The Overview Effect then and now

Reading the late Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell‘s 1971 account1 of his overview effect from 50 years ago, and his thoughts on the nature of things regarding the human condition and planet Earth, I can’t help thinking about current events in the USA and worldwide. 

Mitchell presented three major alternatives for the future: 

As I pondered the matter and discussed it with concerned thinkers around the world, it became obvious that there are three major alternatives for the future, alternatives within man’s control:

1. To do nothing, in which case the prevailing dominant paradigm and resulting socioeconomic behavior will eventually result in a massive collapse of the world system. The survivors can then start to rebuild civilization.

2. To relinquish personal freedom of choice to a central world government with the expectation that a controlled and unified society, however tyrannical its leadership, is better than nonsurvival. 

3. To promote the process of metanoia, or a new awakening in which mankind can realize its self-produced dilemma and, through a change in awareness and an expansion of individual responsibility, reestablish the unity of man with man and with the environment. 

Now, fifty years later, we can observe these alternatives manifest as: 

1) Western consumerist capitalism as spearheaded by the USA (with, at least on paper, failing president Trump for his last few days)

2) Authoritarian surveillance society as exemplified by China

The third, which Mitchell calls Metanoia (after Wiliam James, C.G. Jung et al), a more ‘enlightened’ alternative, is yet to fully present itself on a level that would make a difference (even though the ‘underground currents’ have been around in various forms since the enlightenment if not time immemorial). There’s plenty of chatter about ‘a new awakening’ around the Internet, but recently most of it seems to revolve around hatemongers preying on confused people desperate about the global (or personal) situation at hand.  

Obviously the hunger for alternatives to options 1 and 2 grows fast and needs to be fed. Considering something like QAnon as a kind of example, it becomes clear we (humans) have quite a bit of growing ahead of us. QAnon and various related movements or ‘phenomena’ promise to provide, presenting themselves as ‘alternatives’ to unsustainable status quo. They congratulate you for ‘awakening’ and ‘doing your research’, only to tell you what you should see now that your eyes are open. 

Anyways, there’s a need, and a promise of awakening to a new consciousness for mankind, but what works for individuals may not apply for masses. The persisting herd animal tendencies still lure crowds to blindly follow new leaders no matter, how one-eyed they are as long as their voices hit the precise, familiar chords of promise and fear. 

Mitchell’s calling was to unite the research of outer space (science) and inner space (consciousness) that remain separate, often questioning each others relevance and even dismissing the other’s existence altogether. After his career with NASA, Mitchell founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences to advance his ideas. 

Only when man moves from this ego-centered self-image to a new image of universal man will the perennial problems that plague us be susceptible to resolution. Humanity must rise from man to mankind, from the personal to the transpersonal, from self-consciousness to cosmic consciousness.

Mitchell passed away in 2016, but the Institute of Noetic Sciences remains active. Recently, the Institute was involved in a project that aims to reproduce the Overview Effect in VR. And indeed, the Edgar Mitchell Overview Effect VR Experience can be found and experienced for free to all who have a VR headset (excluding myself at present). I wonder, though, will it ever feel the same as actually being out there?

Earthrise, taken on December 24, 1968, by Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders.

ps. While taking a break for a cup of tea until posting this piece, I grabbed a random book to skim while brewing the tea. The book was Tape Delay – Confessions from the Eighties Underground, edited by Charles Neal. I opened the book at a random point, and got an article by The Hafler Trio in front of me:  “Metanoia – Theme for ‘Captured Music'”. Talk about syncronicity… but more about that another time.

 

311098 Tapes – Extract

Extract from Niko Skorpio : 311098 Tapes – album available for free download via Bandcamp.

Sounds and images for live performance by Niko Skorpio 1997-1998.
Transferred from original 4-track & VHS tapes.

TH€€€F – TISSUE SAMPLES, 2

TH€€€F – TISSUE SAMPLES, 2

Download @ TH€€€F Bandcamp

Second part in series of live recordings in studio environment, captured while developing and testing tools for sound manipulation.

