(JANUARY 6th, 2007 e.v.)
With all the trees in the dumpsters and tinsel glinting on the sidewalks, now that I’m back at the Toolband command center in Los Angeles, it has come to my attention that many of you never received the December (Christmas) newsletter. Regrettably, this was probably due to the sheer volume of mail handled over the holiday season, but could just have easily been an over site on my part caused by the ravages of age and insobriety (i.e. more than a dram of Everclear in the nog). Whatever the reason, now that the bay-berry candles have burned low, and the Citibank statements are stacked high on the desk, for those caring souls who sent me an email reminder, here is the newsletter exactly as I wrote it on the garish, silvery eve of the Jack of all Saviors…
DECEMBER 2006 e.v.
WITH January fast approaching, there’s one man who stands out on the horizon of my thoughts like Mars at perihelion, and that is Danny Carey (who’d you think it was: that obedient fucker, Garcia?) Now, although the art of genethlialogy is normally NOT something I’d deem suitable for a Christmas newsletter, before I get to the main piece about “Lipan Conjuring”, allow me to prognosticate a bit. By some miracle worthy of the season (at least by Hollywood standards), I predict that Danny’s beloved K.C. Chiefs will make the playoffs (yes, with that record!) However, I also predict that they will be badly defeated in the ‘Wild Card’ game, thus making it even more humiliating for their fans than if they never sneaked in the backdoor to the playoffs in the first place (and it doesn’t take the Tripod of Pythia to tell me that). At the same time, I predict that, by a carefully calculated, daring, and most extraordinary stroke of genius, the Oakland Raiders will obtain the number one draft pick. Thus it is indelibly written on Sibylline leaves in silver and Black. Of course I might be wrong with this abodement, but at least I had the cantaloupes to make it (against all odds).
LIPAN CONJURING ON DISCUSSION FORUMS
I was recently checking out some past discussion forums in which several Tool enthusiasts were attempting to unravel the mysteries of “Lipan Conjuring”, the first segue on “10,000 Days.” Although many found the song “spiritually uplifting” and were willing to leave it at that, some felt compelled to understand the significance of the piece in relation to the rest of the album (those who didn’t just think that it was Danny and a buddy of his tripping out in the desert), with others hoping to have Bill McConnell’s vocalizations translated in order to better understand the subject matter that the chant addresses. Predictably (remember these are hard-core Tool fans), at least one person went the pedagogical route, sending “Lipan” to an anthropologist who specializes in Apache cultures.
After analyzing the song, the anonymous professor said that she was “suspicious” (as to it being a true example of Apachean music, I assume), stating that “there are fewer than two dozen Lipan speakers left, [and] they do not record, or allow to have recorded, their speech, let alone [a] song that is considered to be more sacred than speech…” She also had a problem with the title itself, claiming that “as far as [she] knew, only witches conjure, and it is always an evil thing to do” and therefore no Lipans would ever use a word like “conjure.” To this I would just like to say that, when it comes to things of an esoteric nature, although I know anthropologists like to think that they have penetrated the inner circle of their particular ‘group’, even native American shamans and tribal elders can be, at times. grudging ‘alchemists.’ As for the word “conjure”, I could mention the confusing and seemingly contradictory differences between invoking and evoking a particular trans-mundane intelligence, but perhaps it’s best to keep in mind the Hermetic/Magickal axiom “As Above, So Below”, meaning, as occultist E.E. Rehmus states, that “self and other are one and to draw from the Self is ultimately to draw from the All.” Compare this to what Joel Prepejchal (who recorded “Lipan Conjuring” at Rock Bottom Studios in Makanda, Illinois) had to say about the song in a recent e-mail to me: “There is no denomination or specific entities that are described, this was a prayer meant to invoke the All, transcending religion or individual belief.”
Another anthropologist referred to by the professor said that the “excerpt was beautiful and very evocative (an interesting choice of words in light of what her colleague had to say about the word “conjure”), but was not what [she] would expect from Apachean music.” Besides problems with the musical intervals (repetition of the same phrases and syllables/vocables), according to the anthropologist there is “No harmony in Apachean music or songs.” Also, there was the rhythmic sound of the rattle that, to her, seemed to be produced by something with bells attached (like a tambourine) instead of “the deer hoof rattles that should be heard.” As for this latter inconsistency, Danny told me that he used a “native death rattle” for the song. (Hell, I could have let him use a sample of a deer hoof from my Kurzweil library had I known it was going to be such a major issue.)
With regards to the harmony, it would be my guess that Bill, Joel and Danny were just being innovative, with some of the harmonics or, at least, the sub-harmonics being an artifact of the other instruments and/or studio processing effects involved in the recording. Again, here’s what Joel had to say about “Lipan Conjuring” in an e-mail to me: “The rendition of Calling of the Sprits that you received for the album was only a small portion of a very sacred song that Grandfather* taught to Tom. The piece was used in pipe ceremonies and lodges to call upon the spirits/energies of creation, healing, enlightenment, insight, or whatever the focus might be.” Notice that Joel uses the word “rendition.” In this particular rendition of the song, I honestly don’t know what the focus of the “prayer” might have been, but in reading a bit about Grandfather and Tom (Brown Jr.), perhaps it is to help stave off “The Night of the Red Sky Prophecy” (i.e. ecological meltdown), which might explain the “death rattle” as well as the use of harmony.
* Grandfather refers to “Stalking Wolf”, a Lipan Apache Shaman/elder who taught certain philosophical beliefs and wilderness living skills of his people to Tom Brown Jr. (now, a well-known outdoorsman and wilderness guide).
Bill McConnell is the founder of Past Skills Wilderness School.
Joel Prepejchal can be contacted at www.rockbottomstudios.com
The Lipan Apache were a semi-nomadic tribe that inhabited Northwest and South Texas (Houston and Galveston) in the 18th and 19th centuries, with most now living on the Mescalero Apache reservation in south-central New Mexico.