. And the consequences of this ruling actually meant that having hickeys, you know, love bites, became a criminal charge which the police could become involved in. I mean you don't have to have charges brought on a personal level, the police can come in and see what's going on and arrest you.
M2: Does it seem that they're seriously trying to enforce this or is it more of a symbolic ruling?
PC: It went to the highest ruling in the land. It's going to the House of Lords.
JB: But the important aspect of it that hasn't really been considered is that there's a distinction in law between having a sexual motive for consensual assault, which is hurting someone else with their permission, and any other kind of motive. For example if you go to the dentist or a plastic surgeon obviously you're accepting pain on a consensual basis, but it's not illegal. But the implication and what you can extrapolate from that, is that your state of mind or your thought or your attitude towards a certain action is what's illegal rather than the action itself.
PC: So you've got thought crimes.
JB: And it's very similar in a way to the notion of having an illegal file in your computer, regardless of whether it could be read or decoded or not. It's just the very fact of the potential of what you believe it to be that's illegal. We're in a far more nebulous and vindictive and dangerous state that we've ever been before really.
M2: And what's the public reaction to this, or is it under wraps?
PC: The sort of news on the grapevine in the legal arena was that people were really shocked by it and there's been a definite trend towards picking up any cases of this nature so far. There's been a sort of 90 degree swing again, but who knows, a precedent has been set, and precedents get followed by bigots.
JB: And the national pastime in this country is lethargy anyway.
M2: As it is here.
Big Brother & The Telephone co.
M2: Can you give us any insight into what's recently happened with Temple of Psychick Youth and some of the trouble they've been having? We had heard from our associated spy network that some sort of a raid had gone down at the home of Gen and Paula of P.T.V.
JB: [Laughs] The phone just went dead when you said "Psychick Youth." But we haven't had any connection at all with that organization for about eight or nine years now and are not really very interested in it to be honest. I mean the media picked up on it in the usual stupid media way: Satanism, devil worship, blah, blah, blah. Not picking up any facts whatsoever, but I actually don't know the real facts. If Gen's in America he can probably fill you in a little bit more.
M2: Has there been any overflow, any suspicion of what you all are doing there?
PC: We don't know, we haven't had any active flak from that yet, but we're assuming they're moving behind the scenes of course.
JB: We know for a fact that our involvement [with P.T.V.] and lack of it has been well known in legal circles for some time, so we're not too worried about it to be honest.
M2: This bit that was run in the media about Satanism, was that a series of television programs?
PC: No, there was one television program which started it, by some guy named. Andrew Boyd.
M2: Was he with a "Christian" group?
JB: Andrew Boyd, although he's an English guy, has been associated with Christian Fundamentalists and Christian publishers in the U.S. and by some strange coincidence, the day after his program was run, in which Psychic T.V. were not specifically named but were connected by association with Satanism, his book on Satanism was published. And the television production company which made the program closed down the day after.
PC: He conned Channel 4 into allowing him to make the program which he said he had two years in solid research and evidence to back up. The "evidence" in the program consisted of a woman who was sort of nameless and anonymous or given a pseudonym who was basically reporting from what seemed to be a mental hospital about ridiculous allegations which he couldn't back up, wouldn't back up. And the whole program had this sort of like Hammer Horror, 1972, Vincent Price-type playground with dry ice and children's voices in the background and then it would cut to this perfectly innocuous Psychick Youth video from 1983 which featured Derek Jarman, the well-known filmmaker, giving a sermon. It was completely ridiculous.
JB: But you know in the way that the media works, to some extent there is a kind of guilt by association. So if you present totally separate facts in the same program, in the same context, a certain amount of people will always see that there's no smoke without fire.
M2: Speaking of Derek Jarman, have you been working with him?
PC: Yeah, he's got a lot of archive material we're going to be soundtracking and we have a reissue of our first record called How to Destroy Angels, which he promised to do the artwork for.
JB: We try to encourage working on all different kinds of film projects obviously.
M2: You also mentioned Gus Van Sant as someone you wanted to work with, have you had contact with him?