Tracklist
01 THE FILM OF YOUR LIFE
02 FRANKIE GOES TO HELL
03 SHUTEYE SOLACE
04 VAMPIRIC ALGORITHM
05 XOR NOT
06 TRIPLE NEGATIVE 

origin RANDOM RADIO FREQUENCIES 
process SAMPLING, SPLINTERING, RESEQUENCING 
variables CHANCE, INTUITION, BLEEDING EDGE ALGORITHMS 
outcome SELECTIONS OF STUDIO LIVE RECORDINGS
generated by TH€€€F 2019–2020 
published by PARAFERAL SOUND 2020; PFS2009

Soundtracks

SOUNDTRACKS –
Audio Works for Film and Video 2011–2018

Download Soundtracks via Bandcamp

All tracks conceived & constructed by Niko Skorpio for cinematic works. Compiled for PARAFERAL Sound 2020.

Soundtracks will be followed by a another compilation album that will feature audio works made for art installations. Title, date and contents to be revealed shortly.

TH€€€F – TISSUE SAMPLES, 1

TH€€€F – TISSUE SAMPLES, 1

Suddenly, perhaps unexpectedly, new TH€€€F arrives. Unrelated to current issues, the TISSUE SAMPLES series was being planned to begin last year, but was on hold due to more urgent things. This first one, TISSUE SAMPLES, 1 appeared on April 1, is available for free download and a small number of diy CDRs.

Tracklist
01 AS IS
02 UNTHINK
03 MASLOW HELD UPSIDE DOWN
04 HALL OF BROKEN MIRRORS
05 YOU HEARD IT WROIGHT
06 H H H
07 WILL IT NEVER END

origin RANDOM RADIO FREQUENCIES
process SAMPLING, SPLINTERING, RESEQUENCING
variables CHANCE, INTUITION, BLEEDING EDGE ALGORITHMS
outcome SELECTIONS OF STUDIO LIVE RECORDINGS
generated by TH€€€F 2018-2019
published by PARAFERAL SOUND 2020; PFS2007

TH€€€F @ Soundcloud – soundcloud.com/theeef

Through the Pits of Time

Thergothon – Through the Pits of Time – Niko Skorpio

Received this box today, from Germany, released by a tape label called Darkness Shall Rise. The box contains all survived recordings by my first ‘serious’ band, Thergothon, from 1991-1992. Recording-wise, there’s no surprises to those who’ve followed the vinyl reissues of the recent years, except for the fact they’ve been remastered for the tape format and sound as good they can on this magnetic media.

Thergothon – Through the Pits of Time – Niko Skorpio

Of more interest to completists is the included 80-page booklet featuring lots of photos and press clips from my archive – old interviews published in zines at the time and such.

And the most meaningful to me personally is the lengthy piece of text I wrote for the box set, collecting all my memories related to Thergothon from the period of 1990–1993. It includes quite a bit of trivia previously unsaid as well as some awkward things I’d rather have forgotten… but it’s all there for the sake completion. Everything I can say about the subject matter is in that box. So in the future if someone still has some questions I’ll just refer to this text. Mission accomplished on that front!

Thergothon – Through the Pits of Time – Niko Skorpio

Sounds of The Unfolding

The Unfolding – Themes & Variations, the first new album of new music/sound from me in six years (since Khôra of 2013). As the title indicates, it is based on recordings made for the installation The Unfolding (2018), developed further to work as five individual sound pieces (sans the installation’s projected imagery) that together form a 71 minutes whole.

Recommended mode of digestion: alone, in a darkened space, with good soundsystem or headphones.

Niko Skorpio : The Unfolding – Themes & Variations

Download is available now.

The CD edition, in a pretty good-looking digipak, is in production and will ship in the beginning of February. Preorders are welcome.

