By Noe Gutierrez
3rd Ear Expereince
3rd Ear Experience reaches beyond the customary rock and jam band stratum. At times defined as space rock or experimental rock, listeners are finding there really is no limit to the band’s horizons. To the layperson there may be an inclination to attempt to categorize 3rd Ear Experience. By human nature we are prone to compare anything new with everything old. It’s what allows us to determine if we like something or not. Like the 3rd eye, the 3rd ear is equivalent to a mythical and profound concept. It refers to an intellectual and undisclosed ear which provides auditory range beyond ordinary hearing. THAT is 3rd Ear experience.
“When one looks into life and sees beyond the phantom of form then this is called ‘gazing with the third eye’. When one experiences listening to the soul of things within the sounds and silences of all things then one is listening with the third ear. It is out of this third ear experience that some of the best jams arise. There is no place better to achieve this than in the desert. All mystics have wandered into the deserts to find this experience. Did you know that when Moses went up the mountain the first words he actually heard were “musike musike musike” which means “listen listen listen”. Scholars tell us we get the word music from this word. In jamming and improvising the more one listens the closer one gets to the intimate fire.” You can gather by Robbi Robb’s description of his group and their music that there are no musical boundaries set.
Robbi Robb is the guitar and voice of 3rd Ear Experience. “We are a group of friends, a micro community, who have come together to co-create spontaneously. We could be called occultists since we all love venturing into the unknown and unseen. As a result we create musical forms out of this love for the unknown. So I guess we fall under the “psychedelic space rock” genre more so than under the “stoner rock” category. The difference between mushrooms and beer I guess if you are into the category thing. We love it all.”
Rounding out 3rd Ear Experience are Amritakripa on synthesizers and voice, Jorge Bassman on bass and voice, Erik Mouness on drums and Eric Ryan on guitars and synthesizer.
“The Ripening Years”
Robb is from South Africa and formed the well established group Tribe After Tribe in 1984. With his long history in music comes the reaching of enlightenment and self-actualization. He describes this in depth. “In every way I feel I am ripening. My guitar playing is deepening and all the 120 years of studying jazz guitar and Indian music is now turning into an actual experience beyond mere knowledge and is coming into its own. My spirituality is my blood stream and causing changes in my cellular template and in my brain. And in my private life; my love for solitude and contemplation is deepening. I am fortunate to live in a community I can feel a part of and serve gladly and cheerfully and still maintain my solitude even in the midst of our wild and crazy parties.”
Robb is also very introspective and utilizes the holistic approach to life. In watching him perform you see a man who is in the action stage of achieving his full potential or at least close to it. “I believe that life is a great Shaman speaking to me, and teaching me through all things known and unknown, in every phenomenon, in every sound, in every word and especially in the silences between all and within all things.”
In 2013 3rd Ear Experience released Peacock Black which was comprised of jam sessions facilitated at the Furst Wurld Art and Performance Gallery in Joshua Tree, CA. The band included Dug Pinnick of King’s X and KXM on bass guitar. Those sessions involved Robbi Robb, Amritakripa, Eric Ryan, Alan Swanson and Eric Mouness as well as saxophone and didgeridoo with Aaron Merc and Kurosh Showghi. “I have worked with Dug for many years. Together we have done albums and toured the world. We were both signed to Megaforce Records and he loved the African grooves that my band was famous for and I loved him as a great sounding bassist and as an extremely sensitive, authentic human being who has an enormous reservoir of strength and courage, just like his bass sound. If you want to understand the true meaning of humility one should stand next to an African elephant in the African wilderness or you can stand next to Dug Pinnick when he opens up the flood gates of his being.”
3rd Ear Experience are increasingly exposing others to their music. “We are in the final stages of mixing our 3rd album (no pun intended). And Kripa has a band that we have backed at festivals and have recorded an album with her, which is going to be mixed next. This year we had to cancel many gigs both locally and in Europe in order to get these albums done. Hopefully we can pick up where left off in that regard in the New Year. And then there are some really awesome collaborations planned in the very near future with some desert legends; one already in the works. But this I like to keep a little secret for now.”
We need to know that Fever Dog is a psychedelic rock band from the California desert formed in 2006. Their members include Danny Graham (Golden Dove) on vocals/guitar, Theremin Joshua Adams (Blue Diamond) on drums/synthesizer and Nathan Wood (Thunder Child) on bass and sound generators. What is not necessarily important is their age. They are all 19 years old. In listening to the music, their music age is definitely older than 19. Fever Dog influences involve Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer, King Crimson & KISS.
Fever Dog is the name of a song by the fictional band ‘Stillwater’ in Coachella Valley native Cameron Crowe’s 2001 movie Almost Famous. They released the rock album Volume One in 2012. Fever Dog is getting ready to release their second full-length album entitled Second Wind, which will be available on compact disc via Interstellar Overlord Records, a label run by the band, and on cassette tape via Sunlips Records, a local Indio label. There will also be a Fever Dog comic book released in conjunction with the record. All artwork by Danny Graham and written by Jason Graham.