PC: A certain amount through William Burroughs but not as much as we would like. Greg Araki has just done a film called The Living End. He's done a sort of gay Thelma & Louise, about an HIV positive couple going across America and blowing away homophobics. It's really a good, nihilistic, on the edge sort of film. It was supposed to play at the London Gay & Lesbian Film Festival last week but for some obscure reason it was cancelled and they wouldn't tell me why.
JB: It might have been a customs problem I gather.
PC: Yeah, I guess the film was too contentious for our bloody customs.
JB: But that's definitely one we should recommend because our music and quite a lot of other good music is incorporated.
M2: What about working with William Burroughs?
JB: I've known William for a long time, sort of off and on, and we've collaborated on photo projects and various other things.
PC: We did hot knives with him. [Laughter all around]
JB: When I had Industrial Records we produced a record of his seminal early tape cut up experiments with Gysin and Ian Somerville and all those guys.
PC: And he keeps in touch with us, he sends us postcards and semi-official lithographs and stuff, but it's very difficult to pin him down. He's always sort of in a netherworld even when you meet him. [Laughter all around] I'm never really sure that he knows who we are, but then again we get invited to parties with him and Nick Rogue and Bertolucci. I think he rates us in some way!
M2: Have you seen the film Naked Lunch?
PC: No, we haven't yet, no.
JB: We were hoping to do the soundtrack but he got that Howard Shore guy again. We held out in vain hope that Burroughs might recommend us for it. As far as I'm aware the film is striving for a more mainstream appeal, so we probably wouldn't have helped in that respect.
M2: I liked Clive Barker's comment about your soundtrack for Hellraiser being bowel churning.
JB: He meant it as a compliment by the way.
M2: Yes that's how I read it. [More laughter]
JB: I just wanted to make sure. Clive has told us that frequently when he tours the U.S.A. doing book signings and lectures, he's quite bemused by the number of Coil fans that come up and ask him to sign copies of our Hellraiser record. In excess of the number that ask him to sign copies of the book, I think.
The electric runes
M2: I'm simply mad about your last record and had a question about some of the Blakean references; a lot of his ideas about Energy seem to relate to your ideas. I'm curious about your connection to that material.
PC: I think we're just travelling in the same mystical English paths. Energy's Eternal Delight we keep playing around with that. It reduces everything to the basic fundamental human frequency. We've said the last album was about electricity and drugs.
M2: Yes! I had vaguely assumed "Teenage Lightning" to be about lightning that wasn't quite grown up yet, and was delighted by your explanation that it was really about the electricity created when you rub two teenagers together!
PC: I think that Blake was travelling similar paths himself and that we'll probably continue in the same vein, oscillating wildly.
M2: Do you think you would set any more of his poetry to music? I noticed that you used a few lines from "The Sick Rose."
PC: Quite a few, yes. You're one of the first people to mention it as well though. "The Sick Rose" is one of my favorites, it's one of the best poems ever written. So, I think he'd give us the thumbs up over that.
M2: You mention a connection between drug energy and electrical energy. Would you describe how you see that connection and how you treated it in your record?
PC: I started to be obsessed with these things when I was about 11 and I had taken a huge overdose of Psylocibin mushrooms and I remember putting my hand into a sort of electronic green grid, a hexagon grid that appeared on the floor about a meter above it. I stuck my fingers into it and it fitted completely. And ever since then I've been obsessed with these things. With frequencies and tissues. I just think they can be reduced quite quickly to energies like this.
JB: We have quite a large collection of electronic stimulating brain machines and in many cases the effects are very similar to those that can be achieved chemically.
M2: Are you doing anything with the neuron impulses to the optic nerves?
JB: The optical ones really don't work as well as the electromagnetic and straight magnetic ones, in which you put your head into an oscillating electrical field. They're a bit over the top actually in some cases. [Laughter] The guy that makes them here in London, Tony Bassett is a kind of mad inventor who graduated to doing brain machines from doing audio machines. He claims that a time travel, or perception of time travel effect is achievable.
