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“Would you like to have your Amygdala tickled? Or watch a Jellyfish jump up a mountain? Perhaps you would rather feel like a brain floating in a fish tank, or watch molecules being juggled..A room with an Epiphany…or maybe an Extra-Celestial Aquatic Garden?..these and other Adventures in Shpongleland, can be found in……….‘MUSEUM of CONSCIOUSNESS’ The ground breaking new new album from Shpongle. A Gigantic sound complex, with each room a different and unique experience into higher multi dimensional realms. There are many corridors and mazes, but you have access to 7 of these rooms…..come and enjoy….” Raja Ram
There is a certain satisfaction I feel when I look at the five Shpongle album covers together. A canon that has expanded naturally and that includes Are You Shpongled? (1998), Tales of the Inexpressible (2001), Nothing Lasts… But Nothing is Lost (2005), Ineffable Mysteries from Shpongleland (2009), and now Museum of Consciousness. It is like watching a loved one continue to achieve accolades, each one plaqued on the wall. It is like cracking the cover on the newest Game of Thrones or Haruki Murakami book, and even knowing that nothing lasts, you feel like this piece of the overall body of work will not be lost as long as there are intelligent beings living on this planet. I have a theory that Shpongolia exists either as all dark matter in the universe or somewhere in the 11th dimension, and that this music is stored there where time and space have no agency.
An aural tour of Simon Posford and Raja Ram’s Museum is an hour long excursion with just the perfect amount of theater, psy-trance influences, and gonzo composition. After years of playing Shpongle Live Band shows all across the globe, it is clear that what began as a few studio production sessions has grown into quite possibly the greatest show on Earth. I gotta’ say, I would love if the duo would commission a few bonkers videos to go along with some of the music. My first few tastes of Museum left me feeling neutral, unsure how to react or even disseminate what I had heard. Now, after a week, I am engulfed by the melodies and enticed by the subtleties. Although Si and Raja have expressed interest in ending things at five albums and leaving the game while they are on top, I know without a doubt that Shpongle is a movement that won’t be dwindling in our lifetimes. :::)
Ranchsauce’s Guided Tour of Museum of Consciousness:
“Brain in a Fish Tank” – The album begins like a music box, one of those ones with a little ballerina twirling around the middle. Then Raja steps out from behind a corner to lead us flute first into first of seven rooms. “Release the you that’s inside me. The dance macabre can now begin. Stumble floating through the sound protective circles all around. Break apart golden prisms, wage on through. Holographic pyramids, we see behind close eyelids,” vocalist Michele Adamson muses. Where once our brains were feeling like frisbees, they are now floating constricted in a fish tank. It is a dark introspection, a peer inside a room that many may not know how to look for. A lot of moving sounds throughout this track, and yet I think we are meant to feel pretty immobile as we listen. There are the usual weird and puzzling vocals saying outlandish things in voices either unnaturally high or low. Raja’s arpeggiated flute playfully urges us on. A little round of Shpongolese chanting draws the first room’s door to a close. When this track was released as a single, I knew great things were in store.
“How the Jellyfish Jumped Over the Mountain” – I want to preface this one by saying that through a mutual friend of Simon and Raja, I was able to hear this track in the winter earlier this year at the Glitch Loft in Boston. The name is comprised from a discussion held between Simon and Raja more or less regarding evolutionary history. I was so excited about hearing it again, that every chance I got since then I would comment “JELLYFISH” on various Shpongle related Facebook postings. I think that this is the most original track on the album, with a swing to it that I can’t compare to any other Shpongle track in the past. Distorted and tangled strings merge with deep, moody synth patches. There are moments reminiscent of Dark Side of the Moon. Ghostly and manic. The outro has a little bit of that creepy “Thriller” voice going on until it goes all deemster on us and exclaims, “Deflated, deflated, deflated like a ball-ooooon!” Complexity abounds. I can only imagine the many colorful blocks making up the Logic Pro arrangement.
“Juggling Molecules” – Aqueous and bouncing. Beautiful pacing in the intro as the layers compound. Heavy suspenseful low end. A room of reverb and repeat. I love the harmony and vocal round as the music wanes. Undoubtedly Shpongle, as the familiar flamenco guitar paints a smooth nu-jazz landscape of a serene weigh station before we move into a low BPM deep trance section leveled off by what could either be the blast of a horn or a strong pull of bow on string. Sounds sort of like The Zap! and Supersillyus. Somehow, this track is one of their more simple creations and yet far from mundane.
“The Aquatic Garden of Extra-Celestial Delights” – Right smack in the middle the album is the longest, and in my opinion, best track off the album. A distorted Englishman tells us of his experience defying space time while on a psychedelic trip. He wouldn’t be the first Brit to do a little cross dimensional leaping. Makes me want to throw on my Google Glass and loincloth and get neo-tribal on the dancefloor. The way music like this makes someone like me feel is akin to the noodling around a Deadhead would do at his 100th show back in 1989. An impalpable female voice sings, “Our topple, our tumble, our spiral from grace. We’re held together, yet out of place. Beyond the veil lies a frequency suggesting a whisper, sweet ecstasy.” Then the vocalist’s android foil plays it back for us. This track sounds like something Simon created a decade ago that would fit right in between “Star Shpongled Banner” and “A New Way to Say Hooray.” Classic Shpongle future Earth pounding indigenous to Shpongolia.
“Further Adventures in Shpongleland” – A trip back to that region of Shpongolia that we came to know so well in the previous album. Simon’s guitar riffs glimmer as they create a strange loop accented by sustained effects and reverb. My consciousness is pulled through a maze my imagination has created in response to the music. The various layers sing out a tune, oscillating, chiming, chirping. At about 4:45 it really settles into a fresh groove, providing us with a feast of production precision. I could play the last minute and a half on repeat, I may do just that…
**ATTENTION** Press pause while playing the video above, then type ‘1980’ into your keyboard for a treat!
“The Epiphany of Mrs. Kugla” – The intro sounds like a cross between the Batman Begins opening credits and an orchestra comprised of Star Trek equipment. Pounding cellos and warped tubas clash against sounds one would hear while operating a teleporter or being denied access to a restricted area. If there was ever a song meant for Circus Du Solei’s “Shpongled,” this is it. It calls out for actors, dancers, performers of all types. We get a little of that hang drum sound from Manu Delago that has been such a hit in the live shows, this time paired with a driving trance beat. Four minutes in, the mix reaches a sort of singularity. Only Simon Posford could compose something like this.
“Tickling the Amygdala” – It seems like a continuation of Shpongle’s 2010 single, “The God Particle.” It’s like an improv analog synthesizer knob twisting session is occurring while a group of monk musicians whisper, pluck, and pray over singing bowls with tuning forks. I love the depth experienced through the complimentary yet competing sounds. The rapidly increasing frequencies wobbling about reminds me of the bridge halfway through Pink Floyd’s “One of These Days.” I enjoy trying to follow the moving sounds of the hand percussion. Raja’s finishing flute solo is one of his most alluring to date. A time to squeeze your eyelids closed even harder, trying to take in each airy yet rich note from the living legend. It is a deep bow of gratitude to all those who are Shpongled.