Naoto Sekiguchi | Ceasefire Between My Brain & My Heart

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Ceasefire Between My Brain & My Heart

by Naoto Sekiguchi

Original off-the-wall songs of resistance, empowerment, environment and life navigation in up-tempo rock style.
Genre: Rock: Experimental Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Lunatic Fringe
4:14 $0.99
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2. Impeach the Shithole in Chief
4:07 $0.99
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3. Waters on the Moon
3:25 $0.99
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4. Rise Above the Digital Bonds
3:41 $0.99
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5. Dreams Begin to Fly
3:43 $0.99
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6. My People with the Hopi Go
4:25 $0.99
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7. Meteor Hits the Earth
3:54 $0.99
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8. World on the Brink
3:31 $0.99
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9. Voodoo Radio
3:04 $0.99
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10. Phineas Gage Keeps Me Feeling Alright
4:17 $0.99
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11. Our Dreams Now Converge
5:18 $0.99
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12. Waters of the Mekong
3:21 $0.99
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13. Temple in Ruins
2:38 $0.99
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14. Riding the Wave
3:27 $0.99
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15. Sea Otters & the American Dream
2:53 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Many of the songs on this CD include a real and sometimes harsh view of current conditions regarding a society in turmoil, the environment in distress and the political system in upheaval. For the most part the songs do end in a positive tone with a message of hope and how we can take a stand to make our world a better place. A few of the songs are in honor of musicians of great influence to me such as David Bowie, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd and Stan Ridgway of Wall of Voodoo. There are ongoing reflections of identity, emotional bearings and condition of the mind.

Music & lyrics by Naoto Sekiguchi; produced, recorded, mixed & mastered by JonJon Alevizakis at Little Buddha Studios, Nevada City, CA & San Rafael, CA; guitars, bass, keyboards, instrumentation by JonJon Alevizakis; drums by Christopher Krotky of Soundwire Studios, Fairfax, CA; background vocals by Anna Coronna.

Here are more detailed stories behind some of the songs:

Lunatic Fringe:
As I watched the returns come in for the 2016 election in the communal TV room of the retreat center/community in Northern California I called home a growing sense of stunned disbelief engulfed the space. With the results appearing certain and a feeling of impending doom gripping my heart I started searching travel websites, then began emailing employment inquiries to Australia where I had once lived and worked. My brain was telling me there was no way in hell I could reside in a land where such a massive proportion of the populace could support an individual whose tenuous relationship with the truth and deficient moral bearings stood against all the good this nation once represented. Yet, at the same time, in my heart I sensed a need to stay and help make a stand against the forces of hate, greed and disdain for our environment. A battle between my mind and my heart ensued and a song began playing in my head…..
A different sort of heartbreak occurred around that time as Leonard Cohen had passed away the day before the election (though it wasn’t announced until November 10th). In one of his last songs he sang about ‘a treaty between your love and mine’ and this helped in shaping my words ‘A ceasefire between my brain and my heart can keep my world from falling apart…” And even as ominous darkness spread across the landscape a spark glowed hopefully in that the best side of human nature could take hold, grow and allow us to join together in resisting the malevolent tides strangling the nation.

Impeach the Shithole in Chief : (Search this title on YouTube for a quirky video with a rough version of this song.)
While traveling through lands such as El Salvador, Tanzania and Kenya I happened across many individuals far more kind, compassionate, honorable and intelligent than the Tangerine Wankmaggot currently occupying the Offal Office. Therefore, to say the least, it was deeply disturbing to hear that the so-called leader of the free world had referred to these and other nations in the most disrespectful and derogatory manner imaginable. Although the National Review may now hold conflicted views of said Offal Office occupant it is my feeling that the NR laid much of the groundwork for this travesty to occur. One line of this song is an homage to the late, great Frank Zappa who, in my awareness is the only songwriter to ever use the terms ‘tower of power’ and ‘golden shower’ in the same verse. The first line of the chorus was derived from a Washington Post article by Aaron Blake published on January 27, 2018 mentioning that “…..has quite often inhabited the darker side of the gray area between truth and lies.” Even as incredibly dire and discouraging events unfold there are still great reasons for hope in the ways people of this land, especially the women and the youth, make a stand with a unified voice. This song is also a response to statements made by friends that what future generations might find most unbelievable is so little was done in the face of such an immense debacle.

