The Poison Pie Publishing House presents:

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


September 1, 2022
Old Parsley collected from her home the ingredients required for the treatment of a woman "in urgent need". She carefully identified each herb to her apprentice before wrapping them for packing. The pair departed early and walked in cool twilight several miles to Lerna, arriving in mid-morning. They soon entered the highest district, reserved for the homes of well-to-do citizens. Old Parsley left the main street and followed a narrow alley to a back door where she was admitted unseen into the kitchen. A house slave provided water and tended the fire while she brewed her concoction.

written while listening to:  Alexandra Grimal & Antoine Cegarra - la vapeur au-dessus du riz, disc 2 (Ovni Records, OVN0004, 2020, France, cdx2,

September 2, 2022
It was not strictly necessary for her to be present when the herbal brew was imbibed, but she preferred to do so in order to verify with her own eyes that the treatment was administered in whole. Carrying the first cup of the infusion, the apprentice followed Old Parsley who was led by the house slave to a back room where sat a young woman of sixteen. The anxiety in her expression could not be hidden and the nervous pacing of her mother did nothing to lessen it. As one, the herbalist, apprentice, patient, mother and servant commenced the ritual.

written while listening to:  Derek Bailey - To Play, The Blemish Sessions (Samadhisound, sound cd ss008, 2006, United Kingdom, cd,

September 3, 2022
Old Parsley muttered a few prayers in her native tongue, unintelligible to all but her companion. She did not intend to invoke divine aid so much as to reassure those assembled of the virtue of their actions. The apprentice offered the hot cup to the patient, who did not immediately reach out to accept it. She looked up to her mother with the eyes of a trapped doe. While the herbalist had observed similar dramas play out in the past, Sprig had not before seen this particular variation. Clearly, the young woman imbibed the medicine against her will.

written while listening to:  Kazuhisa Uchihashi & Hans Reichel - King Pawns (Zenbei, ZEN-006, 1998, Japan, cd,

September 4, 2022
The scene was to be repeated four times per day until the medicine took effect. In subsequent sessions the patient demonstrated no resistance, having capitulated to her fate. On the first night, the matron of the house insisted that the herbalist and her apprentice sleep in the servant's quarters. The lodgings, while spare, pleased Sprig because they did not smell of animal. That the decision was made for reasons of secrecy rather than comfort bothered her not in the least. She fell asleep trying to reassure herself that her role in depriving the girl of her freedom was, at most, incidental.

written while listening to:   Keiji Haino - "C'Est Parfait" Endoctriné Tu Tombes la Tête la Première (Turtles' Dream, TDCD-01, 2003, France, cd,

September 5, 2022
On the second evening, the young woman, Polyxena by name, began to experience abdominal pains. Although Old Parsley assured her that the pulse and temperature were normal, the mother insisted that someone stay by her daughter's side through the night. Old Parsley nodded and sat in a chair next to the bed until her apprentice relieved her at midnight. Roused by the changing of the guard, Polyxena reserved her vitriol for the most defenseless. Lying on her side, she hissed at the girl, "How could you do this to me?" Sprig maintained a silent vigil as the patient cried herself back to sleep.

written while listening to:  Joe McPhee & Evan Parker - Sweet Nothings for Milford Graves (Corbett Vs. Dempsey, CvsD | CD85, 2022 (rec. 2003), United States, cd,

September 6, 2022
On the third morning, the patient began to menstruate. At the mother's request, Old Parsley stayed the remainder of the day in case there were complications. As for Polyxena, petulant by nature, her mood turned despondent and worried the anxious mother excessively. To the herbalist, she said, "You have tended the body, but damaged the spirit." Old Parsley sighed. Still, the matron of the house was generous and paid with electrum drachm. "I would not accept so much," said the herbalist, "but I now have a third mouth to feed." "Oh, and who might that be?" came the curious reply.

written while listening to:  Steve Lacy Quintet - Troubles (Black Saint, BSR 0035, 1979, Italy, lp,

September 7, 2022
The herbalist described the sybil in terms of a kindred healer, as someone who could nurse an ailing soul back to health. Whether this description was a marketing ploy or rather something Old Parsley genuinely believed might come to pass we do not know. In any case, the mother seized on her words. "Take my daughter to the sybil," she pleaded. "I shall pay you again what I gave you today." Polyxena was not consulted in the matter. She was in no condition to travel, so Old Parsley promised to return in a few days.

written while listening to:  The Art Ensemble Of Chicago - A Jackson in Your House (BYG Records, 529.302, 1969, France, lp,

