ThaiCapsule Review by Compulsion
Paul Bee Hampshire – ThaiCapsule / Spirit Inclusion Spirit Delusion
I’m amazed by how so many have been seduced by Thailand and its culture where it seems a thin veil separates reality to another strange world filled with magic and secret rituals. It is a Thailand hidden from tourists but evident to those who stay long enough. Coil’s Peter Christopherson, who lived out his later years in Thailand, explored this in his work as The Threshold HouseBoys Choir best captured in the album Form Grows Rampant, documenting a vegetarian festival in Krung Thep, Thailand in the accompanying mesmerising DVD of street boys and gang members performing feats of piercing and self-mutilation to ward off evil spirits. The Thai Occult volumes have delved further still documenting the rituals, tattoos, amulets and blessings of the Thai magical tradition. Even Sheer Zed, a UK based artist and practicing Buddhist, has in numerous trips to Thailand experienced life-changing rituals with Ajarns reflected in his digital album The Thai Occult Road Trip which celebrates his fascination and admiration of the magickal occult system Thai Lanna Buddhism.
Bee, as a former member of Psychic TV, and singer in Getting The Fear and subsequently Into A Circle has long been fascinated by death, dream states, magic and of course the sensual before he upped sticks from London to Bangkok for a new life via a jaunt in New York. The ThaiCapsule, of which Spirit Inclusion Spirit Delusion is only one part, is his first work since his Thai based groups Futon and Goo ceased. Spirit Inclusion Spirit Delusion represents only a fraction of that larger project based around his forthcoming novel, High On Platforms. The ThaiCapsule is inspired by a scene from the novel where two people find a metal box hidden behind a wardrobe. How long it has been there no-one knows but it contains a cassette tape, a book of stories and prose, old photographs, and peculiar animist trinkets. That metal box and its multi-sensory contents is something Bee has recreated to startling effect but more on that later. Available separately and as part of the expansive ThaiCapsule, Spirit Inclusion Spirit Delusion is a cassette tape featuring those short stories filled with sound embellishments and ambience where Bee, schooled in the works of Burroughs and Gysin, takes a peak behind the curtain, a step through the looking glass, into what Peter Christopherson referred to as the sacred and profane.
Housed in a red velvet drawstring bag containing the tape, a small 40 page book of visuals and stories with a beautiful Khon Seua figure it’s a remarkable package and wonderful, beguiling listen of fake death motorcycle rides, secret rituals around Indian shrines, soul stealing birds and other tales from the edge. Opening to street recordings, soft ambient music rises accompanied by rumbling bass pulses, as Bee enters in hushed croaking tones speaking of insidious ‘Memory Spirits’ which seep and take effect on the insecure. In whispers he offers a means to defend yourself from these psychic attacks, depleting the energies of the protagonist in the process. It’s the closest to a song based track here, especially on the end section when Bee utters the repeated mantra “in a dream state, boys” over the rumbling bass, atmospheric synth rises and bird calls, before Spirit Inclusion Spirit Delusion moves onto a more spoken based approach. With the swirl of ambience and electronic chug, ‘The Fake Death Kick’, is based on a journey on the back of a motorcyclist emblazoned with a golden image of See Ho Ha Dta, a 4-eared 5-eyed monkey, on his back. It’s a thrill of a ride, narrated by Bee in his endearing Barnsley accent amongst the dreamy atmospheric layers punctuated with Thai percussive devices. Revving electronics accompany this surprising stationary speed-filled journey filled with sensual imagery steeped with fluids as it reaches its climax. ‘The Fake Death Kick’ is one ecstatic experience which may account for the thrill of your life if, of course, you’ve got enough cash to pay up at journey’s end.
Amidst bird song and ambience, on ‘The Shadoo’ Bee relates little known facts and hunting tactics about evil birds like the skull crushing and trophy hunting shrike before moving onto the shadoo, evil shadow suckers, belonging to the hummingbird family. While laying down some funny impressions of tourists and wizened Thai street hawkers he relates the sinister aspect of the shadoo and their little known familiars. Over glistening electronics, thudding and pulsing tones, Bee informs us that these soul suckers rob their prey of their pineal gland, also known as the third eye and the sixth chakra.
