The concept of the psychedelically-charged jam band has been around since the 1960s. Groups like the Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd kicked off a revolution that would soon become a major chunk of America’s musical history. Since those times, there has always been a strong-minded, passionate group of musicians and music lovers that have kept the genre alive and allowed it to evolve into something new. Today, a movement of new musicians has been combining the jam band mentality with modern technology to create a style of music dubbed “jamtronica,” or “livetronica.” Papadosio, a band formed in Athens, Ohio in 2006, has been on the forefront of this movement for several years now. They approach the genre with a strong songwriting background, which they use to incorporate melodic vocal harmonies and heartfelt messages about the unity of mankind. Last Tuesday, the band released a double disc album, To End the Illusion of Separation (T.E.T.I.O.S.), featuring 20 tracks of new material. Spanning the course of two full hours, the album is their most diverse effort yet, and it takes the listener on a whirling journey of transcendent emotion, spirituality, and euphoric release.
One of the simplest ways to describe T.E.T.I.O.S. would be to consider it as a complete musical experience. In other words, it’s a full, two-hour experience that travels through an eclectic collection of uniquely-orchestrated soundscapes, arranged in a manner that allows for a natural progression from beginning to end. In many ways, it is comparable to a feature-length film. Many, many words could be used to describe the true emotion that Papadosio’s music evokes, yet its true nature lies in the listener’s personal experience. It is musical therapy at its finest; all of your real-world problems seem to fade away as the band’s creative voice resounds through your entire consciousness.
As I mentioned in my previous post on Vinyl Thief, I have a great deal of respect for bands that aim to create a full artistic package surrounding their music. Such is the case with Papadosio, as well. The band has this to say regarding the album: “we created this conceptual collaboration between us and a team of truly amazing friends whom we have had the pleasure of meeting along the way. In an effort to catalyze the beautiful and peaceful world that we all know is possible, we give you this collection of art as a sign that we are all moving into that space slowly but surely.” Thought-provoking words, certainly. As the title of the record might suggest, the band has a vision of bringing the world together through the creation and celebration of art, arguably the most personal form of human expression achievable.
Now this is all great in theory, but how can we take this message as anything more than just words? The answer is simple – because the art speaks for itself. All that you have to do is listen, and you will soon find that the message is contained within the music, this collection of organized sound waves, explained more effectively than any combination of words. The emotions that it conveys are indescribable, but that is precisely what makes it all the more meaningful. It brings to mind a power greater than ourselves, a kind of spirituality that we gain from the very nature of music. For those that have experienced such an intangible form of release, there is nothing more blissful. It is in that moment that we realize the tremendous power within human creativity, a force which Papadosio is tapping into in an effort to cast off this illusion of separation.
With Papadosio, it’s not just about the music, either. To return to the idea of the full artistic package, the band is including 20 unique pieces of artwork, each one being paired with one of the 20 tracks on T.E.T.I.O.S. One of these pieces is a work done by live painter Andrew Wagner (featured to the right), and it is coupled with the song “Right Now” as part of the album package. This type of collaboration between artists of various trades is essential to Papadosio’s philosophy, and it succeeds in adding a whole new layer of meaning to what might otherwise be considered a simple collection of 20 compositions.
In another effort to spread this message of enlightenment, Papadosio created the Rootwire Music and Arts Festival, an annual gathering of artists of all disciplines in a communal celebration of the transcendent power of creation. As it is described on the festival’s Facebook page, “It is an attempt to re-instill the values of the original psychedelic movement, to transform society.” And thus we come full circle, referring back to the age when it all started, the era when these same ideals of unity, empathy, and creative exploration were originally conceived. And now, decades later, I believe that it is safe to say that we are continuing those traditions with groups like Papadosio. Not only do they make exceptional music, but they also use their art as a tool to communicate the universal truths that they have come to understand. With music, there is no inequality, and there is no hostility. There is only compassion, a sense of togetherness. And that is the raw power that you can feel emanating from the genius that is To End the Illusion of Separation.