Graham shared with me how the EP with 3rd Ear Experience came about. “Fever Dog met 3rd Ear Experience at a backyard show in Coachella in 2012 performing at a tour fund raiser for the Tribesmen. At a subsequent show opening for the Truckfighters at the Indio Performing Arts Center the two bands began discussing the release of a split album together. Eventually we got together at Robbi’s studio in Joshua Tree and recorded it.”
Dog Ear is where the Hi and the Lo desert come together. A courageous experimental collaboration and split featuring the desert stoner rock of Fever Dog and the psychedelic space rock of 3rd Ear Experience.
In the chilly winter of 2013, Fever Dog’s drummer Joshua Adams (Blue Diamond) entered Star Lane Studios and stood before a drum kit designed by Robbi Robb comprised of various African and Garafuna drums. To his surprise, with hardly a word spoken, the recording button was activated and the studio door closed behind him. 15 minutes later he emerged disheveled. Then Nathan Wood (Thunder Child), Fever Dog’s bass guitarist, was shoved into the room, plugged his effects in and, with not much spoken, launched into an awesome pad of dark sonic bass over the tribal pagan groove he was hearing for the first time. And so it went, one after the other, each musician entered the studio and got one take.
Dog Ear is the result of this free flowing recording session. Only one ‘take’ because in a free form jam one gets a single pass and then it is absorbed back into the universe. So it was that the members from each band got to enter into the fray and into a moment in time that will never return. Jorge Bassman, of 3rd Ear Experience, laid down a groovy cumbia like bass line that brought cheers from everyone. Amritakripa tied it all together with her psychedelic swirling between the guitars talking back and forth across the tribal canyon. Erik Mouness listened and said, “It’s done!” And so not playing and leaving the thing alone was his contribution, the gift of silent drumming. When all were done Robbi entered the studio, trimmed the edges and pressed save. No mixing, no EQ’ing, no effecting. Nothing more than “apple S” – save. Looking up at the tall Danny Graham (Golden Dove) with his long golden hair, Robbi got the nod of approval and the deed was done. Based on this collaborative piece each band then offered a piece of music each to sandwich the Dog Ear Jam.
All proceeds of this recording on behalf of Elijah Spike will go to the Human Rights Campaign charity fund and The Botshabelo Orphanage, charity’s supported by Fever Dog and 3rd Ear Experience respectively.
3rd Ear Experience and Fever Dog will be performing live this Friday at Schmidy’s Tavern in Palm Desert to celebrate this achievement and to share it with the ‘Low D’. This is a FREE EVENT.
DOG EAR – ALBUM REVIEW
By Jack St. Clair
Being critical of jam bands is a tough task. The repetitive nature of jam music can be freeing and constrictive all at the same time. Much of music is so dominated by the framework of lyrics and a semblance of storytelling that our brains are geared for. The lack of such a framework can be challenging. Dog Ear, a three song collection of music from the low desert band Fever Dog and the high desert band, 3rd Ear Experience, is most notable for what they achieve in their collaboration piece and title track, “Dog Ear”, than it is for their bookends – “One Thousand Centuries” by Fever Dog and “Jam with Rosemary and Bees” by 3rd Ear Experience. This is not to say that these pieces are any less engaging. It is only to say that process of arriving to the track “Dog Ear” is brave and inspiring.
As already stated in the accompanying piece, these two bands struck up a mutual friendship and respect in 2012 and in 2013 decided to perform an interesting experiment. Starting with Fever Dog’s drummer, Joshua Adams – who laid down a tribal rhythm for the track – members of the two bands followed his lead one by one in the studio, each taking a pass at the song only a single time. They captured the moment without any self-conscious afterthought of what they should have done. It was all about the creation of the song at that instant in time. And that makes it the most intriguing. It would be a safe bet that if they tried it again you would hear something different. Hopefully something as unique as this.
Though not for every listener, the songs will appeal to those that enjoy being taken somewhere by the music. These are long jams, heavy on delay soaked wah guitars and trippy atmospheric sounds. The rhythm sections are locked into steady grooves. Definitely both bands have been heavily influenced by the psycodellic rock music of the late 60’s and early 70’s. Some bits of old Santana, mixed with the jam aspects of The Doors, plus elements from any number of jam bands you may know. It’s free-flowing and top notch musicianship is evident from both bands. But to be honest, if you didn’t know it, you’d think that all three tracks were performed by just one band.
And let’s not ignore the Elephant in the room. It has been said that you must be under the influence some mind altering substance to enjoy music such as this (of which this reviewer was not and still enjoyed the listen). I certainly do not doubt that it could enhance your listening pleasure – but it isn’t required.
The word ‘experience’ is really the key here. The music is the guide to your imagination. It will dictate the images and thoughts as you listen. Not unlike a good movie soundtrack. Only YOU are the writer to the movie and the script is influenced by the sounds provided. In one way it reminds me of NIN’s Ghost instrumental series that Trent Reznor put out a few years ago. Now certainly the music isn’t the same genre, but the thing in common is that the music sets a ‘mood’ for the listener to be in. If you are willing to be taken there, then this will be worth your time.