September 8, 2022
Old Parsley followed a roundabout path to the sybil, checking in on patients in villages along the way while pausing to gather late sprouting herbs when they caught her eye. She also visited a market so that her arrival in the cave took on the appearance of the delivery of groceries rather than the business it really was. Eupompe received the bread, olive oil and dried figs graciously. However, she grew weary of her idleness and soon asked, "When will my first pilgrim arrive?" Old Parsley feigned surprise at the question while Sprig adopted an inscrutable mien.

written while listening to:  Wadada Leo Smith & Pheeroan AkLaff - The Emerald Duets, disc 1 (TUM Records, TUM BOX 006, 2022, Finland, cdx5,

September 9, 2022
During the visit, Old Parsley offered a drachm to the sybil, a not insignificant sum for one who had nothing. Her attempt to compensate the oracle for the forthcoming prophecy was rebuffed. "What use have I for money?" asked Eupompe. "I place myself wholly at the mercy of your beneficence." This scene might have been forgotten had it not made an indelible impression on the apprentice, who most assuredly had never been offered so much as a sliver of electrum by the herbalist.

written while listening to:  Ivo Perelman, Matthew Shipp, William Parker & Bobby Kapp - Ineffable Joy (ESP Disk, ESP5036, 2019, United States, cd,

September 10, 2022
Polyxena was accompanied by a servant from her home to the city gates of Lerna, lest she be seen in the company of the herbalist and arouse suspicion. She found the pair waiting for her in the early morning light. Against her mother's wishes, she did not allow the man to escort them further. As the trio walked, she greatly enjoyed the freedom of traveling in the open countryside with the breeze in her hair, an activity that her companions took for granted. Thinking of her recent ordeal, she talked little, intent on formulating perfectly her question for the sybil.

written while listening to:  Muhal Richard Abrams - Familytalk (Black Saint, 120132-2, 1993, Italy, cd,

September 11, 2022
Their progress was slowed by the easily distracted pilgrim, who found each rabbit a spectacle worthy of wonder and a garden snake, stretched across the trail, an unprecedented terror. The herbalist foresaw the long day ahead of them but proved unable to impart a sense of urgency. Following the valley stream, they stopped for water, twice, before ascending the slope to the cave entrance. Only upon inspecting the rough, dark opening into the earth did it dawn on Polyxena that the encounter with the oracle might not wholly follow the script prepared in her imagination.

written while listening to:  Mary Halvorson - The Maid with the Flaxen Hair (Tzadik, TZ 4024, 2018, United States, cd,

September 12, 2022
The herbalist bade Polyxena enter the cave alone, while she and her apprentice waited outside. "The words of the oracle are for your ears alone." Excited but nervous, Polyxena stepped into the shadows. She rounded the corner into the grotto and was relieved to observe the sybil, garbed in a white gown and seated upon a slab of stone on the far side of a black, unreflecting pool, in precise accord with the vision that she had conjured in her mind. Finally, she had found a sympathetic soul who would show her the balm for her misery.

written while listening to:  Masada - Yod (DIW, DIW-935, 1998, Japan, cd,

September 13, 2022
Without shifting from her stone perch, the sybil perceived a girl of the same age and stature. Dark brown hair of a similar length to her own fell past her shoulders. Of the two, the pilgrim appeared somewhat better fed of late, her face rounder, not surprising when compared to one who had forsaken the conveniences of civilized society. "Remove your sandals and step into the pool," enjoined the sybil. "The message I am to communicate is best revealed through both air and water." Hoping to establish a good rapport, Polyxena immediately complied.

written while listening to:  Christian Fennesz, Jim O'Rourke & Peter Rehberg - The Magic Sound Of Fenn O'Berg (Mego, MEGO 031, 1999, Austria, cd,

September 14, 2022
It seemed that Eurymedusa had been waiting for this moment more than the few months since her encounter with the Ocean Mother. She, who had rejected destiny in the labyrinth, now felt as if she had been born for the purpose at hand. Across from her, Polyxena also felt that this hour had been long in coming, for her struggle predated the recent ministrations of the herbalist. Each waited for the other to speak. Accustomed to subservience, the pilgrim outlasted the sybil, who eventually asked, "Tell me, what is it you seek?"

written while listening to:  Ingrid Laubrock & Tom Rainey - Counterfeit Mars (Relative Pitch Records, RPR1031, 2022, United States, cd,

September 15, 2022
Once prompted, the words spilled from Polyxena in a torrent. She described only her indignation at the place of women in Greek society, who were little more than the property of men, with the primary duty of bearing and rearing children. Given her age, she directed her ire not at the social structure but at her mother, who seemed the face of all of the restrictions placed upon her. "I cannot venture out by myself! I am a prisoner in my own house!" Although sympathetic to her plight, the sybil sensed that this was not the real cause for her visit.

