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CENSUS OF HALLUCINATIONS: NEARLY 30 YEARS OF STONE PREMONITIONS, MAGICAL VIBRATIONS

Time flies, said the man who threw the clock out of the window…

 

Please, if there is one thing you read today let it be this. My most recent conversation with TIM JONES has been a life-affirming experience. It is a no holds barred conversation about the critical state of the world, and what a difference music can make. Also, please join in the conversation by leaving some comments. If you care about independent music and planet Earth and your place within it, it is in my opinion, the most essential reading in my 26 years, and counting, of writing and reviewing.



TIM JONES takes us through 30 years of magical vibrations:

 

The last time we spoke was in 2017. You explained to me that The Stone Premonitions label was created in 1994 by singer TERRI B, keyboard player STEVE ELLIS and your good self and that the idea was to create more of a musician's collective rather than a record label as such. Having been signed to record labels in the past, the idea was to put the creative rather than the commercial aspect first. The label started with a whole bunch of cassettes. I was honoured to select tracks for the label’s 10th anniversary compilation. Since that time the label’s output has increased to over 100 CD albums. I’d like to do a rather different sort of interview to previous ones in reflecting on the Stone Premonitions label through the prism of Census of Hallucinations releases.

 

I’d like to start with COH 1 which was, surprisingly enough, self-titled and released in 2000: the obvious songs to look at from this are two of your best known, ‘The Moon’ and ‘Orion’ which we put together for a Moon Orion Project with some eclectic covers of the songs. What can you tell us about the album and these two in particular?

 

“Census of Hallucinations” (2000):

 

Around that time, the main band that Terri-B and I were involved with was THE RABBIT'S HAT. The music that we played was very song based. We had lots of other more “out there” ideas going on that didn’t really fit the general approach of The Rabbit’s Hat. One day, Terri and I were looking through an A-Z book of esoteric stuff and Census Of Hallucinations jumped out of the page. We thought to ourselves, ah a new project called Census Of Hallucinations, that will be more experimental but not completely forgetting the song aspect. ‘The Moon’ and ‘Orion’ are connected.

When I was younger, many years ago, I always thought that things concerning the world were pretty awful at the time but that they would get better. The problem is that they never have. They have just got worse. Whilst witnessing the total moral collapse of the western world, the lyrics of both songs, ‘The Moon’ and ‘Orion’ look outwardly, realising that there is no future on this planet of ours, this beautiful planet Earth. Centuries of war and bloodshed have taught us nothing and it's a well-known adage that those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it. That's where we are right now, in this moment of time. This is not easy for me to say as I have a 19-year-old son. I am getting old now so it's not so relevant to me but it is to him and the world that he will inherit. “One small step for man, the moon, maybe we will have to move there soon…” The Moon Orion project was an excellent idea of yours Phil. You managed to involve so many excellent bands and musicians in the project to cover those two songs and it was a great honour for us to hear other people’s versions. At some point I am hoping to re-issue The Moon Orion project on Falling A Records. (That’s nice to hear – Phil).

 

Next up was “Opus 2” (2000) with a settled line-up of Steve Ellis, Dave Pipkin, Rabbit and Terri B on board. I see this has been reissued through Falling A - any particular reason to release this album in particular at this time: my selected track for comment is the longest one: “Spirit of the Cat”.

 

The association with my old friends at Falling A Records goes back a long way, all the way back to 1980 in fact. BARRY LAMB at Falling A has been re-issuing many of the Stone Premonitions albums in recent years and the plan is to release all of the Census Of Hallucinations albums consecutively, so after CoH 1, we already have Opus 2 out there through the various digital platforms. Next up will be “The Third Eye”, followed by “The Fourth Dimension” etcetera until all of the releases are covered. Of course, we work consistently on the music all of the time and there are many albums, EPs and singles of new output already available through fallingarecords.com. Stone Premonitions is not a record label. It is literally a production house, that is a house where we produce music and Falling A are the record company that releases it. I could no longer wear all of the hats involved with running a label and it is amazing to me how Barry Lamb keeps all of the plates spinning as it were. It has been a very fruitful relationship and the quest for me is to get all of the music out there. It has been like one long recording session for me since about 1976 and when a band goes into a studio and records their stuff, at the end of the sessions they obviously want to mix everything down. In effect, that is what we are doing now, completing the mix. I want to have all of the worthwhile material out there in the digital domain and CD before I pop me clogs!


