June 01, 2015

"The Scene". Rab Wilkie's memories from the past (part two)...

Here's the second part of Rab's memories about "The Scene", his meeting with Glen, Carolyn, Dave Tomlin, Barry Pilcher, the experience of "Albion" magazine and some little memories about the "MacBeth" recording sessions...
The part one is at http://ghettoraga.blogspot.it/2015/05/the-scene-rab-wilkies-memories-from.html.
Pictures of this second part are taken from the original issue # 1 of "Albion" magazine (May 1968). 

"'The scene' was all about - as it still is - where the most potent and transformative forces of Art come from; how these forces are accessed and let loose upon the world to work their magic.
This is a big subject: sources of inspiration. In the past (B.C., Before Computers & the Web), books and the printed word were key, but by the middle of the 20th century the media of vinyl records & radio had become more important - almost as important as discourse, conversation and banding together, e/g for alchemical experiments. And big cities are usually the magnet and social crucible for this.. especially during a crucial stage in history. When the vibrations are really intense and cover the whole spectrum, acoustically, visually, and mentally; when they easily become scalar or prophetic. A wish-path into the future is laid out for all to see and follow - if they have (third) ears to hear and (third) eyes to see.

What were the various sources of inspiration to the band back then, and how did they work for each of its members? For me it was a flood of influences, but some details stand out.

Late summer 1967:
Glen had begun to use a tom-tom: for an AmerIndian beat.
Carolyn played cello: a touch of Western classical.
Clive had a sitar: India.
Barry, unbridled, was loud & chaotic on sax: "New Music".
Dave had played trumpet, but that was before I arrived; and the oboist had not shown up yet.
Some or all of them had played with Dave when his group
was known as the Sun Trolley

There were musicians everywhere, wandering the streets, dropping in, instruments in hand or tucked under-arm; ready for any jam or happening. (The poets made do with pad & pencil; artists preferred black india ink).


One day I dropped in on Steve and noticed a thick book lying by the window. Its author was Ramakrishna, written in India a few decades earlier. I opened it and read that the world would hit some kind of climactic enlightenment around Christmas 1967.
"Wow! That's only a few months from now," I remarked.
Steve had to turn the volume down on the latest Beatles record to hear me. ("Sergeant Pepper"). 

Steve's inspiration was William Blake, hence the name of his magazine: Albion. The cover art says it all, updating the vision and rolling it out into the future. Steve was exulted, David Loxley, an artist with Hapshash & the Coloured Coat, had completed his work for the cover. I'm not sure how much of it was Steve's own ideas, but Albion is shown in the throes of impending revelations &/or devastation. A leering Dragon bends toward a naked young female -- the White Goddess or every-maiden - lying supine and apparently asleep in a rose bush with two flying saucers hovering in the sky above them. And here and there, at the edges and within bushes, are sigils and symbols as clues for further study: Tolkien runes, the Glastonbury Zodiac, a magical seal, pentacle, and what seems to be a diagram of a human iris, used  diagnostically in iridology. The Holy Grail is central, above the main figures and below the banner title, ALBION.

The back cover is simpler: a Tarot card in the centre with one of four figures at each corner: the Four Living Beasts of Ezekiel's vision. Except that the traditonal Bull has become a rampant Unicorn. The central figure is the sky-dancer of The World, the last card in the Major Arcanum, signifying completion of the Work and cosmic conciousness.
The Angel, upper left, is the source of music. S/he is blowing a trumpet; a lyre nearby. Perhaps this is Gabriel, divine herald of realisations.
(Steve might have played a horn at one time (?) but philosophy, social action, and literature were his stronger suits, I suspect). 

These are timeless elements. The revelation and the music are still unfolding, evolving. Disclosure keeps happening, and every 'happening' is a revelation - in the 1960s sense of an unplanned, free, and spontaneous event. A jam. Beyond the Matrix. And at the best of times, Transcendental.
The way up, however, might begin with - or sometimes loop downward into - e/g "MacBeth". The movie in which a band of anonymous musicians in the balcony, a pair of legs dangling down into space, strums & drums forth a trance comment on skullduggery unfolding below.
I didn't see the movie until some years after I'd visited the band at the recording studio as they were recording the soundtrack for "MacBeth" (May 1971). I was en route to India via Spain and stopped in London for just a few days. They were busy and immersed in the process, so I didn't stay long, perhaps an hour or so. Scenes from the movie were shown on screen, and they were going through a couple of scenes, recording and re-recording each scene until they were satisfied with the take. It was a bit eery with an occasional chuckle. Dim inside and a bright day outside. Glen summoned up a Polanskyish version of Scottish ghosts. He had a darkly wry sense of humour.

The only on-stage moment I recall with the band, when I was present, was at the Covent Garden market. Other sessions were jams at somebody's flat, usually Glen's & Carolyn's. And just before meeting Glen, at Clive's place in Earl's Court. He had recently acquired a sitar. But earlier still, in Toronto, I'd played a bit of sax with Barry and listened to his jams with local musicians.

I haven't been in touch with anyone for a long time. Clive and I exchanged some emails about 15 years ago. But if anyone's interested, here I am - in Ontario. It'd be great to hear from them. The only stuff I have from that period can be found on the internet, like "Albion" (an original copy was for sale on E-Bay recently, for something like $350!)".

no©2015 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)    

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