I Got Rhythm

I think a lot about music these days. Acquiring and screening new music is a very big hobby for me; I remember making a pledge to myself that I would never let my musical taste freeze and calcify the way my parents’ seemed to, and that means trying to be open to a wide range of sounds and styles. Lately that got me thinking about how much I owe that attitude and approach to the fact that my musical exploration seemed to coincide so directly with my psychedelic exploration when I was younger. And that got me thinking about some of my most memorable psychedelic experiences.

The first time I ever did LSD, I was halfway through the night and had absolutely zero understanding of what was happening to me. I locked myself in a darkened room, and someone started playing Peter Gabriel’s Security album at a very high volume. The first track on that album is a very intense number called “The Rhythm Of The Heat”, which builds to a fairly explosive climax over the course of almost seven minutes. I devolved into a primordial writhing goo as I listened to it. (Some would say I have not yet re-volved back into a normal person, but that’s really the least of my worries.) I was so insanely blown away by the song that I promptly started it over and continued working myself into an epistemological lather – for the first time in my life I actually questioned the nature of my personality. Fat lot of good it did me in the short term, but eventually that process caught up to me.

Throughout the early years of my psychedelic career, Peter Gabriel’s Passion album, the soundtrack to The Last Temptation of Christ, was a recurring, almost overwhelming presence. There was a long chunk of time where you couldn’t really make it through one of our drug parties without the telltale opening bars of “The Feeling Begins” eventually causing your hair to stand up on end. The album seemed almost directly aimed at the wide-open mind of the psychedelic voyager; we would zone in and out of the rich tapestry of the music and imagine ourselves careening across the fabric of human experience. Probably the most intense time I had listening to that album was when I had an opportunity to trip with some new theatre friends that I’d made. I put it on in the background without really mentioning anything to anyone about my expectations. By the high point of the album, an entire room of us was immersed, silently absorbed in the music; I hadn’t even realized how powerful the experience had become as the music progressed, only noticing as it started to end that I literally felt myself to be hovering near the ceiling.

My first exposure to The Orb and my first exposure to large quantities of nitrous oxide on top of large quantities of LSD happened all in the same night, on a trip to the southeast to visit friends. Someone put in The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld, a fairly mind-blowing slice of sonic wizardry to a yahoo from Iowa who’d grown up listening to classic rock. Every five minutes or so, I would ask myself, “What the hell is that sound?” only to realize that it was still the stereo, playing the same album. It seemed very much like impossible music, music made by aliens, or music that was conscious and piercing its way into this dimension from some strange reality where sound was governed by different rules. I remember asking to hear the album repeated as I sank into a two-hour relationship with a big green tank of gas and faded in and out of awareness of music, time or anything else. Years later, this early exposure to techno music would eventually lead to the pleasure of listening to Banco de Gaia’s Last Train to Lhasa album during my first AMT trip, and not realizing for almost half an hour that the first track had been skipping on the CD player, because, you know, techno music does that kind of stuff.

The first time I went to see the Grateful Dead, I had no conception whatsoever of what I was getting myself into. I was going for “the experience” as it had been described to me, not because I had any connection to the music itself. The scene seemed huge and overwhelming to my limited worldview, but I was a game little trooper in those days and I soldiered on at Soldier Field, hopped up on vastly more LSD than I had a right to be doing in public. Moving from the parking lot into the stadium and trying to find our seats seemed like a tremendously complicated algebra problem, where the penalty for failure was being arrested. It seemed like hours passed as I attempted to keep in step with my compadres, until finally we arrived in a massive clump as the opening band began to play. The opening band was Traffic, and when they launched into their classic hit “Gimme Some Lovin’” with its rousing refrain of “And I’m so glad we made it, yes I’m so glad we made it”, a river of relief swept through me as I finally relaxed and began to enjoy myself. I also have memories of the Dead eventually playing “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” that night and receiving a very enthusiastic response, but those memories are likely apocryphal.

