Stone Age HAA The Holy MAA

Stone Age HAA The Holy MAA

Writing - Noise - Magic

Monday, November 25, 2013


I’m honored to share the thoughts of my wonderful friend, Pauline Lombardo. Pauline and Rebecca Potter have been performing as Cunting Daughters for nearly four years, manipulating subtle layers of sound with melancholy artifacts, including antique dolls and sex tools. They are featured in the film City/Ruins. Pauline also performs solo, expressing a wide range of energetic noises with contact mics, tape decks and whatever else she can get her hands on. An excellent nature photographer, Pauline also performs in the quality bands Perestroika and The Utter Darkness after a Dying Flame.

ARH: What are you working on now? Please describe current projects you’re most excited about. Are they collaborations or solo work?

PL: My most recent project was a collaboration with a great friend of mine titled Exaltation Heat, I think you may be familiar with it. Yes, it is a collab with the talented Amanda Howland. I am incredibly happy with how that cassette release turned out. The entire process flowed so easily all the way down to the cover art and packaging. Working with someone close to you can be very rewarding. I thank you, Amanda, for that. I have been in a bit of a lull lately. I find it much easier to be musically creative in the darker months of the year, I have noticed this cycle over the last few years. Summer does not inspire me. It's nearing the end of the bright distracting phase of the year so I'm sure Cunting Daughters will find it safe to crawl back out into the darkness very soon & start performing again. We also have several unfinished recordings that we intend to complete in the next few months. I'm sure there will be some solo performances as well. 

ARH:  I know what you mean about the darker months. Yes, that tape is one of my all time favorite projects, as well! I love working with you.
When and how did you get into performing? Feel free to discuss any influences and early experiences.

PL: I am very new to performing. I had been to several A/V/B [Audio Visual Baptism – a monthly series that ran for a few years, a few years ago] shows and was inspired by what was going on. One of the themed shows was "All Female", and I was encouraged by my dearest friend Stephen Petrus to get on the bill. That was Cunting Daughters’ very first performance. CD is comprised of Rebecca Potter and myself. We found it to be a great outlet for things dwelling inside of us both, a way to express our interests and complexities. We were received well, so it further encouraged us. We mostly draw from the unsettling and darker things around us, but have no exclusive theme or inspiration. Many of these themes are also inspirational in my solo work. 

ARH: Since you’ve started performing, have you noticed repeating cycles in terms of style and energy of experimental music? How would you describe the current zeitgeist? 

PL: I don't know that I have enough of a timeline to see any cycles, or I have simply not been observant enough. I do see that things have slowed and the group of local musicians that I know seems to have thinned a bit. Shows don't seem to be as well attended as they were just a couple years ago. I don't know if this is due to the closing of Bela Dubby, though it feels like that may be a factor. It also seems to me that locally things have had a slight separation. It is not an intentional separation, and I think we are just as supportive of each other, but it makes for smaller crowd support. Though, I must say, we tend to have more social gatherings that are not exclusive to music these days, and I appreciate that. 

ARH: What qualities excite you in performances of others? What takes you by surprise and keeps your interest in experimental music? 

PL: I find many different things in different types of performers interesting. I am definitely excited when I see a piece of gear that is handmade! When something looks like it was taken from the trash and is recycled into an instrument it piques my interest. The fact that pretty much "anything goes" in experimental music holds my interest as well. You never know what to expect with a performer you've never seen before, and sometimes even with one you've seen 50 times. It never seems to get boring or routine, at least to me. 

ARH: How does language factor in your creative process? Does your inspiration often begin with words or sounds – how do these interact?

PL: Much of the time I find myself starting with sounds, or ideas. It places a thought or feeling or topic in mind, and I can begin to create from there. Much of my solo work and with CD has no discernible vocals, except maybe some samples. This doesn't mean that there are no vocals, sometimes things need to be said to be expressed, though most of the time they are lost to the ears through distortion or layering and flowing with other sounds. That is intentional on my part for various reasons, mostly it is due to the personal nature of the expression. If I can gather up the cojones there with be some actual lyrics on a couple of the new CD tracks. 

ARH: Do you feel performing is a mystical act and/or ritual? If so, how does that work – how do you use ritual awareness in your work? If not, how would you describe the performing process in terms of mental, physical and emotional transformation?

