By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Throughout, Stinson applies hands, feet and head to old electrogear, or new trickboxes, or suffering wah-wah pedals, his guitar alternately arguing sound's meat physicality and its evanescence. Most listeners will want to approach this unexpected music one cut at a time, playing it loud and waiting till the overtones fade from the pancreas before proceeding to the next. After a while, it will be possible to take longer excursions, listening for the way the shocks overlap and blur into flat-line concentration.
AT THE SANTA MONICA ZEN CENTER, STINson strikes a wooden slab with a mallet in accelerating rhythm and diminishing intensity -- it sounds like a Ping-Pong ball dropped on a hard floor. This is the call to Zazen, "sitting" Zen, and Stinson wears the robe that signifies his ceremonial function. At various times, for other purposes, he also hits some gongs, a big bell made by a monk from a metal oxygen tank, and a couple of bowls, one of which, when struck, emits a ringing sound that seems to swirl around the interior of your cranium.
A dozen or so participants bow and enter the big room. They sit erect on cushions, facing the wall, eyes cast downward, and for half an hour think about nothing but their breath. In. Out. They get up and walk around the periphery, first ultraslow, then fast. They sit for another half-hour. They chant briefly. A few have gone one at a time to another room, where center
senseiBill Jordan questions them on the meaning of koans. Now and then, you hear a helpless laugh coming from in there.
"Sometimes Bill will say, 'Lay it all out,'" says Stinson. "And I'll say, 'Wow -- that's just like new music.'" And as with new music, laying it all out, for musician and listener, demands an adjustment, one not everyone is prepared to make. For Stinson, it's another koan, like the sound of one hand clapping. "How do you get people involved in being challenged by life? It's easier to be comfortable."
Vapor can be purchased at larger or more discriminating record stores, or ordered from the Ecstatic Peace link at www.smellslikerecords.com.