The Poison Pie Publishing House presents:

Hebeloma's Abyssal Aria
Hebeloma Crustuliniforme
with illustrations by Julia K. Keffer
(link to main page of score)


May 1, 2022
Phoebe disappeared into the backroom, ostensibly for but a moment. During her absence, Adranís and Moros entered the cave. Both men were stone-faced. They had again donned their cephalopod headgear, a pinkish squid atop the head of the older man and a brown, reticulated octopus on the younger. They gestured for Eurymedusa to accompany them, ignoring her request to bid Phoebe farewell. When it appeared she might resist, Adranís gripped her wrist gently but firmly, drawing her away. As soon as she stepped outside the cave, an echo of many voices raised in song reached her ears.

written while listening to:  Giovanni Di Domenico & Alexandra Grimal - Chergui, disc 2 (Ayler Records, AYLCD-141-142, 2014, France, cdx2,

May 2, 2022
Following the lure of the patient melody, the trio filed through the alley until they reached the plaza. There Eurymedusa found the entirety of the village, some two hundred souls, already gathered. They formed a ring around the perimeter of the space. With her appearance, the congregation reduced their song to a murmuring hum. Eurymedusa was led through the crowd to stand before the stone statue of the cecaelia. The gargantuan beast seemed no more moved to respond to her reluctant arrival than it was to the ardent invocation of its supplicants.

written while listening to:  Derek Bailey - Improvisation (Get Back, GET 6202, 2000 (orig. 1975), Italy, lp,

May 3, 2022
It cannot be denied that the prospect of a ceremony in which she met a grisly end upon the blade of a sacrificial knife continued to loom prominently in the thoughts of the festival queen. What prevented utter panic were the reassurances of the old woman that there was more than darkness below the Earth, that ordinary people dwelt in this shadow of the surface world. Their rituals, while strange, mirrored the same needs of her folk in Athens. Besides, Eurymedusa bore within herself a darkness of her own, which gave rise to a kind of sympathetic resolve.

written while listening to:  Hans Reichel - Shanghaied On Tor Road (FMP, FMP CD 46, 1992, Germany, cd,

May 4, 2022
She scanned the throng for Phoebe, thinking that she would draw comfort from the sight of the old woman. Unable to find her in the crowd, her gaze instead settled on other bizarre headgear. One man wore a nautilus perched upon his otherwise bald head. The spiraling shell was affixed by tentacles dangling down his forehead like wet bangs. Another donned an octopus, which, as soon as she laid eyes on it, changed its coloration from a shade of ochre speckled with pale polka dots to a deep burgundy, bisected along the mantle by a single white stripe.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino - A Challenge to Fate (Les Disques du Soleil et de l'Acier, CDSA 54029, 1995, France, cd,

May 5, 2022
All attention focused on Eurymedusa; the expressions lacked both amity and enmity. Although the scene seemed to beg it of her, Eurymedusa had received no instructions to speak, so remained quiet. What thoughts could she possibly share with these villagers? At most, she might have reassured them that she would do her best to deliver whatever outlandish hopes they imagined would come to pass as a result of this ceremony. Her personal opinion of these proceedings was not important to the assembled congregation. O, this was but one instance of many of the inscrutable silences of Eurymedusa!

written while listening to:  Evan Parker - Saxophone Solos (Incus Records, INCUS 19, 1976, United Kingdom, lp,

May 6, 2022
Adranís and Moros flanked the festival queen. They turned from the crowd to face the statue. Eurymedusa followed suit. Only the width of the annular pool of luminous fluid separated them from the cecaelia. The older man began a prayer, in which he invoked the goddess of the subterranean people. The prayer was formulaic for after the first few words the crowd joined him in the recitation. In exchange for good health and the continued bounty of the marine depths, they offered the service of this festival queen, in accordance with the covenant struck at the founding of the colony.

written while listening to:  Steve Lacy - Avignon And After, Volume 1 (Emanem, 5023, 2012 (rec. 1972 & 1974), United Kingdom, cd,