PC: I've experienced this. They give out massive doses of all the radio waves and he says they recharge your soul and your spirit. You can actually have OOBEs on them after about an hour on your own. But if you're going through a group therapy with him it will happen in about 45 minutes. He once had a journalist from one of the scurrilous Sunday newspapers here, who he took back to being a German soldier. The guy had gone there to do a disparaging expose' on him but came away so convinced by it that he wrote a really positive piece. He actually expierienced being killed and said that the physical thing was so strong for him he almost gave up journalism. These are very powerful machines.
JB: The effect of pharmaceutical substances is to rearrange energies that are already present, so in one sense that is more natural but in another way it acts sort like a bank loan, in that you have to pay the stuff back later. And even with smart drugs temporary gains have to be measured against the perception of subsequent loss when you stop taking them.
M2: I want to ask you about other alternative ways of tapping into altered states, non-chemically, either through the use of ritual or other methods, also about childhood altered states.
PC: When I was a child we used to do this sort of death ceremony where you would lie on the floor and people would press on you and they'd say, "Oh, he looks ill, he is ill, he looks iller, he is iller, he looks dead, he is dead" and then they would levitate you!
M2: This is amazing!
PC: Yes we would sometimes lift the person up about 6 feet in the air and they were only 4 feet tall to begin with. And the person being lifted actually felt like they were flying. When the teachers found out about these things going on in the playground, they were banned immediately. They became taboo and so we used to go into the woods and do it. We'd also do hyperventilation, where we would breathe really deeply and hard and then someone would squeeze your chest when you jumped up from a crouching position, and those were liberating experiences for me because you'd be reborn every bloody time! I mean they did set me off on my errant course or whatever.
M2: Thank God.
PC: Thank God, yeah!
JB: I think these experiences are universal, I don't think they're confined to particular areas. I mean it's all about what you can do with a pre-teen body. But we won't get into that! [Laughter all around]
M2: Create some electricity!
M2: Have you had any experiences with synaesthesia?
PC: I had a very critical experience the other week.
M2: How would you describe it?
PC: I felt a sort of magnetic field in the whole place, my solar plexus was pulling towards the center and I could see bands of energy like magnetic fields around the earth or something.
M2: Where were you?
PC: Well, I was in a club. And there was a group of people, and as the group got more concentrated I was pulled towards it with increasing velocity. And it was really overwhelming and it started to feel like my fingers and my external being were being pulled towards it, but my internal being was still solid and upright. Very peculiar.
M2: Do you ever get sensory blendings? Do certain musical keys correspond to particular colors, do you see music, hear visual material?
JB: Smell the music, yeah. [Laughter]
PC: My most common one is bending of the music into the physical-the music starts to turn into shape.
M2: Does there seem to you to be any grammar or syntax to how music bends into physicality?
JB: We're unfortunately rather undisciplined about these things. When we're involved in those sorts of things we're involved in a lot of other perceptions, and we're not in a controlled environment.
PC: In other words, we're out of it. [Laughter]
M2: Relating altered states to S & M now, I was wondering if you had any comments on activating the pain threshold as a method of achieving altered states and also if you were aware of our local "pain shaman" Fakir Musafar?
PC: Yes, we know about his stuff. It's definitely an area that did interest us. It's too illegal to interest us now! Literally, I mean you would have to go abroad to explore it further.
M2: You've spent a lot of time in Thailand I understand.
PC: Yeah, we go there for the pain threshold. [Laughter all around] That and the food. Synaestheseia, smart drugs and pain thresholds all come into one via the food. I've had seriously mind altering experiences with the food over there.
JB: I don't think anybody really appreciates quite what the chemical processes are that are involved with spices of those kinds. We've described ourselves as Spice Cadets in fact because we've experimented quite heavily in that area.
PC: Like the Aztecs, their religion was based on chocolate and chilis and sacred mushrooms and I don't think the chilis should be underlooked here! It was the combinations they had. The whole control system was sort of based on chili torture.
M2: Chili Torture?
