Category: Blogs

Welcome to George’s blog. I play keyboards in the Alice Syndrome, and I’m also very interested in psychology, spirituality and self-transcendence.

Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic rock is a genre of rock music that emerged in the mid-1960s and was influenced by psychedelic culture and hallucinogenic drugs. It’s a genre that is in the roots of The Alice Syndrome, with both founding members heavily influenced by early psychedelic rock bands and musical styles. The genre incorporated new electronic sound effects, extended instrumental solos, improvisation, and non-Western instruments such as the sitar.

Psychedelic rock also reflected the social and political changes of the 1960s, such as the counterculture movement, the Summer of Love, and the Woodstock festival. Psychedelic rock can be divided into two main variants: the British psychedelia, which was more whimsical and surreal, and the American acid rock, which was more aggressive and raw.

Some of the most influential psychedelic rock bands were the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, and Jimi Hendrix. Psychedelic rock reached its peak in 1967-1969, before declining in popularity as musical tastes changed and some of its key figures died or left the scene (Britannica, n.d.; Wikipedia, n.d.; Rock’n’Roll Unravelled, 2020).

Space Rock

Space rock is a musical genre that emerged from the British psychedelic rock music scene in the late 1960s and early 1970s, influenced by science fiction themes, space exploration, and electronic sounds.

Bands such as Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, and Gong created long, experimental, and atmospheric compositions that often featured synthesizers, distorted guitars, and cosmic lyrics (Wikipedia, n.d.). Space rock was also associated with the West German kosmische Musik movement, which explored similar sonic territories with bands like Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel, and Can (Wikipedia, n.d.).

Space rock declined in popularity in the late 1970s, but was revived in the mid-1980s by bands like Spacemen 3, who combined space rock with drone music and drug culture (Ranker, n.d.). Space rock also influenced other genres such as shoegaze, post-rock, stoner rock, and ambient music, with bands like The Verve, Flying Saucer Attack, and Ozric Tentacles continuing the space rock tradition into the 1990s and beyond (Ranker, n.d.; Wikipedia, n.d.).

Gong and Hawkwind are two influential bands in the British psychedelic rock music scene, especially in the subgenre of space rock. Space rock is characterized by “loose and lengthy song structures centred on instrumental textures that typically produce a hypnotic, otherworldly sound” (Reverb, 2022).

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Gong

Gong was formed in Paris in 1967 by Australian musician Daevid Allen and English vocalist Gilli Smyth, who had previously been members of Soft Machine (Wikipedia, 2022). Gong’s music is often described as space-rock, a genre that includes bands like Hawkwind and Pink Floyd (Psychedelicized, 2022).

The band’s mythology, centred around the fictional planet of Gong, provides an imaginative framework for their intricate compositions, which blend elements of psychedelic, progressive, and Canterbury scene rock (Ranker, 2022). Gong used synthesizers extensively in their albums, especially in the “Radio Gnome Invisible” trilogy, which is considered their best-known work (Reverb, 2022).

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Hawkwind

Hawkwind was formed in London in 1969 by Dave Brock, Nik Turner, Mick Slattery, and Terry Ollis (Wikipedia, 2022). Hawkwind’s music is also classified as space-rock, and they are known for their “sci-fi lyrics, sonic experimentation, innovative use of electronics and light shows” (Wikipedia, 2022). Hawkwind’s most famous album is “Space Ritual”, a live double album recorded in 1972 that features spoken word pieces by sci-fi author Michael Moorcock (Wikipedia, 2022). Hawkwind also collaborated with Lemmy Kilmister, who later formed Motörhead, and Robert Calvert, a poet and singer who contributed to many of their albums (Wikipedia, 2022).

Besides Gong and Hawkwind, there are many other space rock bands that have contributed to the genre. Some of them are:

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Pink Floyd: Perhaps one of the most universally known space rock bands, Pink Floyd has shaped the genre with their atmospheric soundscapes, intricate concept albums, and iconic live shows. Blending progressive rock, blues, and psychedelic influences, they have created timeless classics such as “Dark Side of the Moon” and “Wish You Were Here,” which continue to resonate with fans worldwide. Pink Floyd’s innovative use of technology and unique instrumentation, combined with introspective and thought-provoking lyrics, has solidified them as true visionaries in the realm of space rock. They have pushed boundaries and transcended traditional musical structures, leaving an indelible mark on music history (Ranker, 2022).

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Ozric Tentacles: Founded in 1983, Ozric Tentacles stand out as a prime example of modern space rock, incorporating elements of electronic, world, and ambient music to create their own unique sound. Their improvisational and experimental approach to songwriting, inspired by both psychedelic and progressive rock, has produced mesmerizing sonic journeys that transport listeners to otherworldly dimensions. Over their 30+ year career, they’ve continuously expanded upon the space rock blueprint, incorporating new technologies and challenging the genre’s conventions. Ozric Tentacles’ ongoing evolution and dedication to pushing creative boundaries have firmly established them as trailblazers in the space rock community (Ranker, 2022).

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Eloy: Eloy is a German progressive rock band that was formed in 1969 by Frank Bornemann. Eloy’s music is influenced by space rock bands like Pink Floyd and Hawkwind, as well as classical music and German literature. Eloy’s albums often feature conceptual themes and sci-fi stories that explore topics such as time travel, extraterrestrial life forms, and human destiny. Their sound is characterized by lush keyboards, soaring guitars, symphonic arrangements, and dramatic vocals. Eloy is considered one of the most important bands in the history of German rock music (Wikipedia, 2022).

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Nektar: Nektar is another German progressive rock band that was formed in 1969 by Roye Albrighton. Nektar’s music is also influenced by space rock bands like Pink Floyd and Hawkwind, as well as jazz fusion and hard rock. Nektar’s albums often feature complex compositions and elaborate narratives that span multiple tracks. Nektar’s sound is characterized by melodic guitars, psychedelic keyboards, dynamic rhythms, and harmonized vocals. Nektar is known for having a rhythmic liquid/slide light show at their concerts that enhances their musical performance. Nektar is regarded as one of the pioneers of progressive rock (Wikipedia,
2022).

The evolution of space rock

The evolution of space rock continued in the mid-1980s to the present day, when new genres such as shoegaze, stoner rock, and post-rock, emerged from its influence.

Shoegaze is a genre that combines space rock’s use of distortion and reverb with dream pop’s ethereal melodies and vocals. Some examples of shoegaze bands are My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, and Ride (Wikipedia, 2022).

Stoner rock is a genre that combines space rock’s heavy riffs and psychedelic elements with doom metal’s low-tuned guitars and slow tempos. Some examples of stoner rock bands are Kyuss, Sleep, and Electric Wizard (Wikipedia, 2022).

Post-rock is a genre that uses space rock’s instrumental textures and experimental techniques to create atmospheric and dynamic soundscapes that transcend conventional rock structures. Some examples of post-rock bands are Mogwai, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and Sigur Rós (Wikipedia, 2022).

Space rock is a diverse and rich genre that has inspired many musicians and listeners over the decades. It is a genre that explores the unknown and the infinite, and creates a sonic experience that is both captivating and transcendent.

The current space rock music scene in the UK is diverse and vibrant, with many bands continuing to explore the possibilities of the genre and incorporating new elements from electronic, ambient, world, and stoner music. Some of the notable space rock bands in the UK today are:

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Spiritualized: Formed in 1990 by Jason Pierce, Spiritualized is one of the most acclaimed space rock bands of all time. Their music combines elements of gospel, blues, soul, and orchestral arrangements with psychedelic and space rock influences. Their albums often feature conceptually ambitious themes and narratives, such as addiction, redemption, and death. Some of their most celebrated albums are Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space (1997), Let It Come Down (2001), and And Nothing Hurt (2018) (Ranker.com, n.d.; Last.fm, n.d.).

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Failure: Originally from Los Angeles, Failure is a space rock band that relocated to the UK in 2015 after reuniting following a 17-year hiatus. Their music is characterized by heavy guitar riffs, melodic vocals, and complex song structures that often incorporate unconventional time signatures and tempo changes. Their albums also feature interludes and transitions that create a cohesive and cinematic listening experience. Some of their most acclaimed albums are Fantastic Planet (1996), The Heart Is a Monster (2015), and In the Future Your Body Will Be the Furthest Thing from Your Mind (2018) (Ranker.com, n.d.; Last.fm, n.d.).

