Browsing articles by " Robbi"

Making of Stones of a Feather

By Robbi  //  Lyres and Bones  //  4 Comments

Hi Desert Location Joshua Tree

Special thanks to Casey Kiernan for this little mash-up of film and music. Casey is the founder of the Time Lapse Festival where the master time-lapse filmmaker Godfrey Reggio famous for the Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi films was one of the judges. In this clip Casey combines some of his own fantastic time-lapse footage of Joshua Tree, with a piece of music from the new 3rd Ear Experience album.

To hear our music with these images one gets a clear understanding of the influence the environment has on our imaginations. Just imagine, we actually live and work among these images on a daily (and nightly) basis. I am surprised our music isn’t even more spaced than it already is. This piece of music is from the introduction to a song called Flight of the Annunaki, which is the first song on the new album.

Of the The FurstWurld Gallery Recording Studio

One question i have for a person who wants to know about God, is: ‘ what is the first thing you need in order for something to exist?’ – the answer i am looking for is ‘ you need a space for the thing to take place in’ – i call this the Tuesday Morning before the big bang. Anyhow so a rock needs a space for it to be a rock in. Space rock needs a rocking space for it to happen in – Ladies and gentlemen please allow me to introduce to you the one and only Bobby Furst. Bobby Furst has created the perfect rocking art space: The FurstWurld Gallery of Music and Performing arts. It is a huge Quonset hut filled with art. Every inch of the gallery is a surprise, a feast for the minds-eye, indescribable. Now remember, i bring in musicians who, some have never played with each other before – and we jam freely and i record the jams. The environment has to be just right for the musicians to feel free to be themselves in, and free to explore the unknown in their own expression. – this is the nature of the space that Bobby Furst has created. As soon as you enter the gallery you are “wowed” and your mind enters into an inspired mood. and you want to create something more unique than what you have before. This is the mood i need each player to be in. This is the influence an art gallery has on the creative mind. Bobby’s life philosophy exudes from his art and enters our minds and pickles our musicianship. Having virtually built this gallery single handedly, he has now dedicated this gallery to the community. It is one of the most beautiful gifts a man can offer a community. I hope that the beauty of Bobby’s gift can be felt and heard in our music, as our gift to the world. Ladies and gentlemen, my friend, my inspiration, the Shaman of Joshua tree; Mr. Bobby Furst!

of the musicians

Craig Else

My favorite story I tell about Craig Else is this one: One day Craig was asked to audition for a band with some heavy weight musicians in it – I think the bass player was Billy Sheehan – anyhow he was asked to learn a Steve Vai song and solo for this audition.
As many might know Steve Vai was voted the 10th “Greatest Guitarist” by Guitar World magazine. He is technically smart and fast as lightning. Steve Vai was originally introduced to the world through Frank Zappa when at the age of 18 he was hired to be Franks Transcriptionist. He later joined the band as second guitarist to Frank.
So to cut a long story short – not only did Craig learn this Steve Vai solo note for note but at the audition he played this incredibly complex solo backwards. Craig is insane that way with a brain built for physics. So for 3rd Ear Experience’s new album I got Craig in to handle a fretless bass solo on one of the songs. I was curious as to what type of a solo such a proficient guitarist would come up with, being limited and somewhat hampered by a fretless bass guitar. Needless to say he was masterfully tasteful! Ladies and Gentlemen it is an honor to introduce you to a good friend of almost 40 years now – the legendary Craig Else!!

Danny Frankel

When I was writing an exam for Trinity College of Music, there was this question about the piano. I don’t quite recall how it was actually phrased. But the answer was – Piano is a Percussion instrument. I didn’t get the answer right (so I found out later). I guess it’s the striking action that makes it percussion. Well that little realization has infused itself into me. Then while living on the farm – the local Africans would gather at the river and drum all night for their initiation ceremonies’ which were scary as all hell, but that’s a story for another day – but from a distance one could hear in those drums – the short melodic phrases that would be on repeat for the longest time – very enchanting. Since those days I was infatuated with making a music with percussion – in particular the hand drums – anyhow the rest is history. Ladies and gentlemen let me introduce to you Danny Frankel, Kyle Hanson and John Juan Smolinski on percussion. Thanks you guys for coming down to the 3rd Ear Experience recording sessions and adding your sultry pianissimo and piano-forte to the recipe!