Eventually I would learn that the right choice of music was absolutely pivotal for engineering a properly out-of-this-world ketamine experience. Armed with blindfolds and headsets, every person seemed to have a different approach to choosing music. I learned quickly that music with lyrics was often too overwhelming, although I did enjoy an absolutely insane concert performance by Tori Amos on a grand piano inside my head before I finally came to that conclusion. Eventually I settled on a one-two punch of the Russell Mills dark ambient album Pearl + Umbra, followed by the surreal but optimistic Ambient Collection by The Art of Noise, for my full-scale explorations of ketamine ontology. The sounds from those albums are burned into my brain; I can hear the first tone from any composition on those albums and immediately, if very briefly, find myself still lying on my back somewhere, joyously lost in the confusing morass of ketamine.

These days, such “archetypal” experiences of music are becoming less and less frequent for me, largely because a) my actual psychedelic experiences have also become less and less frequent, and b) the world of MP3 players and Internet radio has severed my connection to “albums”. Rock critics in dinosaur mags like Rolling Stone bemoan the loss of the album format, but to me, the most wonderful experiences I have with music and psychedelics these days are when I have a chance to trip and put on a huge archive of disparate styles of music on random, and just wait for the serendipitous moments when individual tracks seem to perfectly intersect with individual moments, as though the drug brought a DJ to the party.

One of my most powerful psychedelic experiences overall occurred years ago, after a day of fasting and a sweat lodge ceremony that was followed by a large bag of psilocybin mushrooms. As I sank back into my chair, behind my blindfold, an elder sitting across the bonfire from me played a slow simple heartbeat on a drum while we all came up. The drum was a soothing reminder of where we had come from, a simple, plaintive rhythm that helped anchor me as an overwhelming slew of sensations began to transform me. The drum was a tether, a safety line. I know a simple rhythm isn’t really in the same category as a full-fledged piece of music, but in those moments, the drum clearly had a voice, calling out to me, “You are here… you are here… you are here…”

And then, abruptly, the drumbeat stopped. The tether was snapped, and I spent the rest of the evening in a state of existential freefall. Of course, the rest of that story remains classified.

Share your experiences with music & psychedelics in the comments! Please be patient; comments are moderated to help avoid spam.


26 Responses to “I Got Rhythm”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for sharing Scotto. I have similar associations with the same albums,
    particularly the Orb’s _Adventures_, my very first techno album as a baby raver.

    I would add Radiohead’s _Kid A_ and Bjork’s _Homogenic_to your lineup… I’m getting
    that little tingle just thinking about them.

  2. stuart says:

    me, moderate-to-large quantities of LSD, my room. escaped the housemate and guests. no lights on, of course. listening to the local college radio station, at loooow volume. all of a sudden, Mahavishnu Orchestra, i can’t even say what the track was at this point, but it was long. i turn it up so that the acground murmur from the other room is obliterated. it was just. so. perfect. soooo perfect and crystalline and beautiful. until the egocentric bastard motherfucker DJ decided that his voice was necessary about halfaway through with “you’re listening to blahblahblah on “. grr. oh but then it’s beautiful again … *sigh*

    other memories:
    – many grateful dead shows on lsd. dead shows are where i learned the joyful lsd / n2o combination.
    – sitting in my apartment, listening to Yes, or old King Crimson, old Genesis. yes, this is where my prog-rock fetish comes from.

  3. kat says:

    The first time I ever did ketamine was also the first night I ever candyflipped, NYE 99-00. After a long evening of Jackson 5 and Dusty Springfield, an inordinately large group was going to do an inordinately large amount of Ketamine. After several attempts to scare me off of it, I was still blindly eager, and just as we started to slide in, our tour guide put on Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and announced, “ladies and gentlement, prepare to meet God.”

    There are many tangents to this story, but the most appropriate one for the purposes here is that a year later, I returned to the city to see the Missa at Carnegie Hall with our tour guide and my ex boyfriend from that evening. The tour guide didn’t make it, waylaid midcountry by snow and pivotal matchmaking. But my ex and I did, and wound up doing AMT for the performance. Tripping to Beethoven live, at Carnegie Hall, highly recommended. It brought the whole experience full circle and smacked me in the face, in the prettiest way possible, with the events of the year prior.

