This week Monday Magick makes its first foray into the Hip-Hop genre with a track from Wu-Tang Clan affiliates Sunz of Man and Killarmy. The track, "Soldiers of Darkness", was only released as a single via the RZA's independent Wu-Tang Records label in 1995 with "5 Arch Angels" featuring Shabazz the Disciple on the b-side.
You might be wondering what a bunch of thuggish rappers with ties to the 5% Nation of Gods & Earths and the ICUPK school of Black Hebrew Israelites has to do with magick? But the truth is, Hip-Hop in general, with its obsessions with NGE "science", the Nation of Islam, Egyptology, Afrocentrism, and fringe religions, played a huge role in fostering and growing my own interest and studies in the subjects of history, religion, conspiracies, anthropology, ancient cultures, the occult, and ultimately magick. Besides, are you listening to these lyrics? Are you watching this imagery? The dudes in hooded robes? Killah Priest on a throne being anointed with incense? Whoooo! I shit you not, during the Summer of 1995 my mother heard this joint, specifically Priest's verse where he calls himself "the supreme slayer" who "wrote the Book of Isaiah, layin' bodies down by the layer", blasting from my boombox when she paused, looked at me and emphatically stated "So, this is what you're all about." It sure was. And still is.
For whatever reason neither "Soldiers of Darkness" nor "5 Arch Angels" ended up making it onto Sunz of Man's debut LP 'The Last Shall Be First' when it dropped in 1998. It was a dope tape none the less, boasting tracks ripe with jewels of all kinds for those with an ear to listen. I wore that shit out.
Music is magick!
My favorite purveyors of Illuminist Disco Punk, YACHT, delve deep into the vault of vocoder Funk on their spaced out & sexy new jam "Works Like Magic".
"Works Like Magic", which should work magic on dance floors and roller rinks, is from their forthcoming 'Where Does This Disco?'
EP, out November, 11th on Downtown Records.
I really got a kick out of the feel-good conspiratorial nature of the underlying story in the video for "Dreamy Bruises" by North Carolina lo-fi Electro-Pop duo Sylvan Esso.
I checked it out on a whim based on the weird connotations that arose around the song's title in my mind and was not at all disappointed with what I got in return.
The song's dope too.
It's from the pair's self-titled debut album which was released earlier this year by the Partisan Records label.
Like I mentioned in the Jack Parsons post, I spend most Autumns on the hunt for attractions around "Haunted New England".
Back in the day this included local "Haunted Houses" put on at various locations across the region which I attended with glee in my younger years.
They've become less, and less common and more, and more expensive as the years have passed, so I don't attend as often as I'd like.
But the premise of 'The Houses October Built'
, where a group of friends seeking the most "extreme haunt" get more than they bargained for, sure does resonate with me.
As a former "Haunted House" junkie there were moments in the trailer that rang so true I found myself nodding my head saying "yes, yes".
I'm really looking forward to being creeped out by this one.
'The Houses October Built'
I was more than a little entertained by the inventive 2012 found-footage horror anthology 'V/H/S'
The 2013 follow-up, 'V/H/S/2'
, on the other hand seemed a bit slow-moving and didn't hold my attention quite as well.
The red-band trailer for the third installment, 'V/H/S: Viral'
, makes it look like it might skew a little closer to the original and provide some gore-drenched entertainment.
The flick hits video on demand on October 23rd, and select theatres November 21st.
Every year around this time my appetite for all things supernatural increases to a staggering degree. In search of spooky shit that happens to be close to me geographically I usually resort to Google searches for terms like "occult", "spooky", and "haunted", affixed to various nearby locales. Sadly, I rarely find anything new, exciting, or of great interest.
A couple years back I happened to search for "witchcraft" here in Springfield, Massachusetts when I was introduced to the tale of Mary and Hugh Parsons
. The pair were two of the earliest cases of folks unfortunate enough to be accused of witchcraft here in Massachusetts, specifically my home base of Springfield, during the mid-1600's. Both were acquitted of the charges of witchcraft, but Mary, having fallen into mental instability, wound up incarcerated on charges that she'd murdered her young child, and died in prison awaiting trial.
Shortly thereafter I came across another Mary Parsons
, this one married to Cornet Joseph Parsons, one of both Springfield and nearby Northampton's "founding fathers", who was also accused of witchcraft prior to the Salem "witch hysteria" of 1692. I don't know if it was coincidental that both women were named Mary Parsons, or if one case influenced the other, but this
Mary Parsons, Mary (Bliss)
Parsons, was accused of witchcraft twice
, and acquitted both times! Eventually whatever negative associations that may have followed the Parsons name fell away, and her family, which was quite wealthy, went on to produce civil servants and notable citizens across the region for generations.