PL: I have intentionally performed in a ritualistic manner, it can be powerful. I find that when I perform solo, I internalize more, focusing on specific events or emotions, oftentimes with an intent. Not to say that doesn't happen when performing with others, but the focus is stronger and more easily directed when I am alone. I do not feel there always needs to be an intent, other than (hopefully) making others feel what you are trying to express. I definitely notice a difference in my psyche (usually) during and (always) after a performance. I never walk away feeling worse than before a set, never. Ah, the catharsis of music. 

ARH: What’s next?

PL: I fully intend to continue on the same path I am on. There's currently no need for any drastic changes. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


It's my great pleasure to share this interview with my dear friend Stephen Petrus. Stephen has been performing the world renowned industrial noise project Murderous Vision for nearly twenty years. He runs the prolific Live Bait Recording Foundation and produced, along with Aaron Vilk, the film City/Ruins, about industrial music in northeast Ohio. Stephen is currently involved in many projects including The Utter Darkness After a Dying Flame, Perestroika and Vengeance Space Quartet.

ARH: What are you working on now? Please describe current projects you’re most excited about. Are they collaborations or solo work?
SP: It seems that as of late, I have been doing mainly post production stuff on already finished work. I haven't been doing a lot of creating new material for a couple reasons. Mainly, the backlog of stuff that i need cleared up before proceeding. I most recently have digitally transferred my earliest recordings that i did on a 4-Track tape machine many years ago. It netted a few hours of material. Most of which is being given away for free on the Murderous Vision bandcamp site. I also have recently finishing the mixing for a new Murderous Vision album that was recorded earlier this year. I have a couple collaboration gigs/recording sessions coming up in the next month. The first of these is with Vengeance Space Quartet and with Steve Lull and Jason Rodriguez.
ARH: When and how did you get into performing? Feel free to discuss any influences and early experiences.
SP: My first gig was in June of 1996, at a place called The Pieta, here in Cleveland. I was working with two other people under the name Otaku Majime (we also comprised Murderous Vision at the same time). We were making material and jamming for quite some time before the gig opportunity arose. We hung out there almost every weekend. It was my first exposure to experimental electronic music being performed live, and it completely blew my mind. It made me want to try my hand at something other than recording in solitude, which is all we did at the time. We asked Shawn Sandor for a gig and he penciled us in!
ARH: Since you’ve started performing, have you noticed repeating cycles in terms of style and energy of experimental music? How would you describe the current zeitgeist?
SP: It may have seemed cycles were repeating, but it was more that i got off the train for a bit. I don't think there was ever a void in activity of this nature here in Cleveland. For awhile I lost contact with what was going on here, and only gigged out of town. Currently, i think there is a higher level of diversity in styles of experimentalists. Back then it was pretty much harsh noise and industrial together on one bill. Nowadays, it seems you can have free jazz, drone, industrial, noise, psyche rock or spoken word, not only on the same bill, but in the same band! It is an interesting climate.
ARH: What qualities excite you in performances of others? What takes you by surprise and keeps your interest in experimental music?
SP: I am most interested when I can close my eyes and feel the sonic bath. I like to use the performance of others to slip out of body and float. What you are feeling is just as important as what you are hearing and seeing. What surprises me is the infinite number of combinations of people in our local scene that pop up. Different styles that mesh together in new and unexpected ways.
ARH: How does language factor in your creative process? Does your inspiration often begin with words or sounds – how do these interact?
SP: I guess to some extent it factors in. Murderous Vision, specifically, usually doesn't have much to say vocally, when it does I struggle to choose my words wisely. On the occasion that I think a dialog approach is warranted, I spend days making sure it is expressing what the music is asking it to express. Lyric writing is a really long and strenuous process for me. I get it wrong more often than right. Live, 90% of my vocals are more or less caveman on cough syrup grunts.
ARH: Do you feel performing is a mystical act and/or ritual? If so, how does that work – how do you use ritual awareness in your work? If not, how would you describe the performing process in terms of mental, physical and emotional transformation?
SP: It should always be mystical. Just as in listening, I should always feel out of body. If everything is going right, I am completely unaware of anything else in the room. For sure a cleansing ritual is always present, from my own approach, of course. To channel the moment from my body, to my equipment, to the speakers and then back into my body again. When the circle feels complete, I turn off my mixer.
ARH: That's a wonderful and clear description. What do you think the future holds for you as an individual artist and experimental music generally? What is the relationship between local and global experimental music now?
SP: The best I could hope for is more of the same for myself, personally. Each year sees growth in my comfort with what I am doing. I am content to go with that and only wish for more in the future. Experimental music i think will continue to be what it has been for many years. A place for those who don't wish partake of art that that is easy to find or digest. This is underground music. I wish it to always stay that way, and i suspect it always will. Despite the occasional flavor of the month publication grabbing on and trying to push it to the next level. It always falls right back where it belongs in the end...
ARH: What's been on your mind these days?
SP: There really hasn't been a lot of noteworthy things on my mind these days. I have been thinking how great it will be the next time I can crack a beer or twelve with my buddy Amanda!
ARH: Me too!

