By: Ryan Burns
A few months ago, my father gave me a handful of records. Among them were various Indian chant albums, a reading of Khalil Ghibran’s “The Prophet”, and the weirdest looking album I have ever seen. The cover had a giant orange-red eye on fire spewing pink tentacles out of it in outer space. It of course was, “Wilburn Burchette Opens the Seven Gates of Transcendental Consciousness”.
|Art by artist Caren Calaway. It's art.|
I flipped the album over and began reading the liner notes and was instead greeted by three separate essays on how brilliant the album was. The first essay has no author and simply states that "Now YOU can experience transcendental consciousness without spending 10 years in a Tibetan monastery.” Finally! I can now undress my previous concerns of not being privy to the thoughts and secrets of Asian monks and greet each day as if the sky were filled with a massive flaming eye-monster. The second essay was written by Brad Steiger, “Leading Non-Fiction Author”. Wow, I can’t believe Burchette scored such a highly regarded author of such books as Cat Miracles and Overlords of Atlantis and the Great Pyramid to write a piece of the liner notes. The last essay describes how Burchette built his own equipment and guitar, of which is pictured and ludicrously unimpressive looking.
The final piece on the back cover is a sweet note reminding listeners that there is a “Full Color Instruction Book Inside”. I almost pooped myself in excitement. I couldn’t believe that there is more read along material for what seems to be the most-hyped-up-album-no-one-has-ever-listened-to that has ever existed. Unfortunately, the booklet to my eternal peace has been lost to the wind and I can’t find it online anywhere.
Now here I am in my basement, getting ready to listen to this record for the first time. Deep down I know this album isn’t going to be half as good as it should be. It might just be some guy playing on a shitty guitar with lots of effects and delay, etc. But I’m hopeful…
The first Gate Wilburn takes us to is called, “Dawn of Awakening”. The song starts with a detuned guitar with LOTS of delay. Sounds like a slowed down surf rock song. (Side note: I am sick at the moment and have taken quite a bit of cough medicine. Not just the regular kind, the drowsy kind, and this album is making me very, very sleepy.) I am now approaching the second Gate, “Regeneration”. Burchette’s guitar has too many effects going at once. Not to mention it sounds incredibly detuned. I wonder how many Tibetan monks listen to this song.
Gate number three, “Transformation” could easily be incorporated into any scene from any Quentin Tarantino movie. Very gritty, with Western hints, like an untalented Ennio Morricone. This song bumbles its way to a close rather than an opening of anything Transcendental or Conscious. Gate number four, however, is something from a nightmare or 1960’s era low budget horror/sci-fi film. Starting with an ear piercing high pitched blare that only increases in magnitude. “Piercing the Psychic Heart” is the first time in the album that has elicited any sort of emotion of connection to the subject matter. That if you believe in your eternal spirit, your true mindset will break through any Gate that you encounter. Releasing yourself is only the beginning to becoming one with all there is. Yes! It makes so much sense! If only Burchette had tuned his guitar before recording, there would only be four Gates!
The fifth Gate, “Invoke the Name of God,” begins with what sounds like a single monk chanting. I have learned that chant and sing it to the eternal once a night. This song brings back many themes from earlier songs, does not make them better. It reminds me of what I once was and encourages me to break beyond the furthermore, so I skipped to the next song.
Gate six, “Introvers” also begins with a spacey sound. This must be what the creepy Fire-space-monster sounds like. The tempo speeds up as if the Space Tentacles are reaching out to welcome my young, supple soul to the Always of Awakening. I can feel myself pulling away because that’s not my kind of thing. And like clockwork the tempo yet again speeds up and the guitar loses it tuning further. At this point I had wished I was reviewing the Miley Cyrus album instead. The cough medicine I took is in full swing and my eyes are now completely in the back of my skull. I am one with the Universe.
I have now lost all and gained Everything. As the sixth Gate swings ajar behind me, I am pulled to the enormous steps of the seventh and final Gate. “Realization” is printed on it in an alien language, but I understand what it says. Atom by atom I drift away into space, my soul becomes more fluid than ever. I can feel my old self getting naked and dancing my final dance as the Over-Soul grants me entrance into the seventh Gate. The awful song has a cadence of Joy, a feeling I now embody as I lose all form.
The final song ends and I find myself back in my basement, still sick. I am grateful that the entire experience is over. What a silly album, it almost had me going. Do yourselves a favor, and listen to it once while doped up on your choice of enhancement.
Final Say: Listen to it, but don’t fall into its preachy trap like I did.
P.S. After listening to the album the first time. A thought dawned on me, and I relistened to the record at 45rpms and it was so much better. It was like a chipmunk playing a ukulele.