Part I: Copper Clad Coinage
1. ''Barnacle Headdress'' 30:40
2. ''Island Gigantism" 24:00
03/13/18 - SOUTH KOREA
I'm sitting on the toilet right before the show. Overcome by crippling diarrhea after eating some mighty bad chicken. It's hard to take seriously--I know. I'm ready to go now, fresh from the toilet, but we've been just told that our show doesn't start until 11:30 because people are still coming in. That is another hour of torture. The whole things was a bit of a bad idea to begin with. Just take some laptops and midi-controller and leave for a country nearby. Traveling lightly - not many costs, yada yada... It sounded like a good thing at the time, but now that it is actually happening we are pretty spooked.
04/05/18 - SOUTH KOREA
I haven't written in this book for a few weeks and now it's going to be impossible to catch up. Too much time has been spent wallowing in self-doubt and gasoline bills. We are studio creatures and South Korea has been our first live gig. We brought some intermission music to set the mood for our show, asked if we could hook up Jens’ fog machine or a video playing behind us. But no, no, no - South Korea keeps it minimal. No building anticipation, no mystery, no nothing. Just real people playing real music on a stage - just perfect for an exotica act. J. went into the pit to check out what is going on and came back with bad news. An audience of 200 to 300 sweaty people, rubbing elbows together for over half an hour, and some of them pathetically drunk - again, the absolute worst setting for ambient music. The audience seemed to take it personally that they had to wait and treated us accordingly. As soon as they realized that there wouldn’t be a danceable drum beat, the heckling started. Never before had I been such an ugly foreigner and never before had I been yelled off a stage. We played for five minutes until we stopped, and for a moment we felt like losers, crawling out of the sea, looking for mommy's tit. M. had the bright idea of antagonizing the audience and managed to actually bring some drunk hecklers up to the stage after a whole twenty minutes of banter. He made them do bird calls while we continued the piece. An ashamed Sam had to provide the translation and was visibly happy when it was over. There were now three elderly drunk guys on stage with us, doing bird calls and calling out to their friends. One of them taunted M. with a chicken dance and quickly caught a cup of water in the face. That was promptly returned by kicks against the podium which held M's gear. A thing which should have been a moody fog drenched experience turned into autistic performance comedy. I hated it. Two of the drunks eventually ran out of steam and left, but the kicking guy just wouldn’t let up and it turned into a whole pissing match. Still standing in front of the podium he taunted M. with over the top bird calls, more chicken dancing and eventually flipping the bird into M’s face, who all the while kept playing keyboard while returning the middle finger. And eventually it was over. I wouldn’t say the audience liked it, but they respected us for our drunkard management skills. The music turned out much rougher and harder than intended, since the adrenalin rush of the whole thing put us on edge.
Sam Ji-Hae - Executive Producer, Eric S. Teeter - Sound Engineer, Executive Producer; Camera
by Li Na P’an and Jens Barth
William Gaunt - Cover Graphics; Katusuko Takata - Sound Mixed and Mastered by Sterling Sounds, Pearl City, HI.
Released by Hyperbeast Records MMXIX
Copper Clad Coinage was released as a music cassette by Hyperbeast Records in 2023 in a highly exclusive limited edition of 50 individually numbered tapes. The cassettes, which come in a vivid neon organge hue, are embellished with j-cards available in three distinct color variations (black and white, black and green and green). Each j-card boasts a handwritten download code for your convenience.
What is all the Korean writing about?
The initial release of the album was accompanied by cryptic Korean writing under the title "Adventures Beyond Regular Size" featured on the album artwork and Bandcamp page. This enigmatic script left many intrigued but perplexed. Numerous individuals from diverse backgrounds reached out, expressing their curiosity and seeking answers about the meaning behind these mysterious characters. We have listened to your inquiries and understand the desire to unveil the hidden narratives within "Copper Clad Coinage." As we embark on this journey together, we will provide you with the key, the gate and the doorway to understand what is written.
Adventures Beyond Regular Size
This collection of apocalyptic prophecies centers around the concept of the Tenth Mu (무당), a title held by multiple prophetesses since the Three Kingdoms Period of the Korean Peninsula. The title of Tenth Mu is believed to have originated from a historical female figure from a bloodline of seers that originated in the early Goguryeo Kingdom. The title Mu (무) is an umbrella term used to describe various forms of traditional Korean shamans or folk religion practitioners. Throughout different periods, various self-proclaimed prophetesses have claimed the title of the tenth mudang. The religious group Jeung San Do (증산도) has compiled and interpreted the texts found in "Adventures Beyond Regular Size," recognizing three prophecies from different times and different prophetesses:
The first Tenth Mu (around 900 CE)
Little is known about the life of the first Tenth Mu. According to historical records, the original Tenth Mu was worshiped as a manifestation of the mythological Princess Bari by pagan tribes across the banks of the Nakdong River. The only authentic portrait of her was discovered in the 16th century, depicting her with a frightful gaze and three sets of eyebrows. This depiction is uncommon and highly idiosyncratic among ancient as well as contemporary Mus and is believed to point towards a strong influence of traditional Chinese culture or possibly a Chinese heritage of either the painter or the Tenth Mu. During this time, eyebrows were seen as an important aspect of one's appearance in Chinese society, and their shape and thickness were believed to reveal aspects of one's personality and fate. In this context, it is speculated that having multiple sets of eyebrows could be a sign of heightened intuition or spiritual ability.
