The Repository #20: Nautical Almanac

Chris Bush and Caboladies (RIP) have been on the brain recently since Astral Editions announced this incredible Equipment Pointed Ankh album. Then I remembered he did a few things for Foxy Digitalis back in the day, including this fantastic interview with Nautical Almanac from 2007. Meanwhile, Twig Harper’s most recent solo joint, Classical Electronics, has been a favorite this year. Check it out and read this. – BR

Photos from

NautALm Scorecards full yet? No doubt. We’re excited about this one too. Here’s an update with one of the perennials of keeping it interesting explore-oratory. 

For your consideration, the group offers their thoughts on the fire (and firemen) that injured the Tarantula Hill space (their Baltimore HQ), the ensuing rebuild efforts, the fact that we are all traveling through time together, the News Corp Blackhole Mindopoly, the merits of temperamental instruments, and a certain unexpected mole farm.

Could you give us a little overview of the Tarantula Hill space, what happened to it in March of last year, and what’s been going on with it in the last year and a half?

TWIG HARPER: Tarantula Hill existed within our life from 2001 until now, what was a loose balloon wrapped around a title “our building” located in West Baltimore, it housed us and our world of lifestyle activities and acted as a safe house for our kindred. Then on one spec.i.a.l day actions that we had been working through lined up, and while we were in Brooklyn at No Fun Fest a fire ripped through the first floor of our building igniting our studios which caused firemen to come and knock holes through every piece of glass and drywall and give everything a nice hose down. We decided to stay at No Fun for two days and be with our people, which made coming home an extremely comforting thing. A hugest grateful thanks to the Baltimore community who started the reconstruction immediately, if it weren’t for them we definitely would not have stayed to rebuild. At the end of the day, the hardest loss was our cats. R.I.P. Sherm; R.I.P. Owl; R.I.P. Chuncho. So the last year we have been rebuilding this chunk. Chop wood carry water was the meditation that broke me through the hardships of “why am I doing this?”

It seemed like there was an immediate response from the community with assistance following the fire. Do you think this spirit is somehow unique to the community you are involved in? Did you feel like you were part of a system or network that takes care of its own?

TH: The people we know have always taken care of each other, while I’m no authority to say that this is unique (I hope not) to get we all are there is no other way to be. Without friends, culture cannot exist. Fire is the elemental bridge, we welcomed it with open hearts and were happy to let people’s thoughts and care push us into new realms of existing beyond this event. One of the traps we came across was not letting people’s expectations of “what we do” dictate how we rebuild our lives.

What were you able to replace/recover, and what were you not? Was there anything you recovered that you were particularly relieved or surprised by?

TH: Our minds. It is nice to have less stuff.

Carly Ptak: I worked particularly hard to save our poster and print collection. I had built a box for it a few months previously, but it still got soaked and smelly. I spent about four days working to dry them out and de-smell them.

How did the benefit CD for Tarantula Hill come together, and how did it help you guys in the rebuild?

TH: The CD was put together unbeknownst to us until the last minute and we were very honored to have so many wonderful musicians contribute to it and that Thurston/Ecstatic Peace crew took the time to put it together.

Any stories from Tarantula Hill that you’d like to share?

TH: On this last Easter during the throw-burnt-shit-and-demolish-and-move-objects-from-one-floor-to-another phase, I came across a bag of potting soil that was ripped apart on the 3rd floor. I kept looking at them and knew that some were special about them… Why were they ripped open? We no longer had any cats in our lives and I sure hadn’t done anything to these bags… I started shoveling them into new plastic bags and noticed a small squirming creature. I looked down and saw a bunch of little moles squirming around. I was flooded with images of building a glass wall and making a “mole farm” attached to the front of the building. Excited surged through my blood, Adam came and looked and I explained to him about the moles and how they must have been in the dirt all along and that’s why there was a pallet of potting soil at the salvage warehouse because they were infested with moles and so Home Depot musta donated them instead of throwing them away, tax deduction! Then now these little guys are ready to live a life of happiness with us in our plexiglass mole farm. We both were on the same wavelength about them, I could see the glimmer in his eyes. And then Muffy came up and pulled us out of our trance and showed us that the moles were actually baby rats.

How the hell are people going to know about you when you don’t have a MySpace*** page? What are your thoughts about digital music as opposed to traditionally formatted (tapes, records, discs…)?