May 7, 2022
Within the glowing blue water, a pulsing red light ascended. The source of the luminescence was soon revealed as a jellyfish. The rim of the undulating bell emitted a deep scarlet that reflected through-out its translucent flesh and along its tentacles. The animal swam to Adranís, who had donned thick gloves. Lifting it from the water, he ordered Eurymedusa to extend her arms with the palms facing upward. Across the exposed underside of her forearms, he dragged the tentacles. The sting was immediate. Her face contorted with pain but she did not cry out.

written while listening to:  Roscoe Mitchell - Solo Saxophone Concerts (Sackville Recordings, 2006, 1974, Canada, lp,

May 8, 2022
Within seconds Eurymedusa began to feel the effects of the jellyfish poison. Her fingers began to tingle before a numbness spread up her arms. Feeling faint, she feared her legs would give way beneath her. It barely registered with her when Moros dipped his hand into the pool and withdrew a fist-sized clam with frills lining the seam. He pried the valves open just slightly. Placing a hand on the back of her neck, he tilted her head and poured fluid contained within the mollusk into her mouth. He whispered, "Drink this; it will stop the pain."

written while listening to:  Wadada Leo Smith's Great Lakes Quartet - The Chicago Symphonies, disc 4: Sapphire Symphony (TUM Records, TUM BOX 004, 2021, Finland, cdx4,

May 9, 2022
The combination of two neurotoxins induced a state that was neither paralytic nor euphoric, but rather filled Eurymedusa with a sensation of disembodiment. It seemed the most natural idea in the world for a mortal being to interpret this detachment from the body as a sign of divine experience, though in fact the phenomenon was purely a manifestation of neural pathways reacting to the particular cocktail of biochemicals. The villagers believed such preparation was necessary lest the festival queen lose her sanity when she met the ocean mother.

written while listening to:  Ivo Perelman & Agustí Fernández - Brass and Ivory Tales, disc 6 (Fundacja Słuchaj!, FSR 11|2021, 2021, Poland, cdx9,

May 10, 2022
Adranís and Moros guided Eurymedusa from the plaza past the ring of bystanders into the village streets. By the light of a liquid lantern, they wound through paths lined with caves serving as domiciles until they reached a second, smaller wharf, where a solitary dinghy was moored. Neither man expressed surprise or resistance when she waded into the water rather than join them in the boat. Moros, however remained vigilant. If the drugs lessened her ability to swim, he was prepared to dive from the boat and drag the festival queen aboard.

written while listening to:  Muhal Richard Abrams - The Hearinga Suite (Black Saint, 120 103-1, 1989, Italy, lp,

May 11, 2022
He need not have worried, for Eurymedusa was a creature of the water in any state of mind. Moreover, only her sense of imperilment was diminished. She had kept her reason. She sensed in the buoyancy of the water a higher salinity; this reservoir led to the Great Sea and was distinct from the underground lake by which she had arrived. As she swam beside the boat, she imagined that she would find a tunnel, which emerged from the sea floor. She might simply swim back up to the surface and resume her journey.

written while listening to:  Thumbscrew (Michael Formanek, Tomas Fujiwara & Mary Halvorson) - The Anthony Braxton Project (Cuneiform Records, Rune 475, 2020, United States, cd,

May 12, 2022
Moros rowed for an hour until they came to a lone outcropping of rock. The stone was unworked save for the highest point at the center, which had been leveled off. In Eurymedusa's eyes, it bore an unmistakable resemblance to an altar. Adranís carefully stepped from the boat and clambered up the slope. He placed the glass amphora atop the stone table, where it shone like a distant blue star. Returning to his perch in the bow, the old man turned his head to the swimmer, but only his milky eye fell upon her. She was already fading from his mind.