Robbi and Jorge Bassman Carillo

 I have been extremely fortunate to have played with some of the greatest bass players of my time. Starting with Robby “the Zulu” Whitelaw of Shag, Dino Archon of the Asylum kids, Fuzzy of Baxtop, Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam, Joey Vera of Anthrax/Armoured saint, Dug Pinnick of Kings X and Paul Pott of the Space invaders. What made them great was not necessarily a good technique or great chops, (mind you Joey is pretty up there.) But what each one had in common is what one would call the “X” factor. A certain touch that was unique to them. Naturally what made them special to me was that they played the way I feel it. Even though Dino and Dug have a lot more top end than Robby and Joey, or than Jeff who is kind of in the middle somewhere; inherent in each of their sound is that lo yo yo, that depth of groove and of African tribal ritual shamanistic darkness’s. Ladies and gentlemen please allow me to introduce to you the latest in a long line of greats; Mr Jorge Bassman Carrillo. Jorge has through tirelessness and patience and with good cheer supported me and journeyed with me into the most obscure and challenging places musically. Places that have tested our techniques, strained our minds and our muscles, and tested our resolve and commitment to arrive at a place we can call our own. Ladies and Gentlemen – Mr Jorge Bassman!”

Rojer Arnold

There I was 13 years old, learning to play classical flute. The classroom was full of straight, short back and sides, apron laced boys milky groomed, and dressed for the orchestra – and silly me, with Celtic red locks shoulder length, Tibetan boots, faded denim jacket, green eyes, mean eyes, LSD eyes, mind already twisted by Dylan Thomas, Siddhartha and the Otis Waygood blues band. I had heard the fire within the reed, brooding and breeding, source and seed of life love liberty and light – I had heard of that guy Rumi who had a whole language based on the sounds of the flute. And there I was tantric stained forest mud on my bell bottoms, while the boys who ate the sugar right out of the bowl eyed me with suspicion and whispered behind my back. I have played all kinds of flutes since then – reed flutes , Chinese, Arabian flutes, even Indian. I don’t play flute no more. Many of my favorite rock bands have flute. Then one day while kicking some Ten Years After down at the saloon, in walks Roger Arnold with a flute. What the hell “sure , go ahead jam that little hippy flute over this raging and tumbling” – (cynical bastard that I am sometimes) Then, just as I was throwing out a thousand light notes a minute Roger hits the mic sounding a mad wind swirling around each of my riffs like an electron to an atom heart – howling and screeching like the wind through these cheap windows in my desert house. Ladies and gentlemen let me introduce to you the one and only Roger Arnold. Whenever we can, we get Roger on the music. We are super super pleased, that he, just by chance, wandered into the studio while we were recording music for the new 3rd Ear Experience album.

Doug Pinnick’s bass guitar sound has influenced everyone from Kyuss to Alice in Chains and many many others. He was the guy with the biggest fattest and lowest sound. Many acknowledge Dug as being their inspiration (of course there are also those who have no self pride and they dont). Dug used to create that sound by tuning down all the way to B and then playing through a bass amp (no treble) and a guitar amp (no bass). Nowadays SansAmp and a few others have created settings on their pre amp called Dug Pinnick. Sans amp have actually made a pre amp called the Dug Pinnick signature series. He still has the fattest sound in my opinion. A journalist once asked me the meaning of humilty – i said – you know humility when you stand next to an elephant. The same can be said of Dug Pinnick – when you play with him you feel like a small man beside an elephant. We are super honored to have Dug join us once again on this new 3rd Ear Experience album – Ladies and Gentlemen – Dug Pinnick!

