Continuing to fix the system with his broken down rhythms, Arrington de Dionyso's Malaikat dan Singa marches on to the indestructible beat of, "I Feel the Quickening", directed by John Farinelli. Taken from last year's K Records release, Open the Crown, you are invited to enter a celebration of life, and what Arrington described to us as, "a Utopic trance, a psychedelic trip in the best possible sense of confusion, displacement, re-integration."
The collision of vision begins with our hero sitting solo in a chair, as the kaleidoscope begins to consumes the visuals. Analogue morphs of all performing players involved and the introduction of primary color displacement embodies the chorus title howls of, "I feel the quickening of everything that lives, in this life I see everything that lives." Farinelli's video completes the song's compositional constellations by creating a collage to match the momentum of "The Quickening" that edifies the existence of all things around — anywhere and everywhere. The experience concludes where it began, with Arrington de Dionyso meditating and processing the vivid trip brought about from Malaikat dan Singa and John's visual feast.
Following up last year's discussion, we had the pleasure to correspond with the great Arrington de Dionyso himself to get deep into the details of his creative process, the joy of making wild videos with John Farinelli, DIY food for thought, future meditations, and a little bit of that old time religion.
What have you discovered creatively about your process with your music in Malaikat dan Singa, compared and contrasted to the Old Time Relijun band?
Malaikat dan Singa is an organic extension of my work with Old Time Relijun. By de-emphasizing the 'rock music' vernacular and focusing more on the trance inducing repetition that is common to ritual and celebratory musics from the beginning of time, we connect to our most ancient human roots, an 'old time religion' in a very literal sense. We're also making music for 500 years in the future when mankind makes the complete and irreversible leap into the totality of Utopic Space Consciousness. We're going to need some cool music by that time, too, when Indonesia sits at the head of a One World Government and operates the Time and Space Program.
Process-wise, I'm much more 'in control' with Malaikat dan Singa. Every creative decision in any band is an evolutionary result of every person making any kind of contribution to a mix, but every final editorial decision is ultimately mine. Open the Crown is the first album I've released since my cassette four track days in the early 90's in which I was entirely in control of every aspect of production — every microphone used, the levels, the mix, the mastering, etc.
The John Farinelli video for "I Feel The Quickening" is a lysergic experience of you and others becoming consumed by kaleidoscopic and film negative exposures. What was it like making this kind of a trippy visual?
John's work is really brilliant and I loved collaborating with him on this video and also "I Create in the Broken System". We actually filmed most of the footage for BOTH videos on the same day, using an intensely strange and magical basement underneath a downtown apartment building to set up some very elaborate green screen dance scenes with the band members and half a dozen volunteers. It's to John's credit that his editorial eye chose to use any of that original footage only peripherally. There was this whole 'fog machine' effect that we created by manipulating the release valve from the building's boiler room, and none of that footage was even used! Seeing the final videos really is like entering into some kind of alternate dimension, a Utopic trance, a psychedelic trip in the best possible sense of confusion, displacement, re-integration and celebration of life.
What were some of the intrinsic and psychic interplays at work during the writing and recording sessions for, Open the Crown?
The recording sessions were with a more solidified 'band' line up, but we didn't always have every musician in the studio at the same time. Most of the rhythmic ideas and riffs had already been composed before we went into the studio, which wasn't the case for the first two Malaikat dan Singa records. I had just learned how to use Garageband which is a simple recording program that comes with a laptop when you buy it. I took some drum rhythms from other records I had made and 'chopped up' the beats as a compositional tool, then brought these ideas back to the band so they could learn to play some of these very off kilter rhythmic cycles, such as "Open the Crown" and "Jiwa dari Jiwaku". The writing of the lyrics was almost channeled — I go into the studio alone with all the tracks, listening over and over again with the microphone on while making sounds and choosing the best approach, the lyrics just write themselves according to divine inspiration. The lyrics to "I Manipulate the Form'd and Formless" were initially inspired by an article in The Onion about Barack Obama discovering time travel, but I got really inspired and chopped it all to pieces.
What for you does the album title of, Open the Crown mean?
A great title is one that can evoke multiple meanings according to the direction from which you are arriving towards it, the angle from which you look at it, like a fine-cut diamond or a cubist artwork. Open the Crown is birthing, rebirthing, birth magic and rot. It's the fine tendrils of pure energy that shoot forth from the top of the skull towards the center of the galaxy reaching for the songs of the angels, and it's also a redistribution of wealth and resource — the Crown being royalty and aristocracy of former times of course — the opening allows every man and woman to be king and queen of their own utopic realms.
What is the latest reports from Olympia, Washington?
Well…the K studio (Dub Narcotic) has been completely turned upside down and I mean that literally- they moved the downstairs upstairs and the upstairs downstairs, so now the record label offices are in the basement and the recording studio is in the beautiful de-consecrated sanctuary of Olympia's oldest synagogue. It lets in a lot more light and the acoustics are much bigger so I can't wait to get back into the studio to finish up the new album. I also have an art studio downtown and I have been working on a lot of new paintings [via www.arringtondedionyso.tumblr.com] so that's been great too. There seems to be a lot going on in Olympia but it's mostly friends doing things with their friends so I feel a little detached from any "scene" here. I just bought a contrabass clarinet so why go out at night when I can stay home and play notes lower than the lowest note on a piano with a woodwind instrument? It's getting warmer so soon I'll be able to go play on the streets or next to running water, that would be great for our next video, playing contrabass clarinet in front of a waterfall or something…with 12 dancers all dressed like demons or fairies or something?
How has the state of mind in Washington been with the recent legalization of grass, and why the hell hasn't the rest of the 48 states or whatever (Colorado excepted, obviously), got the memo already?
Ugh. I hate marijuana. I mean, it's fine if you have glaucoma or whatever but everybody just gets more flakey and non-committal than they were before. Everybody in my house is a total stoner and it wears me down. Downtown Olympia has been completely overtaken with the smell of marijuana smoke and all of my friends seem to be working 'in the industry' going back and forth to the mountains in Northern California or what have you. It fucks up your lungs, too. But I do love chocolate chip cookies, so if you gave me a chocolate chip cookie and there just happened to be marijuana butter inside I probably wouldn't complain, maybe I'd do a little dance for you.
What is next for you and Malaikat dan Singa? Recordings in the works? Collaborations in play?
We just did a big tour all over Italy and that was great. I'm booking studio time throughout April so hopefully we can get the new record wrapped up in time for a bigger Fall tour. I'm also releasing many hours of recordings I made in Indonesia- collaborations with dozens of different musicians all over Java and Sulawesi — as the "UNHEARD INDONESIA" series that can be found at www.arrington.bandcamp.com. I'm also about halfway finished with a collaboration with the Seattle band MTNS, they're pretty fucking heavy so this is an exciting project that will probably be surprising both to my fans and to their fans.
Thoughts on spring/summer 2014?
Tiger stripes and jaguar spots are definitely IN, you're going to be seeing animal inspired prints everywhere on backpacks, shoes, jackets and women's swimwear.
Five favorite things you have heard recently that you have enjoyed?
Just listening to lots and lots of Indonesian Jathilan Trance music, not much else.
The future of DIY culture and media according to your mind's eye?
Everything is QUICKENING faster than anyone can keep up. By the time the new album is released today, we're already working on another one, but at the same time I can upload rough mixes track by track the day they're made. In the future you'll be able to download my new album directly from my imagination. 'Thoughtforms' will replace gigabytes and we'll have to convert all of our old digital files into high-resolution bacterial molds to store on the DNA hard drive.
Arrington De Dionyso's Malaikat dan Singa's Open The Crown is available now from K Records.