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Wednesday, September 08, 2004


Speaking of DMT, South American shamans have been ingesting DMT in the form of Ayahuasca for hundreds of years. The term Ayahuasca is used in Brazil, Ecuador and Peru ("vine of the dead" or "vine of souls") while in Columbia they apparantly use the term "Yage" or "yaje".

At least two very interesting works of art are named after Ayahuasca or Yage:

1. The book "The Yage Letters" by William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg.
An excerpt:

January 15, 1953
Hotel Colon, Panama
Dear Allen,

I stopped off here to have my piles out. Wouldn't do to go back among the Indians with piles I figured...I checked into the hospital junk sick and spent four days there. They would only give me three shots of morphine and I couldn't sleep from pain and heat and deprivation besides which there was a Panamanian hernia case in the same room with me and his friends came and stayed all day and half the night - one of them did in fact stay until midnight.

Recall walking by some American women in the corridor who looked like officers' wives. One of them was saying, "I don't know why, but I just can't eat sweets."

"You've got diabetes, lady," I said. They all whirled around and gave me an outraged stare.

After checking out of the hospital I stopped off at the U.S. Embassy. In front of the Embassy is a vacant lot with weeds and trees where boys undress to swim in the polluted waters of the bay home of a small venomous sea snake. Smell of excrement and sea water and young male lust. No letters. I stopped again to buy two ounces of paregoric. Same old Panama, whores and pimps and hustlers.

"Want nice girl?"
"Naked lady dance?"
"See me fuck my sister?"

No wonder food prices are high. They can't keep them down on the farm. They all want to come in the big city and be pimps.

I had a magazine article with me describing a joint outside Panama City called The Blue Goose. "This is anything goes joint. Dope peddlers lurk in the men's room with a hypo loaded and ready to go. Sometimes they dart out of a toilet and stick it in your arm without waiting for consent. Homosexuals run riot."

The Blue Goose looks like a Prohibition era roadhouse. A long one story building run down and covered with vines, I could hear frogs croaking in the woods and swamps around it. I remembered a prohibition era roadhouse of my adolescence, and the taste of gin rickey's in the mid west summer. (Oh my God! And the August moon in a violet sky and Billy Bradshinkel's cock. How sloppy can you get?)

Immediately, two old whores sat down at my table without being asked and ordered drinks. The bill for one round was $6.90. The only thing lurking in the men's room was an insolent demanding lavatory attendant. I may add that far from running riot in Panama I never scored for one boy there. I wonder what a Panamanian boy would be like. Probably cut. When they say anything goes, they are referring to the joint, not the customers.

2. The double cd Ayahuasca by Pelt (VHF)

Here's a great review from The Broken Face:

Pelt's music is fascinating not only for what's first visible, but also for what unfolds after numerous listenings. In the past, the visible has been dominated by meandering overtones, caught up in a gravitational swirl rotating around its own center until you've completely lost all traces with the real world, but the real world has been here all along. The dense clusters of sound dust have always had an ethnicity to them that's somehow created a secret line from peripheral territories among massive and energetic stars in the outer galaxy to the most rural part of the Appalachians. The double CD Ayahuasca was the first album where Pelt fully displayed the acoustic and folkish part of their repertoire. It's interesting to listen as one of the strangest wonders of contemporary music continues to slowly progress, and the results are even more striking than when we last heard from the trio.

The magically resonating opener "True Vine" sets the mind in the right place from the very start. It's a detailed close-up on the earth witnessed from a glowing star high in the wide-open sky. The anxious beauty of isolation and doubt has rarely been as evident in any drone music ever before. But what makes Ayahuasca the best album I've heard all year is that these kind of mind-cleansing visceral drones stand right next to traditional Appalachian folk numbers like the wonderful "The Cuckoo" and the banjo/Tibetan bowl masterpiece of "Deep Sunny South." The first disc ends with "Raga Called John, Pt 1" which possibly is the strongest track on the record. Raw Fahey-esque guitar work meshes with ethnic drone bliss created from hurdy gurdy and concertina into a hallucinatory daydream that you can and will get lost in.

The second disc starts on a similar note as the first with a long piece of dramatic bowed electronics, presumably not sculpted by human beings but by the winds and the radiation from a distant star. As with a few of the other more abstract pieces on the record it is a bit less haunting (but by no means less contemplative) than the last few outings. That doesn't apply for the manic "Bear Head Apparition" though which sounds like small drops of molten rock slowly uniting with tumultuous blocks of sound. The closing numbers are the last two parts of "Raga Called John" and what a fabulous cerebral monument of metallic scrapings and folkish drones both of them proves to be. Wherever you were at when you jumped on this journey "Pt. 2" will take you to a wholly other place over the course of its 26 minutes of mystic playing and ghostly transporting sounds. And "Pt. 3" is just as overwhelming, again combining the love for classic acoustic guitar picking with experimental yet timeless drones with an eclectic variety of instrumentation.

Ayahuasca simply has to be Pelt's ultimate achievement. How can one possibly improve after this? I don't know about that, but I'll be sure to stick around and see where they might be heading in the future. As far as this one goes, it doesn’t get any better, folks.

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