Bobby Furgo

“So for this part I want the harmolodics Ornette Coleman thing. The idea is we superimpose our improvisations on a secret melody (which I sing for him) – even the tonal center of the piece can be tossed out, if you want, right? “ – Bobby stares back at me, Huh? “ that’s too much for a simple violin player” he says smiling. I try explain again; there is a secret melody the other players are singing in their minds, and improvising to, but no one is playing it- happening all at the same time. Again I get the Huh? and the smile. “let me hear the track” he says. So I play it for him and he starts hunting for the key. We’re in Eminor I tell/help him. He continues hunting for the key. This is odd, him taking so long to find it, I think to myself. In these overdub situations I like to give a musician one or two stabs at it – it’s a jam band, I don’t want them getting slick with knowing the piece- just the overall concept. So we do a few takes – Bobby plays great. Days later I listen to the track and am disappointed. How did we fuck up? So I mute his tracks. Weeks later during a mixdown I unmute his tracks and boom the penny drops – this fucking guy was having me on!! he knew all the time what I was talking about. He did it even better than I imagined – , muthafucker tossed the tonal center right out of the box!!!!!! So much so that it even transcended my comprehension! Brilliant! Courageous! I love being surrounded by musicians who are better than me – I just love it! Ladies and gentlemen Mr. Bobby Furgo!

Damian Lester

Damian is native desert plant. Born and raised in the desert. One time I wanted to borrow an amp from his dad Steve – looking down at the amp Steve said “ I raised a family on that amp” and what a family!! Every one as talented as the next. Steve taught them how to harmonize from a young age. To learn music first through vocal harmony before you touch an instrument, to me is the way to go. Damien was the bass player in my first desert jam band the Butter Thief about 10 years ago. He is one of the most sort after musicians in the Hi- desert and maintains one of the best if not the best – vegetable patches in the desert. I am once again honored to feature Damian on the new 3rd Ear Experience album …you got it…on vocal harmonies and stand up bass. Ladies and gentlemen – Mr. Damian Lester!!

Richard Stuverud

I met Richard when Jeff Ament (Pearl Jam) and I rolled into a studio to do a record. He immediately took to my concept of world drums in a rock context. Later on, as part of his training he offered to come on a European tour with my African acid rock band Tribe after Tribe as a hand drummer!! – his hands were swollen like soccer balls after the first few gigs. Since then he has handled the drum kit for me on many albums and tours. The extra special quality in Richard is that he is a great song writer and he quickly sees the whole picture before I even get through the first chorus. Our friendship also gets sweeter with every passing year. I cannot wait for you all to hear how insane the drumming is on this new 3rd Ear Experience album – think Keith Moon meets Ginger Baker!!

Kurosh Showghi

We are honored to feature Kurosh on didgeridoo drones on the new 3rd Ear Experience. Kurosh builds his own didgeridoos, from the native woods of the desert yucca trees. Known by locals as the gentle giant in combination with great circular breathing technique Kurosh’s drones unfurl like dark matter that consumes the hidden depths of the universe, lending a foundational roar to 3rd Ear Experience’s sonic explorations.

Alan Swanson

Al is a mountaineer and climbing guide. I believe this comes out in his playing. He creeps to great heights, his chords, augmented, diminished and altered give vertigo. His only rope is woven from the whole tone scale. Al’s performance on this new music has given it the depth of Coleman and Evans and the passion of Deep Purple.

John Whoolilurie

When we first met John he was a one man band, working with loop pedal to create live grooves, with only his voice and a saxophone – rocking the crowd at the Joshua Tree music festival. John owns the ONE – and when a soloist “owns the one” he can bully the groove of a melodic improve into doing anything for him. We are proud and honored once again to have this great man and musician featured on the up coming 3rd Ear Experience album.

Chris Unck

Chris Unck, my current favorite guitar player: Chris will be featured being a very naughty devil putting stink and sting on the new 3rd Ear Experience album – its an honor! – Stones of a Feather!


The best is yet to come!