Waters on the Moon A song of resistance honoring Roger Waters & Syd Barrett, The story behind the song:
The tempo and driving rhythm of this song was inspired by the Warren Zevon song Play it All Night Long, but I borrowed heavily from the Pink Floyd song Brain Damage (which was the first tune, at age 15, I learned to really jam on with another guitar player). The piece made a transformation into a song of resistance after I watched a video of an energetic rant by Ashley Judd at the 2017 Women’s March on Washington. Listening to her impassioned appeal for us to stand up against racial intolerance, injustice and degradation of women she spoke of ‘…a man who looks like he bathed in Cheeto dust…’. The words ‘The demon bathed in Cheeto dust’ then came to me and later evolved into ‘The demon spewing evil dust/won’t hesitate to betray your trust…’.
My influences are wide-ranging: In an attempt instill a bit of the American way I drew upon Don McLean. His words ‘pink carnation and a pick-up truck…..but I knew that I was out of luck…..’ first became ‘there’s no pink carnation or a pick-up truck’, then as I thought about Neil Young singing ‘Pick me up if my feet are dragging, give me a lift and I’ll hay your wagon’ my words turned into ‘So lift yourself up from the muck/gimme a ride in your pick-up truck/you gotta put together your own luck/so in the quagmire we won’t be stuck’.
In the end Roger Waters’ strident warnings about the current regime and the need to stand up to it brought me to the hopeful message that: ‘Together we will stem the tide, and on a wave of hope we’ll ride/We’ll shut down their terrible lies and once again our dreams will fly’ and finally – ‘So We’ll be present in this place/Not the dark side of the moon/and it doesn’t have to be too late/if We can be here soon.
I count among my many influences Syd Barrett and early Pink Floyd. The sense that his songs were in part shaped by the teetering between a frame of mind accepted by society and that of a different realm is something I find intriguing. Syd may have gone a bit too far on the latter end of the spectrum, but who am I to say? I feel that Syd and others suffering from emotional challenges are martyrs in way – as the more sensitive souls pay the price for the frenzied society we all help to create.

Rise Above the Digital Bonds:
Much of my time since the 2016 election has been spent pondering just how things could have possibly gone so wrong. How could such a large portion (though not a majority) of the American electorate have been led so terribly astray? All the values and principles which formed the basic foundation of this land have been cast mindlessly aside. Those who once expressed outrage over the erosion of family values now casually turn a blind eye to the most flagrant acts of debauchery and moral turpitude. Insecurities of the masses were fanned and suddenly, once dormant or suppressed resentments and hostilities towards others of different races, religious beliefs and orientations erupted to the surface. While such emotions and ways of thinking have long been manipulated for political gain the use of the internet and digital media now allows, on a colossal scale, the ability to twist information for sinister purposes. It boggles the mind how such powerful tools, with the capability to promote knowledge and enlightenment, are deployed as weapons in the destruction of civility and once accepted social norms.
I suppose this shouldn’t come too much as a surprise though, as items meant to be used in things such as the procuring of food have quickly been turned into the implements of destruction and aggression. In this song I make reference to an illustration from history of the invention of dynamite. Alfred Bernhard Nobel created dynamite as a tool which would greatly facilitate mining and the construction of transportation networks. Knowing that his invention would also be used with harmful intent Alfred Nobel established the Nobel Peace Prize, as well as recognition for achievements in other positive human endeavors, to offset inevitable negative results. When I see the young and people from all walks of life standing up however, I realize that the internet and digital media can still be used for the betterment of our World and affirmation of life.

Dreams Begin to Fly:
Waiting for the holiday party to begin at my new place of work I played Christmas songs I once played with my mom. Through the windows of the RV I called home at the time I watched the snow begin to fall through the pines of the mountains forming the Sierra Valley of Northern California. I felt a sudden inspiration to write my own song of holiday hopes. I was in the RV because my home, community and place of work in another part of California had gone up in the flames of a terrible fire the previous September. A fire driven by destruction we’ve all helped to inflict upon our environment.
Even as I held feelings that I had much to be thankful for there was a looming sense that a disaster of far greater magnitude hovered. The then presidential candidate had just begun to spew venom about how Muslims should not be allowed in the country and I found it incredible that a person vying to become the leader of the free world could hold such beliefs. At the time I thought it laughable that anyone with such hostilities could actually be elected, yet it was quite disturbing that he was garnering support from such a large portion of the electorate. So the song, while reflecting on deep concerns, is meant to be an expression of hope that the people of the land – especially the young – will prevail over bigotry, greed and violence.
In a way, this song is also an apology to the young. My generation has degraded the environment and ravaged the World to such a degree that it sometimes feels hopeless. So as I ask forgiveness for handing them such a mess. And I give the young people of today a message of hope and encouragement - that with their compassion, awareness and joyful resolve they can fend off the negative forces threatening all we cherish.

