“HYPNOTIC MEME” IN NEW ALBUMS FROM CLASSIC ROCK BANDS—WHAZZUP?

“HYPNOTIC MEME” IN NEW ALBUMS FROM CLASSIC ROCK BANDS—WHAZZUP?

Three 70s “classic rock” bands, each releasing major “return to form” albums over the summer. Each seemingly revived like the Phoenix…and each sharing this “hypnotic” graphic motif.

This week, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers‘ “Hypnotic Eye” debuts as the #1 album on the Billboard US chart…1st time in 38 years.
Is this just a “coincidence”…a synchronicity…or a “meme”…are we collectively looping a hypnotic tom-petty-heartbreakers-hypnotic-eye-artstate consciousness that is reflected in the arts? Is pop culture is a reflector of the state, or a state of reflection?
“Like shadow people in shadow lands
Shadow people in shadow land
Shadow people in shadow land
Waiting for the sun to be split over there
I ain’t got any shadow at all” -Tom Petty, “Shadow People” from Hypnotic Eye…hmmm!

Hollywood Resurrection: Classic Rock and the Hypnosis Meme

I like to note memes in the popular culture because they generally hold some nuggets about the collective state of humans. The meme, that modern application for the Jungian archetypal pattern recognition and retrieval—call it software—operates on the perceptual and/or subliminal levels of consciousness. It “swims” in the streams of consciousness and charges emotional, kinetic, and visceral responses which, in turn, aggregate energies to a conditioned response. The term was coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in 1976—long before the nascent internet was made public. It means (from the Greek, mimeme- to mime, mimic; an “imitated thing”

If modern hyper-media produces chunks of coded information that either predict, or conform, behavioral and perceptual patterns, then certainly the “pop culture”, especially music, is the most viral agent to notice such patterns. Popular culture is, indeed, formulated and dispensed to the “public” as ongoing re-programming. Certainly since the time of the Beatles and the explosion of the rock music era, no better carrier of cultural upheavals has been formulated than culture driven by sound, images, and (often hidden) philosophical embeds. The Beatles, you may recall, were brazen enough to place Aleister Crowley (The Beast/666) on the “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” cover.

Sixties and seventies rock culture created vast opportunities for media moguls to “amplify” the message to a generation literally raised by the electronosphere of TV, electric music, mass-produced print, and the more tactile responses of fashion, language, and behaviors. Psychologist, N. K. Humphrey’s has suggested that “memes should be considered as living structures, not just metaphorically.” Thus, the messages, forms, and medium constantly shift, convolute, and evolve (fitting to Dawkins’ own evolutionary theories). We now live in the day of the “nugget”: where memes fly by in rapid succession and are custom formed for a particular “affinity group”, yet touch on the larger collective culture.

I began to notice a “meme”, over the course of the last few months related specifically to three “classic” rock bands from the 1970s. In each case, these bands are “resurrecting” their images and reclaiming their mantles in the rock music pantheon. In each case, these bands—all over 40 years running—seek to shed the image of being little more than “oldies acts” or even “cover bands” of their material. In each case, the bands were culturally significant “change agents” in their respective heydays and are reclaiming their “relevance” and artistic statures. Each band, although not natives to LA/Hollywood, have largely been based there and produced their music there. In each case, there is a visual “hook” to the meme of hypnosis.

 “NOW—Chicago XXXVI”

NOW_Chicago_XXXVI_Album_CoverThe rock-jazz-pop band, Chicago began in 1967, releasing their debut LP, “Chicago Transit Authority” in 1969. The album was a masterpiece of rock-jazz fusion that featured significant commentary on the political upheavals of the time. The song, “Questions: 67 & 68” featured an audio collage of the 1968 Chicago riots with the chant: “…the whole world’s watching…the whole world’s watching…” over heavily distorted guitar feedback and rising, ominous horn blasts. Chicago was, in the day, a band who understood the power of music to a culture. While Chicago has continued to echo their city namesake, they transplanted to Los Angeles where they built their reputation as the house band at the Bitter End. Over time, the band lost its original rock roots (after the accidental “Russian Roulette” suicide of leader/guitarist, Terry Kath), and by the early nineties was considered a pop or soft rock band, whose fortunes declined as the music charts moved to punk, in turn “grunge”, then hiphop.

Chicago, in 2014, needed to revive their artistic “cred”, and “NOW” features some harder-edged music, including the extremely modern production styles of “Naked in the Garden of Allah” and “More Will Be Revealed” , both co-penned by founding member, Robert Lamn.

