Feb 25 2008

Ain Soph Aur

Ain Soph Aur (A Live Video Excerpt)

Before the gig:

During my many years as a musician, I’ve performed in a variety of contexts. In 6th grade, for example, I sang a solo in Hebrew as part of The Chitchester Psalms, a piece for chorus and organ, written by Leonard Bernstein. In rehearsals, the feeling of singing with so many voices was thrilling and euphoric. I felt myself open up in a way I’d never experienced before.

The night of the performance, I was filled with confidence. I remember walking out onto the stage in my new electric blue wide-wale corduroy pants, feeling the enthusiasm and support of the musicians behind me. The choir director remembered that the translated words were in the program and asked that the house lights be brought up so the audience could read along.

All of a sudden, hundreds of people emerged from the darkness and, much to my surprise, they were staring at me. In an instant, all that joy and confidence evaporated and, in its place, arose a new feeling: Terror. The music began, and I felt a bit heartened but, as my moment to sing approached, my body felt like it was going to split in two.

I began to sing and, although I got the notes right, and my tone wasn’t terrible, there was a discernible wobble to my voice. (Imagine singing a note, grabbing the skin above your larynx, and pulling it back and forth.) Every fiber of my being screamed “RUN AWAY,” but I persisted.

The strange and wondrous thing about this experience is that it did not deter me from performing in public. In fact, I think it helped me to realize that part of being an artist is taking risks and, occasionally, failing. Since then, I’ve performed in theatrical contexts, in a variety of bands, and as a solo artist.

On Monday, February 18th, I will once again venture into uncharted territory. I will be performing live with my friend Carl F. Off. We’ve worked together on studio collaborations, and I sat in on a performance of his group, The Drum Jester Devotional, but we’ve never performed live together as a duo. Not only that, we’ve intentionally left it completely open as to what we’re going to do or even what instruments we’re going to use, and we’ve not rehearsed together at all. It will be instantaneous creation, a dialog, an adventure of sonic discovery.

Our performance, which starts promptly at 8 PM, will launch an evening of wonderful musical performances by a variety of individuals and groups. The Lap Steel Duo will perform original instrumental compositions, Sumako will use his custom made fretless electric guitar to create atmospheric sound-scapes, Aaron Archambault will gift us with some original songs, and a rare solo appearance by Lili de la Mora will close the show.

The performance, presented by The Long Beach Musician’s League, is taking place at the Puka Bar, located at 710 W. Willow Street. There is no admission charge or drink minimum, but you must be 21 or older to gain entrance.

I hope to see you there.

The Flyer:

Ain Soph Aur Flyer

After the gig:

I wasn’t nervous at all. I was super excited, and looking forward to the performance. You may have guessed that “Carl F. Off” is my friend’s “stage” name.

He brought all kinds of wonderful instruments, including an automated electronic “Raga” drone unit, an electronic version of an indian string instrument, lots of shakers, a bowed banjo thing, etc…

I brought several bells, metal bowls, plastic recorders, shakers, a cheapo egyptian violin thing, electric guitar, bowed psaltery, ukulele, indian brass bugle, wooden and a clay ocarina, and even did a bit of singing.

We were both using electronic looping devices.

I was really focused on listening to him, and finding textures that complemented what he was doing. I’m pretty sure that he did the same. We performed for 25 minutes but it felt like 5.

The audience seemed genuinely appreciative, and many shared that the experience felt meditative and transcendent.

I couldn’t have hoped for more.


Today I got a room recording of said performance. A few things to consider before you click on the link:

1) It is a big file, 21.2 Megs,
2) It is fairly long, appx 25 minutes,
3) There’s some extranious noise (talking, cars, etc),
4) You might want to close your eyes, or turn the lights down.

      Ain Soph Aur (The Limitless Light)presentsThe Union of the Heavensfrom the imaginary albumA Bright

Thanks to Ken “Long Beach” Huntington for recording our performance, and these pictures from the show:

While I realize that this music is not for everyone, I’d absolutely welcome your thoughts and feelings, if you care to share them.


PS: It seems likely that Carl and I will perform again.

Note: The name “Ain Soph Aur” came from The Book of Thoth by Alister Crowley, which describes in detail the workings of the Tarot deck he devised. According to a friend, it is one of the names of the Hebrew God. The phrases “The Union of Heavens” and “A Bright, Iridescent Cloud” both came from Emanuel Swedenborg’s book “Heaven and Hell,” written in the mid-1700s.

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Ain Soph Aur”

  1. jeremyon 26 Feb 2008 at 7:42 am

    excellent performance!!!!!!
    thanks for all the info on your first Hebrew singing performance and your thoughts on the ainsophaur performance

  2. Carolon 15 Mar 2008 at 11:07 am

    thanx for the update
    glad u were not nervous and had a good time

  3. Carolon 15 Mar 2008 at 11:08 am

    thx 4 the update

    glad u were not nervous and had a good time

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