Veda Rays: Track-By-Track Commentary and Conceptual Breakdown Notes
>> Veda Rays are an alternative rock band whose style began as a modern extension of traditional forms of dream pop, shoegaze & post-punk. The group has since developed a unique voice through several years of steadfast experimentation whilst filing through the ranks of the Brooklyn DIY scene. Analog synths, treated samples, and other varied electronic elements add an atmospheric richness. The orchestral flourishes and texturally nuanced sonics oft times broaden the scope unto sprawling heights or tighten the focus down to minimal depths. The lyrics and imagery often explore liminal spaces of abstraction and surreality, channeling subconscious impulses reacting to the present moment.
“The language I speak must be ambiguous, must have two meanings, in order to do justice to the dual aspect of our psychic nature.” – Carl Jung (Letters: 70)
Sometime during the process of conceiving of, recording, and mixing the material which came to comprise Shadow Side EP and For The Rest To Rest (full-length), I started analyzing the lyrics to the songs we were writing. Although the beginnings of many of them arose unconsciously, I still had the desire to understand where they were coming from. I thought in doing so, we could perhaps impose some sort of order, imbuing the operation with more conscious intent and direction. A loose concept began to emerge: It seemed to be a sort of darkly psychic coming of age story. The fifteen songs were different scenes documenting the protagonist’s journey toward attaining a clearer perspective regarding the nature of reality, in an almost initiatic sense. The setting is present day, as the protag reacts to many things in the current environment.
“Not to know one’s true identity is to be a mad, disensouled thing — a golem. And, indeed, this image, sickeningly Orwellian, applies to the mass of human beings now living in the high-tech industrial democracies. Their authenticity lies in their ability to obey and follow mass style changes that are conveyed through the media.” __ Terrence McKenna (from Food Of The Gods, 1992, I believe.)
“…the sacred marriage of the masculine principle (Sol) with the feminine principle (Luna) producing the “Divine Androgyne,” a representation of Alchemical Hermetic beliefs in dualism, transformation, and the transcendental perfection of the union of opposites.” __https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Androgyny
I started listing what I felt to be some of the themes and related ideas. I knew they were all related in a somewhat abstract way, one which I could not quite articulate. It had something to do with an internal psychodrama, perhaps even within the collective consciousness of a certain sector of individuals, kind of being played out through external circumstances & events, thereby being projected back at us.
∆ Tension & interplay between the natural, organic world and the ever-encroaching world of “progress”/ technology/ further industrialization. ∆ The malleability of perception, identity, public opinion/the mass mind/consensus reality — in our own hands and in the hands of the powers that be. ∆ The paradoxical nature of “truth”. All absolutes containing their own contradictions. Every vice & virtue being opposing polarities of the same energy. The venom being the antidote and such. ∆ Coming to terms with the larger reality. An underworld journey. Initiatic experience resulting in a permanent shift in perspective and consciousness. ∆ The point of illumination existing at the perfect center between opposing polarities. The sacred marriage, in alchemical terms. ∆ The process of awakening to and integrating the shadow. ∆ The great power of words, ideas, and concepts; for good or ill. ∆ Anxiety in the face of the pushing forth of mass surveillance, erosion of personal privacy/personal liberties, the devastation of the planet, etc.
There were echoes of other ideas, concepts, and seemingly strange possibilities I was reacting to in there, as well:
† Postmodernist worldview † Hyperreality † Holographic universe theory; Reality as simulation † Synchro-mysticism: The possibility that synchronicities — through the media; world events; the zeitgeist, in general — could be the result of a higher intelligence (perhaps even our own mass-mind outside the constraints of the space-time continuum) communicating to us in the language of symbol, archetype & meaningful association, via our own media, world events and beyond. † Disinformation: desensitization/discrediting † Weaponized memes † Perception management
“You don't sell a film by saying you won't show it. There may be secrets too horrible for a man to know and keep his own sanity but that won't go down in Hollywood, Mister.” ― William S. Burroughs, The Place of Dead Roads
For the record, I used to be really against demystification and would usually snigger at artists over-explaining their works. I’d also usually think about the admonishments of the Sphinx, particularly the one about remaining silent. As well as how one of the many lessons of The Fool is that most people who attempt to explain such things end up sounding like one. How I came around to the idea of sharing these notes is another story for another day. Suffice to say, this moment in history in a unique monster and there is a lot of noise to cut through. Attention spans are limited and everything is a blip. Once something goes by, it is most likely forgotten. If a few people read this and it helps them focus on the work in a more meaningful way, then it is worth me sacrificing a bit of my pride, ego & vanity, I suppose.
