Thursday, December 18, 2014


Freestyle dance music commissioned by Chandrabhanu (Bharatam Dance Company, Melbourne) in late 1992; world premiere in January 1993 @ PJ Civic Center. 

Composed, performed & produced by Antares & Friends 

Minah Angong (vocals); Sunetra Fernando (vocals, rebab & percussion); Rafique Rashid (sequencing, percussion, vocal effects, engineering & mixing); Tim Bremser (12-string guitar, drum programming, percussion, vocal effects & mixing); Antares (shepherd's flute, Balinese flutes, synthesizer, didgeridoo, percussion & vocal effects) 

Digitally remastered in September 2012 by Thomas Smorek

As the title suggests, this choreographic work attempts to chronicle the loss of innocence every individual and every community experiences when the spurious concept of "progress" encroaches and transforms the land into an eco-systemic and psycho-emotional hell. From Dreamtime to Machinetime; thence a period of spiritual confusion and intense questing, followed at last by not so much a return to an imaginary pristine past - but a reconciliation with present reality, wherein ancient and modern realities begin to ecstatically fuse, thereby generating a fresh creation.

Sometime towards the end of 1992 I was contacted by celebrated dancer-choreographer Ramli Ibrahim (founder & artistic director of Sutra Foundation) who asked if I was keen to take on a commission to produce 30 minutes of music for Chandrabhanu, a Melbourne-based master of the Bharatanatyam.

Of course I said yes and soon a meeting with Chandrabhanu was set up. He had in mind a freestyle contemporary choreographic work titled Birthplace Reclaimed which he wished to premiere at a dance festival hosted by Sutra at the PJ Civic Center in early 1993.

I immediately got to work on the music, visualizing a circle and 4 cardinal points - an ancient symbol for Mother Earth. 

As Chandrabhanu had only a limited budget, I was unable to rent a professional studio for the task. So I recruited Rafique Rashid as a musical conspirator and sound engineer. He was living in Kuala Kubu Bharu at the time in a shophouse and had a workable 4-track home studio  at his disposable. He called it Batorvilla Studio (inspired by Ulan Bator, the Mongolian capital after which he had named his comic-book alter ego).

At the time we had Tim Bremser - an Enochian magickian, visual artist & musician from Winnipeg, Canada - living at Magick River. Tim owned a 12-string guitar & a TEAC 4-track mixer-recorder which could be tandemed with Rafique's Akai 4-track. Sunetra Fernando, taking a break from her ethnomusicological research in gamelan, showed up one day & was promptly recruited.

Perlis-born Chandrabhanu arrived in Melbourne in 1971 to study social anthropology.

Minah Angong at the Sarawak Rainforest World Music 
Festival in August 1998
To explain what I had in mind, I drew a chart dividing the music into four movements: the first movement (Dreamtime) would depict an idyllic, edenic way of life, interrupted by the advent of industrialization (Machinetime, second movement). 

The third movement (Spacetime) would represent a period of confusion born of the conflict between inner and outer realities. Finally, a reconciliation of past and future, a fusion of tradition and innovation, paving the way for us to reclaim our birthplace.

Rafique and I had already experimented with dropping Minah Angong's cold voice on top of an instrumental work-in-progress. The result exceeded all expectations and augured the beginning of a rewarding musical collaboration called Akar Umbi.

A ceremonial singer from the indigenous Temuan tribe, Minah Angong had been taught the song "Burung Meniyun" by her late husband, the headman of Gerachi Village. It felt so right that we should incorporate the indigenous soul into Birthplace Reclaimed.

We had to record at night because Batorvilla Studio wasn't soundproofed. The traffic noise was too intrusive during the daylight hours. Sunetra was learning to play the rebab, a two-stringed violin introduced to Southeast Asia by the Arabs. It sounded great passed through a guitar effects box. Getting the mix right was crazy work, with both Rafique and Tim handling the crossfades and controlling levels with both hands on two different 4-track decks.

When Chandrabhanu heard the fruits of our nocturnal labors, he instantly liked it. Then he asked if Minah Angong would be able to sing "Burung Meniyun" live on stage. She had never performed on any stage, as far as I knew, but we decided to give it a go. Rafique would produce two versions of the music - one with Minah's voice mixed in; the other without, so it could be used as a minus-one for her live vocal. We took Minah to the technical rehearsal and put her to the test. She passed with flying colors (after a false start owing to nervousness) and wowed the packed hall on opening night.

