Contemporary Occultism

High Mountain Tempel is "up for some chaos and misadventure."
  • High Mountain Tempel is "up for some chaos and misadventure."

“After four albums, we’re playing our first show,” says Eric Nielsen of High Mountain Tempel, who’ll make their stage debut June 25 at Kava.

A duo featuring Nielsen (Maquiladora, Buzz or Howl) and Keith Boyd, High Mountain Tempel experiments with tonality, ambient soundscapes, found sounds sampled from nonmusic sources, and nonlinear storytelling. “The type of music we make isn’t really a good fit for a night out drinking at a club,” says Boyd, “so playing live wasn’t really considered. We’d toyed with the idea of playing in remote or unusual settings for invited guests, a sort of quiet rave concept or something where the audience could come, go, sleep, basically do as they pleased and engage with the music at will. But it never really found a footing.”

As for what to expect at their first public performance, “It’s an open page, really. Eric and I have fond memories of seeing Crash Worship present their wild rituals, and we’d like to incorporate lights, video, costumes, and movement. While we’d like to approach this with some zeal and conviction, we’re also up for some chaos and misadventure.”

The band is working on a fifth album, Gnosis. “We’ve been exploring some new sound palettes,” says Boyd. “We’re still using synths and loops, but we’re also bringing in electric dulcimer, tambora boxes, and vocal layering.”

Meanwhile, a remix of High Mountain Tempel’s song “Pilgrimage to Thunderbolt Pagoda” will appear on a compilation CD included with a British periodical published by Fulgur Limited. “They put out a high-quality journal of historic and contemporary occultism called Abraxas, and with this issue they wanted to include a CD companion of musically diverse but like-minded artists.” The CD will also include music by Ragnarok, Cyclobe, and Arktau Eos.

High Mountain Tempel calls itself “San Diego’s most occult band,” but does that mean the band endorses Satanism or something akin? “The word occult is an often misunderstood and misused word,” explains Boyd. “Essentially, it means hidden. Another sense of the word refers to knowledge or wisdom only available to one who has been initiated. We’re interested in the underlying meaning of life and our experience of it. There’s no one creed or faith we ascribe to.

“All paths are equally valid expressions of the primal drive humans have to seek the divine.”

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