This gave me pause, as I knew all too well that the parents of noted rock scientist, occultist, freethinker, and witchcraft enthusiast Jack Parsons
(born Marvel Whiteside Parsons on October 2, 1914, in Los Angeles, California) originated here in Springfield, Massachusetts. His mother Ruth Virginia Whiteside being the daughter of Walter Hunter Whiteside who ran the Stevens-Duryea
automobile corporation, the first American firm to build gasoline powered automobiles. While his father Marvel H. Parsons came from a family who was regarded as having played a role in founding the city and had money in real estate and the Eastern States Refrigeration Company.
Could it be that it was just a coincidence that this man, with roots in Springfield, and a deep connection to the occult, was also a Parsons? Was it possible that Jack Parsons, who was born, lived, and died 3,000 miles away in California, was actually a descendant of Mary Bliss Parsons, accused and acquitted of witchcraft in Northampton and Springfield, Massachusetts three centuries before? These questions started to nag at me, so I decided to do the simple thing and trace the lineage of this scientist and student of Aleister Crowley
. I started with Jack's father Marvel H. Parsons and clicked through the family trees, from son to father, until I arrived at Cornet Joseph Parsons, husband of none other than Mary (Bliss) Parsons! Jack was her direct descendant!
The story of Mary (Bliss) Parsons, not to mention the other Mary Parsons, are rarely spoken of here in Western Massachusetts. There are no monuments or memorials to these women, nor are people regaled with tales of the witchcraft that haunted the woods of the region in those earliest days of European settlement. They're largely unremembered, and they, and similarly eldritch topics, just aren't discussed. It seems as though Springfield and the surrounding area would rather bury any connections this region might have to the strange, weird, spooky, or occult. But is it possible that within the Parsons clan the story remained alive long enough to inspire a young Jack Parsons?
It's been alleged that he began experimenting with witchcraft, supposedly attempting to summon The Devil, while still in high school. And, while a member of Corwley's Ordo Templi Orientis
, he became so interested in the iconography of witchcraft that concern was raised among fellow members. Actress and Thelemite Jane Wolfe
even wrote to Crowley at one point to complain that "our own Jack is enamored with Witchcraft, the houmfort, voodoo. From the start he always wanted to evoke something—no matter what, I am inclined to think, as long as he got a result." That sounds like a soul searching for something long-lost, and long lusted-after, but long-unattainable as well.
Could it be Jack was searching for that which his ancestor had already found but was so ruthlessly hounded for? Did he, in addition to making scientific breakthroughs in rocketry, actually re-discover the lost lore? Sadly, we'll never know as his life was cut short in a fiery explosion, thought to be caused by an accident involving rocketry-related chemicals he stored in his home in Pasadena, California, on June 17th, 1952, at the age of 37. He remains an influential figure in magickal circles, amongst freethinkers, and in the field of jet propulsion. In 1972 the International Astronomical Union named a crater on the Moon in his honor.
This week's Monday Magick comes courtesy of no less a purveyor of occult-inspired Rock than the grandaddies of Heavy Metal themselves, Black Sabbath. The song, "Behind the Wall of Sleep", took its name from a short story by the creator of the Cthulhu Mythos himself, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, and appeared on the band's self-titled 1970 debut.
I first discovered "Beyond the Wall of Sleep" myself, not due to any infatuation with the occult or Lovecraft (which would both come later), but my earliest obsession, with Hip-Hop, DJing and vinyl culture. As a pre-teen bedroom DJ I purchased a bootleg breakbeat compilation at local vinyl purveyor The Music Center and found it featured "Wall of Sleep" alongside dodgy-sounding recordings of breakbeat chestnuts like "Just Begun" and "Smokin' Cheeba Cheeba". "Wall of Sleep" quickly became a favorite of mine, first due to the massive drum break courtesy of Bill Ward, but also Ozzy's unhinged vocal, and Tony Iommmi's riff of doom.
Thanks to that initial exposure to "Sleep" I sought out Sabbath's early catalog which got me familiarized with their other classics, like "War Pigs" and "Paranoid", among others. And you can imagine the smile that crept across my face when I, slightly older and infinitely wiser, eventually discovered the Lovecraft connection!
Music is magick!