Watch Nikolas Schreck’s 28 May 2016 Berlin Concert Film Now Online

Nikolas Schreck, percussionist Heathen Rae and keyboardist FTDrop perform in Berlin on 28 May 2016

The official concert film of Nikolas Schreck’s 28 May 2016 concert at Berlin’s Epicurean Escapism Festival, photographed and edited by Thorium Heavy Industries is now playing on The Nikolas Schreck Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5dXZsbtBmk

NIKOLAS SCHRECK IN CONCERT: 28 MAY 2016, BERLIN

NS EE CONCERT FB AD

Tickets available in advance  http://www.transformed.de/shop.html  or at the door on the night of the concert.

From The Epicurean Website:

NIKOLAS SCHRECK
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Nikolas Schreck is a musician, author, film-maker and religious teacher. His initiatory application of the arts formally began in 1984 when he returned to the West from a life-changing spiritual pilgrimage in Egypt to found the shapeshifting musical ensemble RADIO WEREWOLF, a nine-year sonic magic operation which concluded in 1993. His recent musical activities include the 2015 release of the Kingdom of Heaven album XXIII and a 2014 sonic magic ritual performed at the Tower Transmissions IV Festival in Dresden.

His Berlin performance at the Epicurean Escapism Festival 2016 will feature new solo work and reinterpretations of Radio Werewolf classics. Schreck has previously collaborated musically with Zeena, John Murphy, Death in June, NON and Sir Christopher Lee, whose first solo album he produced.

(photo: Zeena Schreck) 

website website Facebook 

NEW NIKOLAS SCHRECK SONG ON COMPILATION CD

ee 3 lord sutekh

Here’s how the Epicurean record label’s press release announced today’s appearance of Nikolas’ new composition “Lord Sutekh’s Dream” on the Epicurean Escapism III compilation CD: 
“NIKOLAS SCHRECK, the prominent voice of Radio Werewolf appears as a vaudevillian, with a perverse neo-psychedelic composition conveying allusions to the deity Lord Sutekh, merging European neoclassical with ethnic Indian music and poetry with an unmistakable Radio Werewolf accent.”

Hear the song  here http://epicureanescapism.bandcamp.com/track/lord-sutekhs-dream

The CD including this  piece, which is illustrated by Nikolas with  art he drew exclusively for this release, is in a luxurious 6 panel 21 x 15 cm folder, 24-page catalogue, p on matt image paper with dispersion varnish and packaged in a transparent, sealable bag. Limited edition 350 copies. Includes unlimited streaming of Epicurean Escapism III via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more. Available now from The Epicurean Websitehttp://epicureanescapism.bandcamp.com/track/lord-sutekhs-dream. See below….

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CD/DVD/cataloguelinie


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Release date:
6th June 2016


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Various/Artists 
“EPICUREAN ESCAPISM III” 
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Epicurean Escapism III Compilation CD + Dave Phillips “Proceed With Inquiry“ DVD + 24-page catalogue

A manifesto of escapist longing, of taking things to a more extreme level, a quest for a complex contextual message: The third and final edition of the Epicurean Escapism compilation series again unites music, film and visual arts contributed by the most interesting acts in the field of experimental industrial music; exploring the viewpoint of escapism, sharing the vision of uncompromising utopian transgression, diving into this subjective counter-world. Enjoy and endure!

The CD starts with British veteran providers of the extreme, SUTCLIFFE JÜGEND, who present a straight forward power noise track with a pulsating electronic hook. Swedish units ALFARMANIA and SKIN AREA dig deep into the depraved consciousness, each of them with of their unique version of morbid industrial resonating with decay, while BUDRUS seduce the listener with beautifully melancholic Lithuanian poetry; German act GERECHTIGKEITS LIGA clank and rattle with their brand of organic industrial. NIKOLAS SCHRECK, the prominent voice of Radio Werewolf appears as a vaudevillian, with a perverse neo-psychedelic composition conveying allusions to the deity Lord Sutekh, merging European neoclassical with ethnic Indian music and poetry with an unmistakable Radio Werewolf accent. A very special treat also comes from LAST DOMINION LOST – one of the last recordings of John Murphy on drums can be heard on their ritual piece “To The Master, A Long Goodnight” dedicated to the master himself.

The contained DVD comprises video works, live performances and collaborations by radical Swiss sound artist DAVE PHILLIPS, sonically active since 1987, part of the notorious SCHIMPFLUCH GRUPPE (with Rudolf Eb.er, Joke Lanz) since 1991, having left his signature in numerous bands, projects and collaborations.

DAVE PHILLIPS uses sound as a means to activate primordial emotions otherwise hidden underneath the debris of civilization. His concept is called “Humanimalism” accordingly, meaning a state of mind that overcomes religious, material und supremacist charges of evolution, acknowledges itself as part of a whole and has grown into an empathic, conscious and connected creature allowing emotion and instinct their equal part in decision-making.

This collection presents his multifaceted work in composition, performance, psycho-acoustics, sonic rituals, voice, video, field recordings, objects and electronics, etc. in a yet unknown complexity and coherence of motion pictures. His performance work is revealed in all its undiluted brutality, the urgency and topicality of his work and his message is clearly evident, captivating and intensely documented.

Along with DAVE PHILLIPS’ video works created between 2014 and 2016, the DVD is a document of unique solo live actions and the notorious Paris 1996 performance of SCHIMPFLUCH-GRUPPE, as well as recent collaborations with G.X. JUPITTER LARSEN, and video artists PAKISE AKIN, JAN VAN HASSELT and REMOTE-CONTROL RECTUM, who in turn created their visual interpretations of PHILLIPS’ audio works. It all amounts to a mind-expanding experience, playing with altered perception and throwing back the viewer onto his own vision.

The compilation package is topped off with a 24-page catalogue with a text about the work of DAVE PHILLIPS, as well as a double page each with collages, pictures, drawings and lyrics representing the audio work of every artist featured on the CD. 