Minah Angong with Antares & Chandrabanu (costumed as a shaman).


From a talk by Antares at the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, 18 October 1992

I HAVE TEN MINUTES so let's dispense with formality. Now why am I standing here talking to you today? Who on earth am I anyway? Well, I'll tell you: I'm an essential part of you. I breathe the air you breathe. I'm connected to every living cell on this small planet. I've got billions of names (scientific as well as unscientific ones) but the one I'm using right now is Antares.

I've been around the Sun more than five dozen times. But my genetic memories go all the way back to what scientists call the Big Bang. What do I do? That's a very good question. Well, I breathe and eat and shit and move about like everybody else. But mostly I just think and dream and feel. And I'm amazed and amused by this phenomenon called Life.

Once in a while I get terribly depressed. Then I get angry and scold a few people and I feel all right again. In short, I'm not a specialist. I can see the woods as well as the trees.

Trees! You were probably wondering when I'd get round to talking about our rainforests. In a minute I'll mention them. But first let me finish telling you why I'm standing up here talking to you today.

I lived in Kuala Lumpur for 22 years, in the Ampang area. When I first moved there in 1970 the street in front of my house was so quiet I could rollerskate on it. Now it's lined with 26-storey condos and jammed with cars. So I decided to move to the hills, to a place called Magick River. Everywhere you look all you see is beauty.

Occasionally I go back to KL and when I happen to catch the 11 o'clock news on TV - I can't believe all that stuff is happening in the same Universe. War, famine, hurricanes, plane crashes, stockmarket crashes, oil spills, earthquakes, floods, massacres... there's been a lot of speculation about the Millennium, about the End of the World, the End of History.

Don't worry, it means a new cycle is starting. It's really up to us to shape it. How do we do that? With our thoughts, with our deeds, with our willingness to help in the healing process. But ultimately our Vision has to be centered in the heart - not just in the head. We have to think beyond national boundaries. Earth is one world. Our vision must become whole, holistic, holy - which means we must experience being part of the Whole. We can't depend on slogans, no matter how clever they sound.

But before anything constructive can be done, we need to overcome our own fears. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of change, fear of routine, fear of loss, fear of death, fear of trusting our own inner authority.

Okay, time to talk about trees. A few miles up and down the road from where I live you can see logging trails winding deep into the hills. Magnificent jungle giants being cut down and taken out to be turned into chopsticks for the Japanese. Why don't they learn to eat with their fingers like civilized people?

Now these concessions are adjacent to areas designated as Permanent Forest Reserves. It's a water catchment area, for heaven's sake. No wonder all the once-crystalline rivers now turn into kopi susu tarik (Malaysian capuccino) everytime it rains heavily.

One afternoon many years ago I rode my motorbike up a dirt track and found myself in a deserted logging camp. There was a huge pile of logs lying lifelessly about. Something snapped in my head. I saw it all so clearly: a few businessmen and politicians getting obscenely rich by plundering our rainforests - heedless of the catastrophic consequences to everyone else.

Toothpick factories where shady 300-year-old trees once stood. Assembly-line houses, condos and shopping malls sprouting everywhere. Sterile wastelands they call industrial parks. Sheer ugliness obliterating anything natural, anything truly beautiful. Dishonesty and greed and hardnosed cynicism in every boardroom of every corporation big enough to make a dent in reality. All of this came to a sudden focus in one astounding revelation.

These Umnoputra and Umnoputri with their logging concessions... why on earth are they so anxious to destroy a major watershed? To make big bucks of course and for what? To buy a big house and a couple of Porsches and a SUV with a mobile phone or two and then on weekends they can roar through the jungle armed with shotguns so they can shoot down a few wild mangos. I swear this actually happened in front of my house.

And their kids with baseball caps on their heads and Nikes on their feet... why, they just wanna be all-American Malaysians. That's what they grew up absorbing in front of their TV sets. And the most incredible thing is... these people form the ruling class. Good heavens, the world is in the wrong hands!