Meteor Hits the Earth:
While I am not aligned with ee cummings’ support of McCarthyism nor the racist content of some of his poetry, his poem ‘anyone lived in a pretty how town’ did serve as a starting point for this song. Had I known of his political leanings and feelings towards non-white people before I started the song I might never have written it or it may have become something altogether different. Once I discovered these facts about the man it felt disturbing, but art begets art in ways unexpected and I realize, at times, I must simply accept the process as it unfolds. The poem itself does not carry any political or racial overtones. Its influence on my song is simply the shifting sequence of stars, rain, sun and moon along with the atmosphere of a changing universe in conflict with the identity of an individual. His was a ‘pretty how town’ while my town is a ‘dusty nowhere town’. His bells go ‘up so floating’, while mine are church bells they bring down.
Two significant celestial events occurred in the summer of 2017 which, I think altered the way my mind works and helped shape this song. The Perseid Meteor Shower which peaked on August 12th was a dazzling spectacle which I was blessed to behold as I camped on a tiny island in the Lakes Basin of Sierra County, CA. Jim Morrison’s words ‘I’m gonna love you till the heavens start to rain…..’ played in my mind as I lay back on my sleeping bag picking at my guitar. I ventured to Unity Lake in Oregon on the path of totality to experience the total solar eclipse a couple weeks later. The sky darkened and the air grew cold in a few moments time with the clearly defined sphere of the Moon absorbing the ferocious Sun. This served to make me acutely aware of my tiny place in the greater scheme things in relation to celestial bodies and how they move.
I’ve long grappled with a sense of the World being undone and I keep going on the hope that whatever is coming next will be better - or at least the journey trying to get there will be joyful. Yet I do have a difficult time not imagining that the next, better world may have to be in some other realm. With the tiny window we have remaining to stave off environmental oblivion I feel jarring words and passionate actions are needed for there to be any hope.

Voodoo Radio:
During my student days back in the state of Arkansas there was a song I heard only a few times, yet it kind of stuck with me through the years. I must have heard the song through the fog of too-good-times on an old car radio or pulsing from the next room at some raucous party. While the song was riveting I never quite committed the title or the name of the band to memory. As the song would play from time-to-time in my head through the years I always thought of it as Voodoo Radio. It was only much later when I chanced to see a video that the song was actually called ‘Mexican Radio’ and the band was ‘Wall of Voodoo’ – fog and parties in my past. Out of the fog grew images of mystical forces and old-world spirits emanating from a dashboard radio. David Bowie’s notion of cosmic signals reaching us via radio, from somewhere out in space, as ‘hazy cosmic jive’ somehow became intertwined with the voodoo fog.

Radio in Arkansas also means evangelical programs promising salvation which I would occasionally listen to with my friends for kicks and this somehow merged with the voodoo in a strange way. There was kind of a jolt to my brain upon learning that the song I thought of all this time as Voodoo Radio was actually ‘Mexican Radio’ with words altogether different. At first it felt disconcerting that I could get something so wrong in my mind, but then it dawned on me that this was okay – sometimes what you think you heard can be just as meaningful or profound as what was actually spoken. It then occurred to me that this is often how some of my more interesting ideas come to me.

Stan Ridgway and his band ‘Wall of Voodoo’, in my mind, have received far less recognition and airtime than they deserve. It was a while after I wrote the words ‘din of the party filtered through the drywall’ that I learned that Stan Ridgway once had a band called ‘Drywall’. This gave me a sort of weird sense of cosmic voodoo connection with the man who inspired this song. If you watch him perform ‘Mexican Radio’ on YouTube you will see how I came up with the words ‘Sometimes there is a twitch in my face…..’