Conception and compilation by The Epicurean 2015/16
Package and catalogue design by The Epicurean 2016
“Proceed with Inquiry” DVD by Dave Phillips 2014–2016
“Our Progress is One-sided – The Cosmos of Dave Phillips” essay by Uwe Schneider, African Paper 2016
CD mastering: Peter Andersson 2016
DVD Format: Region free PAL

Label: The Epicurean (D), Silken Tofu (BE)
Release date: 6th of June 2016
Limited edition of 350 copies 
Packaging: luxurious 6 panel 21 x 15 cm folder + 20-page catalogue, printed on matt image paper with dispersion varnish and packaged in a transparent, sealable bag

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EPICUREAN ESCAPISM III CD 
Playtime: 49 minutes 

1. SUTCLIFFE JÜGEND – Amuse-Bouche 6:04 
2. ALFARMANIA – I Blodets Glöd 11:46 
3. LAST DOMINION LOST – To the Master, a Long Goodnight 5:35 
4. NIKOLAS SCHRECK – Lord Sutekh’s Dream 6:44 
5. BUDRUS – Duobe˙ 4:53 
6. GERECHTIGKEITS LIGA – 23/7 3:53 
7. SKIN AREA – Sighs of Warning 10:14 

DAVE PHILLIPS “PROCEED WITH INQUIRY” DVD 
Playtime: ca. 180 minutes 

VIDEO WORKS: video action / scutigera / truth is invented by liars / threnody / rattus / daniel / iv ea pe 

PERFORMANCES: schimpfluch-gruppe paris / abolishing religion / 130731 / hole/holy / screamscape / extreme rituals 

COLLABORATIONS: as long as the victims may be quietly buried (with REMOTE-CONTROL RECTUM) / samstags nie (with PAKISE AKIN, JAN VAN HASSELT) /i curse you and all your kind (with REMOTE-CONTROL RECTUM) / ?10 (with G.X. JUPITTER LARSEN) / untitled #3 (with MOJU)

Nikolas Schreck On His Conversion to Buddhism

From a 2007 interview:

“Q: After a long time in the Hindu vamamarg tantra you converted to the Buddhist tantra. Can you say why you decided to make this change?

Nikolas Schreck:  Taking refuge in Buddhism wasn’t a conscious decision. It was the result of spontaneous insights that came to me during a particularly intensive meditation session. Namely, what this flash of realization consisted of was that three of the basic Buddhist precepts I’d previously not accepted were undeniably true.

I don’t know how technical you want your paper to be, so I’ll try to put this in relatively simple terms. As you know, the Hindu-based Vama Marga’s yogic practices purify the personal atman, or eternal indestructible soul, refining it and dissolving the clouds of maya until the atman attains the state of one’s chosen deity, or ishtara-deva.

During this particular meditation, however, it dawned on me that yoking one’s mind to simply reincarnate as a deity rather than as a human being was still a relatively low step in the process of liberation. This accords with the Buddhist teaching that most of the gods are still enmeshed in the chain of samsara, and that their positive karma will eventually run out, which will return them to the lower states of being, such as human, animal, ghost, and hell-being. Through that realization, I understood that the aim of union with deity central to the Hindu-based Vama Marga was only one stage, but was not the end of the journey by any means.

The second understanding – and this came without words or conceptual thinking – was that the atman itself was an illusion of maya. In other words, what reincarnates is not a personal permanent soul. It’s merely another temporary and ever-changing set of mental conditions created by one’s actions in this and previous lives. And more importantly, that without letting go of that most subtle spiritual distillation of the ego, one could not possibly be liberated.

The third understanding, and this one broke most dramatically with my own deeply-seated belief system of many decades, was that all that appears to exist is not only maya, as it’s understood in the Hindu-based Vama Marga, but is in fact empty of all qualities when perceived without one’s subjective lens obscuring reality as it is. Previously, I worked on the thesis that behind the play of maya there was a permanently ”real” state of things hidden under the illusion. That idea popped like a balloon during the meditation as well.

Now, I had learned from many Buddhist meditation teachers in the past, most in the Zen tradition. But I had always accepted their meditation techniques without accepting the Buddhist truths stipulating the nature of the god realm as part of the wheel of suffering, rather than transcendent of it, the non-existence of a permanent soul, and emptiness.

In 1983, when my teacher gave me the abisheka into the Vama Marga, I made the typical youthful error of seeking only power, or Shakti, in the feminine force of the left-hand path. And Shakti certainly does provide power. It took many decades of meditative taming of the ego before I accepted that the Hindu left-hand path’s understanding of the leftwards feminine force as power is extremely limited if it’s not balanced by Buddhist left-hand path devotion to the feminine as wisdom, or prajna.

What was also lacking in my previous practice was one of the main things separating Hindu Tantra from Buddhist Tantra – specifically, that the final goal of initiation is not to be reborn in the bliss of the god realm but is to take up the bodhisatttva  way of freeing all sentient beings from the causes of suffering.

A few days after this meditation, I experienced a vision too complicated to describe here. But it confirmed this change of spiritual direction. That convinced me to take refuge in the Three Jewels from a monk. I told him I thought it was ironic that it was through decades of meditative worship of the Hindu goddess Kali  that I broke through to Buddhism. In a matter-of-fact way he said that in his native Sri Lanka some believe that Kali has been liberated by accepting the precepts of Buddhism, so he didn’t think it was strange at all. And when I took the Tantric vows shortly thereafter, I discovered that Kali is in fact revered in the pantheon of the vajrayana yidams.”

Read full interview here: http://nikolasschreck.eu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=55&Itemid=67

“the most evil man in the world?”

“What was it like to during the Cold War and the Satanic Panic in the US to knowingly wear the stigma of “the most evil man in the world”? asks SANCTUARY webzine’s article about NIKOLAS. Partially a translation from Christopher Bickel’s excellent interview with NS in Dangerous Visions, even if you can’t read Czech or use Google Translate, you can enjoy the photos and music links. http://www.sanctuary.cz/12773-chuze-po-ostri-nikolase-schrecka 

ns czech article

CONCERT FILM OF NIKOLAS SCHRECK & JOHN MURPHY’S PERFORMANCE OF “IN HER THRALL: EVOKATION DES EWIG-WEIBLICHEN” NOW ONLINE

FULL CONCERT FILM OF NIKOLAS SCHRECK & JOHN MURPHY’S PERFORMANCE OF “IN HER THRALL: EVOKATION DES EWIG-WEIBLICHEN” FROM 27.09.14 NOW ONLINE:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHKft53rJzI

Nikolas Schreck & John Murphy performed this sonic ritual concert at the Tower Transmissions Festival in Dresden, Germany on 27 September 2014. Filmed by Thorium Heavy Industries. Dedicated to worship of the feminine principle via paying tribute to some of the female singers who most influenced Nikolas musically, the songs featured in the concert are: 
“Chorus Mystica” by J.W Goethe
“Tower Transmissions: A Vajra Song” by Nikolas Schreck
“O, A Weird Flower!” by Nikolas Schreck
“Jonny, wenn du Geburtstag hast” by Friedrich Hoellander
“Sixty Forty” by Nico
“Cruel When Complete” by Dome/A.C Marias 
“Final Day” by Young Marble Giants
“Fade Away and Radiate” by Blondie
“Mater Dolores” by Screamers
“Pariah” by Danielle Dax
“Trinity” by Radio Werewolf
“White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane 
Copyright Nikolas Schreck/World Operations, 2015

Screenshot below of Nikolas Schreck & John Murphy in concert from “In Her Thrall: Evokation des Ewig-Weiblichen” photographed by Thorium Heavy Industries.

