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Soundtrack Wishlist

{Photo from Holly Suda} Hannah and Joe interviewing Mark Lakeman

{ If there’s a song you really like, and you do not see it on this list, please send us a message or comment at the bottom of this post. }




Village Alchemy’s soundtrack wishlist, sorted by priority/interest:

1. Medicine 4The People, “Ghosts Embodied

For many of us, Medicine 4 the People is already the soundtrack to the Village Building Convergence (and HOWL too.) Medicine 4 The People knows how to bring good vibes and love to all the parties. Also, they represent Portland culture! Here is a link to the studio-recorded version of Ghosts Embodied and other songs from their website. If we get recommendations for other songs by Medicine 4 the People, we will ask them about using these when they come back to town, which is soon we hear.


2. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, “The Message” (both lyrical and instrumental versions)

“It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under…” The Message is a classic about city life stressing the hell out of people. Yo our cities are so messed up, “I swear I might hijack a plane!” And it was one of the earliest hip hop songs. It would be really relevant to use it with our message of urban permaculture and City Repair. The instrumental has been re-used a lot, and still sounds fresh! (It’s gotten fresher with the more compressive version from Ice Cube, then slower and choppier with the version from Puff Daddy & Mase.)


3. NAS featuring Lauryn Hill, “If I Ruled The World” (both lyrical and instrumental versions)

If I Ruled The World is a song of freedom from the point of view of our imagination, especially from imagining how things could be better when you live in the projects. The sky is the limit, and that’s what we are saying as well in Village Alchemy. NAS’s lyrics on this are best in the middle verse. There is a part in Lauryn Hill’s chorus where she sings, “And then we’ll walk right up to the sun, hand in hand….

The Sunnyside Piazza, on 33rd and Yamhill {Portland, Oregon}


4. Andhim, “Holger der Polka

I love these guys. Andhim is two-person DJ duo from Germany who make tech-house music. I (Joe) have contacted them before, not about this project, and it seems likely they would be down to have their music in our film project. Their music in the past benefited an African childen’s choir. Holger der Polka would be excellent since this track is not so bouncy (i.e. too bouncy will distract from the film’s content) and it has an uplifting vibe. This track (as well as Like a Wirsing, Bermudachords or Afrikadelle) is minimal-ish, so it wouldn’t drown out the sound of people talking.


5. Steve Reich, “Drumming (part 2)

Like Philip Glass, Steve Reich is a contemporary minimalist composer. I have been checking out the music from his website, and there is a lot of it! The drumming music is minimal and also has just the right amount of melody and tone to fit. The marimbas are used in a very percussive way which is pretty rad! I especially like part 2 of the drumming sequences from the Drumming album.


6. Cut Chemist, “Spoon” (the instrumental)

Jane from Planet Repair Institute brought this up the other day. “What was the song that kept saying spoon, spoon?” We were playing this while the Permaculture Design Course participants started the Food Forest project on SE 11th and Sherrett. Spoon has a good build-up vibe to it, and because of the low-pitched melody it’s also good for the soundtrack. The instrumental version is on the Audiences Listening album.


7. Wu Tang Clan, “Triumph” (the instrumental)

Triumph is another good hip hop song with a hot instrumental track. The theme of the song is the Wu Tang killer bees taking New York City by storm at the end of the world! Probably it’s a metaphor for the war with Babylon/end of civilization. Village Alchemy is not about killer bees or global warming, per se…  but I like this instrumental a lot. The beat is terror-ific and steady. It’s as if we see the goal ahead of us and pacing ourselves to victory.


8. M.I.A.Born Free

WARNING: graphic content. This video was originally banned from YouTube believe it or not – for being too graphic. So don’t watch the music video if you’re squeamish.

