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alto sax, tenor sax, horn, trumpet, bass trombone, accordion, electric piano, 4 violas, cello, 2 contrabass

first performed by ensemble thing, 2010, Glasgow.

About the Piece

Between the ages of about 16 and 21, I became very interested in books written about the nature of consciousness, and in particular altered states of consciousness: those described in texts of eastern philosophy and religion; those attained via meditation and those attained through the use of psychotropic hallucinogens. These explorations formed the inspiration for the 1980 Ken Russell movie, Altered States

One such book was Centre of the Cyclone by Dr. John C. Lilly.  Lilly was a physician, a neuroscientist and psychoanalyst, and a researcher into the nature of consciousness, via his pioneering use of isolation tanks, and through the use of the hallucinogen Lysergic Acid (LSD).


In The Centre of the Cyclone, subtitled 'An Autobiography of Inner Space', Lilly gives an in-depth account of the author's (at the time authorized) laboratory experiments with LSD. In one chapter Lilly provides a chart of the different states of consciousness as he had experienced them on his "trips", and gives an account of the euphoric state with he designated "+12":

"Suddenly I saw this, understood it deeply, and started up, moving into a special state of consciousness that I had also experienced under LSD.  I entered state "+12"

"It was as if a switch had been turned on somewhere inside me that put me in a new space.  There was this step-change, sudden and abrupt-moving into the new space.  Everything became sparkling, reverberating, and delightful...I saw scintillating things in the air like champagne bubbles.  The dirt on the floor looked like gold dust..."

-Lilly, J.C., Centre of the Cyclone

State +12 is dedicated to John C Lilly and all the other pioneers of Inner Space.

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