Soirée – A Short film by Charles Doran

The following review is for Charles Doran’s fascinating new short film Soirée.

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Soirée tells the story of Bill, a young academic who we learn lives in the beautiful house at the top of the hill with the Bougainvillea – a thorny ornamental plant that grows in his garden. Bill is incredibly proud of his garden and loves nothing more than spending time sitting outside and enjoying the peace and tranquillity it provides. When we are first introduced to him this is where he is. His girlfriend Soledad (Surely a reference to Jess Franco muse Soledad Miranda) joins him, she hands him a gift to celebrate their one month anniversary. Bill looks unimpressed by the cufflinks and admits that he has not bought a gift for Soledad. Bill comes across as being very self-centred, claiming that his very presence is present enough for Soledad, who then mentions that they have been invited to a party by a Professor friend of hers that evening. Bill doesn’t seem too keen to attend but he begrudgingly accepts the invitation to the party.

The soirée, which is being held at the Institute for the Scientific Study of Human and Non-Human Phenomena is hosted by a gentleman named Wilhelm, played by Doran’s brother and co-writer Timothy. As he and Bill become acquainted over a few drinks, we are treated first hand, to what a scene stealer Doran is. His role as the Aleister Crowley type occult leader figure of Wilhelm is a perfect bit of casting, he exudes a genial menace of the sort made famous by Charles Grey’s Mocata in The Devil Rides Out or Niall MacGinnis as Julian Karswell in Night of the Demon. He is also attired most appropriately in a 1930s style suit, and even his home décor seems appropriate for an occult leader. As the two drink and become further acquainted we begin to see just how thoroughly unpleasant Bill really is. He tells Wilhelm and Soledad of the despicable way in which he was able to cheat the former owner of the house out of her home, and when they are joined by Wilhelm’s friend Jason, he is dismissive and rude about the occult figurine that Jason has brought to the party for the ritual that is due to take place. A very drunk Bill then agrees to be silent during the upcoming ritual in order that he may stay and watch.

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Timothy Doran as Wilhelm

Warning! The following two paragraphs may contain some slight spoilers. The camerawork and direction are spot on, particularly during the ritual scenes, which are just oddball enough to be truly menacing. The use of drums and a ritual dance performed seductively by a female cast member help to create a suitable atmosphere, whilst the use of animal masks draw influence from Robin Hardy’s classic The Wicker Man. Wilhelm’s mask,  on the other hand, harks back to something very Lovecraftian in nature, but even more terrifying.

As an interesting side note I would like to draw attention to the film’s use of the ancient Roman religion of Mithraism, which was practiced throughout the Roman Empire in the early centuries of the common era. This is particularly of interest to me as I live in the North East of England, near to the site of the Temple of Mithras at Carrawburgh, on Hadrian’s Wall, which was built around 200 CE. Legend would have us believe that the God Mithras captured and killed the primeval bull in a cave. This apparently led to Mithraic temples being small, gloomy places as they try to replicate the atmosphere of the cave.

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Overall, this is a beautifully made short film with a straight forward but well executed plot. The production values are great, and the main cast are all excellent, Matthew Nelson as Bill, Catie Smith as Soledad, Timothy Doran as Wilhelm, and Patrick Peterson as Jason. All ably buoyed by a fine supporting cast. In fact, the whole film looks and feels a lot more expensive than it is, which is real credit to the director who has created something that looks good on a budget. All credit to him for his hard work because it really does pay off here. I look forward to seeing where Charles and his brother go from here…

 

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Charles Doran is an Administrative Professional for a major university in Southern California. His previous short films, Westsider, and Ennui, played at film festivals all over the world. Soirée is his first attempt at an “urban wyrd “ type of film. Soirée was co-written by his brother Timothy, an Assistant Professor of History  at Cal State Los Angeles, who runs the very real Institute for the Study of Human and Non-Human Phenomena, the primary setting for the film.