I'm not just talking about this country. I mean the whole goddamn world is in the wrong hands. It's in the hands of individuals who stubbornly insist that MIGHT IS RIGHT. And why shouldn't they. They're VERY POWERFUL PEOPLE. Or so they've managed to make a lot of us believe. Now how did it happen? How did our planet fall into the wrong hands? I think I know how it happened but I have only ten minutes, so you'll have to fill in a lot of blanks. I can only give you the barest outline of the story, so please pay close attention.

ONCE UPON A TIME (or perhaps an Eternity) the only One who owned anything at all was that entity some of us call God or Wakan Tanka or Great Spirit. Only problem was, there was NOTHING to own since the Supreme Being existed solely in Its Own Imagination. Never underestimate the power of the Imagination.

Anyway at some unimaginable point the Wholly One became aware of Itself. That's when the Big Bang is supposed to have occurred. I say "supposed" because there wasn't any BANG as such. It was more like the Entire Universe waking up and realizing... Hey! I AM!

And so it began to breathe: out, in, out, in, out... expansion and contraction... centrifugal and centripetal force... now where these two Forces overlapped MATTER condensed out of SPIRIT. Are you still with me? Good. Let's fast forward...

Now in one of these pockets of Matter our solar system exists. Counting from the Sun, the third planet is this "bluegreen pearl" we call Earth. Don't ask me for details. There's a Mystery yet to be solved. Let's say that at some point in Earth's early evolution the planet had to be quarantined from the rest of the Universe. Which meant NO DIRECT ACCESS TO THE HIERARCHY OF EXECUTIVE AUTHORITY EMANATING FROM THE SUPREME BEING.

Instead we were saddled with a few penghulus: local representatives known as Kings and Queens. Originally all Royalty was appointed by Divine Decree ("You over there with the spectacles; you'll be the Class Monitor.") The tribe would then anoint the chosen candidate for rulership (and from this comes the word charisma, from the Greek chrisma meaning "sacred oil.") So the word REAL as in REALITY or REALM means ROYAL - APPOINTED BY GOD.

Real Estate should read ROYAL ESTATE: property managed by the earthly representatives of the Supreme Being. No one is allowed to buy or sell or muck around with it without the authorization of a Rightful Monarch.

Sound idea but who's a Rightful Monarch? It's been a hell of a long time since the "Sons of God" came over and mixed their genes with the local primates. These days it gets harder and harder to tell just who was Born for Glory and who's still a Baboon (don't you be fooled by their bow-ties and silk shirts).

I just wanted to let you have the Big Picture. So we can talk about Management Policies on this planet: who has the authority to define the sort of activity that goes on here? Kings and Queens and their Legal Representatives, right? But what do we do when, for example, we find ourselves stuck with a syphilitic braindead ruler whose legal reps are more inclined towards ILLEGAL DEALS? How can we check and balance things?

Well, we could leave it to the Law of Karma, to Divine Justice... in other words, we could leave it to Nature. After all, no matter what we do to this planet she can't die. Sure, she could turn really mean and ugly and unfit for human habitation - but that doesn't mean the planet's dead. That only means WE are dead. Unless we mutate into ninja cockroaches or intelligent poison bogs.

Hey, don't worry, be happy - the Earth will go on spinning quite merrily round the Sun for another 15 million years or so... until the Sun decides to go on vacation or transforms into Something Altogether Different. (Is my ten minutes up?) See... the Earth is quite safe, she's absolutely fine, no worries. However, we do need to consider what's going to become of the human race.

I think the only way we can determine how we - collectively, as a species - would like this priceless piece of prime property called Earth to look is to make sure she's in the right hands. Any volunteers for the job? Come on, don't be bashful. Just hold up your hand, like this...

Congratulations, you've got the job! One of the first things you'll have to do when you take over the day-to-day management of Spaceship Earth is to make sure that people like Chief Ministers and their family members aren't permitted anywhere near a forest with their chainsaws and bulldozers. No one must be allowed to tamper with the ecosystem who doesn't have an inborn sensitivity to its secret life.