Like the aforementioned songs ‘Orion’ and ‘The Moon’ on the first album, “Spirit of The Cat” on Opus 2 relates to the spiritual and esoteric aspects of life. There has to be another way. I like to believe that in the far distant past, the Magician that understood the world and humankind was benevolent and actually cared about the children of the Earth. Now however, the Magician is of course completely mad. The mad Magician that runs this planet knows no empathy or compassion, only pain and destruction. We are led to believe that our leaders, the politicians are just like us, they feel things just like we do, but they do not. (Agreed – Phil). If they did, we would not be in the terrible state of affairs that we are in on a worldwide scale. There are too many politicians these days and very few, if any statesmen. We must put our faith in the positive aspect of humanity and stop giving over our power to a bunch of greedy megalomaniacs and narcissists who care nothing for anything but their own enrichment.

 

“The 3rd Eye” (2001): There was some sax on there as well as I recall and the obvious thing to ask you about is the title which is indicative of the spiritual and mystical side of the writing and “The Selfishness of the Thatcher Years” which I found refreshing, as too few artists are keen to express political opinions, even after Brexit when musicians were badly affected.

 

We have a lot of fake Nationalism going on which is basically rooted in racism. The rot set in under Thatcher’s regime and the decimation of communities in the United Kingdom. I spent some years of my life living in the North East of England just after the pit closures. I remember the after effect of the crushing of the miners and the closure of the steel works in Consett, the effect it all had and the poverty. I have always been poor, but not as poor as I was in that era. People are afraid of anything that is different from them. That fear breeds a kind of hatred that we don't seem to be able to eradicate from society. People are poorly educated by design. An educated population is very difficult to control. The media plays a big part of course and the 24/7 news head lies, the propaganda, fierce and reckless, and once again, by design. For me, music has always been a kind of therapy and a platform to say what I want to say. People may completely disagree with my points of view, but I will fight for the right to express my opinions. If people can't say what they feel about things, then how do you know how they really feel so that you can try to understand them? How can problems be solved? Surely, it's better to have everything out in the open and revealed in the light of truth. I think I said this once to you before Phil, but Gandhi once said, you may be in a minority of one but the truth is still the truth. Another old adage I like, an eye for an eye just makes the whole world blind, and make no mistake about it, we stand on that precipice, right now, with fools and charlatans making all of the decisions for us. Why? Because we won't take responsibility for ourselves and freely hand it over to them, the powers that be. (I couldn’t agree more – Phil)

 

“The 4th Dimension” (2001): The particular track I wanted to discuss was “Carry An Attractive Crystal Door Knob Around With You”, a title which always makes me smile and think of Gong: what would you say your main influences were at this stage?

 

Funnily enough, my old friend JOHN SIMMS from CLEAR BLUE SKY mentioned that track to me recently. There’s no such thing as coincidence! (I agree again – Phil). Humour has always been an important component to Census of Hallucinations music. It was Terri’s idea to use that title after seeing a guy throwing a crystal door knob out of his car window while driving along and wondering why. The possibilities are endless. I love GONG. I’ve seen them twice this year with my son and my brother. Kavus and crew are just tremendous. I think that the Divided Alien himself, the late great Daevid Allen made an extremely wise choice in choosing them to carry on the Gong legacy. The atmosphere that the current Gong lineup creates, alongside the superb new material is second to none, and I was actually beginning to think that they don’t make frontmen in bands like they used to, until Kavus came along. He exudes warmth and had the audience in the palm of his hand at both of the gigs I saw. Census of Hallucinations are the sum of its influences in effect and there are so many. The idea is to mix them all up together and come up with something unique and original hopefully. At the time, between me and Terri-B, we were listening to everything really, including the kitchen sink which incidentally was to feature on the later CoH album “Sixth Sense ''.  

