Psychomanteum

MKCD013 2012CE
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...or play individual mp3s from the track list on the right.

It has been suggested to me that this album is even more allusive, obscure & impenetrable than usual (no small achievement, it has to be said) & that some of the ideas could do with a little explanation - a Lett's Study Guide if you will. Or possibly an exegesis (sorry).

So, here goes.

'What's a Psychomanteum?', I hear you ask. It's a mirror set up for scrying/attaining an altered state of consciousness. I first encountered the concept in a wikipedia article about the horror movie Mirrors. The connection with the band's name should be obvious...

I'd been reading the extensive & fascinating writings of someone calling themselves The Last Psychiatrist. The main point that he tries to get across is that our society these days is rife with (& possibly built upon) narcissism. Narcissus was a figure in Greek mythology who is supposed to to have fallen in love with his own reflection - however, it's important to realise that he didn't realise that it was his own reflection. The point is not that he loved himself, but that he fell in love with an image, not a person. I wanted to explore Narcissism on this album - the way we see our lives as grand narratives with ourselves in the the starring roles. The ancient Greek myths are, in many ways, the foundational grand narratives on which western society is based, so I decided to try & find those stories in modern culture & see what they were up to.

Many classical greek poetic works begin with Invocations of/dedications to the Muses, the sources of artistic inspiration.

I Keep Thinking It's Wednesday was largely an exercise in writing a song with the stupidest, most banal title I could imagine. It had no bearing on the Greek mythology side of things, but turned out better than expected - it's sort of a meditiation upon "thinking it's wednesday" as a condition of the soul. (NB, it turns out that Wednesday is definitely the funniest day of the week, in this context).

Aporia was the Greek spirit of indecision (they really did have a spirit for everything) literally meaning "no passage through" - coming from the same root word as "porous".

The Cyclops was a mythical giant with one eye - which is a symbol for precisely one thing. NB: the particular cyclops encountered by Odysseus was called Polyphemus, a name which means "famous everywhere".

I currently earn a living as a techie, a fixer of computers. In 2011 I hurt my foot. As I limped around my workshop, I thought of Hephaestos, the lame blacksmith god who made so many of the magic objects on Olympus, limping around *his* workshop, & realised that I'd stumbled, so to speak, upon the patron deity of my profession.

Hacker Serenade was named after a vintage record player owned by my sister. I instantly realised that that was a song that had to be written - a love song from the point of view of someone who can *only* think in terms of computers. I sort of expected that I'd write quite a sympathetic song about one of my own tribe - but it's come out sounding a bit creepy, I think. This, however, fits in nicely with the narcissism theme.

My aforementioned foot injury was to a toenail - & although I'm not a squeamish person generally, I've always had a real problem with the idea of losing nails. The reality of the situation has not changed my mind, hence the songs Bed Of Nails & Skyblueprofen (& once *that* gag had occurred to me there was no way I was passing it up).

Titanomachy is the Greek word for War (or, if you will, Clash) of the Titans, a primordial race of gods eventually overthrown by the Olympian gods. The Titans struck me as a metaphor for modern day politicians & captains of Industry.

Medusa, the gorgon with the permanent bad hair day, & whose appearance would turn you to stone, has been a myth of great interest to Feminism. This song was originally released on "Shaming Of The True" in 2001, & didn't get included on Portrait... as it seemed that this album was a more fitting home for it.

Echo was the lover of Narcissus; she pined after him when he fell in love with his reflection. I imagined her in therapy, realising that she was in a co-dependent relationship & done with that shit. The song title itself is a reference to Salvador Dali's painting Metamorphosis of Narcissus.

With Demeter, Running, I tried to bring everything back down to earth.

So, it's all about G(r)eek Mythology, computers & self-inflicted wounds.

& it's all done with mirrors.

The percussion on these tracks was done with a Cajon, a Peruvian plywood box with a snare spring that does an astonishing job of sounding like a full drum kit.