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Album Title: Curse of the Daimon
Release Date: 2009
1. The Gates of Deep Darkness – 2:51
2. Daimonica – 4:24
3. The Face of the Deep (1) – 4:22
4. Blood and Milk, movement 1 – 2:28
5. Blood and Milk, movement 2 – 1:04
6. Blood and Milk, movement 3 - :56
7. Blood and Milk, movement 4 – 1:55
8. The Dreamlands – 1:59
9. The Streets of Vastarien – 3:56
10. Road to Olduvai – 9:56
11. Dystopian Dreams – 2:49
12. My Own Death Poems – 6:35
13. The Face of the Deep (2) – 4:04
Total time: 47:26
Daemonyx is my one-man musical project, the fruit of more than 30 years of musicianship with pianos, keyboards, and multitrack recording equipment.
The project's first album, Curse of the Daimon, was produced from 2005-2008. With its instrumental melding of genres and themes – rock, metal, electronica, New Age and orchestral motifs fused in an exploration of thought realms of horror, sadness, beauty, and spirituality – it crosses paths at multiple points with my work as an author of horror fiction and nonfiction.
A copy of the album will be included with each copy of my Dark Awakenings collection that is purchased directly from the publisher. Or you can buy it directly through CDBaby (see below).
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"Like a soundtrack to a fever dream, the music of Daemonyx plumbs an ever-changing world of mystery, mood, and melodic apparitions. Listen with the lights out and your imagination on."
– Brian Hodge, author of Mad Dogs and World of Hurt
"Daemonyx's compositions conjure up images of eerie strangeness and awesomely alien worlds that nothing can evoke better than music."
– Ramsey Campbell, author of Alone with the Horrors and The House on Nazareth Hill
"There are many haunting and beautiful compositions that complement or completely make horror films—you know the ones—as well as appeal to listeners who are sensitive to the mystery and dread of life. In its debut album 'Curse of the Daimon,' Daemonyx has offered us thirteen works of such quality."
– Thomas Ligotti, author of Teatro Grottesco and The Nightmare Factory
"The overall ambience of the music reminds me a little of the electronica of Klaus Schulze. There's a similar powerful evocation of vast and terrifying soundscapes. In the song 'Daimonica,' I very much like the way the haunting and oppressive music blends with the grim signal motif, 'Is there someone inside you.' In 'The Gates of Deep Darkness,' the ominous martial nature of the music provides a real chill, as of some impending apocalypse."
– Mark Samuels, author of The White Hands and Other Weird Tales and Glyphotech and Other Macabre Processes
"Intricate, haunting and complex pieces of music, richly creative and inspiring."
– Tim Lebbon, author of The Island and Dusk
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Notes & Influences
Musical influences (both stylistic and spiritual): Goblin, Vangelis, Dead Can Dance, Hearts of Space (radio program), Echoes (radio program), Blue Öyster Cult, Rob Zombie, Metallica, Windham Hill, Mannheim Steamroller, Basil Poledouris, Elliot Goldenthal, Current23, J.S. Bach, Mozart, Tan Dun, Shigeru Umebayashi, Queensrÿche, Fate's Warning, Skinny Puppy, Claudio Gizzi, John Harrison, Pink Floyd, Negativland.
The Movies (list of movies that provided the sound samples heard on the album): Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Citizen Kane, The Exorcist, Frailty, Zardoz, Network, Mr. Frost, The Devil Rides Out, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), The Langoliers, Day of the Dead (1985), My Dinner with Andre
"The Gates of Deep Darkness" – The line "There is something at work in my soul which I do not understand" comes from the novel Frankenstein, where it is spoken by Captain Walton, the explorer who encounters Victor Frankenstein during an arctic expedition. But the actual sound clip in the song comes from the 1994 movie Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, where the words are spoken not by Walton but by the character of Victor himself. In both cases, the line still works perfectly to express the daimonic "message" of Curse of the Daimon.