‘Tender Skin’ might be familiar to listeners of Into A Circle, the esoteric indie group he shared with former Southern Death Cult and Getting the Fear member Barry Jepson, as in its original musical form it featured on their sole album, Assassins, where the paired voices of Bee and Rose McDowall accentuated the sensual aspects of the song over almost funk styled guitars. Here on Spirit Inclusion Spirit Delusion Bee intones an extended lyrical version over forlorn Thai flutes, ringing bells and flickering tones, filled with the busy street ambience of Bangkok.
‘Katoon Vishun’ is based on a shrine ensconced within a secret place only the most intrepid Bangkok inhabitant would know about. As bells and gongs chime amongst liminal sounds, Bee tells of a ritual administered by monks where for an agreed payment you can receive advance notice of how your death will come, obtained by viewing a small hole in the cheek of a statue of a young Indian girl in an attempt to discover their death prediction. Bee’s ambient music is suitably sombre and quite remarkable here, as it passes from shadowy atmospherics into shimmering drones; its slow deathbeat pulses reflecting the foretelling of your death in this little known ritual.
While ‘Katoon Vishun’ vividly recounts a secret ritual, the final piece ‘Thailand Airlines Advert’ is a humorous, surreal take on the parental, sensual and sexual aspect of flying all delivered in comforting advertising voices over an appropriate collage of advertising jingles, atmospheric soundtrack sounds and muzak.
Limited to 35 copies, Spirit Inclusion Spirit Delusion is a wonderful package of spoken word, music and visuals with story themes I’m merely sketching out but, as previously mentioned, it’s excerpted from the ThaiCapsule, a unique and impressive collection of items based on a scene from his novel, High On Platforms. That metal box found by the two protagonists hidden behind a wardrobe has been recreated by Bee to stunning effect. Containing a cassette tape, a book of stories, prose and visuals, – those same stories which feature on Spirit Inclusion Spirit Delusion – old photographs, and peculiar animist trinkets and various fragrances recreating the magic and ambience of Bangkok. It is undoubtedly an art object that will delight collectors. Produced in an edition of 60 near identical copies it includes, and I make no apologies for providing the full list of contents:
- Signed book of short stories, prose and photographs, stitched in red thread.
- Cassette tape (with downloadable links).
- Metal matchbox tin with See Hoo Haa Taa, the monkey spirit on the lid & 24 karat gold finished matchstick inside.
- Handmade temple bird cage, with handmade bird & gold Shadoo bird.
- Yaa dohm gold customized herbal inhaler.
- Katoon Vishun comic with authentic handmade coin.
- Original 60’s or 70’s Thai photograph (different in each box).
- Handwritten plastic postcard (unique content on each one).
- Original handwritten page from 1970’s Thai science journal (writer unknown).
- Fake Death Kick patch.
- Plus, a photo of Wayne & Fran (from the High On Platforms story).
- Steel Amulet Box lined with original 70’s Thai press clippings.
- Box size: 15cm x 25cm x 2.3cm
- Arrives in embroidered velvet drawstring bag.
From the pictures it looks beautiful, a real labour of love and a definite collectors edition. If you can go for the ThaiCapsule as it is the real deal of this project covering four of our five senses, and opens up a world of imagination and magic, but if you’re just longing to hear the voice of Bee with a more affordable price tag then go for the Spirit Inclusion Spirit Delusion tape and book package. Also available from High On Platforms are other items associated with the stories like t-shirts and patches. Bee has put a lot of energy and effort into this, and I can’t wait for the publication of High On Platforms as these items are remarkable and will appeal to those who have followed Bee from Getting The Fear and Into A Circle to beyond as well as those captivated by the magic found within the secret and sacred world of Thailand. Recommended. For more information go to High On Platforms