– mantramatic – Transmission –
This album would not have been possible without a number of people. Thanking them will help tell the story of this album. Perhaps a place to start is with my old friend John Connelly, bass player. There was a time around 2015 I think when he invited me to a little musical get-together which would prove to be the starting point for this journey, or at least an important station along the way, since in reality the journey is, was, and will be, infinite. So. I was at a point musically where I’d been playing for a long time, but had more or less relegated it to odds and bits of playing at home without any real direction. There were some jams, and I met another key player in this story, John Esak, who had built studios and worked with people like Steely Dan back in elder days. A few jams over a few weeks, months, and somehow one night I brought out of my memory-closet a mantra composition that had been in my head for awhile, who knows how long. I cannot remember now if it was an old one from my early days of Kundalini Yoga practice – 25 years in the past at that point, or if it was totally new to that time. Anyway in that atmosphere it found an audience. They liked it and thought it had something, something worthwhile, which was a notion that had eluded me for a long time. Without their enthusiasm for the idea, this beginning seed, none of the rest of it would have happened.
Over the next few weeks, the rest of what would become this album was transmitted directly from the infinite into my head. I cannot call it a process of composition. I just heard all the arrangements in my head and then worked them out on the guitar and with my voice. This is why the album is titled Transmission. As much as possible, I just served as a hollow reed.
The mantras themselves belong to the Kundalini Yoga tradition that started for me with Yogi Bhajan. He arranged this series of seven mantras into what he called the Aquarian Sadhana. A sadhana is a spiritual practice. The Aquarian Sadhana is the mantric spiritual practice Yogi Ji gave us to bring us through these times into the Aquarian Age. This is not imaginary or simply hopeful, it’s a concrete reality. It’s happening now.
Another beginning, then – the day in about 1990 when I walked into Baba Siri Chand ashram and took my first Kundalini Yoga class. I connected with my earthly teacher Hari Simran Kaur, the most purely positive being I’ve met in this life. She taught me Kundalini Yoga, introduced me to mantra, to Yogi Bhajan, and to all the rest of that universe. Again, without her none of this would have come to fruition. To put in in perspective she was my most direct earthly yoga teacher, Yogi Ji was her source, and so mine, Guru Ram Das the Sikh guru was Yogi Ji’s source, and so on back through the Golden Chain of yogis, back to before recorded history, into the infinite, the mists of Avalon, the beginnings of time and pre-time. These mantras were transmitted to the ancient rishis in those elder days directly from the infinity, and they have passed them down in an unbroken chain (looking for familiar faces, perhaps, in that empty window-pane).
So. After the initial download there was the work, art, craft, and science, the witch-craft of finishing the arrangements, learning to record, to multi-track, how to arrange percussion loops, play with a beat track, the physical acquisition and setting up of the home studio-mantra lab, endless practices. This was all accomplished in bits, fits, and starts, among the usual daily life of work, relationships, my mother passing into the infinite, and running through all these days like a string of mala-beads, my yoga practice. Through all this my wife provided the essential. She put up with endless practices, repetitions, more practices, studio-building, thrashing around, searching for the sound, and all that goes with pursuing (or perhaps allowing oneself to be pursued, or perhaps both) some larger vision amidst a busy life’s activities. She has been my love, my cheerleader, touchstone, confidante, and support through the whole evolution of this work and it would not have been possible without her. In fact there would have been little reason for it at all. What good is any spiritual or artistic work without someone to share it with?
The list of essential people goes on – Kirsten and Merissa, whose voices always just fit, always in tune. Bob, engineer, producer, and magician of sorts. Jen, our flute player, elevating Wahe Guru to a new level. Others too many to name . . . my plant spirit-helpers, the trees, the All. To express infinite gratitude to everything for allowing this to be possible and for me, a very small but yet infinitely powerful point, a bindu, to participate in just this way in helping to birth a new consciousness, this is IT.
The trees and infinite blue sky are pure cosmic love.
What else is needed?
Jiwan Shakti, March 2020