NS In her thrall screenshot

 

 

Under the Influence of William S. Burroughs: My Confessional Letter To The Western Lands

By Nikolas Schreckburroughs gun 001

      Originally Printed in Beatdom magazine’s Religion Issue, 2011

Dear Uncle Bill,

Well, Doc, it’s like this. I got hooked on your stuff back in ’75. That monkey leapt on my back with hideous Venusian centipede tenacity. Oh, sure, I kicked the habit. But not before it softened me up for the hard stuff. You know the score, Doc. Starts off with Burroughs. Next thing you know you’re mainlining Celine, Artaud, Mishima, Borges, even Beckett and Pound.

Anyway, Bill, if you’ve got a moment to spare in what I’m sure must be a busy afterlife, there’s a few things I wanted to run by you. A little late I know, but I just never got around to it when you were alive.

It all started during a slumbering Seventies summer. I’d popped out too late in the Baby Boom to make the most of the last decade’s high magical bacchanalia. And now that my adolescent hormones raged at full blast, the psychedelic orgy I’d been waiting to join was already a burnt-out ghost of itself. I’d been weaned on the witchy weirdness of the 60s seeping into every aspect of pop culture for a few years. Now I was stranded in the pre-Disco era’s bland new world, a budding sorcerer’s apprentice without a master.

Lately I’d added meditation to my ceremonial magic routine. I never had to look for the supernatural; it came looking for me. Magic’s reality was self-evident to me. But making sense of the visions, spontaneous astral projections and trances I’d been dealing with since childhood? Not easy without a reliable guide. It’s like you wrote in The Conspiracy back in 1960: “Since early youth I had been searching for some secret, some key to which I could gain access to basic knowledge, answer some of the fundamental questions. I found it difficult to define.”

I hungered for answers. Sure, the sex and drugs part of the peace and love program was still going strong, even six years after flower power wilted in Altamont’s bloody mud. So at least the Love Generation’s lewd and Quaaluded younger sisters were just as easy as their older Aquarian siblings. (Bill, I know this next part won’t grab you, considering your “Girls are Icky” theory but hang in there, okay?)

One of those fey latter-day hippie maidens turned me on to acid and telepathic sex magic on the same memorable afternoon. Despite her whimsical act, this worldly-wise femme fatale was a few years older than me. Turned out she was already hip to you. I didn’t find that out until it was too late.

So, yeah, I grooved on plenty of what was left of free love and mind-expansion, no complaints there. But something was missing. Where was the promised Revolution? How’d the transgressive urgency of recent memory fizzle into the mellowed out torpor of ’75? I’d missed the manic height of the last decade’s party. But I set out on a scavenger hunt for left-over party favors. I dug up psychedelic relics as if excavating lost Lemuria’s ancient treasures.

In a dusty used record store, I hit mind-manifesting pay dirt: Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka. You heard it at its source, Bill, so I don’t have to tell you. The music’s mystic drone alone conjured up more than a thousand and one nights, even without the chemical flying carpets my girlfriend stole· for us from her wasted dad, an underground cartoonist fallen on hard times. Still, I had no context for the sounds I spun again and again on the turntable.

 Not until I stumbled onto the hippie chick’s old man’s newly delivered June issue of Crawdaddy, one of the last counterculture rags still around. And in those fated pages, I zeroed in on these revelatory words:

The music of Joujouka evokes the God Pan, Pan God of Panic, representing the real magical forces that sweep away the spurious. It is to be remembered that the origin of all the arts – music, painting, and writing – is magical and evocative; and that magic is always used to obtain some definite result … the result aimed at would seem to be the creation of energy in the performers and in the audience. For such magic to succeed, it must tap the sources of magical energy, and this can be dangerous.

 

burroughs crawdaddy

No sooner did I dig that spell than I’m gone, Daddy-o, I’ve flipped the most. The photos made you look more like a Mid-Western town mortician than a devotee of Pan. But in that one paragraph, you gave voice to the inarticulate stirrings of my own awakening to music’s magical potential. (Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, Bill; teenage boy just discovering your work, yum yum. Well, try to keep your mind out of the gutter for a minute, I’m trying to be serious here.)

Enraptured, I read on:

Music, like all the arts, is magical and ceremonial in origin. Can rock music return to these ceremonial roots and take it’s fans with it? Can rock music use older forms like Moroccan trance music? There is at present a wide interest among young people in the occult and all means of expanding consciousness. Can rock music appeal directly to this interest? In short, there are a number of disparate tendencies waiting to be synthesized. Can rock music serve as a vehicle for this synthesis?

I owe you for that Eureka moment’s inspiration. It provoked my later field experimentation with sound’s spiritual properties. You taught me that the written word, the camera and the tape recorder are more potent magical tools than the quaint chalices, wands and pentacles I’d been toying with on a makeshift altar piled high with reprinted grimoires. “Art”, you wrote in The Adding Machine, “has become literal and returned to its magical function of making it happen … Now suddenly art makes its lethal eruption in the so-called real world”. That call to action became my manifesto.

The hippie chick reacted to my enthusiasm with all the blase sophistication of her fifteen years by showing me her dad’s cluttered bookcase. It’s stuffed with well-thumbed Burroughs first editions that look like a million joints were rolled on them. My initial impression’s confirmed: This crazy old coot makes the musty fusty likes of Eliphas Levi, MacGregor Mathers, A.E. Waite, Francis Barrett and all the other ye olde hoary wizards of yore seem strictly squaresville, yesterday’s papers, out.

My initiatrix fills me in on the inside scoop that Diamond Dogs,a recent dystopian David Bowie album, was composed according to some method of yours called the Cut-Up. According to Bowie, Cut-Ups are a modern Tarot. Our own scissor and fold oracular operations reveal prophetic synchronicities. Thanks to your example, we mine our dream journals for magical significance. We memorize this credo from one of your texts as a cardinal rule for our deprogramming efforts: “New concepts can only arise when one achieves a measure of disengagement from enemy conditions.” Inspired by this edict, the hippie chick and I resolve to drop out of school as soon as possible.

Soon, between your books and a bong, we’ve got our own Beat Hotel going on her water bed. A conspiracy disrupted only when my accomplice takes off with a coke dealer who’s already got his own car.

Post-Hippiedom’s last patchouli whiff fades into the Pre-Punkdom’s glue-sniffing stench. I’m armed for battle against Control with secret knowledge from my own used copies of paperbacks like The Wild Boys, The Job, and The Ticket that Exploded.I score the last Beat coffeehouse bookstore on the Venice Beach boardwalk’s crumbling ruin. I even paid for some of them.

I take up my education in the magical universe explicated by you, sarcastic Seer of St. Louis. I glean malediction tips unheard of in orthodox occult primers: “I have frequently observed that this simple operation – making recordings and taking pictures of some location you wish to discommode or destroy, then playing the recording back and taking more pictures – will result in accident, fires, removals, especially the last. The target moves.”

