I first heard about Portland’s Vampire’s Masquerade Ball by chance. I was coming out of a period of intense navel-gazing and decided I needed to leave the house more often. I saw that my friend was a guest DJ at an ’80s goth dance night and decided I’d go for maybe an hour, make myself dance if I was feeling brave, then run back to my hidey-hole. But that’s not what happened. First, some very friendly people saw that I was new to the scene and introduced me around, and then I met Sean who, wouldn’t you know it, has attended the VMB from the beginning. Anyway, he told me about the ball and I was intrigued; it sounded like the perfect opportunity for me to make some sparkling entrance back into the wider world. Continue reading
Occulture is alive and well in Toronto.
On Friday, January 23, 2015 I had the pleasure of being invited to Mystic Arts Collective’s inaugural arts exhibit, A Midwinter Night’s Dream, organized by Stacie Noel and Ilyse Krivel. The event featured photography, painting, music, and live performances inspired by the mystic realms. Continue reading
The Columbine Effect: How Five Teen Passtimes Got Caught in the Crossfire and Why Teens are Taking Them Back, by Beth Winegarner
Lulu, 9781304431219, 249 pp. (incl. appendix, notes, and bibliography), 2013
Every generation of teenagers has grown a little wilder and a little more transgressive as society becomes increasingly complex. Teenagers are attempting to find themselves and a supportive peer group while navigating a society that is more socially active and integrated on levels we have never experienced before. Beth Winegarner writes a thought-provoking and well-researched piece highlighting teenage angst and shedding light on some of the occult practices that have been tarnished by bad media coverage on the heels of incidents like the Columbine shooting.
When the Columbine shootings occurred there was a competitive media frenzy that led to significant misinformation about the culprits, citing heavy metal music and musicians like Marilyn Manson as influences. There has been an element of this blame-shifting present in each school shooting and social tragedy since Colombine. If a pentagram was found in a culprit’s bedroom or adorning their school binder, then ideas of Satan worship and dark powers have been brought to the forefront as causation, often overshadowing the more realistic factors of personal loss, loneliness and depression. Because of media coverage like this occult practices have become synonymous with dark practices, and are surrounded by fear. Continue reading
Temple of the Drum, by Dragon Ritual Drummers
CD: Dragon Ritual Drummers, 12 tracks, 55:34 min., 2011
I am extremely grateful that a friend pointed me in the direction of Dragon Ritual Drummers a few years ago. In the intervening years, I have had the pleasure and opportunity to receive and review several of their releases and I have yet to be disappointed by the quality of the performances and production values. These folks know how to use their instruments to attain the best possible results.
Almost all of their music is written by members of the group, though they do include a few traditional songs to add a little extra flavour and variety — “Fanga” and “Shaharazad” are examples on this album. Perhaps the most striking thing about their performances is that they don’t use “studio tricks” to make their recordings: there is no sampling from other sources, no instrumental enhancements of any sorts. What you hear is all natural, although it is possible Continue reading
Avalon, by Heather Dale
CD Baby, 19 tracks, 2010
It’s clear that the musical and mythological world invoked by Heather Dale’s new album Avalon is the world where the artist feels most at home. Arthurian mythology provides a rich field of inspirational stories, and so they have been rendered into music many times before; in that respect Dale’s musical project is ambitious and challenging. Can she do something with the mythology that has never been done before? My answer is Yes. Dale’s album accords to the stories the space to reveal themselves in their own way, as if she is working in true partnership with all the various writers who contributed to the literary sources. At the same time one also hears the unique and unveiled sound of her heart. Continue reading