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In-depth interview with Ancestral Voices + Full Album Stream

In-depth interview with Ancestral Voices + Full Album Stream

Put down your coffee cup and get comfortable. Not a light reading, our in-depth conversation with Ancestral Voices (aka Indigo of Akkord, aka Liam Blackburn) describes in great detail his ayahuasca experience in Peru, how it not only inspired his new album, but drastically changed his outlook on life, death and almost every aspect of human existence.

If you listened to any track from his new incredible album Night of Visions released last week via Samurai Horo, chances are you have bought it right away. Otherwise, hit play right here, read on, and take notes.

Something is telling me that Night Of Visions must be heavily influenced by your personal psychedelic experience in South America. Is that so?

You guessed right, it sure is.

You have masterfully described the night musically, through your album. Please tell us, in words, as much or as little as you want, about what happened to you on that night of visions.

Thank you for your kind words. I’ll try my best to describe. Every persons experience is different, I guess, so it might not be the same for others. The ‘night’ was actually over a period of 4. They all became one after my experience, as it seemed to me like a continuous unfolding story.

I saw and experienced things that I cannot put into words, as language is so limited.

I went through some initiations and was introduced to many aspects of our own psyche. It was a profound journey through the mind of this powerful plant teacher. I saw and experienced things that I cannot put into words, as language is so limited. A thought I pondered a lot was language completely structures our reality and paves the way for our consciousness to operate. It limits us to a degree, so this makes it even more difficult to explain.

I spent one week on Machu Piccu and five weeks in the Amazon, a place Iquitos in the north of Peru. I was taught by the Shaman many different insights and ways to perceive the world around me that I couldn’t see previously. I was taught a few aspects on our consciousness, sound, plants, medicine, nutrition, meditation, yoga, Qi Gong and gardening/permaculture.

It’s like it was in 5D, surround sound, ultra colour, and 360-degree vision. I saw patterns, colours, structures, worlds and forms that were so alien, it was really overwhelming at times.

The ceremonies took me on a heavy trip that was challenging, but taught me some raw truths and made me deal with a lot of repressed traumas, conditioning, ideas, and my ego got a beating. This may sound a little sinister to most, but it was the most beautiful and intricate thing I’ve experienced. It’s like it was in 5D, surround sound, ultra colour, and 360-degree vision. I saw patterns, colours, structures, worlds and forms that were so alien, it was really overwhelming at times. The elders of the Yagua and Shipibo tribes sung beautiful icaros that induced visions and brought me out of many dark places of my own mind. I found these dark places are just fragments of myself that must be overcome. They show themselves as geometric forms. When they are ‘bad’ they are dark and jagged. When you face the fear and accept it as part of you then these visions turn into hyper-dimensional ‘flowers’ and forms that dance around in pleasure and excitement that you have realized that aspect of yourself is not serving you or the whole. You go through intense periods of bliss, followed by ones of pain and agony for several hours. Sounds mental and it is. The Western world just isn’t accustomed to these practices, maybe because they make you see things that have been hidden or conveniently suppressed for a very long time.

A lifetime worth of toxic substances, thoughts and actions come straight out of every hole in the body.

Purging is a fundamental process of this experience. A lifetime worth of toxic substances, thoughts and actions come straight out of every hole in the body. (pleasant!?) As horrendous as it sounds, and it is at the time, you realize after, how much you need this to happen to progress. But this is worth every difficult patch and it becomes apparent after, when you have time to digest it all in the time to come. This is such a small fragment of the experience, but I’m trying my best to share it with you. I can’t share some things as they are just too far out to make any sense with the ‘normal’ outlook we have been brought up to believe.

I thought I’d died a few times and had many thoughts and feelings that death is not final. What if we are born into death. What if our passing is actually the beginning of a new life.

I became hyper-aware of things I’d normally take for granted or ignore. I thought I’d died a few times and had many thoughts and feelings that death is not final. What if we are born into death. What if our passing is actually the beginning of a new life. Could make sense in some sort of weird meta-philosophical way. Our life could be the training ground for something bigger. Death is an idea that humans fearfully came up with about what happens when we change. It’s not real though. Nobody dies, just transforms. The ancients were not scared of death they prepared for it.

What went through my mind is that being alive is the biggest fear humans have. Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive and express what we really are. Just being ourselves is the biggest fear. We have learned to live our lives trying to satisfy the demands of others. We have learned to live by other people’s points of view, because of the fear of not being accepted and not being good enough for someone else.

You are under no obligation to be the same person you were a month, or even 15 minutes ago. You have the right to grow and to not be sorry for wanting to do so.

Many people are spiritually dead. The body lives, breathes, the mind functions, but no more than this. Everyday is a routine, nothing is exciting, nothing ever satisfies. I was dead, but was brought back to life by this experience. Everyone has the same opportunity and the route can differ vastly, you just have to take that step yourself and not expect something or someone else to do that for you. Some people never grow, evolve or better themselves. I can only speak from the perspective of my own experiences. Through these experiences and as I grow older I have been learning more about the world. This affects my opinions and decisions daily. Once you make an observation, you have an obligation to make decisions based on the new information. Yet some people will still behave in the same manner as they did all those years ago. You are under no obligation to be the same person you were a month, or even 15 minutes ago. You have the right to grow and to not be sorry for wanting to do so.

