Othon will release his new album ‘Pineal’ in June 2014 through Strike Force Entertainment. A part of its profits will go to the Kaxinawa people of the Amazon and the Beckley Foundation, which carries out pioneering research into psychoactive drugs and consciousness, and promotes evidence-based, health-oriented drug policy reform.
Avant-pop songwriter, post-minimalist composer and awarded pianist, Othon, had no idea of the direction his music would take after participating in a series of mind-expanding Ayahuasca ceremonies in Brazil in 2012. In the midst of the jungle and under the hypnotic singing of indigenous shamans, he was overflowed with sensory information that would set the grounds for his emotionally charged and provocative new album. ‘Pineal’ is, in some ways, a multidimensional music journey that brings together Othon’s past and future, his edgy experimental songwriting, with his newly found love of awe-inspiring wilderness and ancient wisdom. As Pineal swings from cinematic pop and fierce shamanic techno to jungle evoking downtempo and violin driven electronica, Othon’s self-defined PAN muzik world that originated with his second album, Impermanence, reaches unexpected new heights.
The album’s title points to the pineal gland, traditionally responsible for mystical awakenings and inner visions. Ayahuasca, the powerful medicinal brew of the Amazon region, is said to be a pineal gland activator and has helped Othon to access parts of his psyche otherwise hidden. It brought forward, in his own words, through “kaleidoscopic DNA universes, relentless shitting and a rollercoaster of emotions, a sense of inner healing and an almost uncontrollable urge to make an artistic u-turn dictated by the Medicine’s own spirit. I decided to become passive in the creative process and write music that I, as Othon, would consciously have the least control of.”
Pineal immediately attracted attention and Othon soon received $10,000 through a successful crowd funding campaign to complete a large chunk of the recordings. The first people to join him at the studio and bless the project were Don Javier and Jessica Seopa, two of the Shamans that guided his Ayahuasca journeys in Brazil.Their Ikaros (healing chants) have been a continuous source of inspiration and Othon transformed them to evocative hypnotic soundscapes that open and close the album’s second part. Even more surprising was the ‘go ahead’ Othon received by chiefs of the Kaxinawá tribe to turn one of their sacred songs ‘Pasha Dume’ into a hard-edged choral techno track. Othon came across the Amazonian tribe also in Brazil and was enchanted by their beauty, kindness and compassion. As a means of gratitude, all the profits of the song will go back to the Kaxinawá people. Another highlight of the album’s second part is ‘Cobra Coral,’ a traditional Umbanda song and a cult accompaniment to sacred ceremonies. Othon decided to turn this into a tribal dance track in which an Ivor Novello awarded Marc Almond leads, what Othon called, his own ‘wild Ayahuasca choir,’ a group of people who are used to sing the song in the aforementioned rituals, many of whom traveled many air miles just to record.
Whereas with Pineal’s second part, the transcendental elements of Othon’s PAN muzik are more evident, the all-original first part is a true example of breaking genre and stylistic barriers, another integral characteristic of PAN. ‘Pineal Kiss’, a dense dramatic pop song that includes a classical choir, a prepared piano, a distorted trombone and a dozen of percussive instruments, is such an example. It features the futuristic electro-cabaret multi-octave vocalist Ernesto Tomasini whose voice also graces ‘Dawn Yet to Come.’ The latter blends melancholic techno with pre-classical counterpoint, topped by the ecstatic singing of a gospel choir. Tomasini’s elusive and androgynous voice holds the song together. ‘Your Quantum Future’ presents one of Othon’s favourite upcoming artists and SFE label mate ‘Bird Radio’ who guests in other tracks of the album too. ‘Japan Suite,’ an owe-inspiring, heartbreaking mini requiem about the Fukushima tragedy and the possible nuclear disaster that threats us all, closes the opening part of the album.
Apart from being a work of a visionary, Pineal is a poignant reminder that expanded (and, in most cases, forbidden) states of consciousness often bestow on us the openness we need to evolve on a personal and artistic level. Having had his first major spiritual breakthrough through an LSD trip at Epping Forest in 2006, Othon believes that altered states of consciousness can lead to profoundly creative and therapeutic outcomes; that the outright prohibition of such experiences is morally and scientifically unjustifiable; and that the prohibitionist paradigm must therefore be replaced with one based on scientific evidence, and the protection of human rights. By merging the Western musical traditions with the indigenous way in his progressive new work, Othon is becoming a leading figure in an ever-increasing army of people who believe that ultimately both are needed if our art and spirituality are to evolve in a sufficient way to lift humanity out of the crisis it faces.