 

“Census of Hallucinations 5” (2002): Disappointment with the ruling classes still figure prominently and there are a few biting songs in there including ‘Ignorance Insane’: do you see writing as a good way of working out anger and frustration?

 

As I was saying earlier, music is therapy. Also, from my point of view, I was never any good at anything else. Music entered my life just at the right time to save me from certain oblivion. I never looked back. Music gave me a reason and inspired confidence in myself. I am still absolutely thrilled when someone likes our music. If you can just get through to one person on a song, it’s worth it and always rewarding. One of my oldest friends, Mark from The Bringers Of Change recently remarked that we are musicians, we view from the sidelines. In fact, his new album is aptly entitled “View From The Cheap Seats”. (and MARK DUNN is on top form, as reviewed on this website - Phil). We can only comment on things and hope that it gets through to people. I think that often these days we can feel so helpless and unable to change situations or help people who are suffering from constant war and oppression, poverty and homelessness, depression, or just coping with every-day life whilst most become inured to such things. Census of Hallucinations enables us to express our feelings and to at least try to get a message to people about the state of things. Humour and cynicism are great ways to get a message across to people. So, I would say that creating music is indeed a good way of working out anger and frustration. Screaming into a microphone is an excellent way of taking the pressure off. It's good mentally and physically. Of course, making a connection with people is the most important thing. If people get what you're doing and understand where you're coming from, it makes it all seem worthwhile. Working with many other musicians over the years has been so rewarding. I have met so many wonderful characters that have inspired me in so many ways. Stone Premonitions has always been a collective of musicians and Census of Hallucinations has always had a fluid lineup.

 

“6th Sense” (2002): ‘Opening the Trapdoor to Outer Space’ caught my eyes and ears: ‘The Moon’ and ‘Orion’ were early indicators of an interest in all things astronomical (perhaps astrological as well?) 

 

It was another old friend of mine, PADDI, who came up with the original idea for “Opening the Trapdoor To Outer Space”. He created a truly atmospheric and evocative backdrop for the rest of us to work with. “Sixth Sense '' is very much an experimental album and we worked very closely with yet another old friend DAVE PIPKIN on that album. We mic'd up everything in the vicinity and created lots of sounds from natural objects. The fridge is even on it. Two other old friends, MARTIN HOLDER and RAPOON, are featured on that album too. It’s a mixture of Musique Concrete and Rock Music. It’s important to think outside of the box and astronomy and astrology are both within our remit. Incidentally, my uncle on my mother’s side of the family was a brilliant astronomer and was a professor at Strathclyde University. I learnt a lot from him. (Now that I didn’t know! – Phil)      

 

“Seventh Heaven” (2002): This contained one of your best songs if I may say so in ‘Hard World’; a necessary protest about monetarist economics which, sadly, has ruled this country for over 40 years now.

 

It's funny you should mention that and as I said before, there's no such thing as coincidence. I was going to mention the song ‘Hard World’ in one of your previous questions. In a nutshell, it’s a hard world and you have to be hard like everyone else. That's where we're at in this partial, virtual, two-dimensional world. It's like the denseness has truly set in and we’re stuck in the mud of some lower existence that is just about survival and fear. The powers that be make it essential that we are devoid of any idea of aspiration. There is no future for you! They are taking us back to the Stone Age where they get to be the Sabre-tooth tigers while we all cower in our caves. All that they offer is delusion. They let us out for brief spells in the sun whilst we absorb the nanoparticles in the very air we breathe. It would be far better for them if we were just machines, obedient, cold-hearted robots serving the agenda and rewriting history in any way they see fit. They feel at home with that concept. That’s what our new single “The Nonsense Machine” is about or at least the will to fight back. (I look forward to listening!)

 

“The Eighth Dwarf” (2002): Probably my favourite title, but what would you call him? ‘Weapons of Mass Deception’ is the song I’d like to discuss. Getting caught up in strikes against Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, no matter the political persuasions, going in then bailing out having achieved nothing; it seems to me that Britain still acts like it still ruled the world like in the scurrilous days of the Empire, flying now on the US’s coat-tails – do you agree?