Additionally, there’s a ‘Special Research Edition‘ limited to only 20 copies (!), including the CD, download and an exclusive 24-page research document featuring artwork, articles, and related things. As of writing this, a few copies remain unreserved, secure yours now.

Niko Skorpio : The Unfolding – Themes & Variations

Niko Skorpio : The Unfolding – Themes & Variations

Niko Skorpio : The Unfolding – Themes & Variations

Niko Skorpio : The Unfolding – Themes & Variations

Ghosts of Iris

I’m happy to announce that two short films I made a few years ago will be screened at the Iiriksen AaVeet event in Kino Iiris, Lahti, Friday November 22. Only a handful of people have seen either of them so far*, so we could call it a rare opportunity.

Through My Dreams Like a Knife (2014) a dialogueless black & white short film about self-reflection, wandering and transformation. Shot in the summer of 2013 in Perniö, Teisko and Venäjänkangas.

3rd Mind (for Bill & Brion) (2013) was inspired by William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin, especially their cinematic experiments with Antony Balch, as well as – obviously – their idea about the third mind that is present in every fruitful collaboration.

Both flicks feature Ovro aka Satu K and myself, both behind and in front of the camera. Both are true zero-budget DIY works made for the the love of making them, and as such quite personal and introspective.

( * I know. I should put more emphasis on promoting things, but it seems somewhat against my process-oriented nature. When I’m done with something I’m eager to move on to a new project…)

Remembering Heikki Huhtanen aka Henry Zalkin

It’s a certain sign of aging when you find yourself repeatedly thinking about people and events from 20, 25 or even 30 years ago. And although 40+ years is no achievement by current standards, some people don’t get even that.

The one person I’m thinking about in this case is Heikki Huhtanen, also known as Henry Zalkin, who passed away 20 years ago. My first acquaintance with Heikki was sometime in the early 1990s via a letter and a demo tape. The tape contained a demo by Bulimia, his band or more accurately a solo project. We exchanged some letters and later switched to email when it became more commonplace. I only met Heikki twice, and on both occasions quite briefly, but through our correspondence I got to know him as a man of many interests and great sense of humour. Besides making music he was a writer, a student of slavic languages at the University of Helsinki, and he also played classical music in an orchestra (I forget which instrument).

We shared quite some interests, mainly experimental and industrial music and (more or less) related subcultures, some of the stars in the hemisphere being William S. Burroughs, Genesis P-Orridge, The Master Musicians of Joujouka, Coil, Bill Laswell, Hakim Bey… and the list goes on.

Heikki’s music under the name Bulimia was released at the time on the electro-industrial compilation albums Freeze and Freeze 2 (on the Finnish EBM/industrial label Cyberware) as well as some international underground compilations. His demos received some confused reviews in Frantic Magazine which was the main electro/industrial magazine in Finland at the time.

Later, in 1997, we found both of us featured on an underground compilation tape The Members of Sonic Cults – me then under the name Cold Once Turning Dust (originally formed as a group in 1993, but the other members didn’t stick for long) and Heikki as Janko, Krul’ Albanskaj. His piece was an excerpt from a lengthy drone-noise colossus called Moscow, which, according to Heikki, contained (among other debris) field recordings made in Moscow back in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Members of Sonic Cults – compilation tape 1997
Members of Sonic Cults compilation tape from 1997, feat. Peel, Cold Once Turning Dust, Noval Dream, Vyöhyke, Grey Park, 1W and Janko, Krul’ Albanskaj.

I was fascinated by his style and approach – very knowledgeable, detailed and accomplished with decidedly lo-fi DIY methods, yet with tongue in cheek deep enough to confuse many. I guess he felt similarly about my work, anyway we both found quite a bit of mutual ground over which to discuss collaborating one way or another.

Our working methods were somewhat similar, too. Mainly abandoning conventional instrumentation, our main tools were tape recorders (for field recordings and other sound trawling), computer for crude sound generation and sequencing, and a 4-track recorder for recording and mixing. Heikki did play several instruments, though, a little example can be seen in this video from a party. (Thanks to Timo Tropiikista for uploading and blogging about it!)