Chicago attempted this return to roots first, in 1994, when they went into seclusion with producer, Peter Wolf, to record “The Stone of Sisyphus” — a jazzier, more rock-oriented album that was rejected by Warner Brothers Records, and resulted in Chicago departing the label, and the departure of guitarist, Dwayne Bailey. The album was later released in 2008 on Rounder Records—after two decades of the band being largely a touring ensemble playing their past hits and releasing albums like “Big Band” and “The Christmas Album”, along with several live recordings.

The band, with a revamped line-up, stood to gain much with a powerful new “statement” in their 2014 release. Their image has largely been shadowed by their 1980s era music produced by pop producer, David Foster. While continuing to sell records, they also lost their core rock sound in favor of mainstream “adult contemporary” radio-friendly hits. Even with a series of other producers, the band lost their “edge”, but sustained popularity because of their superb musical skills, and despite the departure of founding member and lead singer, Peter Cetera. “NOW” features a cover that seemingly “captures” the visual eye, even as these new songs seek to grab the ears and hearts of the listeners. Oddly, the re-styled Chicago logo (the band’s visual icon since the beginning) looks oddly: HYPNOTIC. Here we have a mandala motif and commentary on the media itself:


“This televised democracy (we seek protection, we seek protection)
Such adolescent fantasy (we seek refuge, we seek refuge)
Random access to content
I think we’re naked in the garden of Allah (Allah)

We are artless, we are violent
We are poison, we are broken

Pie in the sky and gingerbread (we seek protection, we seek protection)
We never meant to get in bed (we seek refuge, we seek refuge)
With wannabe intelligentsia
I think we’re naked in the garden of Allah”

– Robert Lamn, “Naked In The Garden Of Allah”, from Chicago XXXVI: “NOW”

YES-”Heaven and Earth”

YES, like Chicago, needed to stabilize, and reclaim their mantle. The band has toured tirelessly for three years with the current line-up, including successful cruise tours featuring a “progressive rock” package of onboard concerts, smaller jam sessions, and numerous guest acts, including members of Genesis, ELP, King Crimson and other “prog” luminaries. The challenge lay ahead in the question: could they successfully translate this band back into a viable recording unit and achieve the standards of “Fragile”, Close To The Edge”, and their breakout 1971, “The YES Album”? In early 2014, they met in Los Angeles and began recording, with producer Roy Thomas Baker, the tracks for what became “Heaven & Earth”.

“One glimpse, way out
Of the ethereal
Electric revelation
Or just imagination
Venturing to find
The victory of game
It’s all a state of mind’ -Jon Davison, “Subway Wall” from YES: “Heaven & Earth”

Very much both a return to form, and oddly sounding more like YES around their 1970-era sound of “Time And A Word”; they merge the high tenor vocals and mystical lyrics of the Jon Anderson-era with a more compressed delivery. Howe’s signature guitars are more forefront, keyboards, elegantly played by Downes, tend to serve the songs rather than dominate, as they had in the Rick Wakeman and Patrick Moraz eras.

The songs are shorter (longest , “Subway Walls” clocking in at just over 9 minutes), crisply produced, and sounding cohesive and more organic than any YES album in two decades, “Heaven & Earth” moves YES back to their creative heights. Interestingly, YES has, since the “Fragile” album used very conscious imagery to convey their particular message, largely (though not exclusively) through the graphic designs of Roger Dean, who designed their logo and has done many of their album covers and stage designs.

For “Heaven & Earth” there was a conscious decision to include Dean in the overall “arc” of the album’s conceptual thrust. Steve Howe states:

“I don’t know whether it’s a concept record in the true sense, but basically Roger Dean and I were talking about different things and sometimes it helps to get Roger fired up about ideas that we can draw from. In a way, the parallel of saying ‘Heaven And Earth’ is the same as saying good and bad, yin and yang, up and down, left and right. They’re two extremes, but I think the way Roger and I liked it was that in fact the Earth is a physical place where you can measure stuff and you can do quantum physics.”

Those who grew up in the classic rock era (1970s) are likely aware of the mystical imagery, streaming consciousness, and deliberate hypnotic devices via music, rhythms, imagery, lighting, and later, video screens. The world is a multi-sensory experience which these children of Marshal McLuhan both understood and gained the technology to exploit.

The early masters, The Beatles (or their “creators”) forged the path to a musical experience which opera (the first multimedia form) only glimpsed. The Grateful Deaddead-cairo certainly perfected the mass-hypnosis rock event at Gizeh, Cairo Egypt in 1978, when they produced a “standing wave” trance state live. That it could be used to generate social and psychological effects is part of why we are both fascinated by—and also need to be wary of—the intended memes that are generated.