Phineas Gage Keeps Me Feeling Alright:
Phineas Gage was the foreman of a railroad construction crew working in Vermont in 1848 when he was involved in a horrific accident. He was tamping a blasting powder charge with a 43 inch, 13 pound iron rod in a hole bored into solid rock when he inadvertently sparked an explosion. The tamping iron became a missile which was propelled in an upward trajectory into his cheek and straight through his brain. Incredibly, Phineas not only survived the blast, but remained relatively functional. He was able to walk to a cart for transport home immediately after the accident and when a physician arrived as he sat in front of his boarding house he said: “Doctor, here is business enough for you.” While he was subsequently able interact and work the injury permanently altered his temperament and behavior. Phineas became the most important subject of study of his day in the emerging field of neuroscience as researchers were able to investigate which portions of the brain controlled specific emotions and thought processes. Over the years he held various jobs including a stint as a stagecoach driver in Chile. Eventually settling in San Francisco, Phineas Gage passed away after suffering a series of seizures in 1860.

I once had the opportunity to help the architect/artist James M. Harrison with the construction of a piece of sculpture titled ‘A House for Phineas Gage’ in the courtyard of the psychology building at the University of Oregon. As I worked in this setting on this symbolic dwelling for Phineas I pondered his history along with the notion of disabling areas of one’s brain to better function in society. The idea of being less encumbered by an overabundance of cells in my brain felt somehow comforting to me and the seeds of this song were planted.

Our Dreams Now Converge A song for David Bowie:
In a dark haze upon hearing the news that David Bowie had passed away I sat in my RV in the woods that I called home and mournfully played a few notes of his songs I once knew. Images of a dark, smoky bar in Rethymnon, on the Greek island of Crete, came wafting back to me.

On the run from expectations of facing the real world after completing studies I found refuge and work doing weird paintings and picking olives around this enchanting town on the Sea of Crete. Hanging out in a dive bar called Roulie’s with local misfits, stray dogs and various lost souls the music of David Bowie, along with that of the Doors, became the sound track of those heady days. Nearly every line of this song is a play off Bowie’s words except for the line “You treated art as reality supreme and life as a celestial dream.” which is adapted from Bowie’s own muse Oscar Wilde’s words “I treated Art as the supreme reality and life as a mere mode of fiction.” Most other references I think would be clear to those who know his work. The words “…cut through the lies with your magical knife.” is a reference to David Bowie’s desire “for a truism to cut through all the lies” when naming himself after Jim Bowie, inventor of the Bowie knife.

The words “Embrace as though nothing can fall, show me the way I can believe in it all…..” came to me after reading about how Bowie pulled the song ‘Heroes’ together during a long recording session at a studio near the Berlin Wall. They had become stuck at a certain point and while taking a break Bowie looked out the window and saw Tony Visconti, who was producing and playing on the song, standing by the Wall embracing and kissing his girl friend and the song then came together. Words Tony Visconti spoke after David Bowie’s passing, “He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us…..” and Madonna on how “David Bowie changed the course my life forever. I never felt like I fit in growing up…….seeing him live set me on a journey that I hope will never end.”, gave me the direction on how to conclude the song.

As I went into the studio to record this song I was considering taking out the words ‘Dark smoky bar in Rethymnon, Crete…..’ after all, few people would know what that meant. But as soon as JonJon Alevizakis, who produces and does instrumentation on my music, heard the words he exclaimed “Rethymnon is where my mother if from and my father is from Crete too!”. So then I knew they had to stay and when I think about it, I don’t understand all the words to a song like ‘I am the Walrus’, but I still enjoy the music. Sometimes it is the unexpected personal connections that make music special.

Waters of the Mekong:
Sitting at the bottom of grand stairs leading from the enchanting temple of Wat Chiang Khong in Laung Prabang, Laos late one night I pondered the waters of the Mekong River lapping at my feet. With its source in the Plateau of Tibet the Mekong is the life-blood of much of China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Laos, a place dear to my heart, is a land I had visited many times and on this occasion I had been working on a research project. Feeling a bit overwhelmed I came to the river to reflect, play my guitar and consume a bottle of strong Mekong Whiskey. I had been carrying a packet of roasted chicken and sticky rice I had gotten at an open-air market earlier that day. The tropical climate had taken its toll so the edibility of the food was questionable, but I was hungry, and drunk, so I ate it anyway. There in that magical spot with my mind swirling in history and whiskey, drying muddy water making my feet itch and a riot going on in my stomach – the spirits of the Mekong began to sing as I played along.