There's no such thing as a "thing." It's all energy transforming itself infinitely in a sacred dance we're intimately part of. So how can we describe a field of paddy, fruit-bearing trees, chickens, bamboo groves, fish, mineral-rich mountains, ducks, sheep, wild berries, clear streams, sugarcane, all forms of life support spun out of sunlight, as "commodities and resources"? It's as crass as calling your beloved a meatball.

What's in a name? Well, call someone "enemy" and you can kill him. Call him "friend" and you can love. If we knew the trees in our area each by name, would we turn them into furniture without at least a prayer of thanks?

Times are changing fast. We are the caretakers of Earth. Let's not muck around simply because we don't expect a surprise visit from the Supreme Being, the one and only original owner of everything. Even if you don't believe in stuff like this, do it for yourself, do it for your grandchildren.

And speaking of wrong hands and right hands, what's wrong today can become right tomorrow and vice versa. So we absolutely need to have Cosmic Accounting and Accountability on all levels, public and private.

Secrecy is evil. Why hide the skeletons in your closet? Everybody's got one or two. Open the doors, let in some fresh air and some truth.

Cosmic Accounting requires an appreciation of the largest possible context in which we are conducting our daily affairs. We have to look up from our notebooks and feel the breeze from time to time. Cosmic Accountability demands something called Freedom of Information - or at least an independent press. (I know our irascible friend Dr M once boasted that Malaysia has the freest press in the world. Good sense of humor, Doc. I know how you detest folks like me. You call us "anti-development" and "anti-progress" - even "anti-government" and "anti-national." You got it wrong, Doc. We're only anti-YOU! :-)

Seriously though, folks like me - and all green souls gathered here to celebrate our greenery - are just Nature's way of jamming on the brakes. So we won't hurtle over the cliffs of relentless development like a herd of swine possessed by demons of ruthless ambition and greed. There's a time for Action and a time for Quiet Contemplation. But Contemplation must take precedence. Otherwise our actions will lead us all to a hell of our own making.

Finally - and this is the most vital thought I want to share with you - remember the Environment begins with your own physical being. Your body is the first definition of Environment. Then it extends to your home, your bioregion, your planet, your solar system, and so on. Take care of it and be aware.

Be aware of your own Infinite Potential. You may be only ONE individual. But then so is GOD. Don't forget we all came from the Big Bang. And I hope we're all heading for the BIG BANK where we shall claim our divine genetic inheritance which has been accruing interest since 20 Billion BCE or so.

Then we'll ALL be fabulously rich, rich beyond our wildest fantasies... and we won't have to go round chopping down lovely old trees to sell as toothpicks and chopsticks.

Thank you.

Antares © 1992, 2014

[First posted 11 September 2008]

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Abrahamic Agenda (revisited)

Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son to appease Yahweh.

I have pondered long on the history of the Abrahamic Agenda on Earth.... how one human being implanted with receptors to receive commands from a different dimension was able to spawn three major belief systems that have had such contradictory consequences (inspiring both great art and miracles as well as endless conflict, ecocide and genocide).

In the 15th Century CE, the Roman Catholic Church was at its most hideous and malignant - actively ferreting out "deviants" and "heretics" and arraigning them before the bloodthirsty Inquisition (actually an ancient cabal of "priests" who were secret practitioners of human sacrifice and energy vampirism). The cruelest tortures were inflicted on those whose property was coveted by these perverse agents of the Roman Church - and after a mock trial, hundreds of thousands (if not millions) were burnt at the stake, drowned as witches, or left to rot in foul dungeons.

Well, ironically, the current era happens to be Islam's 15th Century... and we witness the same bunch of power-hungry fiends preying on humanity by pretending piety. Today, the pervert priesthood is mostly found in decadent regimes like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Malaysia and whether they call themselves ulama, ustaz or ayatollah, they seem addicted to the psychological stranglehold they wield over unquestioning believers.

Like their Roman Catholic predecessors and counterparts, these psychic predators trade mainly in fear (of hell) and guilt (usually sexual). I'm sure the majority of so-called Christians were decent human beings capable of reason and common sense - and yet, why were they afraid to speak out against the diabolical Inquisition? Why did they not revolt against the clergy? Simply because the clergy had convinced the masses that they (the priestly caste) represented God's Will on Earth - that's what is claimed by the Pope, hence the regality and splendor of his professional raments.

