I hadn’t ever really sung until I heard some Tuvan and Mongolian overtone singing, got a bit obsessed, listened a lot, and taught myself some of the basic techniques from listening and reading what I found on the Internet and in different books. I feel particularly fond of the more experimental voices of Sainkho Namtchylak, Gendos Chamzyryn and Albert Kuveizin (of Yat Kha). It feels important that I do not ever call myself a ‘Mongolian throat singer’. I have taken a lot of influence and inspiration from these traditions, but I do not purport to represent these traditions and recognise that my practice does not have the same cultural context as Tuvan and Mongolian practitioners.
Inuit throat singing—particularly that of Tanya Tagaq—felt like the next important influence on my practice. Exploring ingressive (in breath) and egressive (out breath) singing and the different possibilities of timbre/texture for these formed the basis of my vocal practice. I’ve gone on to explore all sorts of ‘extra-normal vocal techniques’ borrowing from sound poetry, extreme metal and western experimental and ‘art music’.
(Some other vocalists I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from: Jaap Blonk, Stepanida Borisova, Alice Hui-Sheng Chang, Chyskyyrai, Diamanda Galás, Runhild Gammelsæter, Kjuregej, Fatima Miranda, Maja Ratkje and Salamat Sadikova.)
I started a PhD at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 2016 with the working title “Giving voice to the extra-normal self with the extra-normal voice: Improvised exploration through the realms of shamanic chaos magick, insight meditation and gender performance.” I strive to maintain a Buddhist ‘witness’ presence while performing improvised ritual work, usually channeling or invoking a god/spirit/archetype. I feel agnostic about the objective truth of what happens in these rituals and of the identity of these (apparent) entities, but find it interesting that with particular techniques one can fairly consistently have quite unusual experiences. The ‘witnessing’ in a sense holds everything together, because the basic tenets of Buddhism suggest that all phenomena have the same three characteristics of impermanence, non-identity and unsatisfactoriness—whether physical sensations, thoughts, dreams, hallucinations in trance-states or the effects of the actual presence of some spirit. The Buddhist-inspired practice consists of accepting whatever one experiences with compassion.
I started playing the drums again this year and have explored mixing aspects of various different shamanic traditions with extreme metal.
invocations of unknown entities
Solo album of voice and drums out on the Perth label Tone List. An exploration of an improvisation practice influenced by extreme metal as well as various different shamanic music traditions that have a much more fluid sense of rhythm.
four nights of invocation (the Residence Workings)
Exploration of explicit ritual work—four invocations of different spirits (using voice). The Great Serpent, Choronzon, The Spirit of Plastic, Unknown Entity. Part of Dan O’Conor’s Residence series. video