The utterances seemed to come from several different perspectives or voices within the character:
The Protagonist (self, ego)— speaking from different levels of consciousness throughout, sometimes shifting perspectives from line to line.
The Disembodied Narrator (soul)— the witness, the observer; the next level up from the protagonist’s higher mind; in occult terms — the initiator/initiatrix, the Atman, divine genius, HGA.
At other times it can only be described as one of the former reacting to impulses channeled from certain frequencies of the mass mind and/or the collective unconscious, in turn reacting to the current moment.
As it started to come more into focus I would see each song in my mind as a panel of a graphic novel or as something resembling (and functioning as) a tarot card. On one hand, childlike and more intuitively apprehensible than logically intelligible; on another hand, I understood them as doors into other levels of consciousness for anyone who listened long enough to be psychically entrained by them. Something very profound concealed in plain sight; the deeper below you would allow them to take you, the more alluring and seductive they’d reveal themselves to be. I kind of got off on the idea of them coming across almost unassumingly…innocuously, even. I’ve always been a big fan of things that would lure me in out of curiosity or passing interest, get hooks in me, then completely mutate into otherness the more I stayed in their world.
“How I hate those who are dedicated to producing conformity.” ― William S. Burroughs
Note: I use the invented gender-neutral pronouns “Xe” & “Hir” here in this work mostly to emphasize the symbolic alchemical connotations (see “Divine Androgyne”).
“Build a good name. Keep your name clean. Don’t make compromises, don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful — be concerned with doing good work and make the right choices and protect your work. And if you build a good name, eventually, that name will be its own currency." ― William S. Burroughs
Corruptibility of spirit. Things getting worse, despite the purity of the initial intentions. Judging someone as a sell-out. Disillusionment. Seeing something up close and realizing that it is quite different than how you initially thought it was. Projecting what you hate or cannot accept about yourself upon another. The lyrics also carry on the major theme of words and concepts having great power, for good or ill.
For The Rest To Rest
“Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted” ― William S. Burroughs/ Hassan I Sabbah
The protagonist is invited into the shadow world beyond the“illusion” of consensus reality, to feel at once the self-satisfaction of standing apart from the herd and the anxiety of existing in a place in which nothing is really as it seems…where nothing is black or white. The “So long, lost care” is basically to the judgments which proceed from conventional attitudes. Xe addresses these both within hirself and in the world outside.
Open Up the Ways
“A chaotic situation is always deliberately produced. Ask yourself who or what sort of creature could benefit from such a situation.” ― William S. Burroughs, The Place of Dead Roads
Hyperreal programming. False flag terror. In this scene, the idea of a manufactured consensus reality is further examined. Everyone is complicit, consciously or unconsciously, playing their parts. It is in the case of the former that this meditation centers it’s focus upon. Xe considers the perspective of the agent, the shill, the sell-out…the person who benefits by deceiving their fellow humans and knowingly doing the bidding of the overlords. Xe examines the nagging, troubling suspicion that many who do get a glimpse beyond the veil misinterpret what they see. They pervert the symbols, zealously promote their flawed understandings, and fall easy prey to the lure of power & greed.
“There is, in fact, something obscene and sinister about photography, a desire to imprison, to incorporate, a sexual intensity of pursuit.” ― William S. Burroughs
Expanding further, xe uses the famous Warhol quote “in the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes” to drive home the point that so many undeserving of recognition are celebrated in this increasingly hollow climate. The product of reality TV & Youtube. Everyone is a star in their own entitled, narcissistic, self-obsessed, self-edited & carefully curated broadcasts. The tension and the menace of the music & delivery convey a deeper message -- there is something wrong with the picture. The larger idea of manipulated media as a distraction.
All Over This Time
“All the role models are being exposed and this is good because role models are shit. The quicker we exposed them the better. The whole concept of role models is frightful! You gotta make your own role.” ― William S. Burroughs
The scene starts as the protagonist muses, in hir bitter disgusted way, over the multitudinous flocks of try-hards. Copies of copies of copies of copies spiral fractalling into retro post-mod infinity. In similar fashion to These Final Days (later in the cycle), even though the surface reads like a straight-up indictment against the hype machinery of the so-called indie/diy culture (and beyond), on a deeper level it is about letting go of distracting fixations and ultimately not allowing one’s self to fall into any of the traps. By the third verse/line, as the protag declares “I release everything I hate…”, it should be clear to the careful listener that “I’m all over this time” is a positive affirmation of hir intent to be fully present; to enter completely into the the consciousness of the moment, not as mindless animal, but as a co-creator of the reality, as one who can shape it to hir will & desire.