That popular music, especially rock (and especially The Beatles) is a well-financed, purpose-driven media mechanism that has been exploited to drive social changes and create hypnotic states is not new, nor is it a modern concept: think of the Roman Empire and the campaigns of “Bread and Circuses”that were used for mind control. It is also not controversial to those who have studied it at depth…and THAT is the subject for another blog post. Think upon these things.

Archetype: The Emergence of Machine Sentience

Archetype: The Emergence of Machine Sentience

If film makers are prophets, then Aaron Sims is the harbinger of AI at a late hour. Just as Stephen Spielberg opened the gates for ETs, Sims goes the extra mile by humanizing a killer robot in the process of awakening. The short video, a viral hit on YouTube, has now had the rights purchased by producer John Davis to turn it into a full length film. Davis, who produced the Will Smith Asimov-esque I, Robot (2004), had recent success with the found-footage sci-fi hit Chronicle.

 

 

RL7 is an eight-foot tall combat robot that goes on the run after malfunctioning with vivid memories of once being human. As its creators and the military close in, RL7 battles its way to uncovering the shocking truth behind its mysterious visions and past.
Directed by Aaron Sims
starring Robert Joy (Land of the Dead, CSI:NY) and David Anders (Heros, 24)

 

 

Lawsuit Claims FOX writer stole plot of “Touch”

The story below involves a dear friend and guest on many of my shows over the years, Ev Hallford, who most recently  appeared on the 02-22-2010 OffPlanet Radio Live Show. We hope to tell the whole amazing story of the events in a show at some point:

from Hollywood Reporter

Writer Sues Fox Claiming ‘Touch’ Was Stolen From Book, Asks for Broadcast Halt

Author of a mystical book says the show’s creator may have been given a copy through mutual acquaintance. Exec producer and star Kiefer Sutherland also is sued

Fox is being sued by a writer who claims his novel and screenplay about an autistic child became the basis for the new series Touch. The show stars and is executive produced by Kiefer Sutherland, who is also named as a defendant.

According to the book’s description:

“Slacker reporter Jim Jacobson is sent to cover the visit of the mystic-prophet figure, Nigel Fox. Jacobson’s skepticism is exceeded only by his self-doubt and remorse about his own life and roots. Before the day is over, he will be hurled into an adventure that spans sixty years of history, the events of a world war and a beautiful and ill-fated love affair set in the backdrop of eastern Orthodox spirituality.”

Hallford’s suit claims that in 2009, he spent every day at a New York children’s hospital, caring for his newborn granddaughter, who eventually died of pineal blastoma cancer. During his visits, he came to know a bioethics representative of the hospital, who said he was good friends with Tim Kring, who created the NBC show Heroes before creatingTouch. Hallford says he was invited to meet Kring, but the meeting never happened. Instead, Hallford says, he passed along his book, which included a link to a website that showcased Hallford’s screen adaptation entitled “Prodigy.”

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Hallford says there is a “reasonable possibility” that Kring saw this.

In the complaint, Hallford lists various similarities between the two works, including that both feature an 11-year-old autistic boy with special powers and an intimate knowledge of the interconnectedness of all things and a failed-journalist father whose wife has died and is overcome by grief. Hallford lists similarities in the kid’s special powers, including communication through a crypted medium and the ability to see into the future. Hallford also has theories about how Touch got its characters’ names, Martin and Jacob Bohm. Hallford says his book talked about the theories of a physicist named David Bohm.

The plaintiff also says that “dozens of identical events that occur in virtually the same sequence” in both works.

STORY: ‘Touch’ Creator Tim Kring Opens Up About Storytelling Challenges and ‘Heroes’ Blunders (Q&A)

He’s seeking an injunction and statutory damages for Fox’ broadcast of Touch, whichpreviewed in January to sold ratings and is scheduled to premiere March 22.

Fox declined comment on the suit.

TV networks often have to contend with idea theft claims. In fact, Kring’s previous show,Heroes, was the subject of a $50 million lawsuit that claimed the theft of a graphic novel. In that lawsuit, some of the scenes of the fourth season were called “virtually identical.” A judge wasn’t impressed with the similarities, ordering the writer to pay $113,000 to NBC, which led the disgruntled writer to try to get the FBI involved.

E-mail: eriqgardner@yahoo.com

Twitter: @eriqgardner