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Hum: Hum is a space rock band from Champaign, Illinois that has been active since 1989. Their music is influenced by shoegaze, indie rock, and metal, and features distorted guitars, ethereal vocals, and dense layers of sound. Their lyrics often deal with themes of science fiction, astronomy, and existentialism. Their most successful album is You’d Prefer an Astronaut (1995), which spawned the hit single “Stars”. They released their first album in 22 years, Inlet, in 2020 (Ranker.com, n.d.; Last.fm, n.d.).

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References

Britannica. (n.d.). Psychedelic rock | Origins, Influences & Genre-Defining Artists. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/art/psychedelic-rock

Last.fm. (n.d.). Space rock music | Last.fm. Retrieved January 24, 2024, from https://www.last.fm/tag/space+rock

Rock’n’Roll Unravelled. (2020).

The Psychedelic Sixties – Rock’n’Roll Unravelled. Retrieved from https://rocknrollunravelled.com/the-psychedelic-sixties/

Psychedelicized. (2022). Gong. Retrieved from https://psychedelicized.com/playlist/g/gong/
Ranker. (2022).

Space Rock Bands | List of Best Space Rock Groups. Retrieved from https://www.ranker.com/list/space-rock-bands-and-musicians/reference

Ranker. (n.d.). Space Rock Bands | List of Best Space Rock Groups. Retrieved from https://www.ranker.com/list/space-rock-bands-and-musicians/reference

Reverb. (2022). The Synths and Electronic Gear of Space Rock. Retrieved from https://reverb.com/uk/news/the-synths-of-space-rock

Wikipedia. (2022). Eloy (band). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eloy_%28band%29

Wikipedia. (2022). Gong (band). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gong_%28band%29

Wikipedia. (2022). Hawkwind. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawkwind

Wikipedia. (2022). Post-rock. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-rock

Wikipedia. (2022). Shoegazing. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoegazing

Wikipedia. (2022). Space rock. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_rock

Wikipedia. (2022). Stoner rock. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoner_rock

 

George’s Blog: Psychedelic Rock and Space Rock

An image illustrating an article about George’s Blog: Psychedelic Rock and Space Rock on thealicesyndrome.com

Welcome to George’s Blob at The Alice Syndrome. Today I’m talking about the development of psychedelic rock and space rock in the UK.

Continue reading

Welcome to George’s blog. I play keyboards in the Alice Syndrome, and I’m also very interested in psychology, spirituality and self-transcendence. Groovhead tends to write all our lyrics, which always touch on subjects that hit deep into my interests.

Lyrics

I submit to the lord of the universe

Wherever you are, death will overtake you
Though you are in towers raised high
Vie with one another, in good works

Give glad tidings to those who patiently proceed
By the token of time through the ages
Vie with one another, in good works

By the token of time through the ages
Verify, man is in lust
Except that which have faith
And do righteous things
And join together, in mutual teachings of truth
And of patience
And of constancy

– Islamic break –

Vie with one another, in good works
Give glad tidings to those who patiently proceed

Wherever you are, death will overtake you
Though you are in towers raised high

I submit to the lord of the universe
Vie with one another, in good works

Give glad tidings to those who patiently proceed

Who so interveneth, in a good cause
Shall have the reward thereof
And who so interveneth in an evil cause<⁣/span>
Will bear the consequences thereof

– Islamic break –
By the token of time through the ages

Wherever you are, death will overtake you
Though you are in towers raised high

I submit to the lord of the universe

I submit to the lord of the universe

The lyrics for our song, Flies, are inspired by the Islamic faith and the Quran. The lyrics include several verses that are either direct quotations or paraphrases from the Quran, such as “Wherever you are, death will overtake you / Though you are in towers raised high” (Quran 4:78), “Vie with one another, in good works” (Quran 5:48), “By the token of time through the ages / Verify, man is in lust / Except that which have faith / and do righteous things / and join together, in mutual teachings of truth / and of patience / and of constancy” (Quran 103:1-3), and “Who so interveneth, in a good cause / shall have the reward thereof / And who so interveneth in an evil cause, / will bear the consequences thereof” (Quran 4:85) (Ali, 2002). These verses suggest a theme of moral accountability, divine judgment, and human struggle in the face of temptation and evil.

At this point, we have a quote from Groovhead, which explains the thinking behind the track:

“the track flies was written a few years ago against the backdrop of a surging wave of islamaphobia and the demonisation of muslims both here in the uk,and globally .The words are taken directly from the Quran , in an attempt to show Islam not as the rabid death cult as it has been portrayed , but rather as a religion based on love , compassion ,and respect ,however , as with all religions (yes , american christian right wing fundamentalists ,were looking at you )words written in good faith and love are so easily corrupted and twisted tothemost evil of ends .This song is not pro islam song ,nor a pro muslim song , rather it is an anti anti muslim song.It is beyond horrendous that this song seems sadly more relevant now with the demonisation and dehumanisation of the palestinian people,whohave endured 75 years of aparthied ,56 years of theloss of their homeland through illegal israeli settlements , a 16 year blockade of gaza , and the ongoing genocide that has left upto 20,000 dead , and rising , the majority of which are women and children , .the alice syndrome rejects all and any religion that cannot respect the most basic human rights of others , and uses the words of their faith and dogma to suppress the rights of others to live in peace , with dignity and respect ,,,, from the river to the sea ,,,,,” groovhead

The song is a provocative and challenging piece of art that explores the themes of mortality, morality, faith, and action from an Islamic perspective. We use verses from the Quran to convey a message and to invite the listeners to reflect on their own beliefs and deeds.

The song begins and ends with the phrase “I submit to the lord of the universe”, which is a declaration of faith and surrender to God’s will. The song then contrasts the inevitability of death with the urgency of doing good works, as instructed by the Quran.

The song also emphasizes the importance of having faith, doing righteous things, and joining together in mutual teachings of truth, patience, and constancy. These are the qualities that distinguish the believers from those who are in lust, or who follow their own desires without regard for God’s guidance. The song also warns against intervening in evil causes, as this will result in negative consequences, while intervening in good causes will bring rewards.

The song Flies is a creative and courageous expression of Islamic values and principles, as well as a critique of the contemporary world that often neglects or opposes them. We use the Quran as a source of inspiration, as well as a tool for communication and education.

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References
Ali, A. Y. (2002). The meaning of the Holy Quran. Beltsville: Amana Publications.

George’s Blog: Flies

An image illustrating an article about George’s Blog: Flies on thealicesyndrome.com

Welcome to George’s Blog at The Alice Syndrome, about our track, flies.

Continue reading

Welcome to George’s blog. I play keyboards in the Alice Syndrome, and I’m also very interested in psychology, spirituality and self-transcendence. Groovhead tends to write all our lyrics, which always touch on subjects that hit deep into my interests.

I think it’s fair to say, that death mother goddess is our darkest track, by quite a long way. In my interpretation, it explores that darkest of inner dialogues, between two aspects of self which hate each other. It’s clearly exploring what could be going on in the mind of a traumatised individual, the voice being heard, one of a dissociated part of her personality.

Trauma is a psychological response to an event or situation that is deeply distressing or overwhelming. It can affect a person’s sense of safety, trust, and self-worth. Trauma can also disrupt the normal functioning of the brain, especially the parts that are involved in memory, emotion, and identity.

One of the ways that the brain tries to cope with trauma is by dissociating, which means separating or disconnecting from the traumatic experience. Dissociation can take many forms, such as feeling numb, detached, or unreal; having gaps in memory; or switching to different personality states. It can help a person survive the trauma in the short term, but it can also interfere with their ability to process and heal from it in the long term.

Dissociation can also affect how a person relates to themselves and others. When a person dissociates, they may lose touch with their own thoughts, feelings, and needs. They may also have difficulty recognizing and regulating their emotions, which can lead to negative voices or thoughts. Negative voices or thoughts are internal dialogues that are critical, hostile, or harmful. They can undermine a person’s self-esteem, confidence, and well-being. Negative voices or thoughts can also trigger or worsen symptoms of anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Dissociation and negative voices or thoughts are common reactions to trauma, but they are not healthy or helpful in the long run. They can prevent a person from living a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Mental health is a topic that affects many people, especially in the music industry. According to Help Musicians UK (2017), 71% of musicians have experienced anxiety and panic attacks, and 68% have suffered from depression. However, there is still a stigma and a lack of understanding around mental health issues, which can make people feel isolated, hopeless, and afraid to seek help. As a musician who has struggled with hearing voices, I know how hard it can be to cope with this condition. Voices can make you feel alone, depressed, and suicidal. They can also interfere with your creativity, performance, and relationships. That is one of the reasons we created this track, death mother goddess, to express this experience and to raise awareness of this issue.