By Robbi  //  Love  //  1 Comment

So I’m back now – its been nearly two years since I started this love album…and then suddenly as I got close to writing the last of the songs along comes an avalanche of music and film projects…

First the Golden Band – Dug Pinnik and I are dear friends, actually every body loves Dug he is an authentic person, probably one the most authentic people I know… I believe Dug Pinnik single handedly created the modern bass guitar sound of rock music – I mean you had Chris squire and John Entwhistle and they had powerful sounds but Dug sank the Titanic – simple as that – his bass sound influenced all the grunge bands, from Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilot, Tool and many more.. – but beyond that – his bass line constructions are quite unbelievable, he has so much funk and groove – there is not much to be said but you have to see and hear it for yourself – anyhow we love each other and love playing music together.

Dug Pinnik and Robbi Robb laying down the Oceon

So we got together for ten days with Butch Reynolds on drums and Kripa on ambient keyboards and Al Swanson on B3 duties and Trent moss on percussion and we toyed around with some ideas. The nights were really dark at that time and the stars were raining hard…and so the stories at night would turn to contemplations on extraterrestrial life, UFOS and Aliens – and so we began to write lyrics and songs that reflected these conversations, we watched documentaries on UFO’s and a lot of the evidence especially the ancient art stuff is very convincing.

Ancient Alien sculpture

1000 year old sculpture of a plane.

So as a result we have created somewhat of a space rock album – which as many know is one of my favorite styles of music. We are thinking of calling the album – a POCKET FULL OF STARS – Though I do not believe most of the UFO stuff out there, I must say alien life is absolutely possible and I hope to meet one alien before I pass from this plane.

Then I decided instead of travelling to Europe every year to play these wonderful little festivals – why not just create cool events out here under the night sky in the style of Duna jam – only 200 people allowed type thing – and so I hooked up with local astronomer Tom O’key and the Joshua tree lake owners and we put together a space rock star party –

1st Space Rock Star Party

I put together a little space rock out fit called The Echo People, and Tom had built these huge screens like drive-in screen size upon which he and other astronomers projected deep space images of galaxies and nebula, it was awesome and we played our brand of spacey music – it was a very successful event. Robbi and the Echo People
Anyhow then my studio got flooded and the black mold came creeping in – and walls had to be destroyed and then my mixing board fried and so everything in the studio came to a grinding halt. Very Frustrating. Meantime I finished editing Eva Soltes’ documentary on Lou Harrison which has been received very well.

Then Eva had me in to work on recording Rohan de Saram –

Rohan De Saram

this was an awesome experience as I was stuck in a the Lou Harrison straw bale house/concert hall for ten days with a master cello playing – watching the depth of his commitment to his instrument; practicing every morning – there were times when he would explain to me why he was playing a piece in a certain way, and though he was talking it to me and enjoyed my curiosity he was also just go through his own mind and reinforcing his ideas – I felt like a young Arthur at the feet of Merlin or Shakespeare at the feet of Dr John Dee – I felt like a little kid sitting at the wisdom shore of infinite possibilities.

pic by Eva Soltes

Robbi and Rohan discussing the Mix

I was so inspired I quit the Echo People because the commitment of the musicians to the craft was a little slack – for them it was like a hobby – music is my life-craft and my life-raft. I still practice scales, modes, arpeggios, harmony and composition virtually every day… – I practice on the toilet, I practice watching documentaries, I practice in the shopping mall while the girls shop for girls things.

Robbi practicing guitar at the mall

Kripa thinks I am obsessed – it’s a beautiful obsession…and watching Rohan – with his white hair and his antique cello – I know I too want to grow old with music, besides, my guitar playing is just getting deeper and deeper as I get older and become such and awesome adventure I can almost understand why people do cave diving; it is a lot like that – cave diving in the musical mountains of consciousness. This metaphor also works for why I love my improvisational bands best – with no arrangements known before we start to play we follow tunnels to caverns ever deeper – beyond gravity and breath – yet every detail filled with silence and distance.