M.I.A. is awesome. If you don’t know her music check it out. Jumping through record label hoops wouldn’t be as much fun. Maybe there is a good remix of the song, since one problem with the original is that it’s heavy on the drums. From a soundtrack-perspective what’s good is that the vocals are not very “bright” sounding, and so you wouldn’t be confused if you heard someone talking over this song. (Born Free might be better in a montage, however.) The lyrics start out this way:

“Yeah, man made power stood like a tower,

Higher and higher hello,

And the higher you go, the lower you feel, oh”



This next one is off the wishlist, since this wish has already been granted!

Gabrielle Roth & The Mirrors.

Gabrielle Roth and Raven Recordings were very kind to give us access to their songs for use in Village Alchemy. We are finding uses for several of them already. Their music has a connection to the earth and the ancestral past. Songs to contemplate are:

  • Flowing from the Endless Wave album. This is an excellent song.
  • Chaos also from Endless Wave. This song has such a great rhythm to it. We could use the version without the voice over.
  • Eternal Dance from the Totem album. This would go well with an introductory sequence, perhaps in the beginning. Or a sequence that shows some kind of preparation, as when we are getting ready for the Village Building Convergence.
  • Zone VI from Totem or Tsunami. This one goes very well with one of these “way-seeing” moments we can’t wait to show you. This one is Mark Lakeman talking about “reclaiming the cycle of time.”
  • Feel free to comment on this post with suggestions for other Gabrielle Roth & The Mirrors music.


Many great options to consider. These soundtrack ideas are being brought up now so we can work on the paperwork and copyrights. Many of us know about local Portland musicians too who would love to be included in a soundtrack like this one. Instrumental versions are preferable to lyrical ones for a soundtrack. Lyrics are great if the content is relevant. You can see why we would not want to use too much lyrical content in a documentary project. Village Alchemy is presenting breakthrough ideas in urban and social permaculture which up till now has not been touched by film media. There is a lot to say 🙂

Thanks to everyone for participating to make this project fun and useful!


Special Thanks to Gabrielle Roth & The Mirrors for letting us use their music!

I’m getting off the phone with Robert Ansell from Raven Recordings in New York, and a special thanks is going out to Robert, Gabrielle Roth and The Mirrors for letting us use their music in this film!

Here’s a sample of their amazingly rhythmic music, from 1994 no less:


There is a great story to tell here.

Earlier this April me, my cat, and three of our friends spent a few weeks on a farm in Hood River, Oregon, just North of Mt Hood. Outside the town there are a few thrift stores. My friends and I went there looking for tunes to play in the orchards for when we pruned trees, grafted, and collected firewood. At one of the thrift stores a woman was teaching an animal spirit mask-making class, and there were masks everywhere. At any rate we found the music section and rummaged through their cassette tapes. We scored a Beastie Boys mix, the soundtrack to “Thief” by Tangerine Dream, and even some polka. Oh yeah. But the album that really caught my ear by surprise was “Totem” by Gabrielle Roth and the Mirrors, and one we kept invoking for months after. Totem, what is it? It’s an inside joke, that’s what. As soon as we got back to the farm and hit play on the Totem we were transported to another dimension, and the wood collecting we were doing took on a whole new character…


Fun times in Hood River


With that cosmic beat drumming on the whole time, somebody commented that what we were listening to must be … the most ancient and universal song for the act of gathering firewood. Yes, and for millions of years people have been collecting firewood just like we are, we said. Gathering wood now seemed so incredibly old, and very human, with an immense lineage of hunter gatherers who traveled there before us doing the exact same thing: getting ready to make a fire.


Mine is the art of inspiring people to turn themselves inside out, transform their suffering into art, their art into awareness, and their awareness into action.

~ Gabrielle Roth


Ours is world beat music without a world, made for a dance without steps, for a tribe without boundaries. The raven is one of the two main spirit animals that guide my existence, so it was fitting to call our recording company Raven, as the other magical force that drives my existence is the beat.

~ Robert Ansell


Thanks to Raven Recordings. Your music is awesome.

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