written while listening to:  Ákos Rózmann - Mass / Mässa (1988-2004), disc 4 (Ideologic Organ, SOMA044, 2022, Austria, cdx7,

September 16, 2022
Slowly, the pilgrim made her way to the purpose of her audience with the sybil. She began her tale in a calm tone. She had met a man from Thyrea, who traveled regularly to Lerna. She had fallen in love with him and he reciprocated her feelings. Fearful of their parents' reprobation, each had hidden the relationship from their families. Polyxena had managed several clandestine meetings with the young man. Here, tears filled her wide eyes and her voice choked. "Why have you allied yourself with the abortionist?" she cried in accusation.

written while listening to:  Pauline Oliveros - Reverberations: Tape & Electronic Music 1961-1970, disc 5 (Important Records, IMPREC352, 2012, United States, cdx12,

September 17, 2022
Eurymedusa attempted to reconcile her memory of the herbalist's description of herself as being especially apt at treating ailments of the stomach and the skin with the pilgrim's description of her as an abortionist. She supposed that an unintended pregnancy might loosely fall within such bounds. These thoughts she kept hidden from her visitor; upon her face she maintained a passive expression. While she waited for the young woman to gather herself and continue, her eyes wandered over the wave-like embroidery of the new peplos worn by her guest, likely purchased expressly for this visit.

written while listening to:  Joëlle Léandre & Irène Schweizer - Cordial Gratin (FMP, FMP 1160, 1988, Germany, lp,

September 18, 2022
"O wise Eupompe," Polyxena said to the sybil, "I fear it is beyond your power to return to life the child flushed from my womb." She waited a desperate moment for the oracle to contradict her but silence was allowed to fill the grotto. Eventually the oracle spoke, "Your words reveal your knowledge of my answer and your need to ask the question all the same. As you presume, my domain is the future. The past is no more malleable to me than it is to any mortal, or for that matter the gods themselves, who live also in the wake of their desires."

written while listening to:  David Murray Quartet - Body and Soul (Black Saint, 120155-2, 1993, Italy, cd,

September 19, 2022
"If it is the future that you may mold," said Polyxena, "then share with me your vision of my life. What must I do to be united with my love, to marry him and, as his wife, to no longer be denied the happy duty to bear his children?" During this appeal, she clasped her hands together in a gesture of earnest entreaty. "Work for me," she pleaded, "what magic lies in your power to drain all opposition to our union from my parents and his own and from any other who might stand between us."

written while listening to:  Jackie McLean - New and Old Gospel (Blue Note, BST 84262, 1968, United States, lp,

September 20, 2022
Once the request was made irrevocably clear, it took all of Eurymedusa's will power to conceal her instinctive reaction. She was possessed by the impulse to flee this unanticipated humiliation, for she had not escaped the labyrinth of King Minos and trafficked with a godling of the abyss only to play match-maker for the lovelorn daughter of local nobility. She took several deep breaths and her right leg, dangling from the stone shelf, traced circles on the surface of the pool. The ripples spread across the water, a media for her thoughts that, by design, proved indecipherable.

written while listening to:  Anthony Braxton - The Montreux/Berlin Concerts, sides A & B (Arista, AL 5002, 1977, United States, lpx2,

September 21, 2022
Everything about this request was wrong. Eurymedusa possessed no magic, only her wits and resolve. She could not cast from her thoughts the image of the Ocean Mother. What would the cecaelia think to see her sybil now, reduced to the last hope of a lovestruck fool? Curiously, this thought, bleak and unfair though it was, nudged the sybil in another direction. Surely, the Ocean Mother knew the passions and the petty ways of women and men. This pilgrim's request could not have lain outside her imagination. She had chosen her oracle to navigate this situation as well.

written while listening to:  Isabelle Duthoit, Yuko Oshima & Soizic Lebrat - Rouge (Free Sone, MF010, 2021, France, cd,

September 22, 2022
It fell to the sybil to rely on the same resources that had enabled her to survive to this point, foremost among them common sense. In the silent grotto, she composed her response. She then addressed the pilgrim, saying, "Polyxena, although it may feel to you as if you suffer alone in all the world, your plight is not unknown to the women of this land. All women must struggle to find their way and to identify their own preferred balance between asserting control over their destiny and sacrificing the comforts that come with a passive compliance."

written while listening to:  Copenhagen Clarinet Choir - Organism (År Og Dag, AD10, 2022, Denmark, lp,

September 23, 2022
"No one, save the lonely hermit atop a remote mountain peak, exists outside the influence of other people. If you desire to have a hand in the molding of your future, you must let your vision be known. How else can others accommodate you? Cast your secret desires from shadow into daylight. Become as transparent as a summer breeze. If, in this process, you reveal both strength and weakness, that too is for the better. When those around you know of your errors they may adjust their expectations to meet the actuality of your person."

