Band members Related acts
- Francisco Lupica (aka Frank Davis, aka Frank Cupica) --
vocals, keyboards, guitar, drums
- Shanti (as Frank Lupica)
- The Travel Agency (as Frank Davis)
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Title: Cosmic Beam Experience
Company: Cosmic Beam Records
Country/State: Santa Barbara, California
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: original lyric inner sleeve
Catalog ID: 4723
I'll readily admit this was another album I picked up for the interesting sci-fi cover and the fact it looked like a pretty bizarre outing (hippy guru singing/preaching to his congregation of zonked out apostles - Father Yod and Bobby Brown both readily came to mind).
Another true one-man job, 1976's "Cosmic Beam Experience" is the work of L.A. musician Francisco Lupica. Lupica wrote all of the material, arranged, produced, handled the vocals and played most of the instruments including an electrified I-beam (don't even ask) and other items that he apparently built himself. Without knowing a great deal about his background, like Bobby Brown, Lupica seems to have performed at a lot of free events throughout Southern California (echoes of Bobby Brown). (I also found out that he's credited with creating some of the sound effects for 1979's "Stark Trek: The Motion Picture"). Anyhow, based on the title and cover art (courtesy of Stephen Moffitt who also co-produced and engineered some of the material), I was expecting to hear a collection of instantly forgettable new age dribble. Well, I was only partially correct. The album starts out with a killer piece of pop - with it's catchy chorus and uplifting lyrics 'Heal Yourself' would have made a dandy top-40 single. The flip side opener 'Love Sweet Love' is almost as good. Spread across two extended sections (at least part of it recorded in L.A.'s St. Paul's cathedral), the title track is much more in keeping with my original expectations. Musically the mix of sound effects (waves, rain, thunder), electronics, acoustic sounds and choral segments is mildly entertaining. Imagine a mix between 1990s industrial noise and a band of stoned hippies deciding to take a tape recorder along as they enjoy a day at the beach and you'll get a feel for how weird it is. I'll at least admit that I like it more than say Atlantis Philharmonic. By the same token you're not going to get up an dance your ass off to any of this.
Judging by an online interview conducted with Lupica (see below), no more than 1,00 copies were pressed; most of them apparently sold at his concerts. I have no idea if it's a legitimate release, but the Radioactive label reissued the album in CD format (Radioactive catalog RR 112CD). The album also attracted some attention when composer Hans Zimmer sampled some of it for his work on the soundtrack to Terrence Mallick's film "The Thin Red Line". The film wasn't very good which probably explains why the soundtrack generated attention ...
1.) Heal Yourself (Francisco) - 4:56
2.) Cosmic Beam Experience (Part One) (instrumental) (Francisco) - 11:22
2.) Cosmic Beam Experience (Part Two) (Francisco) - 10:27
3.) Hey Mister Sun (Francisco) - 1:47
Here are a couple of other Francisco tidbits.
The first is a description of his I-bar contraption: "Inside the tent was a guy playing a very long metal beam, like a steel I-bar, with a few piano type strings stretched from end to end. He had it hooked up with an electronic pickup, so it could be amplified and use echoplex effects. In one hand he held a thick metal cylinder, like a giant version of the one steel guitar players use. With the other hand he plucked, stroked, bowed and hammered on the strings while moving the bar. The harmonics and textural magic from this instrument, which literally moved through your body, was so incredible people would stay for hours..........John Beal"
I also found a brief and uncredited interview with the artist on the web. I'll leave it out here until I get threatened with legal action.
"Francisco Lupica has given many years performing in California and around the nation developing his unique musical expression, which he calls the Cosmic Beam Experience. A versatile performer, he plays acoustic guitar, electric space guitar, drums, chimes, zither and an array of four steel channel beams, as well as unusual vocal effects. All this, combined with a specially designed sound system to produce a very full range of frequencies from very high, full mid and super low vibrations, creates an extraordinary sound experience.
While sitting with him in his beachside cottage, filled with the sounds of the ocean and the sweet scent of incense, I gaze upon this good gentle man and sense the significance of his future. I am aware that his music has provided many with nourishment and inspiring moments. Much effort and growth have gotten his music to this point and I have asked him to share some of his feelings and motivations. Here is some of our conversation:
Paul: How do you relate to life? What is important to you?
Francisco: Feeling really nice inside, simple and free, clean. I love relating to the ocean and the sun. The energy of the sun sometimes makes me want to cry out and have everyone just wake up and recognize the joy of being alive, and being able to experience whatever your experience is. Whatís my feeling about life? Iím learning more and more not to take it for granted.
