Archive for the 'InterPara' Category

Album Review | The Mars Volta enters the paranormal realm
Four out of five stars
Ellie Steever
Issue date: 2/4/08 Section: Arts

Nearly everyone over the age of 12 will testify that Ouija boards are fake and a waste of time. But progressive rock band The Mars Volta (TMV) obviously doesn’t feel that way.

Disbelieve what you will, but TMV’s fourth full-length effort, “The Bedlam in Goliath,” is a bowl full of secrets poured forth from the occult.

While touring with the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2006, the band purchased a now-famous Ouija board nicknamed “the Soothsayer.” During the tour and the initial stages of recording for “Bedlam,” the board began to mystify the band with the demands, stories and names it supposedly gave them.

However, the Soothsayer began to curse TMV and its efforts to record with a chain of bizarre mishaps. Cedric Bixler-Zavala, vocals, had foot surgery that required him to relearn how to walk, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez’s, guitar, home studio burned.

Three drummers quit during the recording process (leading to the addition of Thomas Pridgen), and the original sound engineer also left after a nervous breakdown.

Eventually Rodriguez-Lopez buried the board and forbade band members to speak of it, but the pandemonium and peculiar eeriness it stirred up cannot be missed in “Bedlam.”

The band is known for its musical chaos, and “Bedlam” pushes this element to the breaking point, mainly through sheer speed. In previous TMV albums musical buildups often lead to ten-minute sections featuring feedback, guitar chirps and frog belches. In this latest album, there is no such downtime, and buildups only lead to more of that fast, hard, loud rock that makes listeners bang their heads so righteously.

“Cavelettas,” ringing in just short of ten minutes, toys with fans’ expectations for long reprieves found on earlier LPs. The musicians and production team show off their utter genius by playing with the volume on this track. Different instrument sections and sounds alternately rise and fall until the audience believes the familiar feedback solo is coming, before being whipped back into the main body of the song, ecstatic that there is nothing to fast forward through.

Distorted vocals and looped effects that TMV is so fond of show up in nearly every song, as well as wailing saxophone and string sections that remind the listener of the geographical spans that influence the music.

“Soothsayer” begins with Middle Eastern sounds and guitar melodies, eventually erupting into gypsy-infused tambourines, chimes and violins amidst the pulsing guitars and drums. To complete the foreign effect, the song ends with children’s voices singing a Catholic prayer, which is no doubt some ironic reference to the supernatural, pagan ideas that sculpted the album.

The paranormal themes found in the Soothsayer Ouija board are most lyrically apparent in “Goliath.” Bixler-Zavala’s yipping falsetto and deeper, accusatory vocals catch the listener’s attention with lines like, “I’m starting to feel a miscarriage coming on/ It’s numbing a stump/ Clearing in my throat/ And I just can’t lose grip of it.”

The single, “Wax Simulacra,” is the shortest track on the album and is all the stronger with power chords played over palpitating drums, alternatively giving way to an over-exaggerated downbeat or some fluttering sax overtone.

The recent performance of this song on “Late Night with David Letterman” did not give it justice. The vocals were given precedence over the rest of the instruments, whereas in its recorded works TMV always makes each sound just as powerful as the next.

Moreover, TMV consistently ensures that each album is as powerful and inspired as the next. Most fans can hardly say which album is their favorite, and now “Bedlam in Goliath” enters into this debate. When TMV first formed, there was no other band with the same sort of sound, and this remains true today.

But just because they have a unique sound doesn’t mean they shouldn’t keep exploring new styles. If there is anything bad to be said about “Bedlam” it is that a conceptual exploration of an idea through complex time signatures and depraved guitar mashing can form a masterpiece - but isn’t that what The Mars Volta has been doing all along?


PLEASANTONIRMA SLAGE was in her early 20s when she realized the people she had been communicating with in her mind were actually dead.

“You can go through your whole life without realizing you’re hearing voices in your mind … and others are not,” said Slage, a self-described psychic counselor from Livermore.

Slage, who hosted a seance at the Pleasanton Hotel last week, has been sharing her “gift” with others for more than 30 years.

“I like the idea that people can get a message from the other world,” she said.

The event, billed as a seance, was not what most imagine when they hear the word. People were not sitting in a dimly lit room, holding hands and asking thespirits to communicate with them.

Rather, the group of about 100 people, gathered in the hotel’s Victorian Room, sipped wine and munched on cheese and crackers as Slage recounted her supernatural encounter with the spirits living in the hotel and answered personal questions from the audience.

With the aid of photos showing what Slage called “orbs,” or balls of light energy, she spoke of the high level of spirit activity at the hotel, which was built in 1864.

Paranormal activity has been linked to the hotel’s seedy past as a thriving brothel and has lured other spiritual investigators, including Gloria Young, a Northern California ghost hunter from the Ghost Trackers Paranormal Research Group who documented psychic phenomena.

“The room next to the bar — that’s where all the action was,” Slage said. “I felt a man standing next to me. He was grungy and his beard was full of stuff. I could smell him.”

Slage has been commissioned to use her ability to communicate with spirits to help the police, as well as visit historic homes and grave sites.

Whether one believes Slage can communicate with the dead is really not her concern, she said.

“I don’t push it; you can believe whatever you want to believe,” she said. “Just sit with me for a while and we’ll go over it.”