This was once the stomping grounds of Prince Souphanouvong, a member of the royal family turned communist revolutionary and a founding father of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Years after his passing the Red Prince still has a strong presence in the land and a Leninesque statue looms over the architecture building of the university which carries his name. I spent time playing music with some of the Laotian architecture professors sporting Elvis Presley haircuts so the tone of the song comes from them. They also assisted in my research as I helped in their classrooms. The people of the Lao countryside are among the kindest, happiest, most gentle souls I have ever met and they would embrace me warmly as I intruded their villages gathering information. Their lives seemed to flow at an easy, joyful pace as I frantically went about my work and it made me stop and wonder just how important it was to reach my goals. (Please see on this website: Home – More – Travel & Research – Lao Textile Culture in the Built Environment)

King Fa Gnum, ruler of the original Lang Xang Kingdom; Lanna, a kingdom which once encompassed Northern Thailand and Laos; and Kong Le, a neutralist freedom fighter - all gave much richness to my experience in their land. I don’t know if the first president of modern day Laos, President Kaysone Phomvihane, actually liked to party until dawn, though he seemed like a fun guy, it just happens that ‘dawn’ rhymes with his name. The line ‘I wouldn’t give it too much thought there’s no meaning to this song.’ was thrown in out of paranoia that I might be arrested for maligning their much revered leader.

The Plain of Jars in Xiang Khouang Province is a place of enigma. Scattered across the vast plateau are thousands of monolithic stone jars up to three meters in diameter & height and dating as far back as 500 BC. Very little is known about who made them, what they were for (burial vessel, the most common theory), or how they were made. Another profound mystery is why on earth the US Air Force would blow this isolated, desolate place to smithereens during the war against Vietnam. Laos had been declared a neutral country, yet the United States, without the knowledge of the American public, dropped more tonnage of bombs here and surrounding areas than all of WWII combined. While the US was attempting to eliminate the Pathet Lao revolutionary forces much of the tonnage was from simply discarding unspent ordnance from bombers based in Thailand returning from missions to Vietnam. When intended targets in Vietnam could not be clearly identified because of weather, as was often the case, the crews were under orders to jettison their payload over Laos as a plane laden with bombs would be dangerous to land. The United States’ military-industrial complex has much to answer for as their greed and disregard for human life resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents in Laos as well as in Cambodia and Vietnam. And the lessons sadly do go unlearned as indiscriminate bombing continues.

I come back in the end to Laos as a place of dreams and sweet, wonderful people. As I continued to develop the song in my room the next morning I regretfully had to pack my bags and guitar as I realized I was about to be late to catch a bus to the next destination.

Sea Otters & the American Dream:
Drifting in a fog of sorrow after the passing of first my father, then my mother in a short space of time I found myself wandering up the California coast camping along beaches or sleeping in the back of my van and playing music. Moonstone Beach near Cambria, CA is a place of breathtaking beauty known for the population of sea otters inhabiting the waters. Communing with the playful, joyful otters, I figured, would be a nice way to cheer up. I settled on a rocky headland at the end of the beach where sea otters are known to frequent. But the otters were nowhere to be seen and I felt sadness and self-pity sinking in as I started strumming and thinking: Here I am, wandering aimlessly, living out of the van and playing music on beaches. Actually, not too bad if you think about it, but I was dwelling on things such as having thrown away careers, abandoning research projects & grad school, along with being homeless. In my mind I fretted about how others might feel about my unfocussed life and how I was missing out on the great American Dream - then a song began to emerge. Just as I was getting to the American Dream part a family of sea otters popped up in the surf and they let me know that it isn’t so bad to miss out – some things are more important than achieving the American Dream. There is much one can gain from watching the sea otters float all day in the surf.
There was once an architect, Ellis Lawrence, whose accomplishments in architecture and education in Oregon were vast. As he approached his waning days however, he lamented that he “didn’t spend enough leisure time enjoying art, nature and people dear to him’. This struck me as profoundly sorrowful and I resolved to live my life in a way that I never have to face such regrets.














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