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Thursday, September 16, 2010

The music of Tool, psychadelic drugs produced by the human body, and near-death experiences....what?

This evening when I got back from work I sat down to listen to Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter," an epic-length, psychadelic song that tends to induce a sort of meditative calm in me every time I listen, at least for the first 5 or 6 minutes.  I then remembered that Tool had made a cover version of "No Quarter," and even though I had it in my library, I went to youtube to see if I could find a video.  Success! (Apologies for whatever idiot uploaded it misspelling Led Zeppelin):

It struck me that of all of Zeppelin's songs, "No Quarter" is perhaps the song most fit for a Tool cover.  Initially, I was not terribly impressed.  Of course the audio was crap, as is the case with most youtube videos.  The early vocals are heavily filtered, and are even more difficult to make out than Robert Plant's in the original.  Eventually it began to grow on me, however.  The last three or four minutes are pure excellence in music.

Alex Grey's "The Spirit Molecule"
Reading the comments as I listened, I caught a reference to DMT, a molecule that Alex Grey (the artist behind Tool's album covers and live show) refers to as "the spirit molecule."  Intrigued, I headed over to the Wikipedia page for DMT, which I found incredibly fascinating.  The article states that "(DMT) is found not only in many plants,[3] but also in trace amounts in the human body, where its natural function remains undetermined."  It is capable of inducing an intense hallucination lasting between 10 and 15 minutes.  It is classified as a Schedule 1 illegal substance in the US, reserved only for laboratory research.  And yet, it occurs in the human body?  What could its purpose possibly be?  Some researchers are speculating that DMT "may play a role in mediating the visual effects of natural dreaming, and also near-death experiences, religious visions and other mystical states."  Others speculate that it may be the key to the phenomenon known as Lucid Dreaming, where one is aware that they are dreaming and can manipulate the dream however they decide to.

I clicked through to the near-death experiences article, and found another intensely fascinating read.  Apparently there are 8 million people in the US that claim to have had a near-death experience, either being medically dead for a short period of time before revival, or very near to dying.  Incredibly, each of the accounts these survivors share of their experiences have common threads: seeing an intense white light, out-of-body experiences such as being able to look down upon medical staff treating them, a sense of peace, well-being,  hearing the most beautiful music they can imagine (probably Blind Guardian), and making a decision to return to their body. I just found the fact that these people had so many similar experiences very profound.  Is it a chemical reaction that occurs when the brain shuts down?  Is it the purpose of DMT?  Or is there really more going on in this life than we care to admit?  Whoa, shit just got real.

So, yeah, another typical Tool listening session turns into learning the most interesting shit I've learned in months.  I guess this hasn't been technically about metal, but listening to metal inspired me to learn something new and mind-opening.  How often does Ke$ha do that?

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