  4. crow011 says:

    TOOL’s cover of LED ZEPPLIN’s “no quarter” was the most unbelievable experience one night when i came home still buzzing from a good dose of MDMA . . .

    i dont think any music/drug combination will ever beat it . . .

  5. non3 says:

    Wonderfull writing Scotto!

    I can share some of my music/drugs expiriences too. I can still vividly remember my first ketamine experiance – just got 3 grams of K from the usa when it was still legal and locked myself in my room since I still lived in my parents house. I made four little lines and did two of them and I waited… Hmm, I felt a bit thingly but not enough, I taught to myself wtf I might aswell do the other two. I put on the soundtrack from Dead man by Neil Young – wonderfull. The music took my soul out of my body, crystalised it and blew away.
    Ketamine is good for music because it last only a short time.

    I always have problems with music and long acting psychedelics, when the album stops I always feel “empty” I can’t really describe it. Anyone else get this ?

  6. cellux says:

    Try the album ‘Strangeitude’ by the Ozric Tentacles. I found that the fourth track on that album is perfect company to the ego-death experience.

    Then there is Gong, especially their “Angel’s Egg” album (with those drunken/tripping singing dwarfs and other spaced-out weirdness).

    Or the track ‘Black Elk Speaks’ by Hawkwind (second track on the “Space Bandits” album).

    Or the two ‘Ship of Fools’ albums ‘Out There Somewhere’ and ‘Close Your Eyes (Forget The World)’.

    Or the album ‘Synergy’ by Cosmosis. This is more dancey, awesome, VERY high energy psychedelic goa trance. I esp. like the third track “Spores from Space (A Microscopic Trace of LSD)”. Mindfuck.

    (And of course, there’s Shpongle’s first album ‘Are You Shpongled?’ but I don’t think there is anyone reading this who doesn’t know that album already.)

  7. cellux says:

    Oh yes. I forgot one.

    Pink Floyd: Ummagumma live from 1969.

    These tracks in a row:

    1. Astronomy Domine
    2. Careful With That Axe, Eugene
    3. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
    4. A Saucerful Of Secrets

    This is magnificient.

    It doesn’t have those alien qualities (like the others I have mentioned above), but still – I don’t know how these guys did it, but they managed to get to the core without leaving the human plane of existence. This is deeply human, and still, contains everything that is worth knowing about life and existence. At least for me.

  8. RAC says:

    Puking onto my lap from my one and only hit of crack cocaine while my roommates were in a dungeon level of Super Mario Brothers on Nintendo kinda fixed that eerie dink-da-dink music deep in the recesses of my brain. In fact, every time someone makes a joke about some guy “who’s abviously been smoking the bad crack”, I hear a few notes in my head.

    Yep, crack will forever remind me that I’m the ultimate butt of the joke. Keeps me humble.

  9. snee says:

    How beautiful!

    Internet Radio will save us all

  10. saccobakunin says:

    It’s been my experience that Cannabis is a potent demystifier of Avante-Garde 20th and 21st Century Classical music. I’ve had ego-death with this combination. I don’t know about combining with the more potent psychedelics given that the simple combination of Cannibis and Ligeti, Schoenberg, Stockhausen, Xenakis, Julio Estrada, Berg, Webern, Cage, Reich, Crumb, Stravinsky, not to mention other more “normal” composers often sends me to extraordinary and frightening/beutifull places. However a small dose of shrooms with lots of cannabis did once provide an unforgettable experience with Ligeti. Personally it is my opinion that people are missing out on more profound trips by listening to pop music. The above mentioned composers all start from a state of profoundly altered conciousness not nessasarily drug consciousness but an altered one for sure. I can relate to the Beethoven and the Mahavishnu experience but the other stuff just seems silly in comparison.

  11. Toots says:

    There is nothing on this planet, more extraordinary, more astounding, more breathtaking…. than drugs and music!