My photographic black magic ops ensue, often with swifter success than the old-fashioned methods. I try out your suggestion of implanting subliminal seeds of desired magical change in the minds of strangers by playing tape recordings into crowds. This, as you promised, is a “technique for producing events and directing thought on a mass scale.” These early efforts spur my later utilization of performed and recorded sound as magical conditioning agent. (Funny, for a guy with no particular interest in music, you ended up influencing more music than writing per se.)

Now that you’re dead, Bill, I hope you won’t take this personally. I was bit bad by the Burroughs bug alright. But I skipped over your endless riffs on smack addiction. And the repetitive descriptions of boys getting hanged- or is it hung?- bored me as much as that jailbird De Sade’s tedious passages where the lonely Marquis jerks off over his fetishes. Your lack of female characters also struck me as seriously unbalanced. But I wasn’t looking for literature. Like an obsessed Miskatonic scholar scouring Abdul Alhazred for spells to contact the Old Ones, I delved into your texts to recover gems of magical insight. One of your pragmatic everyday magic pointers always stuck with me:

If you start the day by missing a train, this could be a day of missed trains and missed appointments. You need not just say “Mektoub, it is written.“” The first incident is a warning. Beware of similar incidents. Tighten your schedule. Synchronize your watch. And consider the symbolic meaning of missing train. Watch particularly for what might be a lost opportunity.

What impressed me was that your insights were based on empirical observation of the way reality works rather than reference to systematic dogma.

1983. I jump from the boiling pot of Reagan’s America into the fire of Thatcher’s London just as an occult revival rivaling those of the Sixties and 1890s rears its pierced and tattooed head. Much of this arcane activity’s triggered by the shallow Chaos Magic fad. But that’s only one flavor in the heady if confused brew of Tibetan Tantra, Austin Osman’s Spare’s sigil technique, neo-Odinism, and more sex magic (or magick, as the case may be) than you can shake a stick at.

To my surprise, bickering factions in the British magical subculture (or “occulture” as the trendy buzzword had it) agreed that you’d paved new ground. To be sure, this Burroughsian current mostly consisted of a superfluous use of the number 23, ceaseless parroting of “Nothing is True. Everything is Permitted”, stoned contemplation of flickering home-made Dream Machines, over-reliance on the Cut-Up method by the under-talented, and indiscriminate injection of every high and low available, all in imitation of the Master.

Observing the genesis of this Burroughs cult made me wonder: didn’t the lack of specific practice in your magical method encourage a dangerous vagueness of procedure? Didn’t the eclecticism of your approach give license to anything goes dilettantism?

In London, I took up left-hand Tantra under a guru’s supervision. I embarked on a study of ancient Egyptian magic. This grounding in tradition revealed some drawbacks in your free-wheeling strategy. Misgivings strengthened when I read one of your latest, The Cities of the Red Night. On one hand, that novel’s inclusion of the same kind of Sethian sex rites I performed at the time was an auspicious synchronicity. But these three sentences troubled me: “According to psychic dogma, sex itself is incidental and should be subordinated to the intent of the ritual. But I don’t believe in rules. What happens, happens.”

My Tantric teacher insisted that sublimating worldly sexual desire into spiritual energy was the key to liberation. So I couldn’t agree with your laissez-faire attitude. And as for letting “what happens, happen”, well, is there a more sure-fire recipe for magical disaster?

As I learned more of your biography, as opposed to that iconic persona you were burdened with, sobering disillusion set in. How to reconcile your nearly pathological misogyny with the veneration of the feminine integral to the left-hand path? And your crippling depressions struck me as odd. If your magical theories couldn’t alleviate your misery, how effective were they in praxis?

Oh, and remember what you wrote about “the underlying assumption of magic is the assertion of will as the primary moving force in the universe”? Or this: “From the viewpoint of magic, no death, no illness, no misfortune, accident, war, or riot is accidental. There are no accidents in the world of magic. And will is another word for animate energy.”

Then how come you couldn’t direct your animate energy to sever your craving for heroin? I mean, if sorcery can’t even stop compulsive behavior rooted in our own nervous systems, how can we hope to change phenomena beyond our bodies? Reminded me of that earlier opiated magician, Aleister Crowley, whose grandiose claims of superhuman Will didn’t impress me in light of his helpless addiction to heroin, cocaine and ether. Your old pal James Grauerholz says you scoffed at the Great Beast. But along with his habit, didn’t you share the same fatal discrepancy between theory and practice?

And, hey, how’s a smart guy like you fall for such mercantile quackery as Hubbard’s Scientology, Castaneda’s discredited make-believe Yaqui yakkety yak and Reich’s orgone therapy? Mind you, I’ve wasted my time in plenty of spiritual wrong turns too. But you continued to find value in these bogus systems well into your old age.

And here’s the kicker, Bill. What about all this Hassan ibn Sabbah business? Considering your disdain for the way of the Prophet, it’s strange that you, of all people, introduced that pious Muslim Imam’s name into popular culture. After all, when you lived under a hashish cloud in Morocco, you had no more respect for Islam than you did for the Methodist Christian faith of your fathers, writing that the “prayer-mewling Allah freaks is molded from the same crock of shit.”

Frankly, you could’ve learned more about real sorcery from the North African Sufi folk tradition all around you than you ever did from that Castaneda charlatan. But I digress. What I was getting at, Bill, is this: I don’t care if you repeated it until you were blue in the face. Hassan ibn Sabbah never said any such thing as “Nothing is True. Everything is Permitted.”

Yeah, yeah, I know. Brion Gysin told you some French novelist, Betty Bouthoul, had her fictional Hassan say that line in the death bed scene in her The Master of the Assassins. So what? Look, I hate to be a party pooper. But fifteen minutes of research proves that the real Hassan ibn Sabbah was as traditional a moralistic Ismaili Imam as ever bowed down to Mecca. And those fanciful stories about his Assassins glimpsing artificial hashish-induced paradise to encourage them to carry out their holy hits? Scholarship’s shown that was all propaganda spread by the sect’s Arab and Western enemies.

Everything is permitted? You’ve got to be kidding. Hassan enforced Shariah law so strictly, he executed one of his own sons for drinking alcohol! And this is your dissident role model for your anti-authoritarian crusade against Control and conformity? Poor Hassan’s turban’s spinning around in his grave at the thought of some Western junkie infidel so grievously misrepresenting him.

Call me an old fuddy-duddy literalist, if you must, Bill. But effective magic must be based on rigorously researched data, not half-baked speculation. Post-modernism or not, sloppy intelligence equals sloppy results. In other words: Some things are true. Not everything is permitted.