written while listening to:  Masada - Vav (DIW, DIW-900, 1996, Japan, cd,

May 13, 2022
Moros gestured at the altar. Eurymedusa almost laughed. Did they expect her to just lay herself upon the stone and wait for some aquatic beast to arrive and devour her? Grasping the oars, Moros pulled away, apparently satisfied to allow her to ascend the island in solitude. They had brought only one lantern, left upon the altar; soon the boat disappeared, swallowed by the surrounding darkness. "Good luck!" called a man's voice from an unseen point upon the water. "May you serve the Ocean Mother well and may this service bring you joy."

written while listening to:  Jim O'Rourke - Scend (Divided, DIV 01, 1992, United States, cd,

May 14, 2022
Eurymedusa felt no terror at her abandonment. Ostensibly, her calm could be attributed to the effects of the neurotoxins, which numbed her emotions. However, she had passed a year in the labyrinth of King Minos. Her spirit had been distilled and emerged purified. Much of the conflicts and inhibitions of a teenage girl had been left behind; she desired only to discover what came next and face it with equanimity. For a while, she idly swam circles about the island. From the water, she stared at the rocks. Perhaps, the Ocean Mother waited for the festival queen to summon her from their highest point.

written while listening to:  Perch, Hen, Brock & Rain - Live @ The Jazz Happening Tampere (Relative Pitch Records, RPR1051, 2016, United States, cd,

May 15, 2022
Eventually Eurymedusa left the water and mounted the altar of her own accord. Next to the amphora, she sat sideways on the stone table with her legs dangling over the edge. She felt the immensity of the cavern around her and tested the acoustics calling out not words but her own imitations of the songs of birds. Faint echoes returned to her, describing the architecture of the stone through sound. Eurymedusa thought of Andromache, the flautist, whose melodies had weaved through the tunnels of the labyrinth. She longed for her company on this forsaken island and to listen to her music fill the darkness.

written while listening to:  Lawrence "Butch" Morris - Conduction #70: Tit for Tat (For 4 Ears, CD 927, 1998, Switzerland, cd,

May 16, 2022
It is possible that Eurymedusa fell asleep while she waited, though she meant no disrespect to the solemnity of the proceedings. We must remember that, only a day earlier, she had swum a great distance to reach the village then followed that with a second swim to this rocky island. She found herself in a muddled state, unable to distinguish waking from dreaming. When the hairs rose on the back of her neck, she supposed it was due to the intuition of dreams but the cold stone against her legs remained undeniably palpable.

written while listening to:  Pauline Oliveros - Reverberations: Tape & Electronic Music 1961-1970, disc 7: 5000 Miles (Important Records, IMPREC352, 2012, United States, cdx12,

May 17, 2022
The arrival of the Ocean Mother was presaged by a stillness that denied any ripple on the surface of the water or faint current in the air. All was as unmoving as the rock of the island. Eurymedusa's legs ceased swaying and even the slight expansion of her chest as she breathed seemed to require effort. Abruptly, the form of the cecaelia rose from the water before Eurymedusa. Neither the stone statue in the village plaza nor the dulling of her senses by the toxins prepared her for the shock of the monstrous, inhuman presence.

written while listening to:  Joëlle Léandre - The Wonderful Widow Of Eighteen Springs (Montaigne, MO 782121, 2004 (orig. 1996), France, cd,

May 18, 2022
Some aspects of the Ocean Mother had been accurately captured by the statue. The human half of her body was substantially larger than an ordinary woman. Her hair shone black in the blue light and, though wet, seemed as voluminous as the mane of the Nemean lion. Her broad shoulders and muscled arms testified to her physical strength. Yet she was a woman possessing full breasts and a figure from her ribcage to her waist born of constant movement through the water. Her eyes were a swirl of dark green and brown, her expression simultaneously emotionless and implacable.

written while listening to:  David Murray Octet - New Life (Black Saint, BSR 0100, 1987, Italy, lp,