  12. OSP says:

    The first time I did LSD I carried a journal around with me the whole night. Anytime I had a thought or did something that I thought was significant I would jot it down, along with the current time, in my journal. I was filling page after page with haphazzard notes, sometimes writing over old notes slightly. But when disc one of Pink Floyd’s The Wall ended, I felt it was so imporant that I devoted an entire page to just listing what time it had ended at, and another page just noting what time I started the second disc.

  13. EyeIsWhat Amine says:

    First go to http://www.awesomenewrepublic.com, under “media” download “Witness Now the Birth of an Awesome New Republic”, then under the most ideal of circumstances you will have been able to source about 20 mg of 2c-b. Take the 2c-b, listen to the album (yes the ALBUM still exists, listen straight through track 1-9). Now go ahead and make love to someone that you love. In my opinion this album is the pinnacle of modern music and call to action, a paradox of the organic with the technologic, analog punk and digital techno, sexual and political, soothing and tense. And fucking intelligent. A friend of the band has been able to explore this ground breaking album under the influence of a plethora of various mind altering chemicals, and he can say that 2c-b is the best, but if you don’t have 2c-b, anything will do, in fact if you don’t have anything at all, listening to this album is like a drug in its own right. It is very powerful, so do yourself a favor and join the Awesome New Republic.

    NOTE:—-(ok Scott, hope this doens’t sound too much like an advertisement, but seriously dude, listen to this album first off yourself and see if I’m wrong, and really give it 100% of your attention if you are going to be making a judgement call. This is my friend’s band from Miami, and its completely DIY, recorded in a homeade studio in their house. The mission of the band is more than just to make music, but to actually have the balls to make a fucking difference in the world. Sounds pretty far fetched, but when was the last time we had a band that actually tried? Not for fortune (download is totally free), not for fame, but only to spread love and understanding. In my humble and unpaid opinion, this is the most important album since ‘Nevermind’, and I actually fucking believe that (and I also love Nevermind…carved “Nirvana” into my forearm with a razor blade when I was 13 and it is still as clear as day…), and musically it’s more important than Nevermind. This album is about being alive Right Now. Ok well, enough hype and bullshit, I know how some people put up walls when they think that they are being sold something, so no sense in being counter-productive here. If you like it, tell your friends, this is more than likely going to be a word-of-mouth effort as all good things are.——— oh yeah, send me an e-mail once you’ve listened to it and tell me what you think of it both good and bad…

    oh and listen to Tool’s Lateralus followed by Perfect Circle’s eMotive under the influence pyschedelic

  14. TomK says:

    OK. So, the thing about playlists is that they can be a double edged sword if there is bad music on your playlist. For example, I was on a high dose of DXM, 3rd plateua. What comes on but Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby by Klatuu. Of corse, it went perfect, and every time I hear the damn song, it brings me right back.

    I’d have to suggest sqaurepushers Ultravisitor for good music to trip too. None of the aforementioned classical musicians have anything on Sqaurepusher’s latest album. Minimalist stuff goes good with tripping too, especially with dissociatives. Some of that steve reich phasing stuff, and a dissociative will stop time.

  15. JohnB says:

    I defintely agree with the mentions of Radiohead and Tool. I have yet to experience anything that rivals the unbelieveable, heartfelt emotion I underwent while listening to Tool – Parabol/Parabola.

    I also find Aphex Twin to be quite spectacular while under the influence of psychoactive substances.

  16. cj says:

    listening to Jane’s Addiction or Radiohead late at night after a day at school with a nice bowlful of bud…going to bed still listning to the album on my walkman. When the album finishes I am in the blissful state between consciousness and sleep and often end up imagining a couple of tracks at the end of the album…:)

  17. lik says:

    It was insane seeing phish for the first time without really knowing much about them. I ate two huge weed rice krispies, a few drops of lsd (lavender), some mushroom chocolates, and smoked like 6 or 7 blunts along the course of the concert. The music was so crazy, the whole crowd looked like a never ending field of tiny psychedelically colored cells, all pulsating to the insane music of phish.