Kripa and myself finally finished the Ted Quinn album, which he was so grateful for he changed it from being a ted Quinn solo album to calling it Rock Art. I mixed and wrote a few songs and engineered the album and Mark fuller mastered it.
Here is a little video we made: Rock art – Robbi with ted Quinn and Kripa

Then there was an Asylum kids re-union of sorts when Steve and Dino came out for 3 days and we did some tracking – this was a real treat. The Asylum kids were and will always be a great rock band.

Asylum kids 30 years later

One thing I am very excited about is Kripa’s project – Her music is growing into a most innovative project.. There is no music like this nor has there even been anything like this, and this is a thrilling experience – more on this later. – Finally the universe has answered my cry for good musicians who want to work hard and long at getting things right and going beyond our limitations and making sacrifices needed to get these things done. I am now surrounded by a gang of excellent musicians and fun loving people who are out-working me and pushing me to greater heights. – The music never stops – but more on that later. Now I must get back to working. The best is yet to come!



By Robbi  //  Putrefaction  //  2 Comments

“Putrefaction is so effective that it destroys the old nature and form of the rotting bodies; it transmutes them into a new state of being to give them a totally new fruit. Everything that has life, dies; everything that is dead putrefies and finds a new life.” (Pernety, 1758)


In alchemical philosophy there is a stage of progress called Putrefaction. It is a stage of fermentation, and decomposition, a phase they call the black dragon or nigredo or just the blackness. It is a time when the old forms break down and through decomposition are transformed into a raw material from which a spiritually elevated form of life can arise.



A similar idea is described by the tarot card called the Tower. In the Tower card the lightning bolt, symbolizes a flash of spiritual insight that destroys the fixed shape of the tower which symbolizes the fixed opinions and dogmas we have built up in our lives over time. It represents a time of upheaval and disruption. Similarly the time of putrefaction is activated by ones own inner fire.



Change can only take place if the old is allowed to die. Renewal cannot take place unless destruction of the old takes place. On the mythological level, nigredo signifies the difficulties man has to overcome on his journey through the underworld. We all go through these sorts of changing phases – those disruptive phases of our lives we call transitions. Life’s transitions can be challenging because they are unpredictable, difficult, confusing and disorientating. It is a time when life forces us away from the familiar and so we feel vulnerable.

Here i am attempting to capture the feeling of a life transition musically.


Love and longing

By Robbi  //  Love and Longing  //  3 Comments

Love and longing

If you take a handful of the greatest songs ever written and pick the one thing out that they have in common what do you think that would be? To me it would be a sense of yearning or a quality of longing. It seems to me that ‘longing’ possesses an actual sound quality, like the bending of a blues note. John Lennon brings this to the fore when he sings “i give her all my love”. Though he is confirming that it is a love song lyrically, his tone of voice and the melodic structure lean towards a sound of yearning. He was a master at this and could bring it to perfection in one word. For example listen to how he starts the song with the word ‘mother’. From the moment you hear him say it you are gripped by the deep yearning! The same with the sound of the voice and melody in two of the greatest love songs ever written in my opinion – Bridge over Troubled Water and The first time ever i saw your face, both these songs posses this quality in the extreme sense. It’s this yearning quality that lifts them up beyond their fantastic lyrics into a place of spiritual longing. There is a sound of longing in Neil Youngs voice when he sings “Jesus I saw you…walking on the river….” , when Bono wails “Sunday bloody sunday”. There is deep longing in the guitar solos of David Gilmour. Robert Plant is soaked in this quality and often times goes straight for this feeling by simply crying out “ooh”. Most often if a song, a piece of music or a guitar solo, doesn’t posses this quality of longing it is short lived in my personal picks list. Much of pop music these days lacks this noble quality . Here is a demo of the tail end of a song we are working on called Hello.

In this song I am aiming at this feeling of longing. The story is this: the viking boy, curious about dreams and feelings he is having about a girl he has never met in real life, goes to the High Priestess of the island and has a ‘session’ with her. She reads the crystal ball and reads his palm, and tells him about a “soul mate” who is also longing to be re-united with him. The opening line of the lyrics describes the boy looking at his palm and speaking to the girl.

hello, to the line upon my hand,
to the line that shows a friend,
to the friend who forms the line.