I was shown vividly, I had been conditioned and my ego got in the way on a service to self mission and relentless consumerism rather than service to others. I have now come to think that life is a preparation or school of duality where we learn about balance, amongst a huge amount of other things. A construct that is governed by the mind, unless you tame it and train it with discipline. This is where meditation, yoga, sensory deprivation, ceremony and ritual comes in and something the ancients used to practice constantly.

We have been given a precious life to live, but we have severely disrespected it and now we suffocate ourselves and our own home with our ignorance and egotistical ways.

I was shown how to overcome boundaries I had created or learned from society and to realize we are all just one infinite lattice of conscious energy residing in a vessel that is seemingly separate from the rest of the picture. I felt deeply connected and rooted to the Earth and I had insights, experiences and visions that are impossible to describe. What if in the beginning there was no time, it would explain how something can be created from nothing. Time creates the experience to be lived out in linear fashion. Everything in the physical realm we reside in was once a thought. This makes you wonder how powerful the mind actually is and how thoughts govern everything. We have been given a precious life to live, but we have severely disrespected it and now we suffocate ourselves and our own home with our ignorance and egotistical ways.

I feel like I shouldn’t go on any more, I could go for days, but I feel it’s my duty to share my experience, be of service and help others overcome the things I went through too.

Whoa, this sounds – and I’m sure it is – very intense and life changing. How soon after this incredible experience did you begin writing the album? And how long did it take to complete?

I began writing in 2013 and piecing together since then until its completion. I finished it at the beginning of 2015. So round about 2 years in all.

Were any of the tracks more challenging than others? Were there any that flowed straight out of your mind so-to-speak?

I wrote the first bunch of tunes pretty quickly, and they became the basis of the album. This is the time Geoff was into the way they were heading. I explained my concept and he supported it and encouraged me to keep going. I then wrote the rest in the months after, as I had a picture of how I wanted it to progress and bridge it all together, and the excitement pushed me forward. I spent a lot of time processing, refining, arranging and gathering more field and sound recordings. I treat it like a game, always trying to find the next lead that keeps me inspired. Due to this, and because it was the first thing I had written for this project, I felt no restrictions. I purchased a few bits of hardware, then put all my sounds, loops and atmospheres into them. It took a few months of getting my head around and experimenting more, and was the most challenging part, but generally it flowed well with not many creative difficulties.

I literally came out of the music industry and became a therapist over night, just from the ideas I had and put forward and developed.

I’ve learnt that the floatation center you manage is closing down. How has your experience with floating been? How are you going to continue your practice in sound therapy? Can you share any success stories with us?

My experience with floatation has been wonderful. Another ‘out there’ concept and alien to most people, but it’s truly transformed me and I have witnessed the same in others. I’ve met many amazing people and learned a vast amount from the process. I literally came out of the music industry and became a therapist over night, just from the ideas I had and put forward and developed. I refined many techniques on how to change brainwaves leading to a shift in consciousness using sound and had hundreds of people to practice on acquiring direct experiential feedback. This was combined with Floatation, which worked really well. I’ve helped to treat insomnia, anxiety, chronic pain and depression… even facilitated some OBE’s. It’s all geared around Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta states and how we operate on these frequencies, and me encouraging the brain to shift between them. Also using a technique called Shiatsu or Acupressure and applying sonics down the meridians, rather than just pressure (or needles in Acupuncture). Through the sessions I have carried out I have gained a good number of testimonials from clients that I now see on a regular basis. A number of therapists have visited and offered to train me up after hearing and experiencing what I have been developing. One other therapist has kindly offered me a space in her practice in Manchester that I will hopefully be working from in the New Year. All this came from taking a chance and stepping past doubt and fears I had.

Are you using your own music for these sessions? Do you compose anything specifically for each client or is it more of an improvisation on your part? Could you please expand on how your sessions are structured?

It’s a complete improvisation, I use different tools to achieve the desired effect, using binaural and harmonic waveforms and frequencies. At the moment it is completely technology free, so to speak, as binaurals are typically done digitally. So I don’t use a computer for the sessions. However, I am slowly developing and integrating ‘sound system’ culture or production techniques that coincide with the methods I already use. It just broadens the palette and the textures of the experience. I’m using technology of today to my advantage, merging with more ancient techniques.

I usually start with Tingshas, then Tibetan singing bowls, moving onto quartz crystal ones. Then I use binaural tuning forks to slow the brainwaves down. Rhythmic or shamanic drumming to bring the client into a trance follows. This is when deep relaxation hits and re-programming of habits, issues etc… are addressed. I have started to develop consultations and sonic programs over a period of 3-12 months and I have been commissioned to create meditation/brainwave entrainment music for children in schools to aid study and concentration.

