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By No Comments3 min read

INITIATION is a record by Jon Mueller. Written and recorded over the winter months of 2014, using four bass drums, voice, and bells, the compositions reference ritual, trance and origins of music at a hypnotic and rhythmic bpm. This record, however, is not available on an LP, CD, DVD, or even digital format. Instead, the recorded compositions will only be presented during venue-based events incorporating projected video (Chris Hefner) and live dance (Dawn Springer). In essence, each performance venue becomes a discreet, non-reproducible media format. INITIATION is intended as an exclusive live experience; a new way of living inside a record.

Throughout its entirety, INITIATION asks, “What do records mean to us? Why are they important? Where do the implications of format pros and cons end and the meaning of music and objects begin?” For musicians and music audiences, both the music and the format are important considerations. Convenience, nostalgia, sense of ownership, memento, and collectability are all factors. But at the end of it all, the ultimate factor is what the record does to us, both in its physicality, and its “metaphysicality.” The importance of the experience in either case can be difficult to describe, or in some cases, prove.

The title INITIATION comes from an essay by Hazrat Inayat Khan, who describes the term as going forward into the unknown. By presenting this record as a multi-sensory live experience, which cannot be played on a device on the go, or in the background while doing other things, but prepared for, focused upon and shared by all present, a renewed sense of discovery of how music and things affect us becomes possible. INITIATION is an opportunity for artists and audiences to go forward within the work together, seeking that fundamental meaning that only each of us individually knows.

On July 17, 2015, the experience of INITIATION took place at the Eaux Claires festival in Wisconsin. Here were some reactions:

“It was every bit as powerful an experience as we’ve come to expect from Mueller”

– Milwaukee Record

“a heady and heart-pounding cascade of percussion and deep chanting that can’t be heard anywhere else. Between the interpretive dancing, video projections and no actual music being performed, it’s possible some in the makeshift oven suspected they were hallucinating. But the heat actually heightened the intensity of an inherently visceral experience.”

– JSonline

Huge thanks to Dawn Springer and Chris Hefner for their parts in the performance, and to the crew and audience at the festival for such an incredible experience.