Sage Pbbbt (solo work)

sage-pbbbt-05 - photo by Jonathan Messer

I hadn’t ever really sung until I heard some Tuvan and Mongolian throat singing (overtone singing). I got a bit obsessed. Listened a lot. And taught myself some of the basic techniques from listening and reading what I could find. I particularly love the more experimental voices of Sainkho Namtchylak, Gendos Chamzyryn and Albert Kuveizin (of Yat Kha). It feels important that I do not ever call myself a ‘Mongolian throat singer’. I am deeply inspired by these traditions, but I do not purport to represent them. And I recognise that my practice does not have the same cultural context as Tuvan and Monglian practitioners.

The next important influence on my singing was Inuit and Chukchi throat singing. (Same name—throat singing—but unrelated.) Particularly the work of Tanya Tagaq. For many years, exploring the timbral qualities of singing was the core of my practice. With ingressive (in breath) and egressive (out breath). I’ve gone on to explore all sorts of ‘extra-normal vocal techniques’. I’ve borrowed from sound poetry, extreme metal and western experimental and ‘art music’.

(Other vocalists I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from: Demetrio Stratos, Jaap Blonk, Stepanida Borisova, Alice Hui-Sheng Chang, Chyskyyrai, Piqsiq, Sila and Rise, Diamanda Galás, Runhild Gammelsæter, Kjuregej, Fatima Miranda, Maja Ratkje and Salamat Sadikova.)

I complete my PhD at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 2019. It’s called: Giving voice to the extra-normal self with the extra-normal voice: Improvised exploration through the realms of shamanic chaos magick, insight meditation and gender performance. I strive to maintain a Buddhist-influenced ‘witness’ presence while performing sound ritual. The ritual work is often channeling or invoking a god/spirit/archetype. I remain agnostic about the ‘objective truth’ of what happens in these rituals. And the identity of these (apparent) entities. (I’m quite influenced by Robert Anton Wilson’s idea of ‘radical agnosticism’.) I find it interesting that one can have consistently unusual experiences. And that the techniques seem to ‘work’ no matter what you believe. The ‘witnessing’ in a sense holds everything together. Because the basic tenets of Buddhism suggest that all phenomena have the same three characteristics. (Impermanence, non-identity and unsatisfactoriness.) This goes for physical sensations, thoughts, dreams, etcetera. It is true of experiences in trance-states or the actual presence of a spirit. The Buddhist-inspired practice consists of accepting whatever one experiences with compassion.

I sometimes play drums, exploring a mixture of shamanism and extreme metal.


Three Journeys

Solo, repetitive drum tracks. Featuring three of my drums made from various pots, covered with packing tape. Explorations of the nuanced timbre of these instruments. Also explores the intersection of functional ritual music–drumming that one could use for journeying–and experimental music/sound.

invocations of unknown entities

Solo album of voice and drums out on the Perth label Tone List. An exploration of an improvisation practice influenced by extreme metal as well as various different shamanic music traditions that have a much more fluid sense of rhythm.

four nights of invocation (the Residence Workings)

Exploration of explicit ritual work—four invocations of different spirits (using voice). The Great Serpent, Choronzon, The Spirit of Plastic, Unknown Entity. Part of Dan O’Conor’s Residence series. video