    Another good time was seeing Soulive on 3 rolls and an 8th of real good boomers. They are my favorite band, and funk like no other. Best band touring right now IMO, and seeing them rip it up is awesome. Seeing them rip it up while trolling is unbelievable.

  18. Kgmn says:

    Music is probably the most important thing connected to any state of mind. You should check out the bands mogwai, explosions in the sky, and godspeed you black emperor. I like a few drinks of absinthe and a little bit of pot to open me up then laying on my bed for a couple hours listening and self-reflecting.

  19. John says:

    After having smoked a particularly delicatable Wet Mango blunt my friends and I took a 30 minute car ride and enjoyed cuts from the album “Australasia” by experimental melodic metal band, Pelican. We would react to different parts in their 10+ minute songs at the same time, the crushingly heavy, yet beautiful tunes twisting around our brains. When got out of the car I asked them “Does this band seriously exist?”. A few weeks later Idecided to take it further and to ingest a quarter ounce of mushrooms and continuously smoke herb for as long as the triplasted, while enjoying a heavy dose of Pelican, 3 records worth. Such an amazing collaborative effort these ingredients yielded. By the time I regained sobriety the world felt smaller, but Pelican’s status as my metal maestro’s only grew. I can’t wait to decide what the next music we experiment with will be.

  20. mrGrundy says:

    I really enjoy music.
    I am a major fan of pink floyd when it comes to psychadelics and music.
    i don’t know if it was the 67’album classic ”piper at the gates of dawn”
    with syd barret or ”the wall”
    DVD i’v watched so many times along with pink floyd DVD”live at pompaii”
    under the psychadelic experience of substances like, DMT,LSD,Mushrooms . . .
    etc . .

    I remember dropping 3 1/2 hits of real acid for my first strong experience with LSD,
    the Track ”Learning to fly”
    built by Pink Floyd’s famous guitarist ”David Gilmour” without the help of
    the bands founder/ and creative mind behind the album ”the wall”
    Roger Waters.

    ”learning to fly” was the very first song of pink floyd i liked,
    and herd it for the first time on acid.
    that had me playing the song over and over again with tom petty’s
    ”learning to fly” that night while on LSD.

    Ironicly i downloaded pink floyd on accident but liked it better then tom petty, but there both great songs in psychadelic senses but,
    david gilmour displays so much audio distortion in the song alone by itself.

    On MDMA and Mushrooms one time i had played this other song that i downloaded
    called ”where is my mind by placebo”(pixies cover)(fight club Soundtrack)
    its a very cool song with a long euphoric chant in the chorus, check it out,
    iv read on a trip music ”chat catagory” on a forum and have seen it referred aswell.

    Also Groovin 80’s Music is a hoot!
    lets keep this topic goin . . . . . . . .

    Rock on Chicago, Rock on Erowid.

    ”Duracell . . . . . . no other battery lasts longer”

  21. mrGrundy says:

    Erowid should have a taley for top favorite tracks . . . .

    here is a list of music that gets you very ”excited” and pumped with possitivity when mixed with
    psychadelics. . . ”Speed, drugs, and good ol rock’n’roll ” . . . .

    Note: this list of tunes gets you pumped and excited, good car music for the Hallucinogenic listner.

    Pantera: ”Cemetary Gates” and ”Walk” – R.I.P. DimeBag Darrel –

    Nirvana: ”In Bloom”

    Collective Soul: ”Spit me Out” and ”Shine”

    Offspring: ”self esteem”

    Led Zeppelin: ”Kashmir” and ”Misty Mountain Top”

    CCR ”Fortunate Son”

    Pink Floyd: ”The Thin Ice” ”Learning to fly” ”Pigs” and ”dogs”

    Jimi Hendrix: ”All along the watch tower”

    Paul Mcartney ”Man on the Run”

    This next list of tunes is more peacfull, relaxing and euphoric. you will all know these songs.(Great MDMA Mix)

    Tracy Chapman: ”Fast Car”

    America ”Horse With No Name” and ”Sister Golden Hair”