The same applies to the so-called Muslims in Malaysia. I have absolutely no doubt that the vast majority of Malaysian Muslims are completely reasonable and even compassionate human beings - yet why do they keep quiet and allow a few self-appointed "religious" fanatics to inflict the cruelest, most barbaric forms of punishment and mind-control on the ummah?

Ultimately, these issues have little to do with spiritual experience or religious practice - they are essentially political black ops designed to keep the masses constantly in a state of anxiety, self-doubt and moral cowardice. Imagine if a cabal of ulama were to decree that anyone caught masturbating would have his or her genitals surgically removed - would the ordinary mosque-going Muslim burst out in whoops of uncontrollable laughter and tell these crazy ulama to get a life or eff off? Or would they react by keeping a deadly silence and lowering their eyes, hoping nobody would single them out for questioning?

Meanwhile, truly outrageous crimes committed by the ruling elite pass unchallenged, uninvestigated and unprosecuted...

This is precisely the strategy UMNO is using in their desperate attempts to thwart Anwar Ibrahim's political destiny. Little do they realize, in so doing, they are only strengthening Anwar's mythic status as a folk hero - in the tradition of erstwhile messianic figures like Moses, Yeshua (Jesus) and Muhammad!

I have no vested interest in any particular belief system - whatever resonates within my cellular consciousness as "true" I will accept as inner guidance, inner teaching (intuition)... and having observed the power of semantics and semiotics on the mass psyche, I can only conclude that all humanity would be far more integrated and harmonious were it not for the divisive effect of religious dogma.

[First posted 15 October 2011]

Thursday, December 4, 2014


I wasn't going to do any blogging today (just plowing through all the shit on the news portals exhausts me) but I was so chuffed with Dean Johns's well-considered piece in Malaysiakini, I simply had to clone it for the Magick River blog as a special tribute to an inspired humorist I'd like to meet one day. Dean Johns is definitely among my favorite columnists after Steve Bhaerman aka Swami Beyondananda and the late Art Buchwald.

Winning the human race
Dean Johns | Aug 13, 08 1:01pm | Malaysiakini

It seems ridiculous to me that, as members of the species that calls itself Homo sapiens, we’re not wise enough to realise that it’s enough of a struggle to survive the one short lifetime we’re individually allotted without wasting our energies striving for superiority over each other.

But it’s hardly surprising, I suppose, that our intellects still have so far to go in achieving ascendancy over our instincts. After all, it’s only a relatively few thousand years since our cortexes enabled us to transcend nature’s tooth-and-claw law of the survival of the fittest.

So, as ‘civilised’ as we fancy ourselves to be, and as aware that co-operation makes more sense than competition, it’s no wonder that primitive emotions still prevail over reason in our relationships with our fellow humans.

Not that we haven’t made a great deal of progress. Most of us are committed, at least in principle, to caring for the less physically, mentally and financially fit among us. Many of us believe passionately in equal rights and opportunity for all.

'Annunciation' by Mati Klarwein (1961)

We fight for the rights of our weak or victimised brothers and sisters, fund charities to go to their aid, beg the UN to protect them with sanctions and peace-keepers and even, as a final resort, fight wars on their behalf.

But many of us are also, it seems, still our neighbours’ worst enemies. We are driven to squander our own and everyone else’s time and energies in fatuous and ultimately futile attempts to show that we’re the biggest, baddest, fastest, strongest, meanest, richest, luckiest, sexiest, holiest or somehow the most superior people on the planet.

Not that I’m against striving for excellence, just as long as we keep a sense of proportion and stop short of pathological displays of domination and triumphalism.

The Olympic Games are a classic case in point. Purportedly a celebration of fraternity through sportsmanship, they've been subverted in the century of their modern existence into a sort of symbolic four-yearly world war.

Qualities like sportsmanship, grace and courage still survive, thanks to the indomitable spirit of many of the athletes, but such values are increasingly replaced by hysterical official and media expressions of ‘patriotism’ in which nothing counts but medal tallies.

As debased, commercialised and ridiculously expensive as it is, however, the ritual warfare of the Olympics is of course vastly preferable to the real thing. Communist China’s drive to demonstrate its superiority over the US – or vice versa – beats the heck out of staging the contest with nuclear weapons.