Paul: What is it you are trying to express through your music?
Francisco: It is an extension of me. It is my apparatus to express myself. I am trying to share my innermost feeling of how I see and experience life.
Paul: Through your music you express feelings of health and vitality. Your concerts are more than just you on a stage and people sitting in an audience. Itís a complete environment that you endeavor to create. What is the basis of this environment?
Francisco: Well, I am working to provide a pure sound experience in harmony with enlightening visuals, laser images, video images, and film images, so that the audience can grasp or comprehend that there is more to life that what they perceive. Itís kind of like pushing a button to stimulate parts of the body that are numb.
Paul: So you believe that the sound you generate actually stimulate?
Francisco: Yes. Stimulate and enliven. One of the first comments people make is "Aha! I feel so high and I didnít even get stoned." Thatís real pleasing feedback for me because it shows me that the lifestyle that I have chosen to live or has chosen me, however you want to relate to that, is coming through the music. I surrender myself to the sun and I comprehend its infinite energy, then when I play I feel the sun shine and I share it with my music.
Paul: How did you get started?
Francisco: I was inspired about fifteen years ago buy a drummer named Sandy Nelson who did drum songs. I started with the attitude of doing drum solo music, but with lyrics and melodiousness. Through time I worked with many other musicians and bands - Travel Agency, Taj Mahal, Lee Michaels - before I came to LA looking for a record deal. Thatís when I met Richard Bock, a producer of World Pacific Records, who brought Ravi Shankar to America. He introduced me to Ashish Kahn and to Indian music. He asked me and Ashish to join forces and thatís how the group Shanti was realized. So, I went okay and put my soloist trip away and started playing in Shanti which produced an album and was very close to being successful. When Shanti broke up I left the Bay area, which was where Shanti was based and came to Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara seemed to be the place I always went to for refuge and to get my head clear. After about three months of Shanti being over with and me wondering what to do next, and with an incredible amount of information within me, musically because of Shanti, I had a vision and thatís how the Cosmic Beam Experience began. It just came to me in my meditations. I began building this experience about five years ago, and I have been true to that vision to the point where it is now. I did my first soloist concert on New Yearís Eve night, 1972 going into 73. It was sold out, my knees were shaking, my throat was dry as a desert, and I did it, and I have been doing it ever since.
Paul: So, do you just let the music flow through you or do you have some way of determining the sounds you generate?
Francisco: I have certain sign posts that I have set up, but no limits, no fences, just certain sign posts and if I happen to be near that sign post I go to it, if Iím not feeling in tune. I guess I am a radio on one degree, you could say, I just tune in to whatever frequency or station. All music is already available on any level. As I see it, weíre just vibrations, human bodies, trees, rocks, just all vibrations. And as humans we are fortunate to have the ability to become a radio or a receiver. My body, which is the house I live in, my temple, the cleaner it is the more far out it is, for me, this doesnít mean anybody else, but for me. The more neat I feel internally and externally the higher the music. I feel much close to the music. The music is already here. I didnít conjure it up or sit down for years to learn it. There is now a label to the next stage of life which is called New Age. What I think New Age music is, is people tuning into themselves and them music. The music from intunement is more nourishing and inspiring.
Paul: There are those that feel that new music forms and media techniques, New image capabilities, actually have an evolutionary role. Do you agree with this?
Francisco: Yes. The potential is phenomenal. The technology that is available today could change the whole planet but somehow, I guess, not enough people want it yet. There are handfuls of people like me and groups like Positive Media who want to provide experiences in the hopes of reawakening everyone, enlivening them through the senses which is OK because we are in the body and the masses of people are sensory oriented so thatís why media is unfolding more and more. We are a bunch of sensory freaks here on the planet earth. People like to be taken on trips. I guess the disappointment is that so many of the trips arenít for an awake and sensitized being. Theyíre limited and without substance.
Paul: What is the substance of your songs which I find very enlivening and uplifting?
Francisco: Iím finding myself trying to present simplicity again in the hopes that the message that does come through will be heard. The songs come from my relationship with myself in life. The songs are also for me to learn. I mean some of the songs I sing, if I was living that way, I would be Joe Holy, so theyíre also my therapy. Theyíre like reminders. Sometimes I have a hard time singing some of the songs I write because theyíre saying something really neat about life and Iím not quite living that way yet, although I had the vision at the time it came through me. The songs are to remind me to get my act together and become more centered. I sing them publicly because we are all connected on one level or another and sometimes by someone speaking out we realize, "Wow, she or heís going through that too. So I guess itís OK. Iím not alone"
Paul: Some of the songs are called "Heal Yourself," "Sit Back and Relax," "Cosmic Feeling." They are simple direct songs we can relate to.