I see now that my youthful wishful thinking projected an ideal on to you no real human being could live up to. Besides, you’d never claimed to be anyone’s guru. But in light of how much damage a faulty spiritual role model can wreak, aren’t we obliged to get our facts straight?

I don’t want to be a downer, Bill. But remember that spiritual retreat in Vermont you went on in August of ’75 at the Tantric Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa’s invitation? Well, your diary of that event exposed your spiritual approach’s fundamental problem. Or was it spiritual at all? In an admirably objective 1999 speech your collaborator James Grauerholz gave at Trungpa’s Naropa Institute, he observed that you weren’t “a purely spiritual seeker.”

CTR-Burroughs-Ginsberg-WEB
Trungpa, Burroughs and Ginsberg at the Naropa Institute

Grauerholz defined your journey as “a lifelong quest for spiritual techniques by which to master his unruly thoughts and feelings, to gain a feeling of safety from oppression and assault from without, and from within.” And I think he hit the nail on the head here.

See, Inspector Lee, this fickle shopping around for “techniques” is what separates the occult tourist’s recreational escapism from the genuine path to liberation. All too apparent in your Retreat Diaries. Here you’ve had the karmic good fortune to take a retreat under the supervision of Chogyam Trungpa, one of the great modern Tantric masters. But instead of meditating in silence, you indulge in the discursive thought process such a recess from worldly activity’s meant to combat. You wrote:

I am more concerned with writing than I am with any sort of enlightenment … I use meditation to get material for writing. I am not concerned with some abstract nirvana. It is exactly the visions and fireworks that are useful for me, exactly what all the masters tell us we should pay as little attention to as possible. Telepathy, journeys out of the body – manifestations, according to Trungpa, are mere distractions. Exactly. Distraction: fun, like hang-gliding or surfboarding or skin diving. So why not have fun? I sense an underlying dogma here to which I am not willing to submit … The purposes of a Bodhisattva and an artist are different and perhaps not reconcilable

As Grauerholz mentioned, Trungpa coined a phrase for this entertaining but unenlightening grab-bag approach common to Western esoteric dabblers. As Trungpa wrote:

Walking the spiritual path properly is a very subtle process; It is not something to jump into naively. There are numerous sidetracks which lead to a distorted, ego-centered version of spirituality; we can deceive ourselves into thinking we are developing spiritually when instead we are strengthening our egocentricity through spiritual techniques. This fundamental distortion may be referred to as spiritual materialism.

Sorry, but you know that part in the retreat diaries where you explain why you think the fantasy teaching of Castaneda’s fictional Don Juan character is superior to “the closed, predictable karma universe of the Buddhists”? Spiritual materialism at its worst. So you wasted your retreat playing around with astral protection and dream analysis instead of using the authentic Buddhist methods to defeat the cause of your suffering.

In all fairness, maybe you had different fish to fry. Could be all you sought was relief from the pain of your particular spiritual plight. Because when all’s said and done, Bill, seems to me your big hang-up was the stumbling block of demonic possession.

“Why,” you once asked, “do these demons have such necessity to possess, and why are they so reluctant to leave? The answer is, that’s the only way they can get out of hell – it’s sort of like junk. They possess somebody and they want to hang onto it because that’s their ticket out of hell.”

Know what I think your problem was? Oldest story in the book. Some poor sap gets zapped by the gods to take up the tribal shaman gig. When he’s not looking, some sneaky spirit or other slips in. Bang, the shamanic sickness hits him hard. It’s like witch doctor rehab. If the shaman-to-be doesn’t hang in there for the whole treatment, he’s up the Amazon without a paddle. If that freeloader inside him isn’t 86’d chop chop, the blocked energies drive the failed shaman kookoo. Stay stuck in that state and the come-down makes junk sickness seem like a breeze.

Now, if we’re talking some tribal yokel in a tropical rain forest or Outer Mongolian cave, no sweat; everyone knows what’s what right off the bat. But what if the gods decide some big city slicker boho dope addict doing the exile bit in Mexico City’s their man? Guy like that comes down with the sickness in 1951, only place he’ll be doing his shamanizing is the friendly neighborhood funny farm. If you’re lucky, you end up pushing around a shopping cart, mumbling about secret messages from Uranus.

Hell, Hombre Invisible, you said it yourself:

I am forced to the appalling conclusion, that I would never have become a writer but for Joan’s death, and to a realization of the extent to which this event has motivated and formulated my writing. I live with the constant threat of possession, and a constant need to escape from the possession, from Control. So the death of Joan brought me in contact with the invader, the Ugly Spirit, and maneuvered me into a life-long struggle, in which I had no choice except to write my way out.

Every Burroughs buff from the Bowery to Bizerte’s read that rap so often, it’s like quoting scripture in church. But just like the parishioners snoozing in the pews, I don’t think anyone bothers to take it seriously. We all know how you shot your old lady in the head during a drunken dare, so no need to rehash old news. Some pesos cross a crooked policia’s palm and presto, you walked without facing a trial, got away with murder. You skipped Mexico City a free man. But were you really free?

Years later, you wrote, “I’ve always felt myself to be controlled at some times by this completely malevolent force.” A few hours before your William Tell act bombed big, you had a premonition that “something awful was going to happen. I remember I was walking down the street, and tears started just streaming down my face. Well, if that happens to you, watch · out, baby.”

Seven years after the grim shoot’em up in Mexico went down, Brion Gysin named that entity. Playing around in Paris with the Cut-Up method he cooked up to decode “what words are really saying”, he came up with this fortune cookie: “For ugly spirit shot Joan because …”. Way you read it, the message came through loud and clear: “‘Ugly spirit shot Joan to be cause’- that is, to maintain a hateful parasitic occupation.”

The academic lit crit crowd who deconstruct your work wouldn’t know a demon if it bit them on their collective ass. And your detractors dismiss your “I was possessed” plea bargain as a fancy way of copping out. Me, I take you at your word, Bill. I think you spent years hunting down a cure for a metaphysical malady even Freud, L. Ron Hubbard, Castaneda and the best smack in town couldn’t swing. Who’s to say your life’s work of rubbing out the “word virus” wasn’t some mixed-up displaced shamanic desire to heal? Isn’t one of the shaman’s job duties reporting back to the tribe about the underworld? Well, didn’t you do that in spades?

But you know what really sells me on this failed shaman angle? It’s how only two years after the Ugly Spirit showed up, you’re off to Peru to search for ayahuasca, or yage. All you were thinking was maybe that miracle drug brewed from the vine of souls could finally cure your junk habit. But local lore has it that the plant’s indwelling spirits send out a telepathic signal to cats who’ve got what it takes to be a shaman.

If you really were following the shamanic calling, boy, what a dud it turned out to be. You went all that way to slurp up the noxious concoction. All you got for your trouble was nausea and some inner home movies of infernal cities you converted into material for your books. Not even close to a cure.