But warfare persists nonetheless. In Darfur, for example, where China supports the Sudanese government with arms and munitions, while the US fights on in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And no sooner had the Olympics started than US and NATO ally Georgia up and invaded South Ossetia, provoking Russia into a massive counter-strike.

Judicial gymnastics and synchronised spinning

Meanwhile, the usual suspects elsewhere are up to their customary fun and games. The Generals in Burma are still sporting the medals they’ve awarded themselves for their defeat of democracy, Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party are still claiming victory in Zimbabwe, and Barisan Nasional continues to treat Malaysia to world-class performances in judicial gymnastics and synchronised spinning.

Skullduggery will be in vain sooner or later, of course, as history shows that nobody wins the human race forever, or even leads it for long.

History is nothing if not a long, long litany of ‘winners’ who once dominated the world, at least as they knew it, and today are nothing but losers or even almost lost to memory.

Whatever became of, to name just a few in no particular order, to the Etruscans, Spartans, Macedonians, Romans, Hittites, Huns, Mongols, Vikings, Aztecs and Incas?

Whatever became of the British, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires, or the Greater Asian co-prosperity sphere, or the thousand-year Reich or the USSR?

We all originated in Africa, or so science confidently informs us. Africans and people of African descent are still winning the human race in a great many sports, from distance-running to basketball. And the world’s top golfer, Tiger Woods, an American Afro-Asian.

Asians are winning the human race in sheer numbers these days, and soon may be pre-eminent economically too if India and China sustain their current rates of growth.

Of course who’s winning the human race right at this moment depends entirely on your point-of-view.

In my book it’s the Scandinavian nations for their combination of prosperity, social consciousness, environmentalism and good governance. And for some of the same reasons, I rate Canada and New Zealand right up there too.

The US is bigger, richer, more populous and has a far more powerful militarily than any of the above. However, it is too arrogant and overbearing, in my opinion, for its own and the rest of the world’s good.

China is big and powerful too, and fast overtaking the US economically, but far too corrupt, unprincipled and undemocratic to be a credible contender for leading the human race anytime soon.

But in any event, the struggle for supremacy, be it military, political, economic, technological or athletic, is ultimately a losing proposition. Whatever tribes, sects, ethnic groups, parties or nationalities we’re born into or choose to join, we’re all in this human race together.

So the sooner we can relinquish our primitive urge to win at all costs, and rid ourselves of leaders who treat us like losers, the better off we’ll all be.

[First posted 13 August 2008]


we bow our heads in unison & listen

to benisons in latin as we

sit on satin cushions

in silence

with violent visions

of serpents & surplices &

sacred bullocks & cassocks & castration

casting lustral pearls

at lugubrious swine

that wallow in goodswill

on the dunghill of time

popping corn & copping porn

pages from hoary wisdom torn:






from the foulpit to the pulpit

of the chosen pew

we send forth solemn nostrums from the rostrum

to our beloved token jew




oh we think we know we see

whom & how & whatsoever we should be

for all is ultimately

part & parson of


(so help me)

wherefore this common porridge:

this grim & gruelling gravy

in which organisms sink or swim

suspended in acute & minute animation

doomed to drink & be drunk &

perchance be merry or to suffer

indigestion &/or




we bow our heads

over supper sipping soup

but does it really matter

if tablemanners are observed

or if slurping sounds delicious?

after all the tiny whiny citizens

aswoon or aswirl in their own dire mansions

in our soupy microcosm

are also busy bowing pious little heads

over teeny weeny bowls of

perfect beans...

And be it so.

Antares © 1969/1985


[First posted 24 March 2009]

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The sacred union of male & female expressed as tantric ballet

It's so uplifting just to watch this beautiful couple act out the immortal romance between Yang and Yin, Adam and Eve, Shakta and Shakti, Consciousness and Energy.

They are Vladyslav & Aiusha from Kiev and I honor them for their dedication to their magickal art of portraying the erotic impulse in its most sublime and inspiring form.

Ironic that such heavenly talent and beauty should have arisen from the Ukraine, where hell has broken loose in recent years. Never have I seen a more passionate and astoundingly acrobatic pas de deux performed to such ecstatic perfection.

[Thanks to Julia Reuter for sending me this video link!]