This track is not meant to be easy listening. It is dark, intense, and disturbing. But it reflects the reality of many people who live with voices every day. They often face rejection, discrimination, and violence from society, even from their own friends and family. They are told that they are crazy, dangerous, or possessed. Likewise, they are forced to hide their voices or to take medication that may not work or have harmful side effects. They are denied the opportunity to explore the meaning and origin of their voices, or to find ways to cope with them that suit their needs and preferences.

But there is hope. There are many musicians who have been open about their mental health challenges and who have used their music as a way of healing and empowering themselves and others. For example, Craig David has spoken about his battle with anxiety and how he overcame it through therapy and meditation (BBC Newsbeat, 2016). Laura Mvula has shared her experience of living with bipolar disorder and how music helped her cope with depression (The Guardian, 2016). Tom Grennan has revealed his struggle with addiction and how he used music as a form of therapy (NME, 2021). These are just some of the artists who have been actively campaigning for mental health awareness and support in the music industry and beyond.

There are also many organisations and resources that can help musicians with their mental health. For instance, Music Minds Matter is a free 24/7 helpline run by Help Musicians for everyone in the music industry (Help Musicians UK, n.d.). Music Support also runs a helpline for anyone in the music industry struggling with ill mental health and/or addiction (Music Support, n.d.). The British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM) connects performing artists and musicians with free specialist health support (BAPAM, n.d.). These are just some of the services that are available for musicians who need help.

The aim of this track is not to glorify or romanticise mental illness, but to challenge the stereotypes and stigma that surround it. It is also to show solidarity and compassion to those who suffer from it. It is to say that you are not alone, you are not broken, you are not hopeless. You are a human being with a unique voice and a valuable story. You deserve respect, understanding, and support. Furthermore, you deserve to live a fulfilling and meaningful life.

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References

BBC Newsbeat (2016). Craig David: ‘Anxiety made me feel paranoid’. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-37468541

BAPAM (n.d.). British Association for Performing Arts Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.bapam.org.uk/

Help Musicians UK (2017). Can Music Make You Sick? Retrieved from https://www.helpmusicians.org.uk/assets/publications/files/can_music_make_you_sick_summary.pdf

Help Musicians UK (n.d.). Music Minds Matter. Retrieved from https://www.helpmusicians.org.uk/health-welfare/mental-health/music-minds-matter

Music Support (n.d.). About Us. Retrieved from https://www.musicsupport.org/about-us/

NME (2021). Tom Grennan: “I’ve been through addiction – music was my form of therapy”. Retrieved from https://www.nme.com/features/tom-grennan-ive-been-through-addiction-music-was-my-form-of-therapy-2877310

The Guardian (2016). Laura Mvula: ‘I don’t know what happy looks like’. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/jun/12/laura-mvula-the-dreaming-room-interview

George’s Blog: Death, Mother, Goddess

An image illustrating an article about George’s Blog: Death, Mother, Goddess on thealicesyndrome.com

This is George’s Blog at The Alice Syndrome website, about our track, death mother goddess.

Continue reading

Welcome to George’s blog. I play keyboards in the Alice Syndrome, and I’m also very interested in psychology, spirituality and self-transcendence. Groovhead tends to write all our lyrics, which always touch on subjects that hit deep into my interests.

There are too many books I have not read
too many words I have not said
Too many feelings left untouched
Harder faster quicker now
 
Lessons learnt will be forgotten
As I plot another process
plot another path of torment
harder faster quicker now

Take the knife and mark my skin
As my soul is spread so thin
Drain me slowly, take it all
Harder faster quicker now

Warning signs will go unnoticed
As I work on through the process
Choosing not to see the dangers
Harder faster quicker now

I want more days so I have time
To reclaim what is rightfully mine
Though it never can be returned
Harder faster quicker now

The lyrics of harder faster quicker now, express a sense of urgency, frustration and self-destruction. The narrator feels overwhelmed by the things they have not done, the emotions they have not felt, and the life they have not lived.

Many people experience a sense of anxiety or guilt when they think about the tasks they have not completed or the goals they have not achieved. This is a common psychological phenomenon that can affect anyone at some point in their life.

There are various factors that can contribute to this feeling, such as unrealistic expectations, perfectionism, procrastination, stress, or lack of time management skills.

There are also effective strategies to cope with this feeling and reduce its negative impact on one’s well-being and productivity. Some of these strategies include prioritizing the most important or urgent tasks, breaking down large projects into smaller and manageable steps, setting realistic and achievable goals, rewarding oneself for accomplishments, seeking help or support when needed, and practising self-compassion and mindfulness.

As the lyrics continue, it becomes clear they resort to a compulsive and reckless behaviour, ignoring the consequences and the warnings. They inflict pain on themselves, both physically and mentally, as a way of coping with their dissatisfaction and emptiness.

Negative coping is a term that describes the use of maladaptive strategies to deal with stress or emotional distress. These strategies may provide temporary relief or distraction, but they often have harmful consequences in the long term. Examples of negative coping include substance abuse, self-harm, gambling, binge-eating, or excessive spending.

Negative coping can be seen as a form of compulsive and reckless behaviour because the person ignores the negative effects of their actions on themselves and others. They may also disregard the warnings or advice from their friends, family, or professionals who try to help them. This can lead to a vicious cycle of increasing stress, emotional pain, and unhealthy behaviour.

Negative coping can sometimes be overcome by learning and applying positive coping skills, such as relaxation, exercise, meditation, hobbies, or seeking support. Positive coping skills can help reduce stress, enhance well-being, and improve the quality of life. However, there can be underlying issues that drive this coping behaviour, often making it all the more dangerous and difficult to manage for the individual concerned.

As the lyrics continue, the individual also seems to have a delusional hope of reclaiming what they have lost, even though they know it is impossible. The chorus repeats the phrase “harder faster quicker now” as a mantra that reflects their obsession and desperation.

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The song can be compared with other songs that deal with similar themes of alienation, self-harm and nihilism. For example, “Hurt” by Nine-Inch Nails (and later covered by Johnny Cash) describes the feeling of being numb and isolated, and the use of drugs and cutting as a way of escaping from reality.

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Another example is “Basket Case” by Green Day, which portrays the experience of having a panic disorder and feeling paranoid and out of control. Both songs also use a fast tempo and a distorted sound to convey the intensity and chaos of their emotions.

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George’s Blog: Harder Faster

An image illustrating an article about George’s Blog: Harder Faster on thealicesyndrome.com

This is George’s Blog at The Alice Syndrome, about the track harder faster quicker now

Continue reading

Welcome to George’s blog. I play keyboards in the Alice Syndrome, and I’m also very interested in psychology, spirituality and self-transcendence. Groovhead tends to write all our lyrics, which always touch on subjects that hit deep into my interests.

YouTube player

Lyrics
There’s a battle raging in my soul
there are those who would wish to lead me
to satisfy their own agenda’s and aims

But I will resist in any way I can
To the point where my existence
Becomes an act of resistance

I will not comply
I want you to reassure me

I will not comply
I want you to reassure me

Repeats…..

The song, Battle for my soul revisited !!, is a powerful expression of the individual’s struggle against external forces that try to manipulate and control them. The lyrics suggest that the singer is facing a conflict between their own desires and values, and those of others who have different agendas and aims, and exercise control over them. The song declares that these influences will be resisted, even if it means that very existence becomes a form of defiance. The chorus repeats the phrase “I will not comply”, which shows a determination to remain true to self, and also the need for reassurance from others, who can provide understanding and support.

The song can be interpreted as a commentary on the social and political issues of our time, such as the rise of authoritarianism, censorship, propaganda, and surveillance. It proposes that personal freedom and identity are threatened by these forces, and that we have to fight for their rights and dignity.

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The song also reflects a common theme in rock music, which is the rebellion against conformity and oppression. Some examples of songs with similar themes are “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel, “Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd, “Killing in the Name” by Rage Against the Machine, and “Uprising” by Muse.

The world of psychology recognises that often external pressures can cause us to deny and disconnect with our true selves in favour of conforming to the needs of others to feel loved or accepted. This disparity between one’s true thoughts and actions, and the failure to express them, or accept that they are true, is called a lack of self-congruence.

One of the psychological theories that deals with the aspect of human nature related to self-congruence is Carl Rogers’ humanistic theory. According to Rogers, self-congruence is the degree of alignment between one’s self-image, ideal self, and actual experience (Stevenson, 2022). When a person’s self-concept is congruent, they feel authentic and satisfied with themselves. When a person’s self-concept is incongruent, they feel dissatisfied, unhappy, and even mentally ill (Rogers, 1959).

