Nanaimo psychedelic rock duo Anunnaki – Arlen Thompson and Dave Read (from left) – released a new recording on May 15. (Photo courtesy Jason Felker)

Nanaimo psychedelic rock duo releases 30-minute instrumental track

‘The Archaeus Cycle’ reflects on life during COVID-19 and the healing capability of music

Nanaimo psychedelic rock duo Anunnaki has released a new half-hour recording completed live in one take.

On May 15, Anunnaki – bassist Dave Read of local group Moths and Locusts and drummer Arlen Thompson, from Wolf Parade – released a joint album with Ottawa’s The Band Whose Name Is a Symbol, appropriately called Anunnaki/TBWNIS Split.

“Our side of the split was recorded at the White Room when we filmed a video just as the lockdown was starting,” Read said. “And we did a multi-track recording of it the same time and it turned out so good we said, ‘We should release this and maybe do a split with somebody’ and [TBWNIS] were really the first guys we thought of.”

Anunnaki’s contribution to the album is the 29:35-minute instrumental piece The Archaeus Cycle. It’s composed of three parts: Calling Paracelsus, Mumia and Hermetic Vibrations. Thompson explained it’s influenced by iconoclastic Renaissance physician Paracelsus and his belief in a kind of life-force he called the “mumia.”

“For him, for healing, it was about feeding this mumia and directing it. That’s how you would be able to heal sickness, was in fact grabbing this life energy that was in the universe,” Thompson said, adding that with their instruments, “we’re trying to coax these vibrations out of the universe to bring some healing during a time of COVID where a lot of people are suffering from this virus.”

Read said the music reflects the uncertainty they were feeling as social distancing measures were being implemented and businesses were starting to close their doors.

“There’s a quiet calm in there and there’s also a raging roar in there just trying to encapsulate as many of the feelings and anxious moments we were feeling going into this,…” Read said. “It’s almost like it gets to points where we’re screaming, ‘What’s going on?’ even though there’re no vocals.”

In the band’s tradition, The Archaeus Cycle is largely improvised, but Read said recording the track in one take wasn’t a challenge. He said that’s where Anunnaki thrives.

“We sort of map it out a little bit and we have an idea of what we’re going to play, but we go with the feeling of the moment to take it to the next level and put the raw feeling into it,” he explained.

“You have to have empathy and an instinct to be able to guide where the song goes and the dynamics of the song and Dave an I just found we really work well together,” Thompson said. “So we really enjoy just doing these pieces as Anunnaki where we just let the music flow.”

Anunnaki/TBWNIS Split is available on cassette from Nanaimo record label NoiseAgonyMayhem, while the CD and vinyl versions will be co-released with UK label Cardinal Fuzz. Album available online.



arts@nanaimobulletin.com

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