    April wine ”Just between you and me”

    Blue rodeo ”Angel Eyes” and ”Lost Together”

    Bob segar ”Night Moves”

    Boston ”more than a feeling”

    Bruce Hornsby ”That’s Just The Way It Is”

    Buffalo Springfield ”For What It’s Worth”

    CCR ”Have You Ever Seen The Rain”

    Cheap Trick ”Surrender”

    Chris isack ”I Wanna Fall in Love”

    Crowded house ”Hey now, Hey now”

    Dire straits ”So Far Away”

    Elton john ”Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and ”Rocketman”

    Foreigner ”Urgent”

    Marshall Tucker Band ”Can’t You See”

    Pink Floyd: ”High Hopes” ”Comfortably Numb” ”Time” ”Echoes” and ”Fearless”

    The Beatles: ”Hey Jude”

    The Rolling Stones: ”Blinded By Rainbows”

    Nirvana ”Something In The Way”

    Oasis ”Wonderwall”

    Men at work ”I Come From A Land Down Under”

    Live: ”Selling the drama”, ”Lightning Crashes” ”I Alone” And ”All over you”

    Jimi Hendrix: ”Bold as Love” and ”Third Stone From The Sun”

    Travelling Willburys ”Everybody’s Got Somebody”

    Rocky Horror Picture Show ”Science Fiction+Double Feature” and ”Rose Tint My World”

    Guns and roses ”I Used To Love Her”

    Pink Floyd: ”Shine on you crazy diamond” ”Wish You Where Here” and ”Welcome to the Machine”

    The Rolling Stones: ”Under my thumb” and Wild Horses”

    Tom Petty: ”Learning to fly” ”Wont Back Down” ”Another Joint” ”Free Fallin’ ” it’s good to be king” and ” yer so bad”

    im goanna save the inspirational B.S. For A book im Writing but . .
    yea, hope theres lots of people out there that match the music above . .
    i also listen to other music but, its not like mainstreem music . . . .
    I Love Music, Lets Keep this topic going strong Scotto! Good Work And Writing!

  22. Catling says:

    “The Feeling Begins,” huh? For me it was all about “A Different Drum,” which I used to subject my boyfriend at the time and various of our compatriots to repeatedly when in such spaces. ;)

    Goodness gravy, music plus psychedelics, where to begin? Since my earliest use, it has been a key component. The first time I tried acid involved my friend introducing me to Marillion, the Fugazi album. (I know, I know, nice cheery music for one’s first acid trip, no?)

    So, here’s some scattershot memories, names omitted to protect the guilty, of my favorite music plus zoom experiences:

    1. 1991, Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, LSD. A gang of us getting just plain silly, analyzing the lyrics, tripping out on the drug and the music and singing at each other, concluding that one of our number was, in fact, the Rael character of the album and saluting him as such. Hilarity ensues.

    2. 1990, The Little Mermaid on the VCR with the sound turned off, The Wall by Pink Floyd on the CD player, very very very stoned on marijuana and a little bit drunk. Really amused, all of us, by how the music lined up with the movie PERFECTLY in some spots.

    More later.


  23. Catling says:

    Mo’ Music, Mo’ Music, Mo’ Music.

    3. 2001, LSD. Random tripping, we scored some LSD from a friend while out dancing, collected up a friend and me and two others went back to La Casa. My partner in crime became OBSESSED with finding his Orb album. He just knew it was The Perfect Tripping Music. Must have. While my friend and I rolled around on the floor laughing our asses off, he ran around the apartment proclaiming in frustration, “I want my Little Fluffy Fucking Clouds now, dammit, now!” He finally found the album. He put it on. (I think it was the greatest hits) My friend and I stopped mocking. As the peak hit we all got lost in the twists and turns and tangents of the music, thoroughly lost in the music and the acid and it was a fine time, just letting ourselves be carried, conversation ceased and we all tripped out in the Orb.