PC: Oh God yeah! They shoved stuff like seventeen different sorts of chilis up your anus for adultery or whatever. Or pulling whole strings of chili through your tongue. It was all sort of par for the course over there.
M2: What is this project you're doing about the Black Star or the Black Sun?
PC: Ever since we first did Coil, we always used the Black Sun as a symbol, originally we got it from Crowley. But ever since then it seems that a lot people keep coming up to us and they've had tattoos of Black Suns. It seems to be a sort of millennium badge and I want to do a book wherein I invite people to give us their interpretations about the symbol. We've been discovering a lot of mythology about it as well. I could go on for ages and ages about it. But it's basically Odin a dark rider the midnight sun nightmares
M2: And this is a book you want to publish?
PC: Yeah, I want to publish it. But it's strange because we never really pushed it as a symbol and then chaos magicians in London, the IOT started using it as their symbol and calling it the chaosphere.
M2: What is the IOT?
PC: They practice what they call chaos magick which is a slight reaction against Crowley's Golden Dawn-related magick and it's far more personal and far more shamanic.
M2: And are you involved with this group?
PC: I'm affiliated. I'm an honorary member, I don't practice with them.
M2: About the pagan movement in the U.K., or the magickal movement, whatever you prefer to call it. I don't know if you want to talk about this personally but if you do, whether you practice within an organized setting yourself?
PC: I would talk about it, but I actually don't practice within an organized setting because the people I admire are like Austin Spare who's the sort of archetypal early warlock. He was practicing in the 1920's. Even Crowley thought he was a bad sort [laughter] because he could actually conjure up dead entities, and slime would pour down the walls and stuff.
M2: That could ruin a tea party.
JB: It could ruin a tea party and it could also ruin a lot of paintings. I've got several of his paintings and every place that he lived, the whole place seemed to be dripping with water. He could never get rid of these, like, water elementals. But I'm not sure about the pagan movement here, it's not as on the edge and exciting as what appears to be in America, we occasionally get these sort of gay, Pagan, pandrogynous-type magazines from America which really excite me.
M2: Yeah, there's the whole Faerie movement which is quite active.
JB: And I don't know if it's because England is repressing it or just not delivering the goods or if people are scared to express it.
M2: But an interesting thing about the English movement is the fact that there's so much history to it, and there are so many ancient sites. But Stonehenge you can't even get to! And the authorities know that these places-whether they know directly or just sort of instinctually-these places are dangerous to be revitalized. You know, the whole order would crumble because real order would be restored. It would be, you know decentralized anarchy. Are you hopeful that this will happen?
JB: Oh Definitely! I don't know when. I'd love it to happen! Anything. But half of Salisbury Plain is a bloody military zone anyway. And there really is a suppression about the places that you can visit.
M2: Last time I was in England, someone had gotten in behind the fence at Stonehenge and spray painted "LIVE" on the stones, and the way the media talked about it was that someone was trying to write "LIVERPOOL" had been apprehended before they could finish!
JB: That's very typical of the media. I suppose they thought he'd run out of wall or something.
JB: In regard to English pagans, although there is a tradition of the English eccentric they are generally seen very much as people on their own. People that do not work within a framework or sort of standard organization. For the last 500 years, the people in control of English society have always been the church and the government.
PC: Elizabeth the 1st was a witch and so her government was one with witchcraft at its helm. She had John Dee and Edward Kelly who were sorcerers of the highest degree at her beck and call and when they weren't she had their hands cut off. And I still think there's a tradition carrying on. The Royal Family now who are far less empowered, still have mystics and advisors of what you might call a very suspicious nature behind them. I think these people are the white witches still ruling this country. I hope so anyway.
M2: It's funny, it reminds me of the scandal about Nancy Reagan's astrologer. Everybody was so shocked and I was like, are people really surprised that the people in power are using these methods?
PC: Yes, Nancy Reagan and Yoko Ono.
M2: Now there's an unholy alliance! [Laughter]
JB: I'm sure they swap notes. But what you have to do is see the people in these situations for what they really are. We certainly feel that it's a bad time for us to put ourselves in a position of danger by associating ourselves with a movement. Everybody's an independent character who's able to make the decisions based on the way that they see the world themselves rather than the picture of it that's presented by the media.