“Successful control means achieving a balance and avoiding a showdown where all-out force would be necessary.” ― William S. Burroughs, The Adding Machine: Selected Essays
The protagonist, having recently come into a state of awareness, must now come to terms with the realization that outside forces with vested interests had in fact always conspired to keep hir distracted and passive. The energy, delivery, and attitude of the track are best encapsulated in the line, “Collapse the edifice/ entrain/ hypnotically refrain”. Xe seeks to smash the internal control grid, to break “set” and to consciously put the reigns of hir will into hands of hir own higher mind. The idea of the Orwellian surveillance state is also at play here. Also inferred on a more abstract level is the idea that the darker aspects of our shared reality are projections of our collective shadow.
“The conversations had a nightmare flatness, talking dice spilled in the tube metal chairs, human aggregates disintegrating in cosmic insanity, random events in a dying universe.” ― William S. Burroughs, Junky
This one is entirely from the voice of the disembodied narrator who is coldly reporting what it is witnessing in a somewhat disgusted tone. The Higher Self watches as its client slums through the social alleyways of hir day, ineptly trying to fill the void through drink, drugs, cheap sex, inane social interactions, etc. It is not, however, entirely grim as the repeated refrain at the end of the song suggests something redemptive.“Alights out of thin air” refers to grace; the transcendent moment; the “immaculate fix”; the acquisition of virtue, etc.
“in the magical universe there are no coincidences and there are no accidents. nothing happens unless someone wills it to happen” ― William S. Burroughs
In this scene the protagonist’s higher mind/guiding principal speaks to hir as a lover, cult leader or perhaps CIA mind-control programmer. It is in part, an initiation. It is also in part an invitation to enter into the mysterious duality. To evoke the “other” as a mirror. To indulge in the fleeting pleasure, in the solipsistic notion that nothing matters beyond the moment and that all things exist just for us; which, of course, is at once true and false. There is something menacing beneath the surface of what is being said, a slight insincerity lurking below. It is not so much being concealed as it is just a potentiality, dormant yet certainly so — the possibility of breaking the illusion, tearing away the mask and revealing a monstrous truth. Xe is bade to knowingly enter into the illusion for the sake of the experience and for the possibility of bringing something back. Xe intuitively understands that the transcendent point lies squarely at the axis between extremes, just as the antidote is made from the poison itself, oftentimes the way toward a thing is in what would appear to be the opposite direction. Through escapism, xe finds a doorway to a larger reality.
“Desperation is the raw material of drastic change. Only those who can leave behind everything they have ever believed in can hope to escape.” ― William S. Burroughs
This song was added at the end. It was not actually a part of this song cycle, yet still seemed fitting to include. The person this song was based on was very much a prototype for the protagonist of the song cycle. Unfortunately, she was not of this world long enough to really figure any of it out. Her gentle, loving spirit — too pure for this harsh world — has lived on with me for a long time; now she is here, somehow anchoring this all to my actual life.
These Final Days
“Smash the control images. Smash the control machine.” ― William S. Burroughs
Expanding upon some of the sentiments of All Over This Time, xe shouts down the cronyism, superficiality & privilege that fuels the cultural media machine. A rail against the ones who take their cues from the herd, who only react when the hive mind declares it appropriate. The would-be self-policing automatons who urge conformity in their spheres of influence by favoring only those who look like them are in their cliques, of their social classes (sometimes) and who reinforce their own self-images.
“The 'Other Half' is the word. The 'Other Half' is an organism. Word is an organism. The presence of the 'Other Half' is a separate organism attached to your nervous system on an airline of words can now be demonstrated experimentally. One of the most common 'hallucinations' of a subject during sense withdrawal is the feeling of another body sprawled through the subject's body at an angle...yes quite an angle it is the 'Other Half' worked quite some years on a symbiotic basis. From symbiosis to parasitism is a short step. The word is now a virus. The flu virus may have once been a healthy lung cell. It is now a parasitic organism that invades and damages the central nervous system. Modern man has lost the option of silence. Try halting sub-vocal speech. Try to achieve even ten seconds of inner silence. You will encounter a resisting organism that forces you to talk. That organism is the word.” ― William S. Burroughs, The Ticket That Exploded
Maybe the simplest & most straightforward, though hardest to describe in ordinary language. It is the protagonist coming to terms with hir new understanding of reality. Xe now hears the voice of her higher will as her own thoughts. In the chorus hir words describe the nature of the hir former state, perhaps as a safeguard against backsliding. Some of the main ideas of the song are related most closely to Suspend Disbelief & All Over This Time.<<
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