Words by John Stephens
Imagine if Carl Sagan assembled a rocket ship, installed a tape deck, ate a bag of magical mushrooms, sailed towards the ether whilst hurdling internally to the likes of Terrapin Station, and landed back on earth to produce a musical about his journey. Now imagine that musical being performed on stage at Tipitina’s French Quarter, with some of history’s greatest rock and rollers as your spiritual conductors. Well, fortunately for us, and thanks to Mickey Hart’s brilliant initiative to capture the birth of the universe and put it into our ears, we aren’t limited to our mere human imaginations.
Instead, we are presented with Mysterium Tremendum, Hart’s newest album featuring a multitude of musical masterminds, including Dave Schools from Widespread Panic, Tim Hockenberry from Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and a few other Tony and Grammy-winning artists, all accompanied by none other than Outer-Fucking-Space. That’s right, thanks to scientific research and the process of sonification, Hart has managed to generate a musical experience founded in the very beginnings of our infinite universe. What the hell does that mean, you ask? To put it simply, sonification is the illustration of information by means of sound, the results of which lead have to the creation of Hart’s unprecedentedly cool project. (To check out the much more detailed version, visit Mickey’s web site and dig into the “Space Sounds”).
Appropriate to the nature of the drumming man (machine? alien?), Hart’s interest originated in the core of Life as we know it, the Big Bang, which was, as he put it, “Beat one.” And from there Hart’s notion grew and grew, just like the very thing which inspired and comprised it, until the idea manifested itself in the form of aural delight, of mystery, of precious, precious art. Now, as humble minions of the Greater Forces that be, we have the rare opportunity to embrace this performance of cosmic art first-hand. Mysterium Tremendum is the story of all creation presented on stage – the most badass Nativity scene we could ever dream of – and we’re the lucky ones who get to dance like comets in the life-size Petri dish of Tipitina’s FQ, while Lab Coats from NASA watch us through holes in the walls and take tedious notes on our celestial jubilee.