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Recording our own ghosts; a review of ‘A Year In The Country – Wandering Through Spectral Fields, Journeys in Otherly Pastoralism, the Further Reaches of Folk and the Parallel Worlds of Hauntology’

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For nearly five years the A Year In The Country project has been diligently producing field reports from the more haunted and folk horror inclined borderlands and wyrder areas of popular culture. Transmitting via their regularly updated webpage and issuing audio relics in the medium of themed compilation CD/ downloads featuring such artists as The Rowan Amber Mill, Sproatly Smith and United Bible Studies, A Year In The Country (AYITC) has amassed a valuable archive of all that is uncanny, unusual or unsettling in modern culture, whether it is film, TV, literature or music. Be it Bagpuss or Beyond The Black Rainbow, Shirley Collins or Sapphire And Steel, AYITC has documented these idiosyncratic yet highly significant moments in modern media.

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These writings (or transmissions) are reproduced, revised and expanded upon here, in the first AYITC publication ‘Wandering Through Spectral Fields’ (for the musical side of the project please do visit AYITC’s splendid Bandcamp page). Divided into 52 distinct chapters (one for each week of the year), the book is described as;

an exploration of the undercurrents and flipside of bucolic dreams and where they meet and intertwine with the parallel worlds of hauntology; it connects layered and, at times, semi-hidden cultural pathways and signposts, journeying from acid folk to edgelands via electronic music innovators, folkloric film and photography, dreams of lost futures and misremembered televisual tales and transmissions’.

Indeed, AYITC embrace a wide range of avenues to bring together not only a sense of how far reaching and varied the origins, mainstays and current players of genres such as folk horror or hauntology can be, but crucially also how they intertwine and cross pollinate. There are chapters therefore on 70’s acid folk and its impact and influence on today’s folk artists, on ‘Folk Horror Roots’ (including an entire chapter on ‘cultural behemoth’ The Wicker Man) but also on ‘Folk Horror Descendants’ such as Kill List, on apocalyptic popular culture through the decades (taking in the horrific The War Game as well as Frankie Goes To Hollywood) and on dystopian literature and cinema such as No Blade Of Grass, The Midwich Cuckoos and The Day Of The Triffids. Television series that have become a part of the folk horror conversation also feature prominently, such as The Owl Service, The Changes, Penda’s Fen and the influential Robin Redbreast (arguably a forerunner for The Wicker Man). Each chapter expertly charts its chosen subject’s impact upon the public consciousness as well as indicating that these artefacts are now part of a greater cultural cobweb that may well have threads and components that are radically different in genre or style but that equally have a strong commonality in their sense of unease and their haunted content; of similar ghosts in the machine (or spooks in the television and bookshelves). Further investigations delve into folklore, TV public information films and the landscape itself as a medium through which a certain mood, an uncanny, can be evoked.

Speaking to author Stephen Prince, we discussed this sense of cross pollination, over genres overlapping and finding common themes and ground;

SP: I think, to a certain degree, the way in which it isn’t easily definable how the different and loosely gathered areas of culture that are discussed in ‘Wandering Through Spectral Fields’ appear to connect, influence one another, have become part of a lineage etc is an aspect of what is appealing about them and that gathering; it is part of what creates a certain mystique around it. Possibly in an age where every area of culture, no matter how niche, can be investigated and explained by for example a brief online search, it is the sense of a hidden history and stories, of an at least partly unexplained aspect to such work that is one of the things which may draw people to it. Along which lines, some of the older culture, although at times inherently containing a left-of-centredness, was initially produced and intended as quite mainstream entertainment. However, over time it has gained an otherlyness and also become points of interconnected reference and inspiration for future hauntological/ otherly pastoral work or again a loose “tradition” or set of themes:

 

“…they have come to be touchstones or lodestones that seem to invoke a hidden, layered history of the land but which also encompass and intertwine with a wider, hauntological, parallel, alternative version of Britain…” (Wandering Through Spectral Fields, P. 38)

 

In Chapter 4 of the Wandering Through Spectral Fields book (Cuckoos in the Same Nest: Hauntological and Otherly Folk Confluences and Intertwinings) I discuss some possible shared ground for such work, including a yearning for lost utopias; whether Arcadian dreams within more folk/pastoral orientated work or the lost progressive futures of hauntology. Connected to which you may know of this article but in Robert Macfarlane’s “The Eeriness of the English Countryside”, that he wrote for The Guardian in 2015, he suggests a possible more overtly politically orientated or at least rooted explanation for this curious confluence of culture:

 

“What is under way, across a broad spectrum of culture, is an attempt to account for the turbulence of England in the era of late capitalism. The supernatural and paranormal have always been means of figuring powers that cannot otherwise find visible expression. Contemporary anxieties and dissents are here being reassembled and re-presented as spectres, shadows or monsters: our noun monster, indeed, shares an etymology with our verb to demonstrate, meaning to show or reveal (with a largely lost sense of omen or portent).” https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/apr/10/eeriness-english-countryside-robert-macfarlane

 

There’s not really an overarching and definitive name for this “broad spectrum” of work but in that article he describes such “eerie counter-culture” as being an occulture; which seems appropriate and connects to the earlier mentioned sense of the hidden within such possibly disparate seeming work as some of the roots of the word occult are from the older French word occulte meaning “secret, not divulged” and the Latin occultus which means “hidden, concealed, secret”. I’m wary of seeming overly serious (!) about such things; to a certain degree you could see such cultural exploring as in part a form of grown-up make-believe and world creation, a form of escapist fun. At the same time and connected to the above comments by Robert Macfarlane, that escapist aspect may also at times have roots in more serious areas in that such intertwined work and the worlds it creates could be seen to also create a bulwark from what some may see as the more potentially overwhelming, rapacious or secularly monotheistic aspects of modern life, culture and dominant belief systems.

 

Philosopher Jacque Derrida, who again as you may know introduced the idea of hauntology, suggested that in a certain stage of society (what has been described, possibly erroneously/precipitously, as “the end of history”) the present will start to orient itself towards ideas and aesthetics that can be thought of as rustic, bizarre or “old-timey” or towards the “ghost” of the past. Much of the culture that I discuss in ‘Wandering Through Spectral Fields’ whether older or more contemporary, folkloric and/or hauntological, could be seen as having an “old-timey” or nostalgic aspect. At the same time often rather than purely providing the potentially more comforting, familiar and recreation of the past aspects of nostalgia, it also has reimagined, unsettled or eerie aspects:

 

“A re-imagining and misremembering (that creates) forms of music and culture that seem familiar, comforting and also often unsettling and not a little eerie, creating a sense of work that is haunted by spectres of its and our cultural past…” (P. 27-28; from a section in ‘Wandering Through Spectral Fields’ that brings together some of the recurring themes of hauntology and which could also be applied to work which explores the flipside/undercurrents of folkloric culture).

 

The flipside of folk/pastoral culture and hauntology seem to interconnect to create those familiar but also reimagined, unsettling, eerie and spectral aspects; creating a cultural harvest that on paper and technically you would not expect to, as you also say, cross pollinate but which has proved curiously and intriguingly fertile and hardy.

 

FHR: Can you say more about your motivation for producing ‘Wandering Through Spectral Fields’ and the possibility that this may just be a first volume of many?

 

SP: In terms of why I produced ‘Wandering Through Spectral Field’s as a book separate from the AYITC website; at heart and in part it’s not all that much more complicated than it was a book that I wanted to read, that I found myself looking for over the years. Previous to and since its publication/I finished writing it there have been a number of books released which have explored some similar areas but they have generally more tended to focus on one particular area of related culture; semi-consciously I wanted to bring all these different aspects together as, well, they seem to fit, interconnect and influence one another. Online and print orientated publishing both have their pros and cons, their strengths and weaknesses and I’m not didactically more inclined towards one or the other but the more possibly curated, edited etc aspect of a book can bring a particular theme or set of themes into focus – or again as you say, on reading a collection of writing in book form it is hopefully possible to “see how they become part of a larger cultural tradition”. In terms of ‘Wandering Through Spectral Fields’ possibly becoming part of a series of books; we shall see (!).