PC: I mean, there comes a time where we feel we will lay our heads on the block and stand up and be counted. But I think it's best not to do it in your country as it were. Maybe we'll come across to America and make a point there. Because to do it here is like shitting on your own doorstep. You have to sort of suffer the consequences and they can be dire. Just labelling yourself or allowing yourself to be labelled.
M2: In terms of the Anarchist movement over there then, how connected is it to a magickal or pagan movement?
JB: There are definitely some links, but who's to say if they're the effective links?
M2: In S.F., there's a quite interesting subset of magickal anarchists who are trying to redefine culture in some new ways.
PC: Right! Americans for some reason have a much better grip on presentation as it were.
M2: Sometime's that's all there is. [Laughter]
PC: But they know how to present themselves. Here, there's perhaps an opinion or a groundswell of energy or whatever but it's quite disorganized and it can never get together in a seriously organized way.
JB: And even if it did it would be suppressed.
PC: The Temple of Psychick Youth proves that when you form a body which the state sees as sinister it will come down on it in whatever way it can. Be it legal or illegal you know. If you pull people's strings they'll react really. it doesn't make for the most exciting life actually, but we spend most of our energies trying to appear other than what we actually are.
M2: Would either of you express an opinion of the current British house scene?
PC: In England, it's going very demented.
M2: In what way?
PC: Too much electricity. Too much energy. I mean, it's how many years along the line, five, and it's getting far more seriously psychedelic in what I consider to be the purest way. The music is seriously taking people out of any sense of reality any more. And the machine/human interface is so complex and so, not decadent, but detailed that something really interesting is happening. I'm just worried that the energy is being generated with no actual aim or release.
M2: It's like doing an energy raising ritual without grounding the energy. You have to wonder where it's being sent.
PC: Yes right. It's like the height of the 60's, everyone saying you know, levitate the pentagon and stuff, it's all very well, but no one's even saying that anymore. I just wonder where it will be directed , or whether the opposition now, the authorities, will pick up on the power and just turn it against them.
M2: So then you see the need for some more leadership, some more focus in it?
PC: Well yes, just a purpose! You know. I mean, there's a huge reservoir of energy here, far more than I've ever seen, it's overspilling and I've seen people go mad in the streets and sort of smash through plate glass windows and stuff. With far more regularity than I would ever imagine.
JB: But the house scene in this country has been allowed to grow and allowed to happen and relatively large amounts of drugs are allowed to come into the country and be sold because people would rather this energy was expended in the middle of the night in a club rather than on the streets with a Molotov Cocktail or whatever.
PC: The Metropolitan police we've heard have unnoficial guidelines which say they don't bother with Ecstasy and Acid and stuff because the prevalence of it in the population has caused serious lessening of violence on the football terraces and stuff. People who were traditionally football hooligans have been taking MDMA and have caused no trouble whatsoever.
JB: It leaves them much easier to control. And also afterhours drinking has gone down considerably, violence along with it.
PC: Yeah, I mean they were complaining that like 20,000 people would meet in an aircraft hangar. The only complaint about that was the fact that there was noise, you know, any 20,000 other people and there would have been violence, stabbings and stuff, which never happened with the Acid House thing. But they see something going on and they want to control it, you know.
M2: This also relates to another topic I wanted to talk about. The use of music in magick and as a tool for inducing heightened states of awareness and how this can consciously be done?
PC: It's such a huge subject. I did a course a couple of years ago with a woman called Jill Purce. Although I have reservations about her methodology and where she got it from, the physical effects that the course had on me were so immense, they couldn't be discounted. She taught me overtone chanting and stuff and sort of unlocking the chakras using sound. I did it for just over a week and it completely cleansed me. I was having dreams of like violent volcanic eruptions, and blood rituals and decapitations and disembowelments and stuff and it was explained that these were all typical cleansings, where my body was sort of being hacked apart and shared among people, and these were all good.
