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The Continual Return of Dr. Ordinaire is a postmodern darkwave rock opera, with music written and produced by Pierre, leading a core group of highly talented Los Angeles musicians (including members of The Present Moment, labXIV and other bands known from the LA scene — Bar Sinister, Das Bunker, Batcave, etc. — and Europe: Wave Gotik Treffen and elsewhere), with featured chanteuse Tequila Mockingbird and Emcee Mark Jeffrey.

The Players

In the tradition of the “rock opera,” each of the players manifests an archetypal character in the story.

The Characters

(Photography by Vern Evans) downloads

The Album

The sound of the record is rooted in Pierre’s time in the “golden era” of LA’s gothic/industrial scene — embodying the mix of dark synth, EBM and futurepop — and combining this with cinematic orchestral (yes, the instruments are real) arrangements and spaced-out psychedelic sound design.

Like the protagonist of the story, this record is a true anachronism: a “concept album,” designed for sitting down and listening for the duration of the narrative experience (in this case, a full hour).

Towards this purpose, the optimal delivery is a 96K/24bit uncompressed audio file, on DVD or downloadable media, to be played through the hi-fidelity DAC of choice (planned release late 2023). Coredark Records also plans releases of singles and remixes of individual tracks from the record on vinyl and the usual streaming media.

In the meantime, this is the current working mix:

The 2022 Sequence (Solstice 12/21/22) full audio download: 44.1/16 uncompressed .wav (note that there will be a final mix and master pass for the formal 2023 release)

Commentary on the Tracks and Narrative

The following is some commentary on the sequence and story, with timecode references:

0:00 (ambient intro) From across the void, the Cosmic Roustabout invites us into the theatre …
(fun fact: the Roustabout is voiced by Brent Bushnell, who knows a thing or two about rousting about)
2:10 Overture — Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen, Mesdames et Messieurs, Damen und Herren … roll up for the mystery tour … and the curtain rises. The alchemical stage here is Calcinatio: purification; the beginning of the process.
4:32 Oblivion — This is the beginning of the cycle. M. Ordinaire has just reappeared in a new place and time, not sure where (or who) he is. Is this another life? I can’t remember my name. I don’t know who I am.” “If this is all we are, how do I remember that I’ve been here before … ?” The alchemical stage here is Solutio: to be in an altered state of consciousness.
8:23 L’Histoire Ouverte (Part 1) — Here memories of previous cycles begin to return – a clearer idea of his own identity is coming around …
10:55 L’Histoire Ouverte (Part 2)
As the memories replay, a sense of identity is coming together (as we only know who we are based the sum of our memories, do we not?) The alchemical stage here is Coagulatio: things combining, taking form , solidifying … crystallization. 
12:28 A Victorian Passage — Imagine M. Ordinaire, awake and coherent now, dressed in a new suit, tie and hat as his ship (a steamship?) docks. Arrival in a new world, meeting new people … with new experiences ahead (with the idea of leaving the past behind, and perhaps with a new and enigmatic guide?) … but there is still the question, “what is reality?” … The alchemical stage here is Sublimatio, at its beginning: introspection, imagination
16:42 “Interlude” — Circumstances are encouraging: there is life to live, experiences to have … yet there is a hesitation (perhaps from vague memories of past cycles?) … a hint of madness, foreshadowing of the inevitable end of the cycle … but then after a brief (Victorian style) “episode” (“oh, I seem to have fainted for a moment … ?”) a return to the positive and hopeful … The Jupiter archetype influence is approaching its apex … The Promethean/Luciferian awareness about to rise … (Lord Saturnus might have something to say about this) …
18:23 Light Lift — Life, hope … perhaps even the possibility of companionship in this world … the Promethean / Luciferan archetype blossoms … Sublimatio is at its peak.
21:59 The “Turning Point” suite. Sublimatio is at its end. The narrative trajectory leading upward is inevitably about to turn downward …
22:30 part 1: Chez Julien — this scene begins hopeful, enthusiastic … a party at a fine establishment …
23:10 part 2: The Starlite Lounge (“The Jupiter Cabaret”) … indeed, this is Jupiter’s solo performance …
27:02 part 3: … through the bar and out the back door …
28:18 part 4: … to the back alley dive …
Alas, for our protagonist, too “light,” getting too “high” (we all remember what happened to Icarus), which must lead to apathy, cynicism, foreboding feelings of ruin and madness … “perhaps it is foolish, after all, to try to make this last …” Here Saturnus heralds the coming end of the cycle, and forces the question: return to the beginning, or recklessly proceed? The apex of the cycle is related to the end (and beginning) … “from the top you can see the bottom.”
28:55 Purgatory — In the middle of the cycle, it is no longer exciting and new to be in this world; it now begins to feel like a prison (a situation that has repeated itself many times, in faded memories). The party is fading, the hangover arriving; our protagonist is beginning to feel very alone … thoughts now turn to getting … out … Is this not madness? What we’ve become?” It is somewhat ambiguous whether the state of Purgatory is the result of the perpetual continuation of the karmic cycle, or if it comes from being stuck in one iteration, without moving on. So there’s a question, here: who is really the positive force, the Jupiter archetype or the Saturn archetype? The alchemical stage here is Mortificatio – Melancholy.
37:15 Thursday’s End — The inevitable collapse … with a crash and bang (or perhaps not a bang but a whimper?). The end of the cycle (the Apocalypse) must be accepted … (but still with an intent to “struggle on” somehow) … “And so another cycle ends … and yet we struggle on my friend. The carousel goes round and round. Around we ride, and it’s getting us nowhere …”
43:59 Deus Ex Silentium (intro)
45:02 Deus Ex Silentium — “The silence fills my mind, darkness surrounds my eyes …” The the inevitable end of the cycle (“Death”), a return to purification through fire, descending. Here the Saturn influence reigns: this is the End. To Stillness. Silence. The alchemical stage here is Separatio.
48:48 Coda — The End (of the cycle) … from the collapse to silence and stillness … The alchemical stage here is Conjunctio, to Circulatio.
51:12 (ambient spacetime void) — … but the story is not over, yet …
53:46 Reality Drive — With the departure … there is the hope, the possibility (the inevitability) of return and rebirth … even as he leaves, the cycle calls him back …“No, don’t go away. Don’t go, my friend. Don’t fade away again …”
58:21 (close)