"Daimonica" – When I first started noodling around on a Yamaha CVP-309 digital piano and came up with the basic synth motif that forms the backbone of this song, I was quite consciously influenced by some of Goblin's music, especially the main theme from the movie Tenebrae, which was playing in the back of my head at the time. The same theme served as my point of departure for "Daimonica's" tech-sounding drum track.
"The Face of the Deep (1)" – The whispered words at the start are from the beginning of Genesis – although they start with the opening phrase and then...skip a bit. The music itself may represent something having to do with the primal "deep" of the Hebrew scriptures, that is, the uncreated chaos that existed before Yahweh imposed order on it with his "Let there be..." pronouncements. "In the beginning...darkness covered the face of the deep."
"Blood and Milk" – All four movements were originally composed to accompany a recorded reading of the short horror story "Warm Milk" by Canadian author Barry Wood. I came up with the oboe melody for the first movement by transferring the letters in the title "Warm Milk" to a telephone keypad and then transferring the resulting numbers to the notes on a piano keyboard.
"The Dreamlands" – The intended emotion here is the admixture of wonder and horror that characterizes the setting of Lovecraft's dreamland stories (and also Dunsany's stories and many of Clark Ashton Smith's). The song is blatantly divided into two sections. The guiding emotion of the first is the aching sehnsucht encapsulated in the opening lines of HPL's The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath: "Mystery hung about [the dream city] as clouds about a fabulous unvisited mountain; and as Carter stood breathless and expectant on that balustraded parapet there swept up to him the poignancy and suspense of almost-vanished memory, the pain of lost things, and the maddening need to place again what once had an awesome and momentous place." The second part switches to an emotional mode conveyed in Lovecraft's "The Other Gods," in the scene where one character hears another, a cryptically learned man, suffer the ultimate destruction atop a rocky mountain because of his hubris in trying to see the face of "earth's gods": "And now Atal, slipping dizzily up over inconceivable steeps, heard in the dark a loathsome laughing, mixed with such a cry as no man else ever heard save in the Phlegethon of unrelatable nightmares; a cry wherein reverberated the horror and anguish of a haunted lifetime packed into one atrocious moment: 'The other gods! The other gods! The gods of the outer hells that guard the feeble gods of earth!...Look away…Go back…Do not see! Do not see! The vengeance of the infinite abysses...That cursed, that damnable pit…Merciful gods of earth, I am falling into the sky!'"
"The Streets of Vastarien" – This is a musical representation of one of Victor Keirion's oneiric journeys through the twisting streets of the dream city Vastarien in Thomas Ligotti's supernaturally perfect short story of that name.
"Road to Olduvai" – The title comes from the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, but more directly from systems engineer Richard Duncan's Olduvai Theory, which posits that peak oil will lead to a permanent energy blackout and the annihilation of industrial civilization during the 21st century, resulting in a massive human die-off and the return of stone age living conditions for the drastically culled population that remains. You may have to strain to find any of this in the music itself. But if you pay attention, you'll hear the gloomy and centuried Dies Irae theme of divine wrath and cosmic destruction enter briefly into the dense instrumental melange during the final three or four minutes.
"Dystopian Dreams" – I think of this one as a quirky and rhythmic audio palette of loosely connected ideas leading to a single conclusion: The new Dark Age isn't a future event. We're living in it now. But it can still be musically quirky and rhythmic.
"My Own Death Poems" – This one represents a detailed outworking of a theme and beat that began to play in my head almost immediately after I began reading Thomas Ligotti's little book, Death Poems, back in 2004. The book ends with a section of blank pages titled "My Own Death Poems," where the reader is presumably intended to record his own thoughts about the meaning and inevitability of his and everybody else's ultimate demise. This song is my response.
"The Face of the Deep (2)" – The album's overarching and supervening themes return and strive for coherence and closure. The infinite ocean of uncreation laps at the far edge of the cosmos. "Is there someone inside you?" "I don't think any word can explain a man's life."
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The "lyrics" to "Daimonica" sum up the album's guiding theme and metaphor:
Is there someone inside you?
Is there someone inside you?