Rogers’ theory of self-congruence assumes that humans have an innate tendency to grow and actualize their potential, which he called the actualizing tendency. However, this tendency can be hindered by external or internal factors that create a gap between the person’s self-image (how they see themselves), ideal self (how they want to be), and actual experience (how they really are). This gap is called incongruence, and it causes psychological distress and maladjustment (Rogers, 1961).

One of the factors that can contribute to incongruence is the presence of conditions of worth, which are expectations or standards that others impose on the person, or that the person internalizes from others, regarding their value or worthiness. For example, a person may believe that they are only worthy of love and acceptance if they achieve certain goals, behave in certain ways, or conform to certain norms. These conditions of worth can conflict with the person’s true feelings, needs, or desires, and thus create incongruence between their self-image and their actual experience (Rogers, 1959).

Another factor that can affect congruence is the degree of unconditional positive regard that the person receives from others, especially significant others such as parents, teachers, or friends. Unconditional positive regard is the acceptance and appreciation of the person as they are, without any judgment or evaluation. When a person receives unconditional positive regard, they are more likely to develop a positive and realistic self-image, and to align their ideal self with their actualizing tendency. When a person receives conditional positive regard, which is based on meeting certain conditions of worth, they are more likely to develop a negative and distorted self-image, and to adopt an ideal self that is incongruent with their actualizing tendency (Rogers, 1961).

Therefore, according to Rogers’ theory, congruence is essential for psychological well-being and optimal functioning. Congruence allows the person to be true to themselves, to express their feelings and thoughts honestly, to pursue their interests and goals freely, and to relate to others authentically. Congruence also facilitates self-actualization, which is the realization of one’s full potential as a human being (Rogers, 1959).

However, achieving congruence can be very challenging for someone who has low self-esteem and confidence, and who faces strong societal pressures to conform or fit in. Such a person may have a negative self-image that does not reflect their true abilities or qualities. They may also have an unrealistic or idealized ideal self that does not match their actual experience or potential. They may feel that they have to hide or change their true selves to be accepted and loved by others. Furthermore, they may experience anxiety, guilt, shame, or anger when they perceive a discrepancy between their self-image, ideal self, and actual experience. They may also resort to various defence mechanisms such as denial, rationalization, projection, or repression to cope with their incongruence (Rogers, 1961).

For example, a person who has low self-esteem and confidence may believe that they are not smart enough, attractive enough, or successful enough to be worthy of respect or admiration. They may also have an ideal self that is based on unrealistic or external standards of beauty, intelligence, or achievement. They may feel pressured by their family, peers, or society to conform to these standards to gain approval or recognition. Furthermore, they may try to hide their perceived flaws or shortcomings by wearing masks or playing roles that are inconsistent with their true-selves. They may also avoid situations or activities that challenge their self-image or expose their incongruence.

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Rogers’ theory can be related to the song “Creep” by Radiohead, which expresses the feelings of an outsider who does not fit in with the society’s expectations and norms. The lyrics of the song suggest that the speaker has a low self-image and a high ideal self that they cannot attain. They feel alienated and unworthy of love from the person they admire. He also feels guilty and ashamed of his own existence, as he says, “I don’t belong here” and “I wish I was special”. These are signs of a severe incongruence between his self-image and his ideal self, which leads to a lack of self-esteem and self-acceptance.

Low self-esteem and self-confidence, in my opinion, comes from a lack of wholeness; a lack of inner connection. Meaning the individual concerned will be less self-informed, they will tend to look externally for reassurance, which makes it extremely hard for them not to continue conforming, even though, as Rogers theory suggests, they are likely to feel extremely uncomfortable about the situation, to the point of mental illness. The act of rebellion suggested in this song, is the act of becoming true to self, it is the first stage in the journey of self-actualisation.

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References

Rogers, C. (1959). A theory of therapy, personality and interpersonal relationships as developed in the client-centered framework. In S. Koch (Ed.), Psychology: A study of a science. Vol. 3: Formulations of the person and the social context (pp. 184-256). New York: McGraw Hill.

Stevenson, C. (2022). Congruence (Psychology): Definition & Examples (2022). Helpful Professor. Retrieved from https://helpfulprofessor.com/congruence-psychology/

Simon, P., & Garfunkel, A. (1964). The Sound of Silence [Song]. On Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. Columbia Records.

Waters, R., Gilmour, D., Wright, R., & Mason, N. (1979). Another Brick in the Wall [Song]. On The Wall. Harvest Records.

Morello, T., Commerford, T., Wilk, B., & de la Rocha, Z. (1992). Killing in the Name [Song]. On Rage Against the Machine. Epic Records.

Bellamy, M., Howard, D., & Wolstenholme, C. (2009). Uprising [Song]. On The Resistance. Warner Bros. Records.

George’s Blog: Battle Revisited !!

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Welcome to George’s blog about The Alice Syndrome track Battle for my soul revisited !!.

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Welcome to George’s blog. I play keyboards in the Alice Syndrome, and I’m also very interested in psychology, spirituality and self-transcendence. Groovhead tends to write all our lyrics, which always touch on subjects that hit deep into my interests.

Stop me but give me more – Bandcamp

Stop me but give me more, is a song about hearing voices. I love it because of this. 17 years ago, I started hearing voices. That was the beginning of quite a journey. Happy is the man who loves his voices.

Hearing voices is a common phenomenon that occurs in different cultures and contexts. However, many people are afraid of admitting that they hear voices because they think it is a sign of insanity, especially schizophrenia. This makes it a taboo topic that is rarely explored in the media or other forms of expression. One of the challenges is that hearing voices is not well understood, and people tend to avoid talking about it.

One of the songs that addresses hearing voices is Hearing Voices by Suicidal Tendencies, a band that pioneered the fusion of hardcore punk and metal in their 1983 debut album. The song depicts the experience of a person who has schizophrenia and hears voices that urge him to commit violent acts. The song has a fast pace, harsh vocals, and heavy guitars that convey the intensity and distress of the voice hearer. (Suicidal Tendencies, 1983)

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Hearing voices, also known as auditory verbal hallucinations, is a phenomenon that can occur in various contexts and is not necessarily a sign of mental illness (Mind, n.d.). In fact, many psychologists are proposing ideas about human multiplicities, which suggest that we all have different parts or sub-personalities within us that may express themselves in different ways (Good Therapy, 2021). One of these ways may be through hearing voices that represent different aspects of ourselves, such as our inner critic, our inner child, our protector or our guide. These voices may have different origins, such as trauma, stress, bereavement, spiritual experiences, effects of psychedelics, or physical factors (Mind, n.d.).

Some therapies, such as Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy, offer great hope of enabling the individual to reintegrate negative voices in a positive and supporting way. IFS is based on an integrative model that combines elements from different schools of psychology and posits that each part possesses its own characteristics and perceptions (Good Therapy, 2021). IFS therapy aims to help the individual access their core self, which is the source of healing and compassion, and to establish a harmonious relationship with their parts. By doing so, the individual can reduce their distress and increase their wellbeing (Good Therapy, 2021).

My personal journey with my voices has been transformative and empowering. I used to be tormented by them, as they constantly threatened to end my life. However, I discovered a way to work with them, rather than against them, by applying a technique inspired by Jungian shadow work.

According to Jung (1958), the shadow is the repressed part of ourselves that we find unpleasant or intolerable. It contains both negative and positive aspects, but we tend to label them as all bad and try to avoid them. Shadow work is the process of acknowledging and integrating the shadow so that we can become more whole and authentic (Bertholo, 2013). By doing shadow work, I was able to understand the origin and purpose of my voices, and to communicate with them in a respectful and compassionate way.

I realized that they were not my enemies, but parts of myself that needed healing and acceptance. I invited them to join me in creating an inner support network, where we could help each other grow and thrive. To my surprise, even the most hostile and demonic voices agreed to drop their negativity and become part of my team. Nowadays, I no longer fear or hate my voices. They are my inner allies, who offer me guidance, encouragement, and wisdom. I want to share this message of hope with anyone who struggles with their voices: You are not alone, and you can transform your relationship with them.

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References

Bértholo, Joana. (2013). The Shadow in Project Management. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences. 74. 358–368. 10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.03.007.

Cleveland Clinic. (2020). Auditory Hallucinations: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/23233-auditory-hallucinations

Good Therapy. (2021). Internal Family Systems Therapy. https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/internal-family-systems-therapy

Jung, C. G. (1958). The undiscovered self. Little, Brown.