 

Britannia waives the rules! I would call the eighth dwarf Hadron The Collider, the Viking dwarf. There's a 12-year old Canadian kid who is a recognised expert in Quantum Physics who thinks that the Hadron Collider at Cern in Europe (where they are desperately searching for the God particle) accidentally destroyed the dimension we were in and jumped to the next one on the cosmic dial. It's nearly the same but not quite. The more I think about things, the more I'm inclined to believe him. It's like when they're trying to get rid of all of the old people, so that they can rewrite the narrative. You can't rewrite the narrative if people are old enough to have witnessed and remember what happened. It's important to keep people away from books, especially history books. Keep them online and edited or best of all burn them, and don't have them at all. Take “Fahrenheit 451” by RAY BRADBURY: the firemen don't put out fires anymore, they start them, in order to rid the world of the written word. Of course, the main thing they need are weapons and lots of them. Endless wars keep the ball rolling, making the world go round for the purveyors of death. Keeping economies buoyant, making the world spin, faster and faster on the rollercoaster to oblivion. In all conflicts, always finance both sides, so that you can't possibly lose. The war pigs are rolling it in, more wars mean more money. Human organs become commodities to be bought and sold like human slavery, alive and well in the 21st century. Let's face it, human life means nothing. Death and carnage are just something that we watch on TV or the Internet, messing about with your psyche. Like I say, for me it all started with Thatcher, in the land where there is no society, no community. She got her wish. I agree with your sentiments entirely Phil. The truth is the opposite of everything they tell us is the truth. That's what the devil does, he inverts the truth. That's what the whore of Babylon does, she deceives. Her and the devil are in charge and you better believe it! The final death throes of the latest Roman Empire in the west are there for all to see as we thrash about in an Orgy of destruction. In my opinion, we are doomed like the Titanic and the iceberg is our complete hypocrisy. 

 

 “Nine Lives” (2004): I picked up on ‘My God It’s Full of Stars’, which in my review said, followed an intriguing “Sunshine of Your Love” inflected guitar riff entitled “The Glodblug” (which also became the title of your ambient spacey cassette collection). I note “My God It’s Full of Stars” has been returned to – what was the inspiration behind this? Also, there’s a reference to cats again!

 

As everyone should know by now, cats have nine lives, so it was important to have a picture of our beautiful Persian cat called Magic on the cover. It was very appropriate for our ninth album. As far as I’m concerned, any association with the legendary band CREAM is fine by me. I was very inspired by bands like Cream and THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE when I was a kid. Jimi’s ‘Voodoo Chile’ single with ‘Hey Joe’ and ‘All Along The Watchtower 'was the record that influenced me most. I played that single to death and thanks to my son, have an original copy on my wall! The “Nine Lives album featured John Simms prominently on guitar. He did a superb job. Once again, there are plans to reissue the Glodblug album next year on Falling A. There are actually three versions of ‘My God, It’s Full of Stars’. The version on “Nine Lives” differs from the other two in that it has the addition of saxophone and is without drums. Both Martin Holder and John Simms have featured on the other two versions of the instrumentals, playing alongside myself. It has been a joy to play with these two guitar legends. They have been around since the early days and they are both true originals. John’s current band is called LIGHT TRAILS but of course he was the founder of legendary Vertigo band CLEAR BLUE SKY. Their album on Vertigo featured the first Roger Dean cover. The Clear Blue Sky album came out around the same time as Black Sabbath’s first album, both so influential. Martin played in JON STEVENS AWAY (a very impressive Jazz-based outfit- Phil). He performed alternate Friday night’s with ALLAN HOLDSWORTH at a pub called The Plough in London. He was also in JAH WOBBLE’s band amongst many others.  

 

“Ten” (2006): Acerbic socio-political commentary is never far from the C of H radar which is why I’ve chosen ‘Made in England’ – it was the melody that really hooked me in. I’ll indulge myself and ask you about another one, ‘Secrets of the Alchemists’.