There are demons among us
There are demons among us
I am the puppet master
It is not a breakdown
I've never felt more orderly in my life
A shocking eruption of great electrical energy
I want, I must
I am imbued with some special spirit
It's not a religious feeling at all
It is a shocking eruption of great
Electrical energy. I feel vivid
and flashing as if suddenly I had
Been plugged into some great electromagnetic
Field, some great unseen living force, what I
Think the Hindus call prana. It is a
Shattering and beautiful sensation
It is the exalted flow of the space-time
Continuum, save that it is spaceless
And timeless and of such loveliness. I
Feel on the verge of some great ultimate
A shocking eruption of great electrical
The power of darkness is more than just a superstition
It's a big conspiracy
It is a living force
Is there someone inside you?
Demons are taking over the world
I am the puppet master
The power of darkness
It's a big conspiracy
I manipulate many of the characters and events you will see
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Daemonyx: What's in a name?
Originally published at The Teeming Brain, June 17, 2006
For the past year and a half I've been recording music with a mind toward publishing a CD. In that time I've returned frequently to the question of what I should name my musical project. Right from the start, I knew the name would have to be something centered around the idea of the daimonic or daemonic, since that idea has been central not only to my musical endeavors but also to my writing and other creative endeavors for a great many years now.
For those who are unfamiliar with it, the idea of the daimonic is loosely related to the idea of the muse. Like the muse, the concept of the daimon comes to us from the ancient Greeks, who in addition to the gods and goddesses familiar to us all through classical mythology (Zeus etc.) believed in spirits they called daimones or daimons. In one respect these daimons weren't very different from the animistic spirits that have populated the belief systems of all peoples throughout history. Daimons were thought to be local, limited spirits who inhabited certain places, affected the weather, brought good and bad luck, and so on.
But the Greeks also held a more distinctly spiritualized or psychologized view that eventually outstripped the first. In this second version, the daimons were understood to exist deep within the human psyche or spirit, where they made themselves known through their influence upon human thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and actions. They were intermediate spirits, neither divine nor human, who mediated the will and messages of the gods to people, and vice versa. It was such a potent concept that it eventually swept through the ancient world and became one of the cornerstones of Western psychological and spiritual thought. The iconic figures of both the angel and the demon in Western religion have their origins in the ancient Greek idea of the daimons, as combined with Jewish beliefs about spiritual hierarchies, which themselves had been inherited from Zoroastrianism.
In the twentieth century, existential psychologist Rollo May turned to this ancient concept for help in articulating his understanding of the human psyche. In his classic book Love and Will (1969), he described it in terms that make clear for us moderns what sort of thing the ancient Greeks were talking about when they spoke of spirits that acted with an inner force upon the human mind and personality: "The daimonic is any natural function which has the power to take over the whole person. Sex and eros, anger and rage, and the craving for power are examples. The daimonic can be either creative or destructive and is normally both." This last idea is familiar to fans of Harlan Ellison, who closed his classic short horror story "The Whimper of Whipped Dogs" (1973) with an epigraph drawn from May's book that connected modern urban violence and the experience of social alienation to an upsurge of daimonic energy.
As for the evolution of the name itself, at some point during the Dark or Middle Ages the Greek word daimonbecame the Latinized dæmon or daemon. Eventually the "ai" that had mutated into "æ" or "ae" collapsed into the simple "e" of the modern word demon. As we all know, a demon in the modern sense is an exclusively evil being that, according to Christian theology, was formerly an angel until it rebelled against the almighty monotheistic God. But when you mentally travel back in time and strip away the various religious/historical accretions and interpretations, you eventually encounter the ancient, pre-Christian dæmons or daimons, which are much more ambiguous and multidimensional. Many writers, especially in the fantasy and horror genres, have made a practice of referring to daemons or dæmons, as opposed to demons, when they want to invoke these older, wider connotations (think of the epithet Lovecraft often used to describe his made-up horrific god Azathoth: "the daemon sultan").