Mental Health Foundation. (n.d.). Hearing voices. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/england/explore-mental-health/a-z-topics/hearing-voices

Mind. (n.d.). Hearing voices. https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/hearing-voices/about-hearing-voices/

Suicidal Tendencies. (1983). Hearing Voices. On Suicidal Tendencies [Album]. Frontier Records.

George’s Blog: Stop me but give me more

An image illustrating an article about George’s Blog: Stop me but give me more on thealicesyndrome.com

George’s Blog: Stop me but give me more, is a song about hearing voices. I love it because of this. 17 years ago, I started hearing voices. That was the beginning of quite a journey. Happy is the man who loves his voices.

Continue reading

Welcome to George’s blog. I play keyboards in the Alice Syndrome, and I’m also very interested in psychology, spirituality and self-transcendence. Groovhead tends to write all our lyrics, which always touch on subjects that hit deep into my interests.

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Crash landing is a song that explores the theme of human potential and its limitations. The lyrics of the song reflect our influences by philosophical and psychological concepts such as existentialism, and transhumanism. The lyrics of Crash landing reflect a sense of alienation and dissatisfaction with the human condition.

The song begins with the lines:

We are nothing more than vibrational frequencies
Held captive by physical form
We are potential, unrealised
We are potential, distracted
We are potential, corrupted
But we are, potential

These lines suggest that we view human beings as essentially spiritual or energetic beings that are trapped in material bodies that limit their possibilities. The repetition of the word “potential” implies that humans have the capacity to transcend their physical limitations and achieve a higher state of existence, but they are hindered by various factors such as distraction, corruption, or conditioning. We also express a sense of frustration and despair with the current state of humanity, as it describes humans as:

We are godhead, denied
We are petty, we are cruel
We are ego unleashed
We are petty
We are cruel
We are ego unleashed
We are spoilt children

These lines contrast the idea of human potential with human reality, showing how humans fail to live up to their divine nature and instead act selfishly, violently, and immaturely. The phrase “ego unleashed” suggests that humans are driven by their lower instincts and impulses, rather than their higher aspirations and values. The song also criticizes the social and political systems that control and manipulate humans, as it states:

We are the distracted
We are the conditioned
We are the controlled
We are the led

These lines imply that humans are not free to pursue their true potential, but rather are subjected to various forms of indoctrination, propaganda, and coercion that keep them in a state of ignorance and conformity.

The song also expresses a sense of urgency and hope for change, as it repeats:

Unrealised, potential
Unrealised, potential
Unrealised, potential
Unrealised, potential

These lines emphasize the gap between what humans are and what they could be, as well as the possibility of closing that gap if humans awaken to their true nature and purpose. The song ends with the lines:

We are so close, but not quite there
Held back by our inherent flaws
But we are, potential

These lines suggest that despite all the obstacles and challenges that humans face, they still have a chance to overcome them and reach their full potential. However, they also acknowledge that humans have inherent flaws that make this task difficult and uncertain.

The theme of human potential and its limitations is not unique to The Alice Syndrome. Many other musicians and philosophers have explored this topic in different ways. For example:

Pink Floyd’s album The Wall (1979) depicts the psychological breakdown of a rock star who isolates himself from society and builds a metaphorical wall around himself to cope with his trauma and alienation. The album criticizes the oppressive forces that shape human behaviour and identity, such as war, education, religion, the media, and consumerism.

Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialist philosophy argues that humans are free to create their own meaning and values in a world that is absurd and devoid of inherent purpose. However, this freedom also entails responsibility and anxiety, as humans have to face the consequences of their choices and actions.

Ray Kurzweil’s transhumanist vision proposes that humans can enhance their physical and mental capacities through technology and artificial intelligence. He predicts that humans will eventually merge with machines and achieve a state of singularity where they will transcend their biological limitations.

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George’s Blog: Crash landing

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This edition of George’s Blog discusses The Alice Syndrome trach Crash landing, which claims human potential is being stifled.

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Welcome to George’s blog. I play keyboards in the Alice Syndrome, and I’m also very interested in psychology, spirituality and self-transcendence. Groovhead tends to write all our lyrics, which always touch on subjects that hit deep into my interests.

The following is a statement from Groovhead:

“,,,,,full spectrum domination was written in response to the the insidious , and seemingly inevitable rise of fascist right wing extremist ideologies that , inch by inch are begining to insinuate themselves across the globe , and impact on every aspect of our existence , no better exemplified by the rise in popularity of the poster boy of modern fascism donald trump ,and his surreal appointment to the presidency of the united states ,,,,,the term fsdis a tool by which control is exerted from the earliest of ages so that the idealogies of the far right are absorbed and become engrained in the individual so that they know no other ways of thinking ,,,,think of north korea but with better hair cuts , this can be seen in the usa with the power of right wing christian fundamentalists deciding what can m or cannot be taught in schools , books being banned in libraries , to the teaching of jewish children to hate palestinians from the earliest of ages , all sanctioned and encouraged by thier respective governments .trump was the ideal choice to illustrate this , as he has made no secrets of his desire to control through an authroitarian regime , his marginalistation and demonisation of certain groups ,and his many close links to several hardcore right wing groups , his popularist rhetoric playing on the weaknesses , fears and prejudices of his hardcore maga followers ,even going so far as to quote from mein kampf ,,sort of gives a clue to what lies beneath .Despite the song being specifically about trump , the song uses him as an example of our gradual slip towards a more authoritarian right wing existence , where compliance is all , and the ‘others ‘are vilified and scapegoated , where the erosion of freedom is the norm , and our seeming inability and impotence or apathy to do anything about it ,,,,we , in the alice syndrome , are proud to be part of the ‘others ‘ ,,,,no comply , groovhead”

Our track full spectrum domination is a dark and dystopian song that explores the themes of power, control and resistance. It’s really an anthem for resistance, a song which promotes the rights of the individual against the rights of the state. The video is a collage of images and clips that depict scenes of resistance to oppression and surveillance, such as protests and rebellion, over a soundscape that showcases Trumps “build the wall” period, while refrains of the star-spangled banner drift in the background. It also highlights the beauty of nature, and raises concerns about the immorality of globalist capitalism.

We use audio samples of Donald Trump and the USA anthem in the track to create a dystopian and satirical critique of American imperialism and militarism. The track combines a determined beat with distorted guitar riffs, synth electro sounds, deep bass, and vocal samples from Donald Trump’s speeches and interviews from the time of “Who’s going to build the wall”, to parody the political system in general.

The track begins with the USA anthem played in a distorted and dissonant way, followed by Trump’s voice saying “We will build the wall”. The track then alternates between segments of Trump’s voice and segments of other political commentators, who imply Trump is insane. We try to get the message across that this is a sideshow, that we never get to see what’s really going on.

The use of trump audio and the USA anthem in this track can be interpreted as a form of political parody and protest music, which aims to expose and ridicule the contradictions and absurdities of Trump’s rhetoric and policies. We try to use humour to challenge Trump’s discourse of nationalism, jingoism, and political machoism,

Full spectrum dominance is a term used by the US Department of Defence to describe its military strategy of achieving control over all domains of warfare, including land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace (US Department of Defence, 2001). We use this title to provide a comparison in terms of each of the political factions desire to have total control to that of the global militarist proposition of full spectrum dominance. We are trying to show that we are not only being lied to, but we are being encouraged to be divisive, and ultimately hate others.

The Alice Syndrome often uses musical sampling in our tracks, which is “the act of taking a portion of one sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or element of a new recording” (McLeod & DiCola, 2011, p. 1). We use sampling as a creative and expressive technique to create new meanings and associations from existing sounds. By sampling Trump’s voice and the USA anthem, we transform them into musical instruments that convey our political message. This also creates a contrast between the original meanings and contexts of these sounds and the new ones that we create. For example, by distorting the USA anthem, we subvert its patriotic and celebratory meaning into a dystopian and ironic one. By juxtaposing Trump’s voice with other commentators, we create a dialogue that exposes the ludicrous extremes that politicians and political activists get up to everywhere.

Full Spectrum Domination is a powerful and provocative piece of music that challenges the listeners to think critically about the issues of human rights, political power, social control and manipulation, and resistance in the contemporary world. The track uses a combination of sonic and visual elements to create a unique and compelling aesthetic experience that conveys a message of dissent and opposition to the oppressive practices of political full spectrum domination. The track is a form of artistic expression and social commentary that engages with the political and ethical dimensions of human existence.

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References

McLeod, K., & DiCola, P. (2011). Creative license: The law and culture of digital sampling. Duke University Press.

Street, J. (2012). Music and politics. Polity Press.