There is a greater alchemical mystery embedded in this album for those who know, but for now – we will stick to the story.


Like in a Song.

By Robbi  //  Like in a Song  //  4 Comments

“This Pearl abides in all the pearls like in a song.”

Lila is being initiated into the pearls of ancient wisdom by the High Priestess of her clan. “Like in a song” captures the content of her lesson on the nature of life. The content of this song can best be described, using an excerpt from the book I have written and am preparing to publish. Here it is:

“The fourth Hermetic Principle called; the Principle of Vibration – tells us that “nothing rests, everything moves, everything vibrates.” Thoughts, mental images and emotions are nothing more than a series of vibrations in the field of consciousness. Even matter is understood to be a collection of vibrations, seemingly coagulated like condensed sunlight. It is the nature of vibration that obliges the quantum physicist to poetically acclaim that we live in a musical universe. Vibration gives us life, energy, sound, color, temperature, harmony and, most importantly to our own understanding of quantum healing, the law of attraction. The law of attraction is based on the physics of harmony. The greater the degree of harmony existing between two bodies the greater the force of attraction. In other words the law of attraction makes itself known through the phenomena called sympathetic vibration.”

So this lesson that Lila is getting will, if she thoroughly integrates it into her consciousness, prepare her for the subtle disintegration of physical form that would happen when she eventually passes through the wormhole between the parallel universes to make contact with her soul mate, the Viking Boy. At this stage of the story though, neither of them know that this event lies in their future. Here Kripa, Roland and myself are seen recording the seed idea for this song. (a part of it can also heard in video 1)

Hopefully it grows into something worthy of the wisdom words it is designed to carry.

shine on


Lyres and Bones

By Robbi  //  Lyres and Bones  //  1 Comment

My research into Viking instrumentation led me to the Lyre.

So i picked up the guitar and imagined what sort of music would be played by a few guys sitting around playing lyres on a lazy evening.  Firstly i began with parts that use only two or three strings on the guitar, and played them in a picking style to imitate  what a lyre player would have to do. I decided on the Fender Stratocaster for the sound.  I played these parts for a few minutes and then recorded them, all the while waiting for a vocal melody to arise from the interlocking  lyre-like parts.  Unfortunately nothing came to me that i really liked – so this little ditty will stay like this for a while.


Then Sam Wilmore a local drummer and healer came over for a visit and, since that i was in record mode, we decided to let him at it with percussion and drums.  Almost instinctively Sam reached for the “Bone tambourine”  that was made especially for me by local artisan Doug McKearn (see pic). Lyres and bones …mmm …this is very viking!  I was happy with the simplicity with which Sam approached the percussion arrangements. Even though he made his way through the many drums i have lying around – Indian, Turkish, Celtic and African – he managed to keep it very simple and open so as to let the guitar parts breathe.  Sam is great with this – he has had much experience playing in time to my delays and  line 6 looper where i build layers of interlocking parts live – much like this little ditty.

Toward the end i am trying to reign the piece in, so as to give it more of a rock arrangement, by using a thick ascending line played on a nasty distorted guitar. Finally i begin a modal guitar solo and bring back in, under it, the harmony melodies from earlier in the arrangement. This creates a cacophony of lyres and rock guitars.  It’s really fun to listen to this tail end as if  listening right though it, and not  to any one part in particular. It gets a three dimensional quality and a spaciousness between all the parts as they revolve around each other.

In the background all through the ditty you can hear the desert wind howling and whistling though our windows…mmm a gift from Thor? …The next day it snowed in the desert!


Amritakripa, beloved muse and first mate.

By Robbi  //  Amritakripa, Love  //  9 Comments

There comes a time in every musician’s life when, like in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the wind dies down and the ship stands idle -- “like a painted ship upon a painted ocean” and prayers are deterred by a “wicked whisper” that makes his heart “as dry as dust.”  A “weary time,” as the Mariner growled with hoarse voice….”a weary time.”   At the height of the Mariner’s dark time, a prayer arises from his depth, and he blesses the slimey creatures unawares. It is this spontaneous blessing that causes the wind to blow and bring his ship back to shore.  For me the spontaneous blessing came as ” a dew of immortal grace,” which is the meaning of the word Amritakripa.

