Sound Choice No. 17 1992 514w

pg 48, 49

True Hallucinations is a phenomenal, eight-hour, multi-dimensional audio journey that treks listeners into the heart of the Amazon jungle, blasts them into wild and transitory hallucinatory landscapes and outer-spatial realms, sucks them into young American minds skipping upon tightropes stretched between genius and drug-induced insanity, and finally delivers them shivering with exhaustion, excitement and awestruck palpitations toes over the edge of a spiritual and historical precipice that overlooks nothing less than a major revelation about the end of civilization as we know it and the beginning of a new chapter of evolution more profound and awesome than we can scarcely imagine.

True Hallucinations is Terence McKenna's true-life narrative that centers around a journey he took in 1971 with his brother Dennis and three companions into the Columbian Rio Putumayo region of the Amazon. The goal of these three men and two women was to seek out and subject themselves to the effects of the strongest native hallucinogenic substances they could find. Not only were they successful in finding these mind-bending substances, their hallucinatory revelries -- and nightmares -- experienced under the moral umbrella of science and biological and botanical research, imprinted on their psyches profoundly disturbing and yet fantastically hopeful and dogma-shattering theories about the nature of space, time, matter, UFOs, telepathy, and the central role that a particular strain of psychedelic mushroom is playing in shaping the destiny of mankind.

Not only do all the aforementioned subjects present explosive ingredients for what McKenna himself (rightfully) calls a "ripping good story," the narrative is masterful, with a gothic tone of scientific and spiritual mystery and revelation that is a match for the best adventure story-telling of Edgar Allan Poe.

And equally masterful and an audio trip-and-a-half in itself, is the incredible production by the energetic sound and image synthesizing team of Brian Wallace and Faustin Bray of Sound Photosynthesis.

True Hallucinations includes what may be one of the most subtle, yet effective mood-creating, consciousness-altering, transcendental soundtracks ever made for a spoken-word document. The soundtrack, using a mixture of acoustic and electronic instruments and various sound effects, is both subtle and sparse and at the same time as colorful and illuminating as one could hope for. It would be well worth studying as a how-to model for any similar work.

That an audio document of such significance has been relatively unheralded and remains a rarely-heard cult item since being released in 1984 is the result, undoubtedly, of its controversial subject, and the $80 price for the eight cassette package.

We can hope that True Hallucinations' profound literary, scientific, and philosophical content, when properly recognized, even if criticized, will induce public and educational libraries to begin cataloging the title.

To adequately paraphrase or try to put True Hallucinations into a proper critical or historical overview is a nearly impossible task given the short space available here.

--David Ciaffardini

For information about obtain a copy of True Hallucinations, or a single tape sampler "Highlights of True Hallucinations," contact Sound Photosynthesis, P.O. Box 2111, Mill Valley, CA 94942, USA; tel. 383-6712.