US Department of Defense. (2001). Joint vision 2020: America’s military: Preparing for tomorrow. https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=4395

George’s Blog: Full spectrum domination

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George’s Blog on The Alice Syndrome website. This time, I’m looking at our track full spectrum domination and describing what it means to me.

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Welcome to George’s blog. I play keyboards in the Alice Syndrome, and I’m also very interested in psychology, spirituality and self-transcendence. Groovhead tends to write all our lyrics, which always touch on subjects that hit deep into my interests.

Haiku Priestess sings
Of love and loss and madness
In her broken voice

She paints with words and sounds
A world of dark and light
Where nothing is as it seems

She invites us to join her
In her twisted dreams and visions
Where we can find ourselves

Haiku Priestess knows
The secrets of the soul and the heart
She shares them with her art

Haiku Priestess

Our track, “Haiku Priestess”, is a tribute to the Japanese art of haiku, a form of short poetry that captures the essence of a moment. The song explores themes such as nature, beauty, spirituality and death, using imagery and metaphors inspired by haiku.

The singer, Koshka Pravda, plays the role of a priestess who guides the listener through a journey of emotions and sensations, from the serene to the sublime. The marvellous Alex accompanies Koshka with tuneful background melodies.

The music matches the mood of the lyrics, with soft tunes, heavy riffs and atmospheric sounds.

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The video that accompanies Haiku Priestess was put together by Jim and is a stunning visual representation of the song’s themes and mood. It uses a mix of animation and live-action footage to create a surreal and captivating atmosphere.

The song follows the journey of a woman trapped in a cycle of violence, pain, and rebirth. She encounters various symbolic elements, such as a snake, a flower, a gun, and a mask, that reflect her inner turmoil and transformation.

There are also references to Japanese culture and mythology, such as the haiku poems, the cherry blossoms, and the kitsune mask. It enhances the overall song by adding more layers of meaning and emotion to the lyrics and the music.

The Alice Syndrome - Haiku Priestess

The Alice Syndrome – Haiku Priestess

Wisdom of the haiku

Haiku Priestess explores the inner turmoil of a woman who is trapped in a cycle of self-destruction and despair. The lyrics suggest that she is suffering from a mental disorder that makes her perceive reality in a distorted way, such as seeing herself as a monster or feeling like she is drowning.

She also expresses a sense of loneliness, isolation and hopelessness, as she feels that no one can understand or save her from her pain. She compares herself to a haiku priestess, a poetic figure who writes short poems that capture the essence of nature and emotion, but also implies a sense of futility and resignation.

The song relates to the human condition by showing how some people struggle with their own demons and how they cope with their suffering through art and creativity. The song also raises questions about the meaning and purpose of life, as well as the role of faith and spirituality in healing. The song portrays potential great sadness, but is also beautiful and poignant, as it conveys a deep and complex emotion that will resonate with many listeners.

Haiku Priestess is a powerful expression of the struggle to heal from trauma. The lyrics could be interpreted as the singer, trying to do Jungian type shadow work, which is a process of confronting and integrating the repressed aspects of one’s psyche.

The Alice Syndrome - Haiku Priestess

Shadow work

Shadow work is a psychological process of healing and integration. It is based on the idea that we all have parts of ourselves that we repress or deny due to negative or traumatic experiences, especially in childhood. These parts, called the shadow, are stored in the unconscious mind and affect our behaviour, emotions and relationships in ways that we are not aware of.

For instance, a child who suffers from abuse may develop anxiety and fear, and may reject the part of themselves that feels vulnerable and hurt. This part becomes a shadow that influences their self-esteem, trust and coping mechanisms throughout their life. They may resort to unhealthy habits, such as alcoholism, or other addiction, to escape from their pain and avoid facing their shadow.

Shadow work involves uncovering and confronting the shadow, and accepting it as a valid and valuable part of ourselves. By doing so, we can heal the wounds that caused us to split off from our wholeness, and reclaim the aspects of ourselves that we have lost or neglected. Shadow work can either be voluntary, where the individual consciously looks inside themselves to explore their unconscious selves, it can also be involuntary, when the shadows surface into the conscious mind, often in ways that threaten to overwhelm the person concerned.

Shadow work can help us to overcome our fears, insecurities and limiting beliefs, and to develop more self-awareness, compassion and authenticity. As Jung (1959) said, “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious” (p. 326).

There are many methods and techniques for doing shadow work, such as journaling, meditation, dream analysis, art therapy, psychotherapy, and even by writing haiku’s. The goal is to create a safe and supportive space where we can explore our inner world and discover the hidden parts of ourselves that need our attention and acceptance. By doing so, we can integrate our shadow into our conscious personality, and achieve a more balanced and harmonious state of being.

The Alice Syndrome - Haiku Priestess

Becoming overwhelmed

However, the singer finds that the feelings that are being uncovered are too overwhelming and painful to face. She feels like she is drowning in a sea of darkness and despair.

Becoming overwhelmed can be very dangerous for the individual, people can often lose their judgement and control when overwhelmed, leading to dramatic and desperate behaviour. 

Shadow work can therefore be challenging and risky, depending on one’s level of resilience and the support available. In fact, it is this concept of resilience, is really quite critical to shadow work.

Resilience

Resilience is the ability to cope with stress and adversity, and to bounce back from difficult situations (Southwick & Charney, 2012). It can be influenced by many factors, such as personality, genetics, environment, and life experiences.

One of the factors that can enhance resilience is one’s attitude towards the shadow work process. According to Rogers (1961), a person-centred approach that emphasizes compassion, acceptance, and understanding of oneself and one’s shadow can facilitate positive outcomes.

Rogers argued that when a person can accept all aspects of themselves, without judgement or denial, they can achieve a state of congruence, which is the alignment of one’s self-concept and one’s experience. It’s when an individual no longer denies their true self, and shadow work is the process of finding out this truth. Congruence can lead to greater self-esteem, creativity, and wellbeing.

However, not everyone has the same attitude or resources to engage in shadow work effectively. Sometimes, the environment can create additional challenges or barriers that limit one’s ability to cope with the shadow material.

For example, a person may face social stigma, discrimination, or oppression for expressing their shadow traits, or they may lack access to safe spaces, supportive relationships, or professional help. In these cases, shadow work can become overwhelming and harmful, rather than healing and empowering.

This is why it is often recommended that shadow work is done with the guidance and assistance of a counsellor or therapist, who can provide a caring and supportive environment for the person to explore their shadow (Johnson, 1993). A counsellor can also help the person identify and use their strengths and resources to overcome their challenges and achieve their goals.

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Bury a friend

One popular song that deals with Jungian shadow work is Billie Eilish’s “bury a friend” (2019). The song explores the dark side of the singer’s personality, as well as her fears, insecurities, and self-destructive impulses. The lyrics suggest that she is confronting her shadow, which Jung defined as “the ‘dark side’ of our personality because it consists chiefly of primitive, negative human emotions and impulses like rage, envy, greed, selfishness, desire, and the striving for power” (Awaken, 2022).

For example, she sings: “What do you want from me? Why don’t you run from me? What are you wondering? What do you know?” These questions imply that she is trying to understand and integrate her shadow, rather than deny or repress it. She also sings: “I wanna end me. I wanna end them. I wanna, I wanna, I wanna … end me.” These lines reveal her suicidal and homicidal tendencies, which are part of her shadow. She also references nightmares, monsters, and demons, which are symbolic expressions of her unconscious fears and conflicts.

According to Jungian analysts, shadow work is “a method called Shadow work is practised through active imagination with daydreaming and meditation —the experience is then mediated by dialectical interpretation through narrative and art” (Wikipedia, 2023).

By writing and performing this song, Eilish is engaging in a form of shadow work that allows her to express and transform her dark emotions through art. She is also inviting the listeners to reflect on their own shadows and to face them with courage and curiosity.

The Alice Syndrome - Haiku Priestess

Psychedelics and shadow work

A common situation, where a person unwittingly enters into shadow work and finds it overwhelming, is when they find themselves taking psychedelics without proper preparation. For example, after having randomly taken them at a music festival. It’s funny how many people offering such diversions seem to have so little understanding of what they are potentially causing their “friend” to go through, and how little advice or after care they offer.

Psychedelics are substances that alter perception, cognition, mood, and sense of self, often inducing mystical or transcendent experiences (Nichols, 2016). However, these experiences can also be terrifying, confusing, or traumatic, especially if the person is not prepared for them or does not have a supportive environment or guidance.