    4. 2002, Burning Man, my very first 2CT7 experience, The Orb, Toxygene. HOOO BOY, FUCK YEAH!!!!!!!! Various of us were kicking it at camp. Most of ’em had done theirs much earlier and were mostly down. One was my official babysitter since I’d never done the 2CT7 before and reactions vary from fun to scary, etc. Various hilarity ensued (I almost poured Tang w/Vodka in it into my eye because the way the lights were refracting off of the orange liquid was deeply fascinating and I wanted to study the effects closer and closer and my babysitter saved me in time, bless ‘er soul. So, the nitrous bong came out and we got into the nitrous bigtime, nitrous cartridges flying around and all of us having a fine time, now rapping about life, now just sitting and grinning, now getting Deep and Philosophical(tm). The music shifted around and around as various people took over it. There was some point where I was very very high and was just coming out of a nitrous hit and it was right at the moment in Toxygene where the voice says “Now wait a minute” and then it rocks the fuck out. And I noticed, as I started dancing in my chair, that we were all dancing in our chairs and all conversation had ceased and we were all just boogying to the music and it was great, this wonderful shared space of music and Burning Man and drug mayhem. Good times.

    5. 2000 – 2002, Various nights of MDMA, Lamb and Delirium, Poem. Lamb and Delirium became the theme songs for a particular group o’ peeps.

    6. 2001 to 2002, NYE in Florida, right around midnight, Honeyflip, Crazy by Seal. Hearing one of my old anthems there, in that new context while high and kicking it with my Boston peeps and the NYE crew, old is new again and my comfy social group meets the wacky new one and the High is lovely and ohhhhhhhhhh yeaaaaaaahhhhhh. Because we’re never gonna survive unless we get a little bit crazy. Mmmmhmmm.

    Also in FL, that NYE, a few nights before NYE itself: Salvia by the water. When I went under, I became a phoenix, flying amid the celestial spheres and asked them to teach me their song. My friends reported to me after that I was singing out loud most of the time I was under. When I came out I sang a song to the night.

    7. 2002 to 2003, NYE at Whidby, Come What May from Moulin Rouge. Various interpersonal stuff with my beloved being very painful for days on end, the relationship entering it’s final swan song, no need for gory details. There, on New Years Eve itself, high, feeling the pain ease away, feeling myself just let go of it, “It’s OK. I will let him go and all will be well and I will always love him.” On the dancefloor as “Come What May” remixed spun into the night, looking around at everyone dancing, trading grins and just going for it, dancing, joy, joy, utter bliss rapture amid new friends and old and singing along, “… I will love you, until my dying day” to an entire room of people and meaning it, actually in that moment in that space in the grips of the dancing seratonin loving everyone near me, and everyone back in Boston, Santa Fe, loving my Beloved and forgiving him and letting him go, etc. Love, pure love, and a release from pain in a song. Realizing, in that moment, that I would leave him in Santa Fe and move to Seattle, follow that love to Seattle and explore life there.

    8. 2004, Brazil, Ayahuasca. Well now. First, there were the chants that sent us off into the sessions. Deep, and the Ayahuascero dancing around with a rattle, chanting us off into our heads with a strange expelled breath at the end of each chant, “Shhhhhhhhh soook! SOOOK!” There was all sorts of pretty ethereal stuff that he played while we were off in dreamland, and it all enhanced, and helped to have a physical sound thread to follow back to physical reality because the Aya was so intense. There was a beautiful song that he played that I must track down, because I imprinted it so strongly, on those nights. Pretty, melodic female voice, the chorus was something like “… only those that believe what they dream ever dream what comes true.” He played that once per session for each of the six sessions. I remember lying on my back on the ground outside, no longer fully in the Aya space but still pretty goddamn high, hearing that and staring up into a magical Brazilian sky full of stars and floating in the stars and the music and the aya and dreaming in my dreams, released from reality, released into dreaming without censoring, dreaming up my perfect life and perfect world, yes yes, if I believe what I dream it will come true.