Wasn’t the last time a potent soul-cleansing substance didn’t make a dent in that stubborn demon of yours. Same thing happened when that that smiling snake-oil salesman Leary recruited you and your Beat brethren Kerouac and Ginsberg for his Harvard psilocybin project.

After one dose, you told Leary, “My work and understanding benefits from Hallucinogens MEASURABLY”. But soon you derided his chemical mysticism crusade as “a terminal sewer,” mocking him for his pitch hawking “the garden of delights immortality cosmic consciousness the best ever in drug kicks.”

But did you throw the LSD baby out with the Leary bath water?

“I don’t like any of the stronger psychedelics,” you said later. “I would never take LSD… I hate it…. I’ve tried it. I just hate it. I don’t like the feeling…. It makes me nervous. My coordination isn’t good and there’s a metallic taste in my mouth and there’s nothing I like about it. I’ve taken mescaline, psilocybin. The only one I’ve been able to use with any consistency is cannabis.”

You ask me, bad trips mirror bad states of mind. Show me a guy’s drug of choice, and I’ll show you where that cat’s at initiation-wise. Resistance to the psychedelic experience can be the sign of metaphysical trauma the reluctant psychonaut’s trying to avoid. Combine that with a taste for numbing one’s pain with your faves booze, smack and weed and the prospects aren’t good.

Don’t get me wrong. Even the holiest high can’t induce true enlightenment. But entheogens can make for a useful sneak preview before setting out on the long hard road to serious initiation. Your visions, prophetic dreams, out of body states, your innate knack for magic – they all suggest a mind ripe for spiritual training. But the real deal, the genuine mystical experience, eluded you. As did the states of bliss and equipoise marking progress on the path. Sadly, you stayed stuck in a phase of awakening which the Dalai Lama’s termed “revulsion with samsara”, never emerging from that necessary dark night of the soul.

I was glad you finally underwent an exorcism in 1992. I heard the medicine man supervising the sweat lodge ceremony saw a winged white-skulled being flee from your body. Most malevolent spirit he’d ever tangled with. You confirmed that you’d seen that deathshead demon many times before.

So what exactly got into you? The Ugly Spirit matches the I.D’s of a few Aztec and Mayan supernatural suspects. Mexico City, the scene of the crime, was built over Aztec temples. Some local elder god lurking around could’ve slipped into your stoned psyche with the ease of a cat burglar climbing into an open window.

Maybe, as some of your less charitable critics claim, you were the proverbial monkey (or junky) with a typewriter, accidentally hitting on some brilliant passages in an otherwise uneven body of work. Comes down to it, though, I think your opus rests on a deeper religious foundation than your possession obsession alone. Yeah, I know you always advised to “never trust a religious son of a bitch.” But beneath the blasphemy act, were you a closet religious SOB yourself?

Sure, you bashed organized religion aplenty, denouncing Christianity as “the most virulent spiritual poison ever administered to a disaster­ prone planet.” That kind of talk’s led some to assume that your critique of established faith was just another hipster’s knee-jerk irreverence. I think it was a disappointed seeker’s disdain for religious hypocrisy.

“I’ve always believed in God and the possibility of life after death,” you said, “but as something that must be fought for, like everything else. I can relate much more to a dedicated cassock than to an atheist. Atheists bore me.”

Your druggie rebel image distracts from the fact that your books are crowded with more deities than The Odyssey. And your characters interact with them as if divine power over the mortal realm goes without saying. Cities of the Red Night kicks off with an invocation that makes your theurgic agenda plain. Your final trilogy can be seen as a series of spells calling on the gods.

The Place of Dead Roads reveals your theology’s Gnostic cast: “the present God or gods were not the creators. They took over something already created and are using it for their own purposes, which is not at all to our advantage … To put it country simple: the Christian God exists. He is not the Creator. He stole someone else’s work after the manner of his parasitic species.”

Gnostic, too, was your pervasive sense of ontological wrongness at reality’s heart. A haunted suspicion that we’ve been tricked by a lying Demiurge you symbolized in your malignant corporations, syndicates and intelligence agencies. Despite your novels’ semen-soaked hypersexuality, your disgust at being trapped in the body’s lusts suggests a Gnostic dualist’s hatred of matter.

Failed shaman, Gnostic, or apocalyptic prophet? Whatever you were, Bill, we’d have to go back to pagan antiquity and your main man Shakespeare to find a major wordsmith who so consistently weaves divine intervention, magic in everyday life, psychic phenomena, demonic possession, curses, fate, and life after death into his fiction. Not as harmless Tolkienseque fantasy but as determining factors of the human condition. And what other modern novelist of note wrestled so earnestly with the fundamentally religious mystery of evil? Least beatific of the Beats, your nightmare vision depicts an infernal cartography only Dante and Bosch can rival.

In The Place of Dead Roads, your alter ego Kim Carsons says he “never doubted the possibility of an afterlife or the existence of gods. In fact, he intends to become a god, to shoot his way to immortality, to invent his way, to write his way.”

Getting to the god realm takes some doing, but here’s hoping you made it. Frankly, a karmic load like you lugged around makes divinity a long shot. With a murdered wife on your hands and your affinity for Pazuzu, Lord of Fevers and Plagues, and Humwawa, whose face is a mass of entrails, I’d hate to think you’re waiting for the Man to show up in the Hell realms for a few billion aeons.

Well, enough of my speculation. What do you have to say? Can the tried and true Cut-Up be applied to necromancy? Where are you now, Bill? What were you reborn as? Let’s splice an old Robert E. Howard short story to a little Dale Carnegie to see if you can slip a posthumous message through the cracks:

The shape he become the first president he had visioned dimly in States Steel Company the wings of sleep.

Hmm. Sounds ominous. But a tad inconclusive. Still, that’s got to be you, Bill, I’d recognize your style anywhere. Maybe you’ll come through clearer if we mix a Sax Rohmer Fu Manchu novel with a fragment of a pulp magazine’s detective story:

This quest the door of 4B with the yield no result. He could be moving in sinister electric lights.

Now that’s more like it! Anyway, whatever lights you’re moving through these days, I just wanted to get these musings off to you and say thanks for everything. If the spirit moves you, drop me a line, even if it’s only a coded Cut-Up on my ouija board some rainy night.

Down Under: A Musical-Metaphysical Memorial for John Murphy (1959-2015)

By Nikolas Schreck

NikolasSchreck&JohnMurphy_474_©2014ZeenaSchreck
John Murphy and Nikolas Schreck, Berlin, July 2014. Photo by Zeena Schreck.

When extraordinary beings exit this mortal realm, extraordinary signs and synchronicities often mark their passage. Seven days ago, just such a sign appeared only hours before the consciousness of my friend and musical collaborator John Murphy separated from its most recent physical envelope.