To any of the people among her core group of believers, however, Slage is beyond reproach.

“Irma is not God, but she’s got a gift to help people,” said Oakdale resident Jan Rien, who said she has had several personal sessions with Slage since her father, Robert Fuchs, died in June 2005.

Rien and her family, who live in Livermore, located Slage through friends.

“We wanted to go talk to her and see if our dad wanted to get a message to us,” Rien said.

Rien, her mother Mary Fuchs and her sisters have since developed a friendship with Slage, whom they praise for her compassion.

For the family, who said their father has passed on several messages from beyond, the true reward is knowing their father is still with them.

“I don’t look at death like I used to,” Rien said. “I feel like my dad is in a spiritual realm. He is still with us.”

The idea of life after death has helped put mediums, and concepts like the spiritual realm, more into the mainstream consciousness. For instance, there is John Edward, the psychic medium who hosted the television show, “Crossing Over with John Edward.”

This week, in East Contra Costa County, a group of paranormal investigators from visited Union Cemetery, where vandals had knocked over 64 headstones. One psychic from Pleasant Hill said she made contact with the spirits of a woman buried there and the former caretaker, both of whom were upset about the vandalism.

Since launched in May, the site has averaged 40,000 viewers per show.

And nationally 1.6 million viewers tuned in for the Friday night finale of Lifetime Television Network’s “America’s Psychic Challenge.” The show pitted 16 self-proclaimed clairvoyants against one another to find the top psychic.

“More people are realizing that something is missing in their lives. They’re searching for something spiritual,” said Anne Pearce, a co-owner of Intuitive Way, a Walnut Creek-based school teaching how to sense your own spiritual reality, and how to read auras, heal and meditate.

“The people who come to our center are people who would not normally seek out a psychic … It’s not the kind of thing that is public,” Pearce said.

“I think a lot more people are becoming more spiritual,” Rein added. “Not necessarily religious, but with some higher power.”

Staff writer Matthias Gafni contributed to this story. Meera Pal covers Pleasanton. Reach her at 925-847-2120 or


Let It Be…. ALIENS!

Posted by admin
In Daily, InterPara
1Feb 08

NASA To Transmit Beatle Song To North Star

Friday February 1, 2008

You may remember that old joke from Saturday Night Live about NASA sending a probe into space containing artifacts of humanity, including a Chuck Berry record. The response from the aliens who found the space museum: “Send more Chuck Berry.”

So you can only imagine what those creatures from the void will say when they hear this. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has confirmed it plans to beam a single song into the atmosphere that will eventually travel farther than any spacecraft in history.

And the ditty chosen to make this momentous journey seems more than appropriate. It’s the Beatles’ classic “Across the Universe” from the Let It Be album. The tentative ‘launch’ date is set for February 4th, 40 years to the day from when the Fab Four recorded it in 1968. The song will be sent at exactly 7pm, and the iconic tune will also be spun on radio stations around the world to mark the moment.

The relatively cheap project, which involves no space shots or real hardware, is part of the celebrations marking the organization’s 50th anniversary. The survivors of the most famous group in music history are thrilled with the choice. “Send my love to the aliens,” jokes Paul McCartney.

Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s widow, was typically spacey in her response. “I see that this is the beginning of the new age in which we will communicate with billions of planets across the universe.”

NASA has sent songs into space before, most notably to wake up crews on missions. But it’s the first time any piece of music has ever been aimed at someone - or something - else.

The tune will trave to the North Star, the brightest object in the night sky. How far away is it? The agency estimates its target, actually named Polaris, is about 2,500,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles from earth, or roughly 2.5 quadrillion miles away.

How long will it take before any alien ears actually get to hear it? NASA estimates the song will make a very long journey on its way to number one - some 431 years, arriving in 2439.

Of course, given the popularity of the lads from Liverpool, chances are they’ll still be putting out new Beatle compilation CDs back here on Earth by the time it gets there. Although it’s not clear if the group will be available for download over the Internet by then.

Soulseekers Ghost Hunters Launch Third Mobisode


/24-7PressRelease/ - AYLESBURY, ENGLAND, January 03, 2008 - Soulseekers Investigate Brunswick House in Central LondonThe Soulseekers Ghost Hunting Team has launched its third online paranormal mobisode via their website ( Soulseekers investigate alleged haunted locations Worldwide.The latest video features the Soulseekers Team investigating Brunswick House, an 18th Century house located in Vauxhall, Central London. The property once belonged to the Duke of Brunswick, who died in a battle with Napoleon. There have been many reports of unexplained phenomenon occurring at this historic location.The Soulseekers team consist of SarahJane O’Neill, Gil Martin and Woody Wood. The first two mobisodes featured special guest, Richard Felix. They plan to have other renowned paranormal experts appear in their future videos.

Soulseekers are filming their fourth mobisode at the end of January at one of the United Kingdom’s most haunted locations. The team take a rational and logical, but open-minded approach to their investigations. They state, “none of us really know the truth yet, beyond our own convictions. We can only speculate until we have enough hard evidence.”

The group plans on distributing their content to mobile media devices and ultimately, being “picked-up” for a television series.

Contact Soulseekers:
Gil Martin
Phone: +44(0)7835 711913


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