Critics have made much about the apocalyptic obsession manifesting in these times. You can witness it in the evangelical condemnation of America’s shifting social mores, in the mass consumption of disaster-porn films, and in the new age appropriations of indigenous Mesoamerican mythologies that forged the recent 2012 hysteria. The most obvious critique of this urge is that such feelings are common throughout history, that many so-called prophets have predicted apocalypses and watched as the world continued on in spite. The late-60s revival of this tendency led to mass cult suicides and the Manson family’s massacres. But the sense of the word apocalypse originally contained no sense of the end of the world, but only revelation. (The word’s Greek roots imply the removal of a leather covering.) The Source Family subscribed to this school; Father Yod’s work attempted to realize a synthesis of all mysteries and to reveal them to his devoted followers and whomever has ears to hear. Perhaps The Source Family’s most famous exoteric project (apart from their eponymous restaurant on the Sunset Strip), the music that the group released under various monikers, represents this revelatory purpose and presages the direction of the psychedelic music of the last few decades.
The Source Family’s musicians, all except for Father Yod, learned to play their instruments in the traditional sense. It is in Yod’s presence that the more traditional psych signifiers morphed into new forms. As an outsider musician, Yod’s contributions tend to at once destabilize and organize the rest of the band’s movements. This structural breakdown and final accession to the face-melting insanity blazed a trail that many of the greatest contemporary psych bands followed. The freak-out appears in full force, but despite the swirling guitar and flute solos and continuous rhythm, one can’t help but feel that the music is a vehicle for Yod’s teachings: a tool for accessing the deep layers and implanting there the seeds of spiritual change.
It would be too easy to dismiss this wisdom as mere New Age bullshit or soft, flowerchild mysticism. It’s obvious that Yod is a true believer, and whether you think that makes him crazy or not, it’s clear by his fervor that he speaks with an honesty that was not always clear in his imitators. This kind of honesty is a prerequisite for the possibility of achievement, but there remains the necessity to rise to that new height. This is music that, at its best, climbs the holy mountain and plants its flag at the summit so that others may see the way.
Head trip collectors will find this a welcome addition to their dusty crates, and if they’re lucky enough to have any of the Source Family’s rare releases on wax, this trip to the vaults will sit well with many others. It’s a powerful supplement, and as some tracks stretch up to 19 minutes, there is a sense of scope that increases the strength of this release enough for it to stand on its own. New listeners may want to dig around for a more coherent album first, but may find a center in Yod’s message. Ultimately, Yod comes down on one central point: You are responsible for your own salvation. Prophetically, He sums it up near the beginning of this album: “All men are Jesus/ Some in reality, some in potential/ Those who do not discover the reality within the potential before the year 2001/ That’s it for them.”
The threat of looming apocalypse and the dangers of this revelation run as a dark streak in Yod’s work. “Insanity is what awaits for you/ If with this consciousness/ Destructive you become.” But these are helpful warnings; a potentially great gift lies in spiritual achievement, and the closer one approaches infinity, the farther one may fall. Though he certainly made dark uses of his charisma (see upcoming documentary The Source for accounts of his 13 wives and legion of zealous followers, rumors of secret blood rituals, flirtations with Crowleyism, etc.), he applies it to the aid of others. It might be a spurious assumption, and Yod made his share of human mistakes, but he seems to have discovered something, or else this music would exercise nowhere near its transformative power. His plan, and The Source Family’s goal, is to give that power to you.