On October 10th, John’s wife Annie and a small circle of intimates, including Zeena and myself, held an all-night vigil at John’s bedside to support him in his departure. Unbeknownst to us then as we witnessed this nocturnal transition, John’s long-time comrade and frequent musical partner Andrew King, not yet fully aware of the extreme gravity of John’s condition and the imminence of his end, was performing at a music festival in Leipzig.

In honor of John – as you can see and hear in the video below filmed by Thorium Heavy Industries – King played a cover version of the cover version of the Kirlian Camera song “Schmerz”, a memorably eerie rendition of which John’s Shining Vril solo project had recorded in 2001. So while John’s spirit was in the process of dissolving itself from its pain-wracked body in Berlin, Andrew King in Leipzig played a recording of John’s own distinctive and immediately recognizable voice reciting these all too timely and appropriate lyrics:

Oh father, I appeal my spirit in your hand. And while he was saying this, his spirit left the body. He stayed with his head bent on his chest. Oh, how was his mother feeling in that moment when there’s so much pain? She was seeing her son fainting, screaming and crying and dying … Saint John, who he loved more than anyone else, what he was doing? … Contemplating her beloved son, weeping and crying in vain … she could not relieve the sorrow …

Here is Andrew King’s cover of “Schmerz” from October 10th, and below that is John’s original version, in which his voice can be more clearly heard:

In effect, this meant that John’s final public performance, even if only by proxy, found him intoning his own last rites at the very hour of his impending death. Considering the significant role the use of music as ritual played in John’s long career, there really couldn’t have been a more fitting finale.

Making a living by beating on things was in John Murphy’s blood. And yet even many of his most ardent admirers didn’t know that this world-wandering drummer was the scion of an equally peripatetic percussionist father. Russ Murphy, who introduced his son to the sticks at an early age, also made a name for himself bringing unfamiliar sounds from Australia to farflung locales far from his Melbourne home.

Russ Murphy, John Murphy's father, at the drum, center, with Graeme Bell and the Australian Jazz Band, 1945.
Russ Murphy, John Murphy’s father, at the drum, center, with Graeme Bell and the Australian Jazz Band, 1945.

The elder Murphy played drums in the 1940s and 1950s for the pioneering Antipodean Dixieland band led by Graeme Bell, a local legend recognized as the father of Australian jazz. Decades before his son John’s nomadic musical career brought him to play Eastern Europe in similar fashion, Russ Murphy kept the beat for Bell’s Australian Jazz Band during their historic Cold War tour of Czechoslovakia in 1947 as ambassadors of Western music behind the Iron Curtain. During their visit to Prague in ’47, Russ Murphy sat behind the drum kit on one of Bell‘s best known recordings, an album which includes this lively rendition of “The Saints Go Marching In”. Bridging two generations of drumming Murphys, it’s an appropriately thanatic selection for this memorial, since that syncopated hymn has a long tradition as the favored upbeat dirge in New Orleans jazz funerals. Not only is that John’s father you’ll hear here “when the drums begin to bang”, several rare photographs of him also illustrate the accompanying video.

As I mentioned in this September 2014 Heathen Harvest interview about a then-upcoming collaborative concert I performed with John in Dresden, one of the many bonds between us was our upbringing in households steeped in jazz: http://heathenharvest.org/2014/09/10/in-her-thrall-an-interview-with-nikolas-schreck/

To fully understand John’s musical legacy, this little-recognized familial jazz connection is more important than has been realized. For one thing, the music John recorded and performed with his own bands or as solo compositions – a very different beast than the music he played as a session man for others – shared certain key features with the jazz tradition: a grounding in free-form improvisation, a spontaneous expression of the present moment in sonic terms, and a tendency to transcend the merely representational in favor of exploring the aesthetics of pure sound untethered to any explicit pre-programmed meaning or “message.” As John put it in his last interview: “I’m just more free flowing, like in a free flowing jazz band, you know, where a third voice speaks through you.”

Portrait of John Murphy by Zeena Schreck.
Portrait of John Murphy by Zeena Schreck.

John’s astoundingly eclectic musical output was often, and much to his chagrin, categorized with the lazy genre labels of “industrial”, “dark ambient” “noise” “post-punk” and “experimental” among many others. This annoyed him for various reasons, one of the most significant being his keen awareness that unlike many (if not most) of the practitioners of those subcultural styles, John was a trained and seasoned musician who actually knew what he was doing but who chose to deliberately break the standard rules when it suited the material.

In shunning those convenient pre-fab tags which all too many music journalists and fans throw around, John himself, with more precision, almost always referred to his own music as “abstract.”

Abstract music, like abstract art, often confounds conventional expectations by not being “about something”. When we consider that one of the definitions of “abstract” is “existing only in the mind; separate from embodiment” and that the word derives from a Latin root meaning “pulled away from, detached” we have a key not only to John’s creative work but also to his singular being. Like any true artist, John, while keenly observant of the world around him, was in essence an outsider, “pulled away from” and “detached”, viewing humanity’s foibles with wry amusement from a distance. He was, as the Sufis aspire to be, “of the world, but not of it.”

Even in the varied subcultural musical style “communities” of self-proclaimed transgressives which he helped to pioneer, from the earliest days of punk, the so-called Industrial “occulture” of the early 80s, to the later Neo-Folk niche which they spawned, John remained present but somehow apart, a misfit among misfits. To his credit, and as a testament to his character, despite being on the front line of the endless series of feuds, bitch fights, internal purges, and back-biting internecine civil warfare which characterizes a “scene” which paradoxically boasts loudly of Honor, Loyalty and Comradeship, John never lowered himself to such Kindergarten spats. Instead, he quietly and professionally attended to his musical duties without engaging in the many Prima Donna dramas raging around him.

Informing this quality of amused detachment from worldly shenanigans was John’s spiritual perspective, often misunderstood by those who mistakenly assumed that he shared the Satanic, Odinic, or atheist materialist ideologies of some of the musicians he worked with. I have seen several well-intentioned farewells from fans and friends wishing John a speedy rune-adorned ascent to Walhalla, among other paganistic sentiments. Yes, as a student of all forms of spirituality and mythology, he was certainly conversant with the runes and the Northern tradition and sympathetic to their celebration. But John was always quite adamant in defining himself as a Gnostic.

Even before he had a name for it, he often explained to me, John felt a sense of profound alienation from this world, which he sensed was somehow cosmically “wrong”. A necessary starting point of any Gnostic process of initiation which has much in common with the initial “revulsion for Samsara” needed to cultivate the higher stages of Buddhist renunciation.