 

“Secrets of the alchemists, truth that you call mystery.” Like MICHAEL JACKSON said, those that shall remain nameless, suffice to say those that run this planet do not care about us. Now, not being backward against coming forward here, I would say that Michael must have seen some stuff at that level of “stardom”. Shortly before he died, he said in a speech that he was worth 80 billion dollars to his record company. The “Conspiracy Theory” is that the choreography for Michael Jackson’s last tour before he died, was going to expose the “Illuminati”. Hahaha, I can’t help but laugh when that word comes up. Makes it all sound like a good larf, dunnit! Daft I call it! It’s beyond daft, beyond “mental”. It’s serious as hell for hell is what we are manifesting here in our complicity to war crimes through our silence. The “normalization” of state murder was Hitler’s pièce de résistance and I say again, those that do not learn from history are destined to repeat it. The war was never over, it just went on and on as the shifting sands of power scour the globe for new targets, new “opportunities”. As regards ‘Made In England’, what does England make? What industry does England have? Hey man, we do a good trade in weapons. Now me old san, what can I get ya? The spivs make a profit out of death, like some virtual ghoul in a computer game. Then again, some believe that what we are experiencing is all a “simulation”, we are in a hologram. It’s all down to the quantum realm where things that were once deemed preposterous are actually true. Who knows, the world could be flat, how would I know? The guitar riff on ‘Made In England’ goes back to the band NEON that I was in during the New Wave era. It was always a “catchy” riff. Don’t ya just love guitar riffs!

 

These first 10 albums were reissued by Stone Island I believe. Where can readers listen to and buy your music?

 

Thank you for taking the time to do this interview Phil. I sincerely appreciate your encouragement and support over many years now. The Stone Island reissues were beautifully redesigned by OHEAD, aka Dave Henry and they are as rare as hen’s teeth now. For all current information about all things Census Of Hallucinations and Stone Premonitions, please go to: fallingarecords.com The in depth Stone Premonitions online scrapbook courtesy of my dear friend JERRY KRANITZ can be found here: aural-innovations.com/stonepremonitions

 

A final comment: Census of Hallucinations music is very eclectic, shifting with ease from folk to blues to electronic to psychedelic, space and progressive rock to ambient, and even jazz funk. All music fans will find plenty to enjoy – and to challenge!

 

Finally, for now, on a personal note, Tim and I both spent some time in Dundee (in my case I lived there for 35 years) and, amazingly, were at the same GROUNDHOGS/ EGG gig. I absolutely agree with Tim that there is no such thing as coincidence. If you meditate you will discover recurring patterns that defy all reasonable odds, and when you sleep, a lot of things are revealed to you. The problem is that most people nowadays sleepwalk all the time, keeping their heads down substituting materialism for spiritualism, totally indoctrinated by mass media lies of omission as well as commission.


But, seekers of the truth, and those who only state an opinion when they actually have facts to back it up (only for others to shake their heads at them and tell them they are wrong without explaining why) are out there, and I am fortunate, in this respect, to know Tim and the Stone Premonitions family. It returns me to the path of sanity when I think I am going mad.

The dismantling of any kind of working democracy saddens me. What also saddens me is the kind of newspapers, TV shows and books people read and watch.


People are not as well read or well educated as they used to be. I know that from my experiences at Dundee University and my son’s more recently. Luckily, I have been there to help him develop an analytical and critical mind.


Finally, Tim’s reference to Jimi Hendrix made me laugh. There used to be so many record shops when I was growing up.  There was big Rab Adams at the bottom of Commercial Street (on the corner, now a tattoo shop) with his ‘bargain box’ with Harvest and Vertigo records worth a small fortune now, probably including CLEAR BLUE SKY’s criminally underrated LP. Then there was a shop up the Hilltown where we used to go in and ask the guy to play the latest JIMI HENDRIX records (Of course, I walked out with ‘Voodoo Chile’!) This was also the place I first heard AMON DUUL 11’s “Yeti” – I think we managed to clear the shop that day.


There is much more I could say, but I will stop there.


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