Monday, November 18, 2013



The yellow house was full of two ghosts breathing
outside the dirt was clay

a purple eight a red M
hard pasta painted green
by the Monster written rage
pink lunch card curved to my palm

sliding – detergent
lasagna smell in the old chalk halls
I'm glad we started there

there on the dusty red dashboard
beside the brass Pegasus with hollowed out shoulders reaching

the red carpet McKinley room
loud – like we wanted it

or in the dark – the basement of the Knights of Columbus
the ceiling bulging in – made of wet tp

one light was on in the whole cold warehouse
by the tracks by the smokestacks in the country

but we liked to smoke in restaurants when we were children
driving fast in gravel up to our ears

in stars in stones in cardboard clothes
in black trashbags with holes for our heads

we never went to Prague, we never went to LA
grown anyway – and we never grew anything that didn't die

like hollowed out frogs and the guinea pig on her side
like the sprouts that vanished back into the dirt

and our black cat Jude dead on the road and our brown dog Fran dead on the road
or this that is dying or just dyeing violet like DUENDE

like shreds of batvein power and the one living power
who said, I can feel you here

like we said this is tooth, this is power, this is liver
this was the the sun in the dust the dust in the sun

electonics can kill incorporation if its silver blinding
and the moon's yellow howling
and the fires in the yards

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Corissa Bragg is a musician and an EFWA certified yoga instructor specializing in yoga therapy, tantra yoga and hatha yoga. I’ve known Corissa from the music community for years and was happy to see her two years ago at a Shakti awakening ritual conducted by tantrika Psalm Isadora ( It turns out Corissa is Psalm’s student and one of the few teachers of tantra yoga in the area.
        Corissa and I have both recently had babies. Before our interview officially started, I expressed my difficulty practicing yoga and meditation with my baby near me. I experience yoga with my baby, but when it comes to sadhana, I find my ego thickens, acting as a shield over my baby, and it’s hard for me to let go and dissolve. Here are her thoughts in response, followed by our conversation:
CBCB: I know exactly what you mean when you say you are clinging to ego.  I look at it more, like, I'm clinging to my experience in this world. Which is why I have always been drawn to tantra. My interpretation of it, is letting our spiritual experience, our mediation, be the experience we are having in this life, in our bodies, and on the earth.  That's why I think tantra and paganism are so intertwined.  In tantra we worship our bodies and in paganism we worship the earth.  It is so similar.  I would say I do both.  I think having a baby requires this intense grounding experience, it's hard to just let go, it's hard to give in to an ecstatic experience.  You still have to be present.  I've found it really helpful to do all my practices without the baby for now.  I let my partner take care of him, so I can let go a little during meditation.

       ARH: Wow yes - I agree with you about tantra and paganism and being able to let go in the practices without the baby present. 
I love the similarities between tantra and paganism - they seem to both stem from the same natural urge that people return to despite millennia of authoritarian state religion. I picked up most of the books that Psalm recommends on her page, and I think the Andre Lysebeth tantra book and Starhawk's book are terrific companion pieces. I recently read ORIGINS OF MODERN WITCHCRAFT: EVOLUTION OF A WORLD RELIGION by Ann Moura that connects ancient Dravidian pre-Aryan Shiva/Shakti religion to European paganism. Some of it is a stretch, but generally the book is fascinating. 
For a long time I was involved in the OTO, which is an initiatory order that blends freemasonry, ceremonial magic and eastern practices. It was started in the 1890's. It was a great group, but I eventually left because I was more and more drawn to the earthy and ecstatic practices of paganism and yoga. Since that time, the more I learn about tantra, the more I see what I perceive to be tantric ideas and symbols embedded in the symbols and text of public OTO rituals! It's crazy to think of some freemason traveling east in the 1890's, learning tantra, starting an order, and here we are all this time later, coming full circle. 