 

The AYITC webpage continues to be updated with new thoughts and recollections, new features and films, books, television and music that seem to exist either in a more liminal space outside of the mainstream or that instead occupies the mainstream in a more liminal and unusual manner. Seek it out if you are not already a regular visitor. And for those who favour a little Quatermass with their Wicker Man, a touch of Belbury Poly with their Incredible String Band or a taste of Children of the Stones with an offering of Chocky, this volume is highly recommended.

 

With thanks to Stephen Prince for his time and answers. ‘Wandering Through Spectral Fields’ is available from ayearinthecountry.co.uk as well as Amazon.

 

21st Century Ghost Stories

FC Low ResThis astonishing anthology gathers award-winning work by contemporary short-fiction writers from around the English-speaking world, all of whom drew their inspiration from the supernatural. Each of these fine authors, whether from the U.K., the U.S., Ireland, Canada, Australia, or elsewhere, puts his or her own thought-provoking, 21st century spin on some aspect of the paranormal—there are ghosts, of course, but you’ll also find tales revolving around demons, zombies, spirits in the Voudou pantheon, out-of-body episodes, doppelgangers, shape-shifters, hallucinations, dreams, imaginary people, mythical beings, and Things You Just Can’t Explain. These 29 stories are chilling, or funny, or a bit of both, and they all will continue to turn in your imagination long after you’ve finished reading them.
Available now from ~ http://www.lulu.com/shop/paul-guernsey/21st-century-ghost-stories/paperback/product-23734410.html

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100% of profits from FHR / Wyrd Harvest Press books sold in this store will be charitably donated at intervals to different environmental, wildlife and community projects undertaken by the Wildlife Trusts.

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The Potatoes Have Eyes ~ A Glance into the Field ( + Discount Code)


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Presenting the  revised edition of the seminal tome Folk Horror Revival: Field Studies. A collection of essays, interviews and artwork by a host of talents exploring the weird fields of folk horror, urban wyrd and other strange edges. Contributors include Robin Hardy, Ronald Hutton, Alan Lee, Philip Pullman, Thomas Ligotti, Kim Newman, Adam Scovell, Gary Lachman, Susan Cooper and a whole host of other intriguing and vastly talented souls. An indispensable companion for all explorers of the strange cinematic, televisual, literary and folkloric realms. This edition contains numerous extra interviews and essays as well as updating some information and presented with improved design. 100% of all sales profits of this book bought in our online Lulu store are charitably donated at quarterly intervals to The Wildlife Trusts.

http://www.lulu.com/shop/folk-horror-revival/folk-horror-revival-field-studies-second-edition/paperback/product-23557533.html

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#FolkloreThursday ~ The Banshee, Bean-Nighe & the Gwrach-y-Rhibyn

Presenting for Folklore Thursday a collection of strange entities from the Paciorek bestiary …
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The Banshee

Also known as: Beansidhe, Bean-Si, Benshee, Fairy Woman, Woman of the Hills, Bachuntas, Badbh-Chaointes, Cointeach, Wailers, The Keener, The One Who Keens, Mna-Sige, Mna-Sidhe, Cyhiraeth, Cyraeth, Cyoerrath, Cyhyraeth, The White Lady of Sorrows, The Weeper, The Skree, Caoineag, Caointeach, Fear-Sidh, Seinn-Bais, Death Music, Tolaeth, Ghost Sounds, Bocanachs, Bowa.

The wail of the Banshee (known as the Keening) is said to be heard either by the person whose death is imminent, or by someone closely associated to them. People with a strong Celtic bloodline are considered more likely to encounter a Banshee, and some old families may hold a peculiarly strong bond with one of these creatures. This is sometimes thought to indicate a distant Fay strain within their genes but others have suggested an earthier, more sinister reasons for the connection. The finger points at certain reputedly Banshee-ridden families with the accusation that one of their ancestors murdered a young lady, possibly a pregnant mistress or other similar unfortunate, and so it is believed that their descendants must carry a reminder of this shame for evermore. The shadow of this sin falls at the approach of their darkest hours and may be specifically regarded as being a Hateful Banshee. To those who have not heard the Banshee’s cries (and count themselves lucky for this), it is often imagined that this must be a loud, dreadful noise and sometimes it has been reported as such (usually in the cases of Hateful Banshees), but not always. Sometimes her Keening was described as being oddly melodic and strangely comforting, especially if heard by someone who was old and failing , had endured a long, discomforting illness or was of a family favoured by the Faeries.