At the time, in the late 1990s, Heikki was working on an album for Janko, Krul’ Albanskaj. On the basis of the Moscow excerpt mentioned above I expressed my interest in releasing the album on my newly established label Some Place Else. Finally in the summer of 1999 he completed the album and send me the master on MiniDisc, as well as a bunch of images I could use for the album cover art.

Around the same time he also mailed me a bunch of other recordings, on tape, asking me to transfer them to MiniDiscs for future use. (Before CDRs became commonplace, MiniDisc was a handy and affordable format for backups, master recordings etc.)

Then, after a brief period of silence, the sad news arrived. Heikki had passed away on September 5, 1999, from heart failure. He was 24 years old.

After recovering from the devastating news, I proceeded with the plans we had agreed on. I did the album artwork based on the images and notes Heikki had sent me. Finally in January 2001, Some Place Else released the Janko, Krul’ Albanskaj album. Bearing the cryptic title Ekezhhm, Gyuvel Pyuganlahkh Aektspyud?, it contained four pieces, including the complete 46-minute Mockba opus. Honestly, the album was no hit even in the underground scale, and I still have a bunch of CDs remaining from the edition of 500 copies. Nevertheless, I always considered it a great success on an artistic level – Heikki’s approach to experimental noise and sound collage was unlike anything else released in Finland. I just listened to the album while writing this, and find it still fresh and interesting after all these years.

One thing I still regret is that we never did that collaboration that we repeatedly talked about. Time just didn’t seem ripe for it, until there was no time anymore.

Henry Zalkin tapes and discs

Now, about the bunch of other tapes Heikki sent me back in the day. In the recent “archival excavations” I went through all the tapes and minidiscs he sent me, along with the letters, notes and tracklists, and had all of them transfered to digital. It amounts to this:

Bulimia – About two albums worth of material, including various demos and other recordings throughout the 1990s.

Janko, Krul’ Albanskaj – some tracks made for another album, plus other recordings and remixes; about one album’s worth of material.

Miscellaneous other recordings, including a collection of tracks with a theme/title “Psychoswing”.

For a long time I’ve been thinking about these recordings. I think if Heikki was still around he would most probably have released his works online, but as he’s not, and there was no plan announced, the music remains unreleased, for now.

I would certainly like to hear stories from people who used to know and be in touch with Heikki Huhtanen aka Henry Zalkin. If you have any memories about him feel free to share in the comment section. If you happen to have any of his music on tape or other formats, I would very much like to have a listen.

Life is temporary, but experiences, memories and deeds live on as long as the stories are told and the works viewed and listened to.

Grey Bloom XXI Anniversary Set

About 21 years ago, in August 1998, my debut album was released. In order to celebrate a little bit, in an almost private matter (I’m not a party person), a small edition called Grey Bloom XXI Anniversary Set was made, containing the original 12″LP from 1998 (my last copies), plus the tracks restored & remastered from original tapes on CDR + download, with booklet, plus an art print to go.

The LP+CDR+download+booklet+art print set is available from PARAFERAL

Niko Skorpio - Grey Bloom XXI Anniversary Set

GREY BLOOM [xero vol zero] 12″LP, my debut solo album, was released in August 1998 on Some Place Else in an edition of 210 copies. The last 20 copies were archived years ago, they have been unearthed for this set.

GREY BLOOM [XXI Engram Recall] CDR presents the album material restored from the original 4-track source tapes. Remastered faithfully to the originals and the artist’s intent. Includes download code. Comes with 8-page info/art booklet.

“Grey Bloom 93” art print is a photograph selected from the series shot on film back in 1993, used on the original album art. Dimensions: 30cm x 30cm (image 23cm x 18cm).

Niko Skorpio - Grey Bloom XXI Anniversary Set

PFS1905
PARAFERAL Sound 2019