          Would you mind discussing your background in tantra yoga, and whatever kinds of practices led you to where you are now?
         CB: When I was 19 I took one of my very good friends to a festival called 'Starwood' for her high school graduation present.  She used to go when she was little and she talked about it all the time, so I thought it'd be fun to take her.  I hadn't ever really considered myself spiritual, it just wasn't something I thought about.  I was raised in a strictly atheist household.  Any religion or spirituality was considered very unintelligent.  Little did I know this was a Pagan festival.  Mostly I just partied and drank and danced.  I didn't care about ritual or the really informative workshops they have on all sorts of spiritual practices.  I felt oddly connected to dancing around their nightly bonfires but I didn't know why.  The last night was the climax of the festival, a massive bonfire was built and everyone would dance around the fire with drumming and rituals going on.  I decided to take psychedelic mushrooms, which I had a couple times before.   This trip was different than any I’d ever experienced.  I felt so connected to the ritual, the fire, and the drumming.  I felt as if I was worshiping the earth as I danced around, and I felt the fire cleansing and transforming me.  I also saw a vision of Shakti and Shiva in the sky.  I had no idea the meaning, or that this would be the first sign of my spiritual path.  
Every year I returned to Starwood and felt that spiritual connection with the fire and the earth.  But all year that was the only spiritual experience I had.  I never looked for another form of practice, or a way to maintain the feeling I had at Starwood in my daily life.  
           Years went by and I had a lot of ups and downs.  I was at a particularly low place in my life.  I had become an exotic dancer, which is a fine career but wasn't working for me.  I was drinking too much and not feeling good about myself.  At the beginning of one of the shifts a good friend of mine brought in a copy of Journey magazine, the local new agey magazine.  On the cover was a beautiful woman doing a yoga pose.  As I waited for the shift to start I read the whole article of her transformation in life.  How low she felt, and how she changed her life with tantra and yoga.  This woman's name was Psalm Isadora.  I thought about the article a lot, I thought about tantra, and how I wasn't sure what it was but it interested me.  My shift started and one of my first customers was a reiki master.  We talked for a long time about spirituality and in the end, I had to manipulate him so I could make money off of our time together.  I mean, I was at work.  By the end of shift I felt so terrible, the lowest I had ever felt.  All at once I decided to quit everything.  I quit drinking, I quit stripping, and I just started doing yoga.  I meditated, I practiced, and I got a regular job.  I started looking for information on tantra and I only found a little bit.  The image of Shakti and Shiva embracing, that I'd seen years ago came back to me, and the year before a shaman had told me that my quest would lead me to finding a balance between light and dark.  There were so many signs.  I saw that Psalm was coming to Youngstown to do a teacher training.  I was broke and didn't have a car.  Youngstown was an hour and a half away.  I called the guy organizing the teacher training and we worked out a plan.  He would pick me up and I would just stay with him the whole weekend of the teacher training.  It was a big commitment, I worked the weekends, but I was willing to be broke and stay with a stranger just to learn from this woman.  I was pulled strongly in this direction.  A week before the training started a friend sold me her car for 200 dollars, so I was able stay in my own home throughout the training.  
That was the beginning!  Sorry to be so long winded, there's just a lot to say!

         ARH:  One empowering thing I love about Tantra and Paganism is that they are based on direct ecstatic experience rather than dogma, and so, in addition to not lending themselves to corruption and manipulation, they also aren't necessarily in opposition to a materialist point of view. Would you mind discussing how that works for you? I'm wondering in particular how you've reconciled your atheist upbringing with your experiences?

Would you discuss your music and how that relates to your practice? Do you find performance to be a ritual?

