Consciousness review: Lou Reed, David Hykes, Master Musicians of Jajouka.


I found my consciousness getting cramped lately, and thought I’d better expand it. Luckily, people make music for that.

When you’re thinking about enlightened, sensitive, selfless individuals, who immediately pops into your mind? Lou Reed, right? He’s got a wordless album out now on Sounds True Records called “Hudson River Wind Meditations,” which is “for the background of life,” but also for other purposes, I think. Out of the blue, Reed knocked on my door the other day and handed it to me. He was wearing a baggy white muslin shirt, and he had a look in his eye like he was not thinking about drugs, money or pussy. “I hope you find as much use for this music,” he said calmly, “as I have in both writing and listening to it and exploring inner spaces.” I didn’t know what that meant, but I thanked him and he went away. Listening, I found that the first 29 minutes burbled like those sounds you hear in movies when somebody’s underwater. The next 32 minutes sometimes droned, sometimes radiated a somewhat painful metallic squeal, and sometimes did both. Then there were two minutes of river sounds and five more minutes of the burbling. It struck me that if I wanted to hear Lou Reed do loops of noises, I liked his 1975 “Metal Machine Music” better, because it was intense (though I almost never play that vinyl set unless I want to piss somebody off). And if I desired to explore my inner spaces, neither recording would be that useful. Pretty useful would be silence.

Still, I thought I’d also try David Hykes’ “Harmonic Meditations,” which the same label had sent me last year but I’d never listened to. It was six men making “om” sounds, chanting Gregorian style and gurgling/hootling Tuvan style, plus three percussionists and a dobro player, recorded in “a vast underground cistern near Seattle.” There was a damn good reverb down there, and I liked that; still, my consciousness remained about the same size. Hykes is described as having revived sacred sounds since 1975, so he must have gotten “Metal Machine Music” about the same time I did. He has managed to procure a far bigger consciousness than mine, but that might be because meditating is his job.

brianjones.gifFinally I put on an old standby, “Brian Jones Presents the Pan Pipes at Jajouka,” which the Rolling Stones guitarist recorded back in 1968. It was totally awesome. Though my consciousness definitely expanded, I’m not sure how much of that was attributable to the fact that I was drinking heavily, and wondering what kind of great drugs Jones was on, and speculating about whether the music or the drugs had anything to do with Jones’ death a year after the recording, and remembering that Glenn Danzig had told me he didn’t think the Stones were as good without Brian.

My consciousness is back to average dimensions today, but Deb brought me back a bottle of absinthe from Paris, and tonight I’m gonna have a glass of that and listen to some Marilyn Manson. To quote a poet, I don’t know what I’ll do there, but I imagine it will be some kind of change.