May 19, 2022
At the hips, where two thighs should have appeared, her flesh expanded into eight arms of an octopus. The pale complexion and mammalian texture of her human skin gave way to the slippery velvet of a cephalopod. Two boneless arms slithered over the rocks while another two supported her upright from beneath the water's surface. The other four arms undulated and entwined, forming sinuous arches, then disappearing into the shallow water, only to reemerge a moment later. The Ocean Mother allowed herself to be scrutinized in detail, though to what end we can only speculate.

written while listening to:  Ornette Coleman - The Art of the Improvisers (Atlantic, SD 1572, 1970, United States, lp,

May 20, 2022
To be sure, the Minotaur had never posed for adoration in this manner. In fact, Eurymedusa's survival had been predicated on avoiding a face-to-face encounter with the beast. This prolonged exposure was entirely unfamiliar and gave weight to her suspicions that she remained in the sway of a drug-induced hallucination. The welcoming words of the cecaelia were uttered in a language reserved for marine invertebrates but Eurymedusa understood the meaning of the polyphonous syllables as clearly as if she were addressed in Greek. "We have waited many seasons for one like you to sit upon the stone."

written while listening to:  Anthony Braxton - Alto Saxophone Improvisations 1979, sides C & D (Arista, A2L 8602, 1979, United States, lpx2,

May 21, 2022
Because the celebration occurred on a regular schedule, Eurymedusa assumed the Ocean Mother perceived in her something absent in the other festival queens. Perhaps, it was merely that she did not cower. From her position atop the altar, she faced the larger creature nearly at eye-level. She had been brought here for a purpose and she waited silently for that purpose to be revealed. The cecaelia spoke plainly, "This shall be our only meeting. We now set you a task. In exchange for this service, we grant you a boon. Tell us, what is your heart's desire?"

written while listening to:  Loris Binot, Lê Quan Ninh & Emilie Škrijelj - Distant Numbers (Eux Sæm, 03, 2020, France, cd,

May 22, 2022
The unreality of the situation freed Eurymedusa from the inhibition, which had kept her from sharing her secret with another living soul. Even as she wondered whether one such as the marine goddess would belittle her for the dream that she had long harbored, her tendency to dissemble through deflection or silence evaporated. Eurymedusa answered truthfully, "I want to be able to breathe underwater." As soon as the words were spoken, she felt an intense rush of freedom fill her. She would remember this moment when she was later called to speak truths with uncertain reception.

written while listening to:  Paul Panhuysen - Twenty-Three Carillon Sudokus (Edition Telemark, 628.08, 2017, Germany, lp,

May 23, 2022
No judgment regarding the wisdom of Eurymedusa's choice could be read upon the countenance of the cecaelia. We note that the Ocean Mother explicitly neither agreed nor disagreed to honor the request. Instead, she began a lecture, which she had given before and which invariably confused, at least initially, the festival queens to whom it was directed. "When the male octopus approaches the female with the intent to mate, she fends off his advances before eventually relenting. He mounts her, sliding a particular arm inside her mantle cavity to deposit his seed. Typically, they copulate for several hours."

written while listening to:  Cecil Taylor - Live At The Cafe Montmartre (Debut Records, DEB-138, 1963, Denmark, lp,

May 24, 2022
In a language Eurymedusa understood without knowing, the cecaelia continued. "The mother octopus deposits her clutch of fertilized eggs in a small crevice, over which she settles. For the rest of her life, which now spans but several months, she protects her brood. She no longer hunts and the color drains from her body. When her young hatch, she dies. The hatchlings, numbering in the hundreds for parsimonious mothers and in the hundreds of thousands for the more fecund, swim toward the surface. There they join countless other species of plankton, as they are carried in great blooms on the ocean currents."

written while listening to:  John Zorn, George Lewis & Bill Frisell - News for Lulu (hat ART, hat ART CD 6005, 1988, Switzerland, cd,

May 25, 2022
"The love of the octopus mother for her progeny cannot be exceeded," said the cecaelia, "for she sacrifices her life in their birth. And yet, there is no grief as she pushes crabs away from her eggs or plucks algae from their surface, despite knowing that their odds of surviving to adulthood are low. If a single child from her brood grows to maturity, her line is continued for another generation. This is the way octopi live. Who are we to criticize the manner of their making or their faithful adherence to a script that has allowed them to persist for eons?"

