Essence” is my second solo album, released in early 2018. ‘Solo’ means that I composed all the music and produced the project, but not that I did it alone. The record was released with the band name “Zan and the Audiomancy Caravan” to reflect the numerous talented contributors to the project. ‘Audiomancy’ means sound magic. The album is available for listening and download on Bandcamp. For lyrics and the album’s metaphysical underpinnings, read on below.

The Inspiration and Meaning

The 10 songs of “Essence” were conceived as a unified work. The album is intended as a magical spell or alchemical process via sound (thus “Audiomancy” in the band name). The goal is to distill a droplet of the essence of being, to venture out into the mysterious territory beyond ordinary consciousness and to return with a liquid, crystalized essence of these luminous and meaning-impregnated realms. This intention is reflected in the lyrics of the opening track “Invocation”:

Carry us now over emerald seas where upon a further shore

we gather ancient mysteries where words are heard no more.

“In gardens of symbolic form grow fruits of sacred sound

keys that lead beyond humanity where your harmony abounds.

“Students are we of higher spheres glimpsing mortality’s obsolescence

guide us in our timeless task of gathering your essence.

“Light the fires, toll the bells magicians gather ’round
we’ll alchemize a single drop through creation to resound.”
   These lines hint at a quest through landscapes where words fail and music is our only navigation. The reference to ‘higher spheres’ links us to the Kabbalah, an ancient tradition of mysticism that maps the layers of reality between the unified divine and the world of physical form that our bodies inhabit. Further study of the Kabbalah, Tree of Life, and Sephirot will greatly elucidate the symbolism in the music and art of “Essence”.
   The 10 tracks of “Essence” follow the map of the 10 spheres downwards, toward the earthly plane, to mirror the process of ‘distilling’ or ‘returning with’ the droplet. The order of the songs follows the steps of the spell:
1. Invocation (To open the process, set direction, call into being.)
2. Light the Fires (To begin in earnest. To bring energy, heat, passion, and spirit to the undertaking.)
3. Concentrate (Here it means both to focus the mind, and to make the elixir stronger.)
4. Cauldron (The metals and container of the magical process in which the core elements begin to coalesce.)
5. Uncoiling (The emergence of the serpent energy, the kundalini, the spiraling path connecting above and below.)
6. Excelsior (Meaning “ever higher”. The energy from ‘Uncoiling’ continues forward.)
7. Refine (Now that all core elements are present, we begin to reduce them towards the droplet.)
8. Alchemize (A change of state, a synergistic bringing-to-life of the elixir.)
9. Ambrosia (Arrival at the sweet nectar of being. Completing the descent. The last stage before reemergence in the physical.)
10. droplet: Essence (The output of the entire spell, the condensed essence of being that has been brought back from the realms beyond. Each musical or melodic section of this final song is contained somewhere earlier in the album within another song. “droplet:Essence” is therefore the condensed summary of the entire journey both in systematic design, and in composition. This song is in many respects the most conventional and western, to reflect that earthly familiarity. The words are simple and seek to offer a concise expression of form, experience, and spirit):
“Worlds upon worlds upon worlds without end
come into existence and recede again.
Lives upon lives upon lives that we live,
turning wheel reveals, it takes and it gives.
At times in our lives a knowing arrives
that all has its purpose and balance abides.”
“When the going gets tough, the toughest relax
at peace with the knowledge of all that we lack.
Lean into the sharp points of life and you’ll see,
surrender is our greatest victory.”
“All our clinging only bringing
distance from the thing we seek.
Simply breathing so relieving,
smiling to each face we meet.
We can’t restore what came before this
Allow what is now to be
Residents of the present tense
Discover the other is family”
“These layers upon layers upon layers that we build
around us confound us and down will they spill
when the wise and the true and the timeless in you
answers the calling and dances anew.
The minute is here the moment is clear
at home in unknown with nothing to fear.
When these worlds upon worlds that unfurl without end
come into existence and recede again.”
   The art of the back cover shows the stages of the spell laid out on the Tree of Life along the lightning-bolt path:
   The art of the front cover (rendered by Adelaide Marcus) contains the primary symbolic elements of the album’s concept:
    At the top, open hands of a magician conjure this talisman over a background of deep space. The underlying geometric framework echoes the Tree of Life from the back cover. The basic symbolism encapsulates the elements and the four tarot suits (the magical weapons: wands, cups, swords, disks) to represent the distillation of the droplet at the bottom. From the top at the diamond (symbolic of one-pointed clarity) crossed magic wands descend past a cauldron of fire. The central emanation is at once eye and yoni, the creative force of consciousness. From it grow flowers of plant medicine to the sides. Swords descend past water and a leaf (earth symbol), also representing the concentration of a plant tea. All elements are represented in this process of concentration: fire needs air to heat the combination of water and earth’s plants. From the lower point of the mandala, the droplet of Essence emerges, the culmination of the process caught in a chalice that sits on a disk. All this rests on the wings of a swan, symbolizing the goddess Saraswati. In the Hindi pantheon, Saraswati presides over music, knowledge, science, and learning. Her name means “one who leads to the essence of self knowledge.”