live sound collage broadcasts

Aldous Huxley was already a respected novelist and philosopher when he arrived in Southern California in 1938.  A spiritual seeker,  Huxley believed that human potential could be elevated through transcendence and the dystopian future he had foreseen in his book Brave New World avoided.  An interest in Eastern Mysticism led him to friendships with Krishnamurti and Alan Watts, among others.

In 1953 he read the work of Humphry Osmond, a psychiatrist who was studying the similarities between induced psychedelic experiences and schizophrenia.  The two began a correspondence which culminated in a meeting at Huxley’s West Hollywood home during the course of which Osmond administered Huxley mescaline.  In 1954, Huxley wrote about his experience in the groundbreaking book The Doors of Perception.   He continued to experiment with psychedelics and reflect upon the benefits the accepted use of psychedelics could have upon society until his death in 1963.  

The Aldous Huxley Papers at UCLA contain over 500 records classified as audio, pulled from a collection of reel to reel tapes  donated by the Huxley Trust to the university in 2009.  Of those audio records, only 8 are tagged as ‘music’.   Alongside lectures, interviews, guided meditations, and tapes titled ‘A&L psilocybin 8 pills’, ‘Baba Ram Dass mostly empty’, and ‘John Lily: repetitive words and sentences’, are 4 reels labeled ‘Music, compilation of chants and nature sounds, collected by Aldous Huxley’.  

The sounds spliced together across these reels include chants of Tibetan monks, howls of wolves, Indian drumming, songs of Kalahari Bushmen, bells, and what is unmistakably the Ramayana Monkey Chant.  

Special Collections is very happy to present a collage of the music preserved in the Aldous Huxley archive.


Broadcast date: June 26th 2018
KCHUNG Los Angeles 1630AM

SPECIAL COLLECTIONS is a broadcast project by Sam Rowell.
Each edition is mixed live on the air.