Even as a child, he sensed that there were other dimensions and realities interlapping and interconnecting with this one. A very early turning point in this understanding of his came during his youth when he read a comic book which concerned a girl who insisted to her parents that she was the separated twin of a creature from another world. Judged to be crazy by her parents, the girl is sent to a psychologist and priest for counseling. Meanwhile, in another dimension, an octopus like creature tells her parents that it is the separated twin of a human girl in another world, who her parents naturally consider a monstrosity. The creature, like her lost counterpart on Earth, is sent to her world’s equivalent of a psychologist and priest. Somehow, this tale of separation struck a deep chord in him and he attributed to it the genesis for his spiritual search.

He often mentioned a visionary dream which deepened his interest in Gnosticism and his awareness of multiple alternate realities in which he was a citizen of Alexandria, Egypt in a technologically advanced future. In this Alexandria of tomorrow, the original Gnostic mystery schools had prevailed over mainstream Christianity. John awakened from that dream feeling that that other reality was where he really belonged. In his study of Gnostic history, he later discovered that Alexandria had actually been a main center of the Gnostic teachings.

When he traveled to Egypt, John said he was overwhelmed by a strong sense of familiarity and homecoming in its ancient ruins. His fascination with all things ancient Egyptian was most pronounced in his devotion to the God Thoth, the Neter of wisdom. Even his initial attraction to his later wife Annie was sparked by the fact that at the time he first met her she sported a Cleopatra hairdo and Egyptoid makeup which made her the living hieroglyph of the pharaohnic girl of his dreams.

John’s Egyptophilia made his participation in the Sethian sonic rite held by Zeena at the Egyptian Museum of Leipzig during the Wave Gotik Treffen earlier this year much more than an aesthetic exercise. For Seth, according to the lore of Khem, is the father of the unnaturally born Thoth, and the Sethian Liberation Movement Zeena founded is ultimately a Gnostic religion. John had also intended on having an image of Abraxas, the Gnostic god synonymous with Seth, tattooed on his flesh as a sign of his Gnostic affinity when we were planning a concert honoring that particular form of the deity. 

John had several vivid past life experiences, and was always a firm believer in reincarnation, long before his looming discarnation made it an urgent matter of more than philosophical interest. Upon his first visit to Paris, he was certain that he had been there before as a starving Bohemian artist in the 19th century. John attributed his lack of talent for drawing, an art he admired, to a karmic payback for squandering his talent as an artist in that former existence. He also recalled impressions of at least one life as a crusader knight in the Holy Lands, an experience he was sure molded some of his ways of thinking.

One of the aspirations of the Medicine Buddha practice John diligently performed during the many-month ordeal of his terminal illness is that even if the practitioner has reached the point where no cure is possible, the mantra’s blessings will allow the afflicted to survive long enough to die under the proper spiritual conditions favorable to liberation. This aspiration came to pass this past summer, when John almost miraculously awakened from a coma that he was not expected to survive. He underwent several mystical experiences while unconscious and hovering very near to death, including what he described as “seeing God” and “deep insights into the true nature of humanity.”

Determined to make music to the end, John was even inspired by the hallucinations he saw in that extended altered state to plan a musical recording to capture the sounds and voices he heard. Although he was weakened and frail after his release from the hospital, John had the tenacity to attend the August 22 Berlin premiere of a concert film made of our “In Her Thrall” performance and even took to the stage after the film to speak about our work together. That memorable evening at NK turned out to be his last public appearance.

Final public appearance: John Murphy and Nikolas Schreck at the premiere of the concert film "In Her Thrall", 22 August 2015, at Berlin's NK.
Final public appearance: John Murphy and Nikolas Schreck at the premiere of the concert film “In Her Thrall”, 22 August 2015, at Berlin’s NK. Photo by Julian Percy.

On October 10 2015, John’s final interview, conducted only weeks earlier during his unlikely recovery from the coma, was posted online by Germany’s African Paper blog. Speaking rather wistfully of the many musical projects he still hoped to complete, John told his interviewer “Nikolas Schreck and I might, as well, do some more works together in the future.”

And as soon as I read that line I knew without a doubt that that future would never come. Only a few hours later, I received the dreaded call informing me that I should rush to the hospital immediately as John’s condition had worsened drastically.

After the enthusiastic reception our first collaborative concert garnered, John and I had planned many ambitious and challenging recordings and concerts to come. As recently as April of this year, John, though ailing, still had just enough strength to rehearse with me with some of those performances in mind.

I’m absolutely sure I’m not the only musician among John’s many colleagues who feels that the loss of the inimitable and one of a kind Murphy magic punches an irreparable hole in our life and work. One of the tragedies of his all too early exit from this illusory state we call life is that even after decades of sterling sonic accomplishment John was still filled with enthusiasm and curiosity about forging into new and unknown musical land. There are a billion things that only he would understand that I know I’ll want to tell him. Alas, the only thing left to tell him now is…. goodbye.

P.S: John had been clean and sober for decades. But there’s no doubt that the damage he sustained through drink and drugs in the reckless 80s played a great part in hastening his early demise. If you admired John and his work, the best tribute you could pay him is to stop subscribing to the stupid and self-destructive rock and roll lifestyle that insists that alcohol and other drugs are necessary components of playing or enjoying music.

Om Amidewa Hri!

Zeena Schreck’s brilliantly curated tribute to John’s work on Network Awesome says it all:

http://networkawesome.com/2015-10-15​

John’s illuminating final interview from African Paper: 

http://africanpaper.com/2015/10/10/so-if-you-dont-like-it-there-must-be-something-good-about-it-interview-with-john-murphy/

For all ten of you not on Facebook, here was the original farewell message I had posted there on my official page on October 12:
“John Murphy not only marched to a different drummer, he WAS the different drummer others marched to. John’s passage from this world yesterday morning is not only a profound personal loss to his beloved wife Annie and his friends and family. It’s also a bleak moment for the many lovers of adventurous music around the world who were moved by his versatile artistry during his long and distinguished career as a bolduncompromising pioneer of the sonic avant-garde. As he said in his final interview, John’s life-long spiritual search had brought him to “Gnostic Buddhism”. In the past harrowing months of his brave struggle with many maladies he found the strength and wisdom needed to face the inevitable end in the Medicine Buddha practice. Although his consciousness has now separated from his physical body, please join me in praying that John now makes a swift transit from this samsaric illusion to the Pure Land and ultimate liberation. I will miss him greatly, as a true friend and as an irreplaceable musical collaborator. Those of you who experienced John’s acerbic and sarcastic Antipodean black humor know that he is even now no more sentimental or reverent about the final practical joke death plays on us all than he was about all the other absurdities of life. He made his transition from our realm in the company of Annie and other supportive and loving friends, including myself, and as per his request, ZEENA – Official Zeena Schreck performed the Tantric Buddhist rites of consciousness transference for him as the clear light of dawn shone over Berlin. I will post a more detailed appreciation of the man and the musician on my blog, but for now: OM AMI DEWA HRIH! NS”

THE OFFICIAL ONLINE PRESENCE OF NIKOLAS SCHRECK