Shifted Phases immediately conjures up images of changing dimensions, realities whose frequencies are phased just out of step to be different from each other. Maybe this would be something we need to do to ever hope to reach the Drexciya home universe in a human lifetime. Perhaps one of the unnamed biological experiments on Lab Rat XL would have been to reconnect this part of our brain with this universal mind, that would be evolution indeed.
The album title seems to be telling us that it contains the life story of an individual. Well first of all, like most people interested I put Rupert J. Rosinthrope in a search engine when the album first came out and came up with zilch outside references to the album. So we know the name is their creation at least. These memoirs are not of course an account of an everyday existence either, for these are cosmic memoirs. I would say that this man represents mankind and this is the entire history of man being recounted one last time. The ‘Late Great’ phrase certainly hints at something bigger than this being just about an ordinary man. There was a huge bestseller, in the 1970’s I think, about the possibly factual end of the world according to the book of Revelations. It was called the Late Great Planet Earth which they might have been thinking of to signify how big this evolutionary step could be. I’m not saying there is any Revelations type element in the Storm series, just that that phrase could signify the World.
While I’m on this subject I might as well elaborate on a possible meaning of the phrase ‘Cosmic Memoirs’. I had come across a similar phrase to this before when reading about Rudolf Steiner. Steiner died in 1925 and wrote about higher states of human consciousness. He called it the Cosmic Chronicle or Akhasic Record and what he described this as being was an uninterrupted view/experience of the entire history of man, right from the beginning of time. I wanted to mention this character before in relation to being a possible influence on the evolution of the consciousness element of the Storm series(the ability to view the cosmic chronicle was one of his final steps) but thought I’d hold back on him till now. We’ll never know for sure what sort of reading Stinson and Gerald got up to but while Steiner may seem obscure to most people, he would be well enough known to those interested in the subject. Cosmic Memoirs is the only direct reference to Steiner and that is why I only mention him now but if you delve a little deeper into his idea’s you may be surprised at how much resonates, again this could just be coincidence.
My last point in this vein would be to point out another connected philosophical viewpoint. If you accept the existence of a type of universal/folk memory then would it not follow that there be a common consciousness? Ludwig Wittgenstein theorised about just such a possibility in his ‘no ownership of mind’ theory. If you choose to follow up this line of inquiry prepare yourself for mind scrambling scenarios where amnesiac’s wake up in hospitals screaming, “Someone is in pain, I don’t know who!”. This might even shed light on that enigmatic Stinson quote where he’s asked for some last thoughts in the Beere interview, “Look in the mirror, do you see you or do you see me?".
Musically Shifted Phases is way up my list, there is a varied palette of sounds to be found here. In particular, the piano on ‘Lonely Journey of the Comet Bopp’ really makes you feel like your watching it move through space. There are so many standout tracks here I would only end up listing the bulk of the album, lets just say it’s another triumph then. Of course there is a ‘Production by Dimensional Waves’ credit, but no other information relevant to figuring out what its all about. Although on the CD there is the line 'In memory of James Marcel Stinson who died in September 2002'. Luckily the titles give us all we need to know. To follow the CD track-list in order, as we also did with it’s opposing bookend, Harnessed The Storm, made the most sense to me.
The first thing which might surprise you in space travel is that there is a ‘Solar Wind’, you would also need to be wary of running into the path of radioactive solar flares but that's beside the point. A ‘White Dwarf’ star would be a phenomena you could encounter on your way, maybe in this context it could even be used as an ‘Astronomical Guidepost’ for our journey (also the name of a track on Grava 4). ‘Waveform Cascades’ could mean a lot of things but ‘Dance of the Celestial Druids’ sounds like another astronomical phenomenon. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a druid like figure in the constellation chart alongside Leo etc, another guidepost in our journey? ‘The Freak Show’ again sounds like an astral happening which now makes three possible astronomical guideposts we have encountered. ‘Implosive Regions’ sounds like we are now leaving our own galaxy and navigating the asteroid belt, a dangerous region indeed. It should come as no surprise then that we should now encounter at this furthest point the 'Lonely Journey of the Comet Bopp’. We now cross into some ‘Neptune’s Lair’ type imagery because everything beyond this point is the unknown. We know that James Stinson was a jazz fan and having talked of possible philosophical influences earlier, we have on ‘Crossing of the Sun-Ra Nebula’ an acknowledgement of a definite influence. You need go no further back than Sun Ra to find in him the forefather of musicians creating imaginary worlds to go with their music. Once we cross this nebula we encounter ‘Scattering Pulsars’. The following ‘Alien Vessel Distress Call’ again makes me think of classic ‘Neptune’s Lair’ type scenarios. Who exactly the alien craft belongs to could be either us, as we would be the aliens in this universe or them. The final track is ‘Flux’ which of course means fluctuation or change. If we have followed the instructions so far we will have experienced both a change of consciousness and now a change of place to fit that consciousness.
In many ways I feel like the journey ended for me with L.I.F.E., you should read my last paragraph there again if you want a neat summary of and praise for the Storm series. Mind you, Shifted Phases may only be about a physical journey but it is one we could not have even conceptualised about taking before understanding the previous Storms. It only seemed easier to figure out in comparison to what had gone before.
It's worth noting that the Storm series follows an ancient tradition in story telling known as the mono-myth, as identified by Joseph Campbell. He boiled this down to any account of growing up, leaving home, a search, a trail, a gift and a return. It is a process of meeting and integrating the shadow or a lost or unrecognised part of the self. Where the shadow is not integrated this archetype remains potent and unfulfilled. The persona longs for its journey of symbolic death and the awakening to the authentic self.
As Drexciya, James Stinson and Gerald Donald gave us great music, but by not explaining themselves and creating a mystery they gave us the use of our imagination. This is only my interpretation, to have your own is more important.
This is not the end, Grava 4 is next.
1. DREXCIYA - HARNESSED THE STORM
2. TRANSLLUSION - THE OPENING OF THE CEREBRAL GATE
3. THE OTHER PEOPLE PLACE - LIFESTYLES OF THE LAPTOP CAFÉ
4. ABSTRACT THOUGHTS - HYPOTHETICAL SITUATIONS
5. LAB RAT XL - MICE OR CYBORG
6. TRANSLLUSION - L.I.F.E.
7. SHIFTED PHASES - THE COSMIC MEMOIRS OF THE LATE GREAT RUPERT J. ROSINTHROPE