The thing that connects all of this to my music is the ancient Greek idea that each individual person is accompanied throughout life by a specific daimon with whom he or she was paired before birth. The daimon is the guiding "higher self" that holds, guards, and represents the spiritual template for the life a given person has chosen to lead. We have all noticed that everyone seems to be born with certain predilections and personality traits already firmly in place. It seems that each of us possesses, or rather is possessed by, a set of innate passions and interests, attractions and aversions, traits and tendencies. It also often seems that we are each led to encounter and experience certain sorts of life experiences and circumstances that are beyond our power to prevent. The theory of the daimon explains such things as the magnetic workings of the guardian spirit or higher self, which inevitably keeps drawing its chosen individual or "host" back into alignment with the pre-chosen life template. (Tangential to this but very interesting to me is the fact that this nexus of ideas entered Western occultism a long time ago in the form of the "Holy Guardian Angel" that each person is charged with contacting in order to initiate and further his or her spiritual development.)
One doesn't have to believe in any of this literally in order to feel its pull and sense its marvelous explanatory power. It's possible to view the idea of the daimon as a kind of perfect metaphor. It's also possible to refuse to assign it an ontological status at all. This seems to be the tack taken by James Hillman, the fascinating and formidable psychologist who studied under Jung and who for the past several decades has pretty much been the heir apparent to the Jungian tradition. Hillman devoted the whole of his best-selling 1997 book The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling to explicating his theory of the daimon as a kind of life calling which can serve as a permanent source of personal orientation. And he did so without ever defining the whole idea as "real" or "fictional."
When I was eight years old and started taking piano lessons, I immediately took to the instrument like the proverbial duck to water. The same instantaneous identification likewise happened with books, reading, and writing. Later, when I was in high school and college, my passion for playing music became linked to an additional passion to compose it. Today this entire webwork of passions remains vitally active, and in daimonic terms this indicates that all these things represent my individual calling.
And this applies not only to the activities themselves but to the types of subject matter that I'm naturally drawn to exploring. Without my being able to help it, there's always something dark, dreary, horrific, melancholic, and/or mournful lurking beneath the surface and often breaking through into plain sight in all my creative works. I'm also ineluctably drawn to explore philosophical and spiritual ideas like the ones I'm discussing here. Long before I encountered the concept of the daimonic, I had already spent a lot of time musing over my sense of being driven by a motivating source I couldn't understand, which led me to feel passionate about things I couldn't control. The daimon theory gave me a name and background by which to contemplate these things more effectively.
So the name Dæmonyx, which was specifically suggested to me by Jason Van Hollander, expresses both the dæmonic/daimonic source of my musical motivation and the darkness (the onyx, as it were) that characterizes the music itself. By framing my musical endeavors in dæmonic terms, I have also freed myself to pursue whatever tangents I feel like pursuing. My writing has been fairly easy to categorize since it naturally comes out as either horror fiction or literary-scholarly essays, but my music has been less so and I don't know how to classify it overall. Some of it is definitely New Agey. Some is all-out heavy metal and rock. Some is classical or classical-esque. Some is electronica. Thinking in daimonic terms offers a helpful sense of coherence.
Lastly, the title of the first album from Dæmonyx, "Curse of the Daimon," gets at the fact that I really do feel at times as if the so-called "artistic temperament" that accompanies all of this is a curse. How much simpler and nicer it would be to return to a former period in my life when I could read a book or watch a movie or listen to a song without feeling that if I myself didn't currently have a creative project underway, then I was failing myself in some deep, frightening, and inexplicable manner. Although my creative activities do bring pleasure, they are accompanied by a distinct internal pressure that feels rather ominous, so that in the end it's hard to avoid the conclusion that the rush I feel upon completing a literary or musical project isn't so much due to having achieved success as having avoided failure. For my inescapable feeling is that ultimately the failure in question would not just pertain to the specific song or story in question, but would more substantially be a deep failure to live up to something that always drives me onward and tells me that whenever I exercise my creative powers I am engaged almost literally in a fight for my life.
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HOW TO ORDER:
Click below to purchase the album through CDBaby. You can order a disc or download the entire album or selected tracks in mp3 format.
If you have any questions, contact me using the form below:
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