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The Bean-Nighe

Also known as: Night Women, Washer Women, Caoineag, Ban Nighechain, Nigheag-Na-H’ath, Washing Women, Little Washers by the Ford, Washers by the Banks, Washers of the Shroud, Washers of the Night, Night Washers, Cannerd Noz, Konnerez Noz.

The Bean-Nighe are generally encountered either sitting beside, or sometimes paddling in, remote streams and the shallows of rivers. Here they attend to their laundry, yet they are not conventional mortal women tending bucolic washing chores. A single glance at their hideous visage and the grim cloth they wring betwixt their fingers is more than enough to determine their anomalous character. The clothing that the Bean-Nighe is seen to wash is either the blood-drenched clothing of the observer, or the burial shroud that will consequently wrap their lifeless body. These creatures are said to be the souls of women who died whilst giving birth, doomed to remain on this earth either until Judgement Day or, as it is more frequently thought, until the day that they would otherwise have died. As a grim consequence of their fate, they are also aware of all the other people that will soon be visited by death and are sometimes reported as crooning a mournful dirge to themselves that recounts the names of all the ill fated.

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The Gwrach-y-Rhibyn

Also known as the Hag of the Dribble, Hag of the Mist and also sometimes as y Cyhiraeth.

This Welsh portent of death may suddenly leap out of a water channel, but otherwise she will invisibly stalk her victims until they pass a crossroads or stream. Here she will become all too visible and audible, for in both instances her cries, like those of the Banshees and Cyraeths, are harrowing. If the person thus doomed to die (either the observer or someone they know) is a man the Gwrach-y-Rhibyn will holler “Fy ngwr! Fy ngwr!” (“My Husband! My Husband!”) but if a youth is to succumb, then she will cry “Fy mlentyn! Fy mlentyn bach!” (“My child! My little child!”) She is a hideous sight to behold, with her crooked back, hooked nose, long filthy hair and manic eyes. She is pinched and scrawny, yet her superficial mass likely betrays her true strength and vigour. The most frightfully inhuman of all her features, however, are her long thin arms, for not only do they end in dreadful talon-like hands, but black scaly wings also hang from these extremities. These bat-like appendages are thought capable of flight. Her negligible clothing is black and ragged.

All Text and Imagery © Andy Paciorek
For more on these subjects and many many others see the book
Strange Lands: A Field Guide to the Celtic Otherworld

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Available to purchase from – http://www.blurb.co.uk/user/andypaciorek

The Wytch Hunters’ Manual

 

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“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” or so ’tis said. Within the binding of this hallowed tract, thy shalt findeth the means to cleanse the world of the maleficent curse that the devil, his imps and minions have issued. Praise be. Finding its way into the hands of Dr Bob Curran and Andy Paciorek, Wyrd Harvest Press now bring to the eyes of a modern readership the remaining fragments of the ancient, once thought forever-lost, book, ‘The Wytch Hunters’ Manual’.

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Within its pages can be found details of the tomes and tools that should be at the disposal of all professional witch-hunters as well as biographies of notable finders and prickers and their notable foes both earthly and hellish …

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10% DISCOUNT + FREE SHIPPING
Just use code BOOKSHIP18 at checkout
offer expires 11.59pm on July 9th 2018
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100% of profits from FHR / Wyrd Harvest Press books sold in this store will be charitably donated at intervals to different environmental, wildlife and community projects undertaken by the Wildlife Trusts.

Wyrd Harvest Press: Charity Donation – Summer Solstice 2018

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Every quarter, Wyrd Harvest Press mark the movement of the year by donating the sales profits from our online shop to a different Wildlife Trusts’ environmental project. Each individual is chosen by a poll on the Folk Horror Revival Facebook group.

This Solstice the winner is Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Marine Appeal.
They receive a donation of £400.

