Daniel Higgs and The Dream House

In the beginning of 2008, my best friend Doog, my wife Lindsay, and I, were making plans to move from the midwest to upstate New York. We decided that the best way to do this was to go on tour. We booked a few shows across the country, we rented a car, and we invited our good friend Chris Barth aka Normanoak to play the tour with us. Doog and Chris are some of my favorite and most magical musicians, so this was to be a dream tour of mine.

The first show was in a cabin in Bloomington, Indiana. I asked one of my other favorite musicians, Castle Oldchair, to play with us that night. It was a great start to a great adventure. We left the next morning. During our daily drives, we would stop anywhere that looked beautiful. We would go on long hikes in the woods and then continue our drive. We would share stories and listen to strange new music.

Doog, Chris, Lindsay, and I on tour.

We showed up to a house show in Pittsburgh and the flyer for the show had a picture of Leila Waddell on it, the violinist who played at Aleister Crowley’s magickal rituals. Our magical nature had proceeded us and we were excited! It ended up being a great and intimate show. We met up with a friend Hanz Bronze that night and he continued on the tour with us for the next few days.

The next day, we got to New York and we had been excitedly planning to visit The Dream House before our show. Doog had been to the Dream House once before on tour and had told me all about it. The Dream House is a minimalist sound installation by LaMonte Young that has been in existence since the late 70’s. It is meant to be an expression of the ever present drone that is behind the physical reality of nature and the universe.

38 pure sine waves are played into a room from four corners. The tones go on forever and they never change. They range from super low bass to super high, barely audible and everything in between. There is a light sculpture in the middle of the room to stimulate your eyes as your ears try to comprehend what you are hearing.

When you go into the room, you sit down in the middle and all these tones are hitting your body in all kind of ways. When you move your head, it changes the way the sound waves hit your ears. A true demonstration of the magic of physic and sound, you can create melodies in your ears just by subtly moving your head.

We were in the Dream House for about 20 minutes, starting to understand what it was like to interact with a space like that and quietly reflecting on it, when this older guy with a long white beard comes in and sits down on the other side of the room. Chris exclaims “That’s Daniel Higgs!!” When I first saw him, he looked to me like a member of the Hell’s Angels. He was covered in tattoos, wearing all black, and had a long white beard. We all took in the site of this legendary mystical singer going wild with the tones. He was literally freaking out in there. He was spinning his head around, shaking himself as he played with the interaction of the tones.

Dream House Light Sculpture

We watched him for a minute and took a cue from him. We proceeded to get a bit wilder and more free with our experience of the tones. We all started shaking our heads and moving in all kinds of way and let the sounds dance in our ears. Eventually we had to leave. Chris was really excited about what had just happened. I wasn’t ready to fully appreciate that moment, as I hadn’t heard the music of Daniel Higgs yet. Years later, I would develop a obsessive relationship with his music and the music of his band Lungfish.

The story mystically comes full circle four years later when Doog and I happened to be in Oakland, California together. Daniel Higgs was playing a show on Halloween and I invited Doog to go with me. I picked him up and we drove to the show in a noisy and crowded punk house. It was the first time Doog had been able to see Daniel Higgs play and I was really happy to have been able to give him that experience. There was a woman called Pod Blotz that played before Daniel Higgs. She told Doog that she was Daniel Higgs’ sister and then she started her set by yelling and looping the phrase “RETURN TO THE DREAM HOUSE!” Doog was shocked at this phrase and how it seemed to be related to our mutual history with Mr. Higgs.

To take it to another level, a mutual friend of Doog and mine named Paul Smith completes the story…

A year before Doog and I first visited the dream house with Chris and Lindsay, Doog first went there with Paul Smith. They laid in there for an hour or so while Paul was recording the strange dream drones on a cassette recorder. A few months after they visited the Dream House together, Paul moved into a new house in Bloomington and started listening to the Dream House tape regularly. A few months later, our friend Nathan shows Paul a picture of Daniel Higgs and his band Lungfish playing a show in the 90′s in what was now Paul’s basement in Bloomington, where he had been listening to his Dream House tape that he recorded with Doog.

Also Lindsay reminded me of another seemingly supernatural syncronistic spinoff to this tale:

About six months after we saw Daniel Higgs at the Dream House, Lindsay was invited to play a show with my friends group at a music festival in France. She flew out there not knowing anything about the festival and when she arrives, guess who is also the playing the festival? Daniel Higgs. Totally unexpected and random, even in France.

It NEVER ends and it maybe spirals around the Dream House and Daniel Higgs. The Mystery…

(This story comes from a collection of strange tales about my best friend Doog. You can read more here: http://abriefhistoryofdoog.tumblr.com)