This is because our shadows are not just lost and rejected aspects of our childhood selves. Jung spoke of the collective unconscious, and of the archetypes that dwell there and also influence us. Sometimes, those archetypes are the darkest of dark, and sometimes, during that “sweet trip”, it’s these that come forward.

Psychedelics can act as catalysts for shadow work, bringing to the surface the hidden or denied parts of oneself that need to be acknowledged and healed (Grof, 1985). However, this can also be overwhelming, as the person may face intense emotions, memories, fears, or fantasies that they are not ready to deal with.

Moreover, psychedelics can also tap into the collective unconscious, the shared psychic reservoir of humanity that contains the archetypes, symbols, myths, and patterns that shape our collective and individual psyche (Jung, 1959). These archetypes can be positive or negative, such as the hero, the mother, the trickster, or the shadow. The shadow archetype represents the dark side of human nature, the evil, immoral, or destructive impulses that we usually repress or deny (Jung, 1959). Sometimes, during a psychedelic trip, the person may encounter their own shadow or the collective shadow, which can be terrifying and disturbing.

Therefore, taking psychedelics without proper preparation can be a risky and dangerous endeavour. The person may not be aware of what they are getting into or what they may encounter during their trip. They may not have the psychological tools or resources to cope with the challenges or insights that arise. They may not have the support or guidance from someone who understands the nature and purpose of psychedelics and shadow work. Likewise, they may end up having a negative or harmful experience that leaves them traumatized, confused, or worse.

As one researcher put it: “Psychedelics are not for everyone. They’re not even for most people. They’re only for people who are willing to take a serious look at themselves and their lives” (Pollan, 2018).

The Alice Syndrome - Haiku Priestess

The impact of resilience

Let us consider some examples of how shadow work can be done differently depending on one’s resilience and environment.

Suppose a person has a shadow trait of anger that they have repressed for a long time because they were taught that anger is bad and unacceptable. If this person has a high level of resilience and a supportive environment, they may be able to acknowledge and express their anger in healthy ways, such as through art, music, or physical activity. They may also be able to understand the root causes of their anger and address them constructively. They may see their anger as a source of energy and motivation, rather than as a problem or a threat.

On the other hand, if this person has a low level of resilience and an unsupportive environment, they may struggle to cope with their anger and may lash out at others or themselves in destructive ways. They may feel guilty, ashamed, or afraid of their anger and try to suppress it even more. They may see their anger as a sign of weakness or failure, rather than as an opportunity for growth.

Shadow work can be a beneficial or detrimental process depending on one’s level of resilience and the support available. Resilience can be enhanced by adopting a compassionate, accepting, and understanding attitude towards oneself and one’s shadow, as suggested by Rogers (1961). However, sometimes the environment can pose challenges or threats that make shadow work difficult or dangerous. In these cases, it is advisable to seek professional help from a counsellor who can provide a safe and supportive space for shadow work.

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References

Awaken. (2022). A definitive guide to Jungian shadow work. Retrieved from https://awaken.com/2022/01/a-definitive-guide-to-jungian-shadow-work/

Eilish, B., & O’Connell, F. (2019). Bury a friend [Recorded by Billie Eilish]. On WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? [Album]. Darkroom/Interscope Records.

Grof, S. (1985). Beyond the brain: Birth, death and transcendence in psychotherapy. State University of New York Press.

Jung, C.G. (1959). The archetypes and the collective unconscious. Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Jung, C.G. (1958). The undiscovered self: Present and future. Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Johnson R.A. (1993). Owning your own shadow: Understanding the dark side of the psyche. HarperOne.

Nichols D.E. (2016). Psychedelics. Pharmacological Reviews 68(2):264-355.

Pollan M. (2018). How to change your mind: What the new science of psychedelics teaches us about consciousness, dying, addiction, depression, and transcendence. Penguin Press.

Rogers, C.R. (1961). On becoming a person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy. Houghton Mifflin.

Southwick S.M., & Charney D.S. (2012). Resilience: The science of mastering life’s greatest challenges. Cambridge University Press.

Wikipedia. (2023). Shadow (psychology). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadow_%28psychology%29

George’s Blog: Haiku Priestess

An image illustrating an article about George’s Blog: Haiku Priestess on thealicesyndrome.com

Welcome to George’s blog. I play keyboards in the Alice Syndrome, and I’m also very interested in psychology, spirituality and self-transcendence. Groovhead tends to write all our lyrics, which always touch on subjects that hit deep into my interests. Haiku Priestess Our track, “Haiku Priestess”, is a tribute to the Japanese art of haiku, a …

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pitfalls of transcendence

Welcome to George’s blog. I play keyboards in the Alice Syndrome, and I’m also very interested in psychology, spirituality and self-transcendence. Groovhead tends to write all our lyrics, which always touch on subjects that hit deep into my interests.

Can success kill a band’s transcendence?

This is a difficult question to answer, but it is a common observation that many bands lose their way after reaching a peak of popularity and recognition. They stop growing artistically and creatively, and instead repeat the same formula that brought them success. Is this because of external pressure from their management or fans, or is it because of internal factors such as complacency or lack of inspiration? This question has been explored by some scholars and critics who have examined the relation between music and transcendence.

Transcendence is a term that can have different meanings, but in general, it refers to an experience that goes beyond the ordinary perception and reality, and connects one with something greater, mysterious, or spiritual. Music can be a powerful medium for inducing such experiences, as it can evoke emotions, memories, images, and sensations that transcend the mundane and rational. It can also be a way of expressing one’s identity, values, and beliefs, and of communicating with others who share them.

three people playing assorted instruments on stage

Music can lead to success by attracting audiences, generating revenues, creating opportunities, or influencing culture. However, success can also have a negative impact on music and transcendence. Success can create expectations and demands that limit the artistic freedom and experimentation of musicians.

The issue of success and transcendence is not a simple one, but rather a complex and nuanced one that depends on various factors and perspectives. Bands and musicians who achieve success often find themselves coming under various pressures, both internally and externally, for example:

  • Some fans may prefer bands to stick to their original sound and style, while others may appreciate their willingness to experiment and evolve.
  • Some critics may judge bands based on their musical quality and innovation, while others may consider their social relevance and impact.
  • Some bands may seek to balance their artistic vision and commercial appeal, while others may prioritize one over the other.

For example, Bob Dylan faced backlash from his fans when he switched from acoustic to electric guitar in the mid-1960s, as they accused him of betraying his folk roots and selling out to the mainstream (Sounes, 2001).

Success can also make musicians lose touch with their original motivation and passion for making music, and instead focus on pleasing the market or maintaining their status. For instance, Kurt Cobain struggled with depression and addiction as he felt overwhelmed by the fame and pressure that came with being the leader of Nirvana, the most popular rock band of the early 1990s (Cross, 2001).

Success can also alienate musicians from their fans or peers, who may perceive them as sell-outs or traitors to their genre or culture. For example, Taylor Swift faced criticism from her country fans when she transitioned to pop music in the late 2010s, as they felt she abandoned her roots and authenticity for commercial success (Caramanica, 2019).

Therefore, success can be a double-edged sword for musicians who seek transcendence through music. While success can bring rewards and recognition, it can also pose challenges and risks that may compromise the quality and integrity of music. Musicians who aspire to achieve both success and transcendence need to balance their artistic vision and personal values with the demands and expectations of the industry and the audience.

band, music, performance

Bands accused of losing their mojo

Some examples of bands that have been accused of losing their transcendence after achieving success are U2, Metallica, Coldplay, and Radiohead. These bands have been criticized for changing their style, compromising their integrity, or becoming too mainstream or commercial. However, some of these bands have also defended their choices as artistic evolution, creative challenge, or social engagement. Therefore, the question of success and transcendence is not only a matter of musical quality, but also of personal taste, preference, and interpretation.

For instance, U2 have been accused of “selling out” by adopting a more pop-oriented sound in the 1990s and collaborating with producers such as Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. However, the band’s lead singer Bono has argued that “we were trying to make music that was more relevant to the world we lived in” (Bono, 2006, p. 12).

Similarly, Metallica have faced backlash from some fans for experimenting with different genres and styles, such as alternative rock, symphonic metal, and country music. However, the band’s drummer Lars Ulrich has stated that “we’ve always followed our own path and done whatever we felt was right for us” (Ulrich, 2011, p. 45).

Coldplay and Radiohead have also been subject to criticism for changing their musical direction over time, but both bands have expressed their desire to explore new sounds and challenge themselves creatively. Coldplay’s frontman Chris Martin has said that “we don’t want to make the same record twice” (Martin, 2008, p. 67), while Radiohead’s guitarist Jonny Greenwood has explained that “we’re always looking for something that surprises us and makes us feel alive” (Greenwood, 2016, p. 34).