Thank you to all who voted and / or bought our books

Art of The Beautiful~Grotesque

Andy Paciorek

NOW AVAILABLE from Andy Paciorek (Founder of the Folk Horror Revival project)
(With a Hung, Drawn and Quarter off cover price for one day only – hurry hurry to make a great saving 🙂 )

~ Art of the Beautiful~Grotesque ~
Over 300 Andy Paciorek drawings from various projects. Some old favourites and some previously unpublished.

Peripheral Visions – a collection of sketches from my rough books will follow in near future. 🙂

Buy today and save 25% off cover price* – use code BKSTRMADNESS at checkout at http://www.blurb.co.uk/…/8751446-the-art-of-the-beautiful-g…

More books by Andy Paciorek ( which can also be added to Discount offer)  can be found here ~ http://www.blurb.co.uk/user/andypaciorek

*Offer valid through May 30, 2018 (11:59 p.m. local time). A 25% discount is applied toward your product total with no minimum or maximum order amount. This offer is good for five uses, and cannot be used for digital purchases or combined with volume discounts, custom orders, other promotional codes, gift cards or used for adjustments on previous orders.

The Devil and the Universe (Live) – The Church of the Goat

The Devil and the Universe – The Church of the Goat

by Jim Peters

(this is an excerpt from an article that will feature in Harvest Hymns (Volume 2: Sweet Fruits)

It began with two cards selected from the 78-piece tarot card-set as utilised by the most famous occultist of the 20th century Aleister Crowley. ”The Devil” and “The Universe” were the cards pulled that would prophesize a name for a musical-magical-transcendental composition and transformation project…..

Ashley Dayour – (instruments and voice), David Pfister – (instruments and field recordings) and Stefan Elsbacher (percussion) set out to create music from magical systems. Their aim was to give up their musical creativity and allow the legitimacy of magic and religious mechanisms form musical rules. The process and its system dictated and created not just phonetic anarchy but also examples of sound perfection.

With this as their mission and the influence of Crowley’s tarot The Devil and the Universe were born. Using their transcendental music design and occult and religious iconography as inspiration they combined and reinterpreted these elements and influences to create a variety of musical offerings from Space Disco, Psychedelic Glam, Synth Pop, new wave and Black Metal. There is one musical style however that is very much The Devil and the Universe’s own and it is one they have christened `Goat-Wave’.

Watching The Devil and the Universe live is when all the various influences come into their own and combine to create a magical experience. I don’t mean that in a Disney way (there are no enchanted castles and princesses here!) but in a truly occult sense of the word.

The scene is set with images and film clips showing various robed figured in goat masks connecting with the landscape – communing and seeming taking inspiration from the sepia tinged rural landscape they roam across.

First to enter the Church of the Goat is Stefan (although you wouldn’t know it was him under his robe and mask) and he immediately starts pounding out a tribal rhythm as if to call the audience together – to get us all breathing, swaying and hearts beating in unison to one hypnotic beat.

Next David – once again fully robed and goated up – joins the swirling mist on stage and seems to merge with the visuals before joining in the rhythmic pulse. By now samples, field recordings and synth swathes envelop the audience entrancing them further as Ashley joins the others completing the Unholy Trinity. All three add to the growing sonic conjuration with the most unlikely of instruments – the wooden football rattle. Building the intensity until every person in the room – themselves included – is well and truly under the spell of The Church of the Goat.

There is no let up. Even when there is a change in pace or style or when new instruments are brought into the mix there is no pause between tracks – no chance to break the spell. The whole experience is built around that tribal primeval rhythm – it hypnotises, seduces, entrances and completely captivates the audience and when all three on stage become robed silhouettes pounding against the backdrop of creeping visuals the effect is magnificent. It is a shared experience – all those called to worship at the Church of the Goat do so as one.

The John Carpenter-esque synths, crunching guitars, perfectly chosen samples and field recordings – plus an array of percussive instruments – all play their part in the sonic alchemy but it is so much more than that. What makes The Devil and the Universe such an unmissable live experience is the sum of many parts – the music, the robes, the masks, the visuals, the lights, the audience and the rhythm….that never ending rhythm….the rhythm of the Universe…and The Devil.

(THE DEVIL & THE UNIVERSE)