M2: So how possible then do you think it is to really consciously try to utilize music to try to focus our energy collectively?
PC: It was introduced to me that there was an exact science which could be used. We were doing stuff with the Kundalini energy and cleansing each chakra. And at the end of two days of this I couldn't work out why I had a big bruise at the base of my spine. It was like the vibrations where my body had been in contact with the floor made a really serious bruise. The vision in my eyes was changing as well. I had in mind a project to gather up from around the world all sorts of similar vocal magickal correlation type things because I have a friend in Sweden whose girlfriend could clot blood by singing down the telephone, stop blood flowing. And things like this. It's from a sort of Laplander farming religion.
M2: I'm interested because I'm a vocalist, and I've been exploring ways of using the voice to do very specific things.
PC: I think you can get really specific. It depends on your mindset and your cultural references, although I think thay are cross cultural as well basically. As long as the nervous system is loosely related I think you're going to come across similar situations! There's a woman in England, Freya Aswynn, who deals with Runic systems and she's attempting to use a similar sort of overtone chanting to re-find how to actually chant the runes, because they're obviously a very physical phenomena, apart from just being a vocal or alphabetical system. There are obviously, you know, specific correlations that can be explored.
M2: On Love's Secret Domain you work with a number of outside musicians. How have you found them?
JB: Unfortunately, it's not correct to say that. We wish we were. But generally what happens is on any specific project we have to go out and find people that we think would be suitable for it and we're constantly on the lookout for people who have similar sensibilities and general ideas but that can bring in new or different musical strengthsand quite often this happens in the so called coincidental manner. For example on L.S.D. the digeridoo player that we used we just happened to see on a cable TV program and wanted to get in touch with him and tried to get in touch through the cable station but were unable to do so and then about a month later when we were in the studio we went out totally by chance to get something to eat and we bumped into him in the street, so you know, those opportunities are not to be missed really. Cyrung, who played on the album is really amazing. We were a bit worried about folding it up and cutting it up and everything and he sort of said no, no do whatever you want with it, take it somewhere else. I think people sort of think that our music is fundamentally sampled, and although it's true to say that the structures are Macintosh sequence-based, we certainly don't have any precious attitude towards computers. If it's possible to fuck them up then we will. And likewise, we'd rather use a live musician when they're going to bring qualities that the computer is not able to do.
M2: How did you end up working with Annie Anxiety? She contributes a great vocal track.
JB: When we come to do an album we always, as I said, choose around and we'd known her since like Crass days and we liked her persona, she sort of has a set persona and we decided to make use of it.
M2: Was that track improvised?
JB: Yeah. I played her the base of the track, you know, the instrumental version and I said to her "I've got a few ideas, like disappeared people in Central America and stuff, shell shock." And she just sort of played off those two lines really. Oh yeah, she got drunk in the studio and came out with it in about an hour. [Laughter]
JB: When we have people with whom we feel we have an empathy we like to set up a sympathetic circumstance in which they can do their thing for like a few hours and then we take that and sort of manipulate it, cut it or whatever. It's really a good way of working. It was the same with Cyrung and the same with the Spanish guitar player that we used on the record.
M2: Which one of you is it that appears in the "Windowpane" video.
JB: Me, John.
M2: Where was that filmed?
JB: Actually on the Golden Triangle, between Burma, Laos and Thailand in the River Mekong there's a small island, a sand island which is actually the Golden Triangle where the gold and opium smugglers would meet. A sort of no man's land between the three countries, and we hired a boat out there and filmed on it. Fortunately there weren't any smugglers there at the time. Anyway it's quicksand and I was thrashing about a bit and trying to dance in time with a small ghetto blaster on the shore which I could hardly hear and I was looking down at this quicksand trying to pull my legs back up before I sank and later on all our Thai friends were saying "My God, you went out there!" Because loads of people die out there. The sands shift, the whole island shifts. And theres always a good chance of getting shot at by the Burmese guards who haven't got anything better to do, and might just do it for the hell of it during their lunch break.
M2: Did you go into Burma?