TH: Hahaha, yeah no shit! I just realized that a month ago, I don’t want to get sucked into the News Corp Blackhole Mindopoly. I tried to make one of these MyFriendsters and then got confused and just asked my high school friend to get the word out that we are a band. Really we don’t mind if people know about us or not. The ones who know, do, the ones who want to, will, and the ones who shouldn’t, don’t. About formats: what I see as blue maybe you may see as red. And when my foot itches it may be your 6th-dimensional finger doing it when someone in the 10th dimension chews Moebius-stripped coca leaves. So a record or tape or a third iPod are pretty close in essence.

***There is a Nautical Almanac Myspace fansite run by someone else.

What was the initial inspiration behind Nautical Almanac? Has that changed much?

CP: Twig you have to answer this one.

TH: dissolving the barriers

              that block direct experience of

                   the eternal now.

Do you consider the more “exploratory” spirit of early electronic music as an influence? Dada? Punk? All this stuff?

CP: All music is influence. All living is influence. There is no way for all known aspects of our culture not to be unless born in the jungle parents dead raised by tigers, which, unfortunately, we were not.

TH: I was raised by plants. All actions in the material realm are shadows of the higher orders.

Your music has, among other things, been characterized as assaultive. What are your thoughts on that?

CP: I would rather call it challenging. I personally have enjoyed confronting people’s ideas and expectations in the past, but out of a spirit of love and desire for growth. I do not enjoy assaulting people in any way and don’t believe that you can do that if they have come/paid to see you perform.

TH: Characterizations are shadow forms of essence. Taste and Aesthetics have no real value to higher functioning processing. T & A outlooks are cracked mirrors holding value on top of the observer/ the reflection of self \ Look behind-beyond these and you see another cracked version shooting outward back onto itself. If you are holding one of these “infinity mirrors”, your pulse creates the ripples of time. Step out from the self-logical-cage and you can see the strings holding it all together. We amplify these strings and allow you to pluck them with your mind.

In an interview for Dusted Magazine, you (Twig) mentioned that your setup is constantly changing and that your gear breaks all the time. Would you say that lack of control is a big part of what Nautical Almanac is all about? Is that more often exhilarating or frustrating?

CP: To me using temperamental instruments has always been part of the expression. It is a mistake to separate “players” and “instruments” just as much as it is to separate “performer” and “audience”. I believe and value an instrument’s desire and technique to perform and use its functioning (or not) as guidance. That was one of my main reasons for ever wanting to circuit-bend electronics. It is another way to talk to god.

TH: When you turn off your mind, one can resonate with egoless music within. No speakers needed. Instruments are organisms. Humans are instruments. Organisms are systems. Incorporating active electronic music systems creates a good starting point to open up the synchronistic dialog.

You guys run a label called Heresee. What’s its current status?

TH: We are still creating releases, but at a calmer, more focused pace than we have in the past.

What’s exciting right now in Baltimore (musically… otherwise)?

TH: Fermented food/drink club. Backyard potlucks with music. Westside solids Tarantula Hill. The Bank. Ciat-Lombarde. Street Trance healings, visiting travelers, fasting, hypnogogic purge sweating, community pre-post-collapsed building projects, reading, dreaming. High Zero Festival, The True Vine, amazing musicians/artists/ magicians, too much to list it’s never-ending: infinite secret black hole city, no past no future, no pressure. We are all traveling through time, We are all-time travelers, Welcome to the void. Hello to the end of time.

Why is “experimental” music gaining in popularity? Is that an illusion or something?

TH: The illusion is that only a limited number of things are possible. Infinity permits anything and everything to exist seamlessly in every way possible at any point in time. Artists use inner reality to alter the shared reality. People are waking up from the dream, long live the dream.

What do you guys think about spirituality? 

TH: Yes. Nothing, Everyone, and Everything. The Only One is No One.

Who or what are you guys against? Why are you so against them/it?

TH: Nothing, Everyone, and Everything. The Only One is No One.

CP: If you choose to be against something you are only against parts of yourself. I choose to accept and enjoy myself as much as possible. I am continually trying to expand these conceptions and find any part of me that I don’t accept even subconsciously and find a way to come to some sort of agreement with whatever that might be.

What’s gonna happen with these shows you’ve got coming up?

CP: Open up extra dimensions through the pointed use of group mind.

TH: We are so excited; it’s gonna rule. How it’s gonna go down will only happen when it does but as for how the forms may soon appear: Brainwave-controlled video/audio generators and other video-projected images, radionic modular patch matrix pattern interface soundboxes, electro-acoustic bowed mouth and throat riffages, ion charge flow reversal methods, a traveling Belgium foley with us in the North Americas, visiting old friends and meeting new ones!

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