If you were to recommend a life changing book for us to read, or a practice, or a thinker to check out, what would it be? (Feel free to expand to more than just one)

A good series of books are from an author called Carlos Castaneda. The Teachings of Don Juan, A Separate Reality, Journey to Ixtlan, etc. Graham Hancock is a great author and teacher, his books go into a lot of information about Ancient Civilization. A guy called Mark Passio. He speaks some lengthy truths (7 hour lectures!) about Natural Law, the divine feminine and how it has been destroyed in our culture. Also the occult and new age deceptions amongst a whole bunch of other interesting thought provoking subjects on our modern civilization and how it is structured. Alex Grey is an amazing visionary artist and did a lot with Tool, a lot of that imagery and the message they spread inspires me a lot and I’m sure would inspire others.

One more book, the Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge. It is a book written by an anthropologist, Jeremy Narby, who sets out to aid indigneous peoples keeping rights to their land by demonstrating their knowledge of the fauna and flora and how it allows them to use the rainforest as a natural pharmacy. During his time with these peoples his life was re-directed by the honest spiritual accounts of the ‘ayahuasqueros’… the local shamans. Years later he could not ignore the spiritual elements of what he learned with these people and he began to push at the boundaries of the known sciences.

A practice I would whole-heartedly recommend is Vipassana. Again, not for everyone, but it is an amazing technique for clearing and sharpening the mind and learning a specific style of meditation. It is undogmatic, non-religious and very simple, but also extremely challenging to go through. Worth every minute spent I must say.

Talented people are talented in everything. You are also a visual artist. Could you share some of your works with us?

Thank you. It’s a little generous calling me a visual artist, although I’d love to spend more time doing this. I do doodle from time to time and I would draw a lot more! The unseen intrigues me much more, so I end up messing with audio most of the time. Not done anything in a while, but I’ve given a couple of things from a year or so back when I was interested in dot-work. I do have some imagery from other artists I have followed for some time (Samuel Farrand, Luke Brown). I really think they paint the picture of what the experience is like.

Could you please talk about the beautiful artwork for Night Visions?

Sure, would love to. Initially I had lots of photographs, symbols, structures and ideas to put forward. Was advised to chill out a bit with all the images and the few various concepts I had, and it was reduced to a few key ideas. It didn’t take very long to whittle them down and we decided to keep it stripped back and open to interpretation. The artist who does all the Samurai graphics, Ryan, did the artwork, and his approach was to hold the imagery the music creates. This was his take after we spoke about some of the things I’d been through or seen. Different hues and an air of the uncertain. I had to have smoke somewhere signifying purification. I can see forms emerging from the imagery, depending on which way it’s looked at. The haziness and ever-shifting shapes that are seen, the blend of colours and how the boundaries become blurred… There are other visionary artists that depict the imagery extremely well with a lot of detail. But for this instance I love the subtleties Ryan has brought out and the direction he went in. It suits the music and the concept really well.

It seems like you’re on the path of taking your musical work to exploring its effects on human psyche and using it for healing. Do you think about these things when you are making music? Are you working on new releases?

Time has flown, and now I realize I’ve been doing this for a long time, it’s just that now I have the confidence to share it and integrate into the music I make and release. I’ve always been told to hold it down until the time is right. Too much misinformation and misinterpretations of really powerful information and techniques have been watered down by people who don’t understand or have a romantic view on what frequencies are and what they do. I had to wade through this first to get to the root of it. Maybe about 10 years I’ve been really into the healing aspects of music, slowly learning and developing new ideas and being taught much more scientific and mathematical processes rather than new age ideologies. The Night of Visions album is full of these techniques; sounds, harmonics and they are all embedded into the works. I am expanding on this into the future. I have been integrating it all into everything I make, as when this knowledge sinks in and is understood it changes the way you think and create. It also changes the understanding of the universe and its patterns and sequences… the planets, time, geometry, nature.. it’s all very intricately related, but also subjective to the Earth. Different rules apply to different celestial bodies. It’s infinite and there is no singular way. We limit ourselves to a very small number of ‘systems’ or tuning/harmonic relationships.

There is a producer called Aleksi Parala who has developed something named the Colundi Sequence. Really intriguing stuff. He shares similar views and ideas to the ones I have been interested in and developing, but I only came across his music a few weeks ago through an RA feature. Rod Modell / Deepchord also has a fascinating insight into these subjects in terms of places and their energetic blueprint, the effect it has on us and how that translates into sonics and sound as therapy. One more insanely knowledgeable man is Derrick Scott Van Heerden. He’s discovered and developed whole systems based around geometrically precise scales and an understanding of frequency that I draw a lot of inspiration from and implement into my music. I certainly am working on new releases, always tinkering and refining. I have a remix coming out next year on Samurai, then the next wave of material will follow.

Do you plan on going back to South America for another session? (Take me with you!?)

I do, but not any time soon. If I did, I’d explore a bit more of the South American continent. Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia, Brazil, then definitely move up through Panama, Costa Rica, Belize, Guatemala into Mexico. I’d love to explore other parts of the world especially Asia and their customs, rituals, lifestyles and techniques. My advice to anyone wanting to take the journey for him or herself, is to go to the native lands where the plant grows and the medicine originates. I’ll give you a shout to see if you’re up for it when I do go back ☺


Night Visions by Ancestral Voices is out now via Samurai Horo.

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