JB: Yes we did a whole field recording tour in Burma. We recorded a track of a sort of animist pagan monk at a place called Pagan. There's this whole mountain dedicated to dragon spirits and animal spirits that has a carved dragon staircase round it up to the top and we recorded the monks chanting for the end of the world on top of it. The day before we arrived the government announced that all currency notes above the value of about 50 cents were worthless so the country was in some turmoil when we arrived. A few months before they had a temporary student uprising. You're only allowed to go to certain places in the country and you're always accompanied by a guide. And the length of visit at the time was limited to six days.
PC: The whole place looks like 14th century Thailand or something. Immaculate walled cities with moats and plains that just stretch on forever with no roads or anything. It's really unspoiled-apart from potholes caused by gunfire.
JB: Rangoun is pretty much how it was when the British left it in 1918 or 1924 whenever it was.
Live shows & linguistics
M2: Do you want to perform live ever?
JB: We have very mixed feelings about the whole nature of live perfrmance because there are several sides to it from the point of view of energy distribution, but at the same time there is such a stigma for us involved with the notion of concerts and especially anything that has a sort of rock association. It's difficult for people of our limited resources to be able to stage something that sufficiently breaks through those barriers to reach a new sphere of performance. We, generally speaking, don't enjoy watching other people's concerts and really don't see why people would enjoy watching ours if they were the same.
M2: Would you then be more interested in doing a multimedia thing?
JB: If we could yeah, but even with multimedia in the conventional sort of indie music sense, you know of putting up a video wall, or screens of super-8 projections and stuff, really it's not telling people anything that they don't already know and haven't already seen a million times. Probably Hollywood has the resources to make those things look good, we don't really and the people that try although it's a valiant attempt in many cases, it's sort of doomed to failure before they begin I think.
M2: You have to meet our local visual design genius Charles Rose.
JB: Well, put him on to us!
M2: I'd come!
M2: What was the inspiration for the title of your instrumental, "Chaostrophy"?
PC: Your magazine. [Laughter]
M2: I'm flattered. I coined that word!
PC: Oh I did as well! [Laughter]
M2: Double parked in a parallel universe.
PC: What do they call them? Neologisms?
M2: Or portmanteaus.
PC: I've got hundreds of them.
M2: Jas. collects them too, you should compare notes.
M2: What is your interest in playing with language in this way?
PC: Well just sort of getting back to babble. About five years ago I was really into writing whole books that appear to be nonsense but when you go back and look there's a lot of interesting stuff there. But it's basically babble. There's a story that Brion Gysin tells of listening to the radio in Marrakesh before he could speak Arab fluently and even when he wasn't stoned being very struck by the fact that even though the radio was only broadcasting in Arabic from time to time there would be what appeared to be a complete sentense in English. Certainly that's what Chaostrophy is about. There's a tremendous amount of layers in our music, specially that track, where words have been recorded and either buried in the mix or folded in in some way sublimated to the theme of the music but nevertheless what we hope is that some aspect of the message will remain. It's like we've taken away all the pointers, all the signs and indicators but we've left the actuall purpose behind which I hope people can pick up on.
M2: What contemporary music do you find exciting?
JB: We like the music of the Eskimo peoples.
M2: The throat singing?
JB: Yes, amazing stuff. I think there's not enough research in that area. Absolutely amazing stuff.
M2: What about Pygmie yodeling?
PC: Our dogs do that. We have two Basenjis which are originally Pygmie dogs. A tribe called the Azendi-who are Pygmies with a reputation for witchcraft even among the other tribes who live around them-and the dogs we have are the witch doctor's familiars.
JB: They are sometimes called the Congo Barkless Dog, they do not bark but they yodel. When they are in a high emotional state they make these very strange yodelling sounds.
M2: Well, so much for our joke question.
JB: I think the main reason these dogs are kept in modern times-apart from a few witch doctors and shamen-is because the women of the tribes use the dogs for licking their babies bottoms clean and I'm not going to say any more on that subject.
M2: I don't think Lord Lane would approve of that.
JB: No, we don't want our dogs taken away from us with a care order!