written while listening to:  Cecil Taylor Trio and Quintet - Love for Sale (United Artists, UAS 5046, 1959, United States, lp,

September 24, 2022
"Polyxena," continued the sybil, "it would behoove you to recognize that each individual, regardless of age, is immersed daily in a process of discovering their own way, which ends only upon death. As you seek your happiness, you must allow others to find their own. It helps matters when you pursue an end that will bring joy to many since others will more readily contribute to your cause. In this light, it makes sense to emphasize those features of your goals that benefit not only you but family and friends as well, including those who might oppose you."

written while listening to:  Misha Mengelberg, Steve Lacy, George Lewis, Harjen Gorter & Han Bennink - Change of Season (Soul Note, SN 1104, 1985, Italy, lp,

September 25, 2022
We forgive the sybil for her long-winded reply; it was, after all, her first prophecy. In the future, she would develop the proverbial reputation for terseness tending to ambiguity. Today, she yet had a warning for Polyxena. "To be sure, a show of independence, much less defiance, may bring censure. Be judicious before inviting unnecessary suffering upon yourself and others. Ultimately, if reason gives way to rage in those whom you defy, flee. Do not give up your life like a fawn to the jaws of a wolf. Uncertain wandering is preferable to death."

written while listening to:  Matt Mitchell & Kate Gentile - Snark Horse, disc 3 (Pi Recordings, PI90, 2021, United States, cdx6,

September 26, 2022
Polyxena assumed the sybil had concluded but she spoke once more, delivering the final piece of the prophecy in a whisper. "When the path is unclear, as it usually is, and you fear that your actions will bear unforeseen consequences, I urge you to err always on the side of mercy, for who can say that an unintended kindness is in fact an error?" Now, the sybil had finished. Her lips closed, her posture sagged ever so slightly as if she was relieved of a burden. She did not return Polyxena's courtesy of a parting smile.

written while listening to:  John Butcher, Tony Buck, Magda Mayas & Burkhard Stangl - Plume (Unsounds, 35u, 2013, The Netherlands, cd,

September 27, 2022
As she was escorted back to the city walls of Lerna by the herbalist, Polyxena ruminated over the sybil's words. She had hoped to receive a foolproof plan to elope with her beloved. Instead, she had been subject to an abstract lecture delivered by a pitiful girl her own age who had been cloistered in her cave for so long that she could not stop speaking even when she had nothing left to say. When her mother asked for a report, Polyxena was too embarrassed to reply. Fortunately, the mother supposed the oracle had sworn her daughter to silence.

written while listening to:  John Coltrane - Om (Impulse!, AS-9140, 1967, United States, lp,

September 28, 2022
Old Parsley was pleased with how events had transpired. Content in her ignorance of the prophecy, she had no interest in knowing the messages of the divine intended for other ears. From her perspective, the girl's silent complacency following her exit from the cave made clear the impact of the sybil's revelation. The mother saw much the same and paid the herbalist hurriedly, so eager was she to share the news of the effect of the oracle upon her daughter with her neighbors. Almost instantly, a buzz about Eupompe arose, which Old Parsley deemed advertising unparalleled.

written while listening to:  Steve Lehman - Demian as Posthuman (Pi Recordings, PI17, 2005, United States, cd,

September 29, 2022
That night, Sprig lay exhausted in the herbalist's hut, having hiked farther than usual across the mountainous terrain. Crickets sang to her of the age-old glory of the stars and she, in return, hid from them her opinion of the chicanery of the gods. It was true that she had heard no more of the prophecy than the herbalist, but the very absence of witnesses suggested subterfuge. In her brief years, the apprentice had repeatedly observed harsh reality triumph over wishful thinking. It would take more than sleight of hand to wash away her skepticism.

written while listening to:  Biliana Voutchkova & Joanna Mattrey - Like Thoughts Coming (Relative Pitch Records, RPRDL006, 2022, United States, digital files,

September 30, 2022
As for our heroine, Eurymedusa remained in her cave as the days grew shorter and the nights colder. While the memory of her encounter with the Ocean Mother receded, she suffered a slow degradation of her sense of purpose. Daily, she struggled with doubt regarding the value of her so-called prophecy, for she had felt no supernatural inspiration during its pronouncement. On some mornings, she expended so much effort reassuring herself that her existence was meaningful that she had no energy left for the remainder of the day. This was apparently a deleterious side effect of the labor of soothsaying.

written while listening to:  Clifford Brown and Max Roach - Study in Brown (EmArcy, MG 36037, 1955, United States, lp,

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