Francisco: Yes "Sit Back and Relax," for example I want to create a sound expression for that feeling. The image I had in my head was of somebody who worked all day long, stuck doing a job thatís not really what they want to do. One of their only outlets is listening to music. After a long day of work they come home and if they happen to have a cassette of the Cosmic Beam Experience they can play that song and if you surrender to it, it does just that. You will get a relaxed experience.
Paul: Talking about your tapes and records, you succeeded in achieving something a lot of artists strive for, thatís independently producing your own album. How did that come about?
Francisco: Well, the people materialized the album. What I mean is, during four years of performing as a soloist, people would talk to me after concerts and give me validation or whatever and within a couple of sentences they would say, "Have you got a record out yet?" and I would say, "Soon." I said soon for years. Finally I was able to comprehend it fully in my mind and feel, yeah, itís time and actually do it. I sought out people to invest in me in sort of a friendship-business relationship. Because of all the years working with other musicians, recording on albums and just learning the ropes of the industry through my eyes, I was able to produce my own album and all of the right people were there. Steven Moffit who does the Beach Boys was the engineer and I did some of the recording at St. Paulís Cathedral where my next concerts are.
Paul: You also have distributed your records yourself.
Francisco: Yes, thousands of people have my tapes or records from direct sales at my concerts and mail orders. I would like to see Cosmic Beam records at all stores. It can be done. I like just the idea of visualizing an artist, she or he having an independent record company. For me, it just all came together as the songs came together.
Paul: How do you feel about playing in St. Paulís Cathedral?
Francisco: Itís beautiful. I love to play with the sound within the Cathedral. It allows all the instruments that I play to have a more expansive sound, the harmonics that are developed inside the Cathedral are just beautiful. Itís just the sort of perfect place, perfect environment for the Cosmic Beam Experience. Itís one of my fantasies to play cathedrals all around the world. All those sort of epic environments that were built for people to go to for unique events. I feel honored to be able to play in St. Paulís Cathedral. I really do. Thereís something that seems to happen to me just sitting in that environment playing. Itís like a feeling of renaissance. Itís just a big beautiful open space and people can bring a pillow and a blanket and just lie down and share this experience with me.
Paul: As you and other artists who share a healthy, humanistic perspective, are able to reach larger audiences, what effect do you think this will have on our culture?
Francisco: I feel there will be a chain reaction and it will inspire more fulfilling relationships and neater environments to live in.
Paul: Who are you?
Francisco: Me. Iím just me, and if I want to step out of me I can create multidimensional experiences, whatever me wants to be. I can be Francisco or me is capable of channeling real neat energy by the Cosmic Beam Experience, but if we take all that away, Iím just me.
Paul: Youíre working as an artist to express yourself, in that effort, are you also working with a sense of purpose in relationship to other people in the world?
Francisco: I sense a oneness with everyone. Sometimes I do feel isolated. I notice that the more I get involved in the here and now, a goal in mind seems to disappear. Goal is future talk which doesnít exist now. Everyone is always trying to help the masses which is neat, but society is really made up of individuals. My concern isnít a relationship with humankind but a relationship with myself. The fruit of it is that I can be more in harmony with others because Iím expressing myself. I do see people hurting themselves, being asleep. Theyíre not very happy. And yet inside I know thatís another part of me, a reflection of me. Weíre all interconnected. I do feel humankind. Weíre so many different facets. I used to try to promote healing and TM which I like, but there are many diverse ways of doing things. And I donít promote it verbally, I just sort of sneak it in with my music. Just like the sun, it rises, just appears gradually and then goes down. Some people notice it happening and some donít. Eventually everyone says, "Hey. Whatís going on here? I feel different. I feel more alive." Even the numbest people. I guess wanting so much to scream out "Wake up, come on brother, come on sister, wake up." These incredible ideas of sound and visual art materialize. I want to provide encouragement for people. Hopefully theyíll come out of the Cosmic Beam Experience feeling a little more alive, feeling in tune with themselves and more aware of their potential. Yes, I have a sensitivity for humankind, more than I even know about."
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