    9. 2002, Shrooms, my intro to Conjure One. A heroic dose of mushrooms, taken in grapefruit juice. I knew I was in Deep Shit(tm) when full onset occurred at ten minutes. I was in the shower, trying to clean up before the shrooms hit because I hate to trip dirty, feels icky. And so there I am with shampoo in my hair, unable to stand, crouched in the shower with rainbow fractals assaulting me, rinsing off the rest of the shampoo and crawling out of the shower, towelling off and lying on the floor, bodyload pinning me down, panting, close my eyes and there are extraterrestrials performing neurosurgery on me, gah, eek, lord no, open my eyes and crawl. Finally, safe with the others except they are all fucked up, too. I crawled to the bathroom and puked, a lot. And closed my eyes and had a vision of extraterrestrials watching earth from afar with scary, impartial eyes. Opened my eyes and crawled to the bed, and seeing the Conjure One CD that my friend had brought, put it on and hit play and grabbed onto the music as a lifeline to turn the trip to someplace more pleasant and whammo, “Center of the Sun.” “When I close my eyes, I am at the Center of the Sun and I can not be hurt by anything this wicked world has done…” The trip mellowed. I lay with my eyes closed, lost in the music, joyously lost in the music and there were no more scary ETs, it was all shimmering rainbow celtic knotwork fractals and dancing goddesses and sunlight and moonlight. I listened to the entire album and let it carry me through lovely dreamworlds.

    Hmm, that was a lot. Well, music is pretty big for me with the altered spaces.

    Thanks for a most nifty article, and comment thread.


  24. WARUI says:

    you shouldnt even be doing drugs, frinking idiots.

  25. joebro says:

    Music is one thing that every culture in the world enjoys and finds significance in.
    I’ve been drawn to it more than any other form of communication since around the age of six, I’m not sure why. As soon as I could afford I bought instruments, amps, fx etc. For years I slaved on my bass, playing with whoever I could, networking.
    In ’01 I took my first dose of acid at a party, held by some band friends in their warehouse. They played this song:
    I was dancing and watching my friends entertain, moving with the music until it knocked me right down, and you can hear how it could. There are a few other songs in that dir too. Just recently I discovered there had been a bootleg recording of that night, when I heard it again all those new visions came rushing back.

    Last week I tried 2C-E a coupla times, the 2nd time I took a little more than I think I will again… all senses overlapping and supercharged. I finally got my headphones fixed and listened to some Miles Davis. His melodies soar, and I could hear the excitement in the room from the other players, same as really hot jams I’ve played. In a Silent Way blew me away once again, washing over me like waves of musical thought, an infant’s mind growing and exploring.

    Other psychedelic musical experiences include seeing Scratch Perry and the Mad Professor on acid a few months ago, I found a spot in the theatre (I’m mad keen on acoustics) with no other people on my level absorbing the sound, just speaker stacks and walls. The stairs I was standing on were bouncing against my feet, I could feel the waves resonating in my throat as the air was pushed out of my lungs.
    Earlier that night “Heroes” by David Bowie, Aphex Twin and Philip Glass seemed to have special significance.

    Even older CDs in my collection seem to get better and better over time.
    Jaco Pastorius, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock.
    Orbital, Underworld, Grooverider.
    Aphex Twin, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Bjork.
    Each has their own voice, I discover more about them with every listen.
    Soul and space.


  26. laugh says:

    One of my most powerful psychedelic experiences overall occurred years ago, after a day of fasting and a sweat lodge ceremony that was followed by a large bag of psilocybin mushrooms. As I sank back into my chair, behind my blindfold, an elder sitting across the bonfire from me played a slow simple heartbeat on a drum while we all came up. The drum was a soothing reminder of where we had come from, a simple, plaintive rhythm that helped anchor me as an overwhelming slew of sensations began to transform me. The drum was a tether, a safety line. I know a simple rhythm isn’t really in the same category as a full-fledged piece of music, but in those moments, the drum clearly had a voice, calling out to me, “You are here… you are here… you are here…”

    That is too funny

    I like the fact that you try to justify your chemical experience as one that has some kind of MERIT.

    You are just a loser.

    Get a real life off of chemicals and THEN write something.