Theoretical explanations

One possible explanation for why some bands lose their creative edge after achieving success is based on the concept of musical self-concept, which refers to how individuals perceive their musical abilities, skills and identity (Mawang et al., 2019).

According to this perspective, a band that works together in obscurity may develop a high level of musical self-concept, both individually and collectively, as they express their true selves through their music and achieve a state of flow, which is a psychological state of optimal engagement and enjoyment in an activity (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). This may result in transcendent music that attracts public attention and recognition.

However, once the band becomes successful, they may face new challenges and expectations that affect their musical self-concept. For example, they may adopt a new label of “pop star” and feel pressured to conform to the norms and standards of the music industry, which may differ from their original vision and values. They may also experience self-doubt and insecurity about their musical abilities and identity, and start to imitate other successful artists rather than following their own intuition and creativity.

As a result, they may lose touch with their true selves and their inner musicians, and present a false self to the world, including their bandmates. This may lead to a decline in empathy, communication and collaboration among the band members, as well as a loss of musical creativity and originality. Instead of producing new and innovative music that reflects their authentic selves, they may resort to repeating old ideas or copying existing ones.

Therefore, this is one way of understanding how changes in musical self-concept can affect musical creativity in bands. Musical self-concept is influenced by various factors, such as feedback, social comparison, self-evaluation and motivation (Mawang et al., 2019). A positive musical self-concept can enhance musical creativity by fostering confidence, curiosity and intrinsic motivation, while a negative musical self-concept can hinder musical creativity by inducing anxiety, boredom and extrinsic motivation. Thus, it is important for musicians to maintain a positive musical self-concept that aligns with their true selves and their musical goals, regardless of their level of success or failure.

Music Band Performs on Stage during Nighttime

Four-Stage Model of Creativity

We can also look at another theory which looks at creativity in music. The Four-Stage Model of Creativity (Wallas, 1926) suggests that creative thinking involves four phases: preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification.

According to this model, a band that works together in obscurity may be engaged in the preparation phase, where they gather information and explore various musical possibilities. The incubation phase may occur when they take a break from their work and let their subconscious mind process the information.

The illumination phase may happen when they have a sudden insight or inspiration that leads them to create a novel and original musical product. The verification phase may involve testing and refining their product until they are satisfied with it.

However, when a band becomes successful and adopts a new label, “pop star”, they may face some challenges in maintaining their creative process. For instance, they may experience pressure from external sources, such as fans, critics, or producers, who have certain expectations or demands for their music. This pressure may interfere with their intrinsic motivation and enjoyment of music making, which are important factors for creativity (Amabile, 1996).

They may also experience anxiety or fear of failure or rejection, which may inhibit their willingness to take risks or experiment with new ideas (Barbot & Lubart, 2012). Moreover, they may develop a fixed mindset about their musical abilities, which may make them believe that they have a limited amount of talent or potential that cannot be improved (Dweck, 2006). This mindset may prevent them from seeking feedback or learning from their mistakes, which are essential for creativity (Ericsson et al., 2006).

man playing guitar

Corrective strategies

To overcome these challenges and regain their transcendence, a band may need to adopt some strategies that can foster their creative thinking in music. For example, they can use the Systems Theory of Creativity (Csikszentmihalyi, 1999), which emphasizes the role of the social and cultural context in shaping and evaluating creativity.

According to this theory, a band can enhance their creativity by interacting with other musicians or artists who can provide them with support, inspiration, or collaboration. They can also expose themselves to different genres or styles of music that can broaden their musical horizons and stimulate their imagination. Furthermore, they can seek feedback from experts or peers, who can offer them constructive criticism or suggestions for improvement.

Another strategy that a band can use is to apply the Divergent Thinking approach to creativity (Guilford, 1967), which involves generating multiple possible solutions or alternatives for a given problem or task. By using divergent thinking, a band can increase their fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration of their musical ideas.

They can also use various techniques or tools that can facilitate divergent thinking, such as brainstorming, mind mapping, analogies, metaphors, or random stimuli. For example, a band can brainstorm different ways of expressing a certain emotion or theme through music.

They can also use mind maps to organize their ideas into categories or subcategories. Mind maps are a visual technique that can help with note-taking, revision, and brainstorming. They consist of a central topic or idea and branches that connect related concepts or information. Mind maps can show connections, provide an overview, and facilitate memory recall (The Open University, n.d.). To create a mind map, one can use software applications or draw by hand. To add references to mind map nodes, one can use the specification window and select the type of reference to insert (The Open University, n.d.).

They can also use analogies or metaphors to compare their music to something else that is unrelated but similar in some way. Furthermore, they can also use random stimuli, such as words, images, sounds, or objects, to trigger new associations or connections.

By using these strategies, a band can regain their transcendence and create more novel and original musical offerings that reflect their true self and musical intuition. They can also avoid copying others out of insecurity or conformity, and instead develop their own unique voice and identity as musicians.

As Ritter and Ferguson (2017) suggest, “listening to music can affect our cognitive abilities and creative cognition, and it is believed that this effect is caused by music’s impact on our mood” (p. 1). Therefore, by creating music that makes them happy, a band can also boost their creativity and wellbeing.

Conclusion

Success can have both positive and negative effects on musicians and their sense of transcendence, and the originality and passion they put into the music they make. Success can provide opportunities, resources, and recognition for musicians, but it can also impose constraints, pressures, and conflicts that can ultimately staunch their creative flow.

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References

Amabile, T. M. (1996). Creativity in context: Update to the social psychology of creativity. Westview Press.

Barbot, B., & Lubart, T. (2012). Creative thinking in music: Its nature and assessment through musical exploratory behaviors. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 6(3), 231–242. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0027308

Becker J. (2004). Deep listeners: Music emotion and trancing. Indiana University Press.

Bono. (2006). U2 by U2. London: HarperCollins.

Caramanica, J. (2019). Taylor Swift’s ‘Lover’ feints toward feminism and politics. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/23/arts/music/taylor-swift-lover-review.html

Cross, C. (2001). Heavier than heaven: A biography of Kurt Cobain. Hyperion.

Gabrielsson, A. (2011). Music and transcendence. In Strong experiences with music: Music is much more than just music (pp. 159-170). Oxford University Press.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1999). Implications of a systems perspective for the study of creativity. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Handbook of creativity (pp. 313–335). Cambridge University Press.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. Harper & Row.

Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Random House.

Ericsson, K. A., Charness, N., Feltovich, P. J., & Hoffman, R. R. (Eds.). (2006). The Cambridge handbook of expertise and expert performance. Cambridge University Press.

Greenwood, J. (2016). Interview with Rolling Stone. Retrieved from https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/radioheads-jonny-greenwood-on-the-making-of-a-moon-shaped-pool-106109/

Guilford, J. P. (1967). The nature of human intelligence. McGraw-Hill.

Martin, C. (2008). Interview with Q Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.qthemusic.com/articles/interviews/archive/2008/06/02/q272-coldplay

Mawang, L. L., Kigen, E. M., & Mutweleli, S. M. (2019). The relationship between musical self-concept and musical creativity among secondary school music students. International Journal of Music Education, 37(1), 78–90. https://doi.org/10.1177/0255761418798402

Ritter, S. M., & Ferguson, S. (2017). The effect of music on creative cognition. Cornerstone. https://www.cornerstonelondon.com/2020/11/01/the-effect-of-music-on-creative-cognition/

Sounes, H. (2001). Down the highway: The life of Bob Dylan. Grove Press.

The Open University. (n.d.). Note-taking techniques: Mind maps.  Retrieved December 29, 2023, from https://help.open.ac.uk/notetaking-techniques/mind-maps

Visual Paradigm. (2018, May 2). Adding references to Mind Map nodes.  https://circle.visual-paradigm.com/docs/mind-mapping/mind-mapping-diagram/reference-to-mind-map-nodes/

Waldron, J., & Cusick, S.G. (Eds.). (2016). Resounding transcendence: Transitions in music, religion and ritual. Oxford University Press.

Wallas, G. (1926). The art of thought. Harcourt Brace.

Ulrich, L. (2011). Interview with Metal Hammer. Retrieved from https://www.loudersound.com/features/lars-ulrich-the-10-albums-that-changed-my-life

 

George’s Blog: Can success ruin a bands transcendence?

pitfalls of transcendence

Why do many bands and musicians seem to lose their way after achieving transcendent success? Let’s see if we can answer this question.

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