written while listening to:  John Tchicai-Irène Schweizer Group - Willi The Pig (Willisau Live Records, WIL-1, 1976, Switzerland, lp,

May 26, 2022
Whatever Eurymedusa had expected from this festival, it was not a lecture on the reproductive strategy of cephalopods. Yet the unexpected lesson from the cecaelia continued in a new vein. "When the male human approaches the female with the intent to mate, she fends off his advances before eventually relenting. He mounts her, sliding a particular appendage into the opening of her womb to deposit his seed. Typically, they copulate for several minutes." This conceptual description of the human reproductive process was already known to Eurymedusa, though not from first-hand experience.

written while listening to:  Magda Mayas & Tony Buck - Gold (Creative Sources, CS 153 cd, 2008, Portugal, cd,

May 27, 2022
"The human mother incubates a single fertilized egg in her belly. For the duration of her pregnancy, which spans several months, she nurtures her unborn child. She alters her habits as her body prepares for the arrival. When her young is birthed, the human mother yet lives. The helpless infant requires her constant care for years to come." As she listened to this parallel description of the life cycles of octopi and humans, Eurymedusa stretched her imagination, in an attempt to predict the outcome of this lecture, but she could not yet divine its purpose.

written while listening to:  John Coltrane - Bahia (Prestige, PRST- 7353, 1965, United States, lp,

May 28, 2022
"The love of the human mother for her progeny cannot be disregarded," said the cecaelia, "for she dedicates her life to their upbringing. When a child succumbs to sickness, she is filled with a visceral grief, both emotional and biological in origin. She may bear a dozen children in her life, given the appropriate circumstances. In times of plenty, perhaps half these children will reach adulthood. Because two parents yield many offspring, the human population grows at a geometric rate. Should we criticize their equally faithful adherence to a script that has allowed them to spread across the Earth?"

written while listening to:  Vijay Iyer - Mutations (ECM Records, ECM 2372, 2014, Germany, cd,

May 29, 2022
The cecaelia paused her lecture. She retreated from the island and disappeared briefly, diving into the dark waters. A minute passed before she surfaced and resumed her position at the edge of the rocky shore. Eurymedusa supposed that she had needed to replenish the moisture on that portion of her body exposed to air. "The octopus mother bears a hundred thousand young while the human rears one at a time. The human mother may regard the octopus as an uncaring parent, since the vast majority of her children nourish whales and other beasts who feed on plankton by the billions."

written while listening to:  Marta Warelis - a grain of Earth (Relative Pitch Records, RPRSS014, 2022, United States, cd,

May 30, 2022
"At the same time, the octopus mother may regard her human counterpart with contempt for she fails to die when her young emerge. Rather she persists to reproduce again and again, giving rise to the explosive growth of her kind over-running the Earth. Not only are the gods dismayed by the unbridled expansion of humans but so too do animals fear their demise as men hunt them to extinction or clear forests for cities and farms. Even creatures of the deep, such as the octopus, are concerned that human numbers shall reach a point where they claim the sea as well."

written while listening to:  Colin Stetson - New History Warfare Volume 2: Judges (Constellation, CST075-1, 2011, Canada, lp,

May 31, 2022
"It lies within my power to grant your wish," said the Ocean Mother with an abrupt change in tone and topic, "but it comes at a price of its own. New functions of the body cannot be achieved without alterations in form. To breathe both water and air, as I do, you must be of both worlds, as I am. Is this what you wish, Festival Queen, to dwell by my side in the abyss all the days of your long life swimming effortlessly in the body of a woman melded to the arms of an octopus?"

written while listening to:  Thelonious Monk - The Complete Blue Note Recordings, disc 3 (Blue Note, CDP 7243 5 30363 2 6, 1994 (rec. 1952 & 1957), United States, cdx4,

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