New Music From Henry Kaiser
Plus, predictions for upheaval in the Napa Valley and a paradigm shift in psychedelic psychotherapy.
The Deep Unreal by Henry Kaiser (Metalanguage, HenryKaiserGuitar.com)
In addition to his countless fruitful musical collaborations (Richard Thompson, David Lindley, Wadada Leo Smith, Werner Herzog), Oakland native Henry Kaiser has spent many hours scuba diving, shooting video, and assisting in scientific experiments under the ice in Antarctica. As indicated by the titles of these four live, improvised solo guitar pieces — “The Story of My 2017 Austral Spring at the McMurdo Intake Jetty,” “The Deep Unreal,” “A Spoonful of Ice Death Blues,” and “First You Fall in Love with Antarctica — And Then It Breaks Your Heart” — the dreamy, chiming, rippling, and drifting music is an extension of Kaiser’s experience of the sublime, with all its mesmerizing beauty and intimations of terror. Like his epic sets at the Garden of Memory summer solstice walk-through concerts, this album finds the famously wild and noisy guitarist coaxing calm, gorgeously abstract soundscapes and meditations from his electric and acoustic guitars. —Derk Richardson
Napa at Last Light: America’s Eden in an Age of Calamity by James Conaway (Simon & Schuster, March 2018, $26, 308 pp.)
It’s an age-old fight: preservation versus development. In the Napa Valley, the competing interests have much to say. Author James Conaway, a former Washington Post reporter and prior Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University smitten with the area in the 1980s, has written two previous books on Napa, the first on its origins and the second on the rifts between the old and the new as the industry raced into the ’90s. Completing the trilogy, this one is a fact-stuffed take on the current state. Conaway suggests dire consequences should the booming commerce of the multibillion-dollar wine industry run rampant over irreplaceable natural resources. The table of contents, map, “dramatis personae,” and a deep index help readers keep everything straight. Conway’s afterward, on the heels of the fires, expresses hope that cooler heads will prevail in the rebuilding.—Judith M. Gallman
Changing Our Minds, Psychedelic Sacraments and the New Psychotherapy by Don Lattin (Synergetic Press, 2017, $23.95, 302 pp.)
Alameda author Don Lattin predicts a new psychedelic renaissance and psychotherapy paradigm shift in his latest book that explores how psychedelics — LSD, psilocybin, MDMA, and ayahuasca — can treat emotional, behavioral, and spiritual woes when combined with psychotherapy. Together, they show promise in alleviating PTSD, addiction, and depression and anxiety stemming from illnesses and disease as well as existential distress from terminal diagnoses, and Lattin does thorough research to make the case. With a deep-seeded interest in the science and shamanism of psychedelics, he delves into the controversial topic no-holds-barred, successfully introducing a mythical cast of real life characters, simplifying complicated terminology (like “empathogen,” “entactogen,” and “microdosing”), and weaving in gripping stories of his own personal experiences.—JMG