From the Lips of Spirits

A Santo Daime ritual, which may last over twelve hours, consists almost entirely of songs, the themes of which range from the personal to the cosmological. This expanding musical corpus contains all the teachings of the tradition, and is central to the daimista ayahuasca experience. But where does this poetry come from?


Carols Not Barrels

Any musical innovation is full of danger to the whole State, and ought to be prohibited; when modes of music change, the fundamental laws of the State always change with them

– Plato, the Republic

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Our choir began the day as nine at South Ken tube, warming up. Without our banner, we appeared for all the world as carol singers with no more agenda than to make merry in the cold December morning. Passers-by looked on approvingly, and then quizzically; we were not singing of Christmases white but green. (more…)

Oil in the Water

It is hard to know just how to express the degree of Shell’s nastiness, but one might start with a three-part harmony at the South Bank’s Royal Festival Hall.

The other option, for me anyway, is to weep alone in my bedroom over a cheap bottle of rum. Anyway, the critics loved it:

‘This evening’s concert began with a protest, and very musical and well organised it was too. About five minutes before the start of the show, the audience sitting in the right wing of the choir stalls all stood up and began singing. Eventually a banner was unfurled, making clear that the protest was against Shell, who were sponsoring the event. The protesters sang well, they even included a verse in Portuguese (it might have been Spanish) for the benefit of our guests, and in the last verse they all filed out of the hall, creating a live fadeout effect as one by one they left.’ (more…)

We’re going Shell

The Shell Classic International season began with Orchestra Mozart at the beginning of October, and Shell Out Sounds swung into action to bring a little more nuance to the corporation’s PR campaign (with Rev Nemu singing bass).

Concert-goers taking their interval drinks in Festival Hall Bar were greeted by an upbeat chorus, snapping fingers as they sung close harmonies about the toxic legacies of Shell’s misadventures in the Arctic, the Niger Delta and Alberta.


Rev Billy

A visiting pastor came to London to preach in and about HSBC.

Just outside the bank there was a moment of high serendipity as a genuine reverend wearing a genuine dog collar met Rev Billy. He was a Christianity Uncut activist, on the way to a monastic retreat in France, and joined us for our action.

Not to say that Rev Billy isn’t genuine – he is, as are his crew of outrageous New Yorkers. Genuine sometimes looks like its exact opposite. And the entirely spurious makes a fair pretence of branding itself as genuine – HSBC sponsoring alternative fuels, or the Green Economy marketing the commodification of the environment as a model for sustainability.