 Performance for me is an ecstatic practice, and being raised in an agnostic home, I've had to dig deep into my own direct experiences to remember the possibility of gnosis. So, I was wondering about your take on those things.
        CB:  Whoa, these are hard questions.  I battle with the materialist thing.  I am not a materialist, but I know many great tantra teachers who are.  Osho had several Rolls Royce vehicles, and right now Psalm is teaching workshops on how to take these practices and make money off of them.  I find myself getting angry about this stuff, I think, 'that's not what this should be about.'  But then I think, are there lessons and learning within that?  Survival is important, that's all root chakra, money and security.  But it's also about balance.  I'm still working on that.  
As far as my atheist upbringing, I think in some ways it was OK.  It was a good place to start from, and I think it helped me pick a spiritual path that is true to who I am.  It taught me to be skeptical, and think logically when it came to any religion or spiritual practice, so when I had energetic experiences, I was like, Ok, this is really happening.  I think because I was brought up atheist I needed that physical proof to start a practice.  I had to battle against doubt a lot, and I found myself always making fun of my own spiritual practice when talking about it with other people.  Almost saying, I know this is ridiculous and stupid but this is what I do...

        I lose myself when I sing, a lot of times.  Not every time.  But I guess that goes back to meditation and tantric practices in general.  Not every practice is going to give you an ecstatic experience, sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.  If I am practicing tantra regularly, my voice is noticeably more open, and I can feel my creative energy as this strong force inside myself. This usually leads to more songwriting, more practicing, more energy and motivation.  
I have never looked at my performance as a ritual.  I'm not sure why, I guess I've just never thought about it that way.  The closest thing I have done on my own that I consider ritualistic is dancing.  I feel like letting go of all your inhibitions and dancing can be very cleansing and spiritual.  In India I was present for many rituals and the amount of preparation and energy that went in to them was amazing.  Usually it was a whole day of preparation.  I can't say I put that much energy into anything.  I'm just happy if I do my tantric practice and music practice every day!  Maybe I'll get to that point eventually, where I have the focus to create my own ritual. 


        ARH: Would you mind defining tantra Yoga by giving a rough explanation of its theory, practice and cosmology for readers who may not know?
            Also, what projects are you working on these days, and what are you excited about in the future?

Tantra is always so difficult to explain.  When I was visiting Sri Amritananda's ashram in India I realized that it was a very involved practice for a lot of people.  Many people practiced rituals that were hours long and knew all the names of all the goddesses and all the mythology.  I'm not much of a scholar when it comes to things like that.  I have learned tantra from Psalm, and my understanding of it might be much different then the devoted tantric that has every book memorized.  My favorite explanation was from Psalm's guru, Sri Amritananda, he would say, 'It's love, it's all just love.'
My tantric practice is finding liberation through my experience in this life. Every physical and energetic practice is my mediation.  The more I become aware of my body and the energy that resides inside it, the more aware I become that everything is love and that we are all connected.  Not just with other humans but with EVERYTHING.  Tantrics worship the human body, not just sexuality, but every part, we are the gods and goddesses embodied.  I think that's one of the most beautiful parts of this practice, we worship the bodies of each other because we are all part of the divine.  There is no hierarchy, our beings are just as important as any divine entity.  I find it so empowering.  
So there are many ways to achieve this empowerment, even within the tantric practice there are so many different paths.  The big separation would be the left hand path, which breaks many social and spiritual taboos, and the right hand path, which stays within the confines of what is socially acceptable.  Even within this separation there are different levels of how far right or left you can go.  
My path includes a focus on opening the first three chakras in order to find that power within myself.  Everyday I work on opening and strengthening these areas.  
My plan for right now and the next couple months is to maintain a daily practice.  I want to spend 40 minutes a day on my tantra practice so I can be strong enough to start helping others awaken their inner goddess.  My life has changed so much because of these practices.  I have faith in myself, I have so much power in myself, which wasn't always the case.  I really want to share that with other men and women.  I want to hold a really strong space for people to open up and grow.  I've slowly started taking on yoga therapy clients, and I hope by the beginning of next year to be fully recovered from my pregnancy and to be teaching classes and workshops. 

        ARH: Thanks so much, Corissa. I greatly appreciate your ideas. And I got so much out of the yoga therapy session and the tantra yoga class I attended. I'd love to do a follow-up interview in the future!