Further Discussion of the Story

The story is open to interpretation. This is one possible interpretation:

The year was 1799, and with the medicinal wormwood elixir successfully delivered several years prior (some say due to the influence of his assistant Henriette), Dr. Ordinaire was on the verge of completing his magnum opus: the key to immortality.

Involved were many elements of ancient and archetypal origin: metals (tin, lead), herbs (withania somnifera, hyssop and garlic, wormwood) with (according to legend, but never revealed) many arcane spells and rituals from (reportedly) Egyptian archeological sources.

The medical use of wormwood dates back to ancient Egypt and is mentioned in the Papyrus Ebers, an Egyptian medical papyrus of herbal knowledge dating to c. 1550 BCE (the late Second Intermediate Period or early New Kingdom). Among the oldest and most important medical papyri of Ancient Egypt, it is currently kept at the Leipzig University Library in Germany.

Absinthe has often been portrayed as a dangerously addictive psychoactive drug and hallucinogen The chemical compound thujone, which is present in the spirit in trace amounts, was blamed for its alleged harmful effects.

The recorded history of Dr. Pierre Ordinaire ends here.

What has not been revealed is the fact that his experiments were indeed successful, but not without “madness, and twisted wires” …

Indeed, he has achieved immortality — but hardly in the way he had in mind. The psychoactive properties of the components of his work gave him potentially infinite and immortal vision, but it is clouded by amnesia (perhaps the measure of wormwood extract was in the end, ironically, excessive?). Now he lives forever, but in measure of twelve year cycles (clearly the influence of the Jovian archetypal elements) … trapped in karmic iterations … in each new life, waking and facing the challenge of remembering who he is, and what remains of his purpose … 

(He begins to wonder, “Was 1799 just one cycle in the first place?” “Or am I just another incarnation of a magician working in 1067 … or perhaps many cycles before?”)

It has also become (vaguely, at least to the protagonist)) apparent that Dr. Ordinaire’s extensive work in archetypal symbolism, across multiple media and with chemical and alchemical influence, has shifted his reality (or his interpretation of reality) in such a way that the elements of his research and experimentation are manifested as corporeal beings: people he encounters in everyday life, in each of his “lifetimes” (though he might not always recognize them).

He wonders, “ … these characters I’ve met … they seem somehow important, and strangely familiar … are they here to help me? … or do they have their own purposes … ?

Though he does not realize it, he is correct on all points. 

For through his arcane works (perhaps more powerful than he realized), Dr. Ordinaire (or was it an earlier iteration?) unintentionally(?) unleashed (or, at least, incarnated, in the present realm) material (indeed, human) manifestations of the essential elements of his alchemical procedures. In each era, they take on different appearances, but they are always present :

  • The great Jupiter, god of sky and thunder – the uplifting, the urge to life — in traditional mythology, this god is seen as male. In this story, Jupiter appears as a powerful female … once the cycle is open, she prompts our protagonist to rise up, to fly … !
    • (Dr. Ordinaire encounters her as a cabaret singer … is it 1922? Berlin?)
    • Also in the picture is Jupiter’s .. younger sister? A catalyst, on the move, making things happen. Is it Miss Grey? Or perhaps Henriette?
  • The mighty Saturnus — who opens the door to each cycle, and (as a strict disciplinarian) demands that it closes. It is he who analyzes all, and maintains order: what goes up, must come down!
    • (We see him in many guises: a conservative professor, also the ringmaster of a small-time circus, …)
    • Saturn Minor (Novus Chronus) is an independent aspect (son, or younger brother?) of the Saturn archetype: it is he who maintains the time and the tempo (“one hundred beats per minute, the tempo of the human heart”) 

And there is one more character to consider. For Dr. Ordinaire soon realizes that it is not just the classical archetypes of gods and history he is facing, but also … himself: his own shadow, who in this story we call “Mr. Umbra” — when Dr. Ordinaire seeks reason, Mr. Umbra calls him to question, like the Hatter, to Alice: “Is this not madness?”.

By Saturn they seek to represent that power which maintains the cyclic course of times and seasons. This is the sense that the Greek name of that god bears, for he is called Cronus, which is the same as Chronos or Time. Saturn was enchained by Jupiter to ensure that his circuits did not get out of control, and to constrain him with the bonds of the stars. — Quintus Lucilius Balbus, as quoted by Cicero

And so these characters frame the dialectics that compose this chapter of the continual story: The desire to rise — versus the reality of gravity, pulling us back to earth. The need for sanity, rationality — versus the beckoning of the undifferentiated, primal self.

How will this chapter end for our “hero and friend,” Dr. Ordinaire? And what happens next … ?