The Ascend Ascend project has been an extensive one. I jumped at the opportunity to work with Janaka on multiple facets of the project... the album, poster, and live letterpress print.
At this point the album is out and Seattle event took place which was just as I had hoped, an evening of ecstatic poetry and ritual. It was a coming together of Janaka, myself, and Dylan of Bell Witch.
The prints are available here and LP via Neurot Records.
Some thoughts from Janaka's website:
Published in 2019 by Jack White's publishing imprint, Third Man Books, Ascend Ascend was written over the course of twenty days, coming in and out of trance states brought on by intermittent fasting and somatic rituals while secluded in the tower of a 100-year-old church. Rooted in the Jewish mystical tradition of Hekhalot literature, which chronicles an ascent up the Kabbalistic Tree of Life to witness the Merkabah, or “chariot of God,” this book-length ecstatic poem drafts a surreal, mythological landscape in which maximalist language shreds the natural world. Light becomes rainbowed sex. Intestines tangle into an aria. The sky is gallowed. At the center of this apocalyptic devastation stands the speaker of these poems, asserting: I explode. I shall love. I ascend. Equal parts Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” and Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain,” Ascend Ascend makes us both passenger and witness as we participate in the ecstatic destruction of the self through its union with the divine.
Upon the book's release, Third Man Books & Records partnered with Atlas Obscura to sponsor Janaka Stucky on a 7-city tour where he presented Ascend Ascend in its entirety through a series of highly ritualized performances. In each city he recited the book in its entirety from the confines of a magic circle—drawn with sigils and seals on the floor—ringed with beeswax candles, incense, and live marigolds planted in an outer rim of soil.
In Seattle, Janaka gave an improvised performance with cellist Lori Goldston—who has played with a number of premiere musical acts including Nirvana, Cat Power, and Earth. This one-of-a-kind event was recorded live at All Pilgrims church, and is now being released by Neurot Recordings in May 2023.
To celebrate the record release we have crafted all sorts of exclusive items like signed & numbered fine art prints, limited edition colored vinyl, and special VIP access to a new round of live performances around the country that Janaka is planning with Atlas Obscura in 2023!