Later illustrations depict her with King Taejo (태조 왕건), who is believed to have appointed her to the position of royal court seer.
The prophetic vision that makes up the first part of 'Adventures Beyond Regular Size' was received during Sinbyeong (신병), a fit of divine possession. However, this title was created and
popularized much later in the 20th century by the third Tenth Mu, Lee Jeong-suk. During medieval Korean history, this prophecy was known as "Jogeum Yeongcheon" (리틀영천) or "Little Doomsday Well," a
reference to the mythological doomsday well, Yeongcheon, that would foretell the end of the world in Korean eschatology. The attribution of the adjective "little" possibly refers to the brevity
of the prophecy.
Adventures Beyond Regular Size - Book I
“Craters and lava flows.
Things like fungi starting to grow on us
Creating a structure that is beyond the accomplishments of architectural engineering.
We are resolved in a quiet harmony
… and within one year, there will be life.
What will be the most new thing on earth when it is done?
The ocean gone in an explosive volcanic eruption off the coast?
Even a child knows that creation does not stop at death.
Creation will continue.
Two kings will emerge from our rhizome: leaders who oppose the opposing warlords that claim this new world. The Monkey King and the Demon King. Their battle will violently divide and reunite
the sacred mountains of Mauna Loa. Our ghostly essence will still linger on the surface of the forests and spirit.”
This prophecy tells of a great volcanic calamity that, depending on the interpretation, will either destroy the Korean peninsula or the entire world. Humanity is resurrected by achieving a symbiotic relationship with a mushroom-like organism carried in the volcanic ash. Two great rulers will emerge from these mushroom-people and will fight both the remaining warlords of the old world and each other. Ultimately, their realms dissolve as a consequence of their fighting. However, in a twist of irony, their wars also unite the Korean people, leading to a new era of stability and peace. The word "rhizome" is a modern interpretation of the characters "버섯 뿌리," meaning mushroom roots. The use of the term has occasionally sparked controversy outside of Korea, as the inclusion of such a modern term in contemporary translations has raised questions about the authenticity of the text. However, judging from historical records, this prophetic vision was widely circulated. The initial version of the prophecy dates back to the late 10th century, with the earliest surviving manuscript coming from 1274 (Jikji Simche Yojeol). There are several vernacular translations of the text, including one by the scholar Yi Saek. The prophecy was interpreted as a sign of the impending collapse of the young Goryeo Dynasty and led to the Tenth Mu being exiled from the royal court, as it was believed to foster social instabilities that accompanied the consolidation of power. However, the inherent promise of prosperity and peace led to the formation of various devotional groups across the country, which can still be found in contemporary Korean society. The largest religious group that traces its origins to one of these devotional groups is called Jeung San Do (증산도), which is considered the authoritative source of "Adventures Beyond Regular Size."
The Second Tenth Mu Lady Kim Min-Ji (1492 - 1545)
Lady Kim Min-Ji (김민지) was born into the prestigious Yangban nobility as a proud member of the Yeonil Jeong clan. However, societal norms of the time dictated that she live a secluded life, hidden from the outer world, and conform strictly to Confucian ideals of purity, obedience, chastity, and faithfulness. As a woman, she was denied the right to participate in the jesa, the ancestral honoring rituals. Nonetheless, her family recognized her intellect and passion for learning, setting her on the path of becoming a physician and scientist. From a young age, Lady Kim Min-Ji was entrusted to the care and tutelage of her aunt, Lady Kim Ji-Yeon (김지연). Lady Kim Ji-Yeon was a remarkable woman herself, skilled in the arts of uinyeo and the ancient healing practices of Maijing (脈經) acupuncture and moxibustion. It was under her aunt's patient guidance and nurturing that Lady Kim Min-Ji's rebellious spirit was ignited. In a daring act of defiance, Lady Kim Min-Ji began to invoke her ancestors, seeking solace and connection beyond the confines of her secluded existence.
Her aunt, instead of punishing her for her transgression, recognized the fire within her and decided to teach her the ways of mundang, the shamanistic practices of Korean folklore. As Lady Kim Min-Ji delved deeper into this mystical realm, she began to experience visions, perceiving the deities as tormentors who would subject her to misfortune, illness, or even madness unless she fulfilled their bidding. During a particularly dire episode that left her in great physical pain, Lady Kim Min-Ji recorded a haunting message in her diary:
Adventures Beyond Regular Size - Book II
"Millions of people and animals have been claimed by death. In the solemn funeral rites of this new geological age, they shall be united in their final moments, witnessed by an awe-struck scholar of life. Our lungs are now filled with mold, metamorphosing into sulfuric acid. You will come to regard them as gods.