Here is the story:

The first piece of music in this little documentary is an instrumental piece we just finished called ‘The Stirring’. The next music is a short excerpt of a song from Kripa’s second album, ‘Dancing Lotus’ -- the song is called Shakti.  The final piece of music, in which Kripa is drumming, playing keys and singing, is the first piece about the viking boy.  In this piece Kripa and i attempt to create the strange viking harmonies by singing a single note that remains constant even across the chord changes while the melody of the lead voice  follows the chords.

In the final black and white shot of Kripa and myself (a moment captured by Andre Wilms) Richard Stuverud is seen in the background -- his image and the image in the lyric are perfect together  “the seaweed lies like dripping hair, upon the rocky shore” -- nice coincidence.

On a final note -- i remind myself,  my friends and Saraswati, the goddess of music that it was the Ancient Mariner’s own actions, by his decision to shoot the albatross, that brought upon him and his shipmates  the “weary time” -- and so i do not blame anyone for those, my days of weariness in the doldrums that brought my ship to a painted ocean. In truth i am now even grateful, for out of it came the sweetest of all blessings and the dew of immortal grace!

Shine on!


Hear Richard Burton read the Rime of the Ancient mariner. This is my number one CD of all time.

Incidentally it is this reading that inspired the song Ice Below

A commentary on The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner:



Lalena; The Girl

By Robbi  //  Love, The girl  //  12 Comments

The Girl

I would so love to call the girl Lalena after the Donovan song that Deep Purple covered.  But it seems no matter how you sing this beautiful name it has Donovan all over it.  So for now she is a nameless mystery.  But in my secret place she is called Lalena.

I think the album begins with a song about her and touches on elements of her world.  It is a full moon night – she is going through a Luna retreat alone on the sacred hills a little way from her village.  The villagers are of course partying with songs, exotic dancers, wines and sweet wines that foam! She alone, in the sacred hills, enters deeply into the mystery of the Moon Magik, under the guidance of the High Priestess of her Clan.

The song describes the mythical qualities that surround her life and how she feels about them.  In the video you see I have only a small guitar part to begin with as I start to write the lyrics.  By the end of it the song has developed really nicely with a solemn chant and an exhilarating penny whistle piece.  This penny whistle – is a first for me!


Breathing of time is scented for her now / Floating on the blossoming sky / blowing through the days of flutes and anklets /fanning the poets lit fire / and the beggars bowl is filled with a spring dance/ laughingly scented for all / these are the days of melody and welcome / upon the leaves of a song

On these sacred hills alone she wanders / Moonlight entangled in her hair / The jewels on her brow sparkle like dancers /  Silk, soft and fair / These are the ways she must reach for her wisdom / Healing for all to bear /  The truest of treasures, the softest of pleasures / Before the dawns gold aire…

Since this album is written in mythological style and manner with regards to channeling the lyrics (dream-speak) rather than intellectually carving them, the words are naturally rich with symbols. For example the moon in ancient wisdom represents the subconscious mind, memories, and psychological patterns; it also pertains to the emotions.   The hair on a person’s head symbolizes what that person’s thoughts are radiating -- their “mental aura” so to speak…so we have a lovely image in the lyrics

‘moonlight entangled in her hair’.

This simple phrase captures the idea of the contemplative Luna magical workings she is entangled or absorbed in.  The prize of this sort of spiritual practice leads to “the truest of treasures, the softest of pleasures”; there is nothing more subtle, or more blissful than consciousness awakening into super consciousness.

Those of you who have some experience with Tarot and alchemical symbolism will immediately recognize the formula for the making of the “gold” which is imbedded in the story of this album.  The secret to making gold lies in the alchemical wedding. Only atheists and fools really believe the alchemist gold is a solid material. Those who know -- know, that there is no such thing in the entire universe as a ‘solid particle with fixed properties.   These are some of the ideas hidden within the concept of this album

Please share your insights.




