Sunday, August 07, 2005


Storm #2: Storm number 2 in my opinion is the first Transllusion album, The Opening of the Cerebral Gate. If I had to pick my favourite of the series this might be it, it took a while for me to get into it but once I did I never tire of it. First of all it’s worth considering the name of the project. The closest word it resembles is translucent, which means transparent or see-through. Therefore we can take it as more than likely that Transllusion means to ‘become transparent’, which will make increasing sense as I probe this album for meaning.

It proved fruitful with Harnessed the Storm to follow the running order of the tracks but here we’re in more uncertain territory. Mind you, you could take the opener ‘Transmission of Life’ to be a reference to ‘Birth of New Life’, the last track on Harnessed but there, save the last track, the sequence ceases to be of much help. The literal meaning of ‘Transmission of Life’ would be to broadcast or spread life. It seems obvious to me that this would be the "new life" referred to already. So what would be the nature of this new life? I believe this is what The Opening of the Cerebral Gate makes clear. The new life is not about a new species just the rebirth of an old one, us, the rebirth is mental in nature, and this album marks those beginnings.

The place to begin this change is always within, there’s no point in changing your surroundings in the hope of becoming another person. The title ‘Look Within’ in this context means to become fully aware of yourself, make this your starting point of change. This storm is also when the ’Dimensional Waves’ phrase starts to reveal its true meaning. This is the production company name that Drexciya used for the series, revealingly it doesn't appear on the post-storm Grava 4. So are we to take it that each storm is from another dimension? Possibly so, but a dimension of what? I would say it's a dimension of thought, of the mind. In this context ‘Dimensional Glide’ could be a reference to the ease with which they are moving from one dimension of thought to another during this intensive year of production.

To re-cap, the Storms are cloaking spheres which are hiding something. On Grava 4 we learn that they are hiding the Drexciya home planet, but this of course is only the surface meaning, a metaphor. There is a revelation waiting for us if we can figure it out and each storm is a puzzle in itself to be understood before we can see the last crucial piece for what it really is.

To open the cerebral gate is to allow this album right into your mental experience, which is the mental dimension, one that is inside us all. Another way of saying this could be the same as the track title ‘Crossing Into The Mental Astroplane’. ‘Negative Flash’ might be acknowledgement that the way is not without difficulties, but at least it's only a temporary feeling. ‘Walking With Clouds’ might not be the most amazing title in the world but it probably describes another aspect of the feeling of oneness which this inner flight brings. ‘Unordinary Realities’ is quite an awkward phrase to use but again its meaning is quite clear as you start to see things differently. ‘Cerebral Cortex Malfunction’ sounds like something else negative, but maybe in this context it is the point where we are set free from the brains normal functioning. Maybe this is a necessary step towards where we are going, an evolutionary step. Evolution will become important as the storm continues.

‘War of the Clones’ is a bit of a puzzler, again quite a negative image, although this could make more sense as the storm continues. I think that ‘Cluben in Guyana’ is a sort of day dream title which reminds me of when James Stinson talked about playing unannounced live shows in Japan. I'm sure they, like most musicians, were amazed at how far their music had travelled and all the different scenarios and places it might now appear.

The final track is the perfect link to the following 'The Other People Place' storm. Here we finally have a vocal, which TOPP is full of, and the question, ‘Do you want to get down?’ If your on the same journey as me then the only answer is yes.

This is the album then where things start to become clear, we are on the first real step of the journey towards truly finding ourselves, the gate into our mental life has been opened. The significance of there being a second Transllusion album plus a 12" of exclusive tracks later in the series should not be overlooked. I also wouldn't underestimate one or both of their beliefs in God, he gets a ‘special thanks’ in the credits and this is not the first time he has either. Whether they believe in the Christian interpretation or not doesn't matter as it all comes from the same impulse to believe in a creator/controlling intelligence. Anyone who truly believes in a God is a moral person and I believe the intent of this series is extremely just in this regard.

Preceding this was the rare at the time 12" EP Mind Over Positive and Negative Dimensional Matter. If you have the CD version of the album you will already have one of its tracks, 'Do You Want To Get Down?' with even a bonus vocal de void mix of this same track as well. The names of the other two tracks on the EP are 'Power of the 3rd Brain' and 'Disrupted Neutral Gateway'. Taking all we know about this EP we could read its title to mean that to find the way to use the power of your third brain/mind over positive and negative dimensional matter would be to disrupt the normally neutral gateway receiver of your mind. This sounds nothing less than becoming a time traveller or something very similar. The meaning of the name Transllusion here becomes interesting as if you did find a way to move faster than light and caught up on yourself, you would indeed become transparent to some degree.

The label these came out on is Supremat, a short-lived Tresor imprint. Drexciya took their image as seriously as their music and both aspects influenced the other. That’s what makes their canon stand up so well today as their work continues to reveal itself with time and inquiry. They managed to strike a balance of giving us just enough information that we were left wanting more, that we would have to use our imagination to fill in the blanks. It might well be true that only the odd title or clue exists to link each Storm and everything else is down to that curious human ability to find meaning and patterns in everything. Certainly a percentage of this exists only in our own mind, like so much we imagine about the arts in general, it is a personal thing, but all great art leaves us that option.

James Stinson said to Tim Pratt, “There are small itty-bitty links between them all - and that's the fun part. You have to see what the pattern is to figure it out. It might just be one song but there's a lot going on." In the same interview he elaborated more, "After the music is created, we're building a concept around it: moods, emotions and feelings from the music helps build the concept. Basically, what we do is listen to the record and then your mind starts to wander and images come to your mind. Hopefully, people that buy the record feel the same thing. When you listen to the music and read the title, you basically have to run with it. The images have to go also with the themes.” On reading this I'd be surprised if they had planned out the concept of the storm series in advance, but it seems like they might have had a broad idea which they more or less stuck to for the Storm series and up to Grava 4. That's not to say they didn't go into it blindly either and just worked it all out as they went along as this Stinson quote more forcibly attests, "There's nothing that's planned, there's no set course. So the mystery of the unknown is really what makes us tick. The curiosity of not knowing where we're going to end up at once this track is done, or when this album is done, and so forth and so on. We never plan our course or where we're going with a particular project. It's mainly the unknown is what makes us tick. It's like living on the edge."

In interpreting their work we do have some advantage as we can take a more objective viewpoint and look back at the work as a whole and in this way we may notice things that their originators did not, things that only their subconscious may have been aware of. Of course some people will prove quite immune to their music and world, but to those that know and care about such things it is the entry point to good times and wider possibilities.

The Other People Place will be discussed next but I'll leave the last word to James Stinson who obviously knew people were already intrigued by mystery itself, "We're humans and humans love mystery - we're very curious creatures. If you don't challenge the intellect of people, they're going to be bored."


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