Venus in Moon: photo art by Kripa

Moon card lifted from:

Art card lifted from:




Love, the making of.

By Robbi  //  Love  //  27 Comments


This album will be my first  solo album.  Although I am the music director for  the band tribe after tribe the approach to this album is something altogether different. Firstly tribe after tribe is “african acid rock” based and considered to be one of the pioneers of world rock.  So in a sense when i write for tribe i keep these african rock parameters in mind so that there is some kind of continuity between albums. For this album the challenge will be to stay away from my africanisms.  As a musician i have always been interested in ethnic music of the world,  i have studied turkish music, Indian music, classical baroque , jazz and i play many different instruments from various cultures. My deepest relationship has been with the Saraswati Vina.  ( i am waiting to grow up so i can approach the Rudra Vina next)

Robbi with the vina

Also I am blessed to have had some wonderful music teachers in  my life from Mike Dickman to Mrs Moss (trinity college in south africa) from Alan Kwela to Alan Weinberg and many more.

So now with the making of the Love album i am venturing into three realms of music that i have not used in a rock context before namely -- celtic music and music of the vikings ;  then applying baroque fugal techniques for  the arrangements.   Unfortunetly there isn’t much viking music to draw on -- we do know that they used flutes made of bone and they had hand drums.

Viking flutes

Viking flutes

Modern commentators describe the melodies of the Vikings as “eerie,” because the harmony is one that is unfamiliar to modern ears. The strangeness of  the singing of the Vikings, has been compared to the howling of wolves or dogs. Though their melodies are beautiful,  the major third was regarded as a dissonant interval in the early Middle Ages in Europe because most European music at the time utilized Pythagorean tuning, which gives pure fifths, but very nasty thirds.

Here is a pic and score of one of the earliest Scandinavian pieces of music discovered.

Viking score

Viking score





The text reads:

“i dreamt a dream last night
of silk and fur.”

It is the oldest preserved piece of music known in Denmark.

Here is pic and score of an earlier piece of music that scholars believe sheds light on the music of the vikings.

De la borde

The hymn is written for a two-voices  in the Lydian mode and harmonized in parallel thirds. This is known as a parallel organum in thirds, one of the earliest polyphonic forms. In the northern parts of of Britain,  the people who inhabit these parts use a similar kind of singing in harmony  but with  only two distinct melodies and parts, one murmuring below, the other charming the ear above. Since the English do not generally use this manner of singing,  it is believed that the vikings, who often occupied these parts of the island brought this special manner of singing to the northerners.  So on this album you will hear this stylistic idea being used especially on the first song about the Boy who is from a Viking Ship.

De la borde

One source of viking musical evidence comes from  a book written by Jean-Baptise de la Borde, Essai sur la Musique Ancienne et Moderne. In his book, Borde included five tunes to Old Norse texts, which he said were “as they today are sung in Iceland.” Iceland being so remote maintained the language of the Vikings almost unchanged up to the present day, The melodies seem  to be similar to the hymn. The strange thing about these melodies is that they  circle around the major third and the tune only goes one note above and one below, so that the entire range is within a fifth.  Again this motive will appear often throughout this album

The music of the Girl and her clan is based more or less on Celtic ideas where i hope to get some intense Bodhran drumming in.

The Story of Love

The Love story is about two soul mates who have incarnated on parallel universes. He is from a Viking clan and she from a Gaul clan. The vikings have arrived at her island which causes much grief to the islanders. Meantime our lovers longing for each other will create a worm hole of sorts through which they will meet up for a few minutes.

The entire writing and recording of this album will be documented on video. Many times you will see me begin a song from scratch having no words or chords. Other times you will see me using my “dream-speak”  technique which involves me singing from a sub-conscious place and then writing down what i have sung afterwards. These are things i usually do in solitude and in the privacy of my studio  -- so now you have it.  I hope you enjoy witnessing this process.

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shine on.