Upon Earth, the most violent of phenomena unfolds. Ancient causes of paradoxes culminate in cataclysmic events, reminiscent of the creation of the universe. You are destined to bear witness to the grandeur of creation in all its might! Come, let us venture into its very center.
Within the vast chambers of molten magma, nature's boundless radiation shall permeate. The mantle teems with heavy elements. Never again shall we cast our eyes upon the sun. Alas, it is beyond our reach."
This ominous message exhibits a visionary perspective that intertwines elements of mortality, geological phenomena, and cosmic wonder. It begins with the loss of countless lives on an unprecedented scale. The "solemn rituals of this emerging geological epoch" unite humans and animals in death, suggesting some kind of multi-species mass grave. In death, humans and animals are united and transformed through chemical processes that would startle modern biologists (the "scholar of life"). Similar to the first vision, these lives are resurrected through a symbiotic relationship with a mushroom-like organism. These new organisms will be regarded as gods. As a result, further catastrophes will occur on Earth, and depending on the interpretation, also in all existence. This indicates monumental changes set in motion by this new species of human-mushroom hybrids. The most fundamental change is that they will live on the Earth's crust and mantle, never seeing the sun again.
Interestingly, the text employs the term "sulfuric acid" through the characters "황산," which are modern Korean characters associated with a liquid unknown during the time this prophecy is believed to have originated. This peculiarity raises questions about the historical authenticity of the document. It is worth noting that the discovery of sulfuric acid is commonly attributed to the Dutch scholar Johann Van Helmont during the 17th century, casting doubt on its inclusion in the context of the prophecy. Consequently, the mention of sulfuric acid has led to dismissals of the text as a forgery, with some even accusing the publishers of perpetrating a literary hoax. However, members of the Jeung San Do regard this as a revelation of the future that proves the divine inspiration of the prophecy.
Lady Kim Min-Ji's secluded and highly regulated life prevented her from amassing a religious following. As the visions eventually subsided, she found solace in the knowledge that her turbulent connection with the divine had ceased. Abandoning the path of the mudang, she turned her attention to the more conventional aspects of life. Despite her initial rebellious nature, which persisted throughout her early thirties, she eventually married and embarked on a journey as a physician, embracing a relatively uneventful existence that conformed to the standards of society.
The title of second Tenth Mu was awarded to her posthumously by the third Tenth Mu, who canonized her vision as a second text continuing the narrative of the vision of the first Tenth Mu.
The Third Tenth Mu, Lee Jeong-suk (1911-1952)
In many cases, Lee Jeong-suk (이정숙) can be considered the most important figure in the history of Adventures Beyond Regular Size, as her intense study of religious texts has led to the rediscovery of the first prophecy and subsequent compilation of the canon that is known today. Furthermore, during her brief lifetime, she managed to create a lasting presence of religious devotion among her followers through the social bond made with her cult during and after World War II. In contrast to the other two prophetesses, there is a lot known about the life of Lee Jeong-suk that can be reconstructed from official documents and people who knew her during her lifetime. Raised in modest circumstances, her formative years were marked by financial struggles and limited opportunities. Coming from a traditional background, her parents were staunch believers in Confucian values that were heavily suppressed by the Japanese. Lee Jeong-suk quickly embraced Japanese modernization, entered school, and ended up working as a laborer in a Japanese factory.
Despite her expectations, her living conditions did not significantly improve, leaving her disillusioned with the new regime. During this period, she experienced a supernatural encounter in the form of a ghostly apparition of an old man in traditional Korean attire, telling her to hide in the mountains before a fight between Japanese officers and members of the Korean righteous army. This event sparked a profound shift in her beliefs and kindled a previously absent religious interest in her. Drawn to the teachings of Christianity, Lee Jeong-suk embraced the faith, seeking solace and guidance in its tenets. In her quest to explore her experiences, Lee Jeong-suk incorporated mythical elements into her congregation, drawing inspiration from older Koreans who still held memories of traditional mu practices. The blending of Christian doctrines with these ancient beliefs created a unique and distinct form of worship, providing a sense of connection to Korea's cultural heritage. During this time, she became obsessed with a recurring vision that caused her great grief. This vision is now known as the third prophecy of the tenth mu:
Adventures Beyond Regular Size - Book III
"The cemetery lights flare back up as they did in ancient times. Local fishermen say the place is haunted. That there is a presence. They said that if you stand in the light of the cemetery, you hear voices—it sounds like a language, but it's not—the hair on your back stands up, and the speech is short, slurred, and jumbled as the mind wanders away... They're all gone now. There was a church there about 150 years ago until the levee burst. The whole place was flooded and changed. The land is flat, lots of grass, no people or animals or cars. Flat land, paths, and blood. Especially in the summer. When it gets hot, they go out, looking for the missing bodies. Sometimes the skin is peeled off, sometimes they're cut, sometimes it's worse. There is a lot of beauty in the swamp. When you open your eyes, you see blood and bones, pumping and flowing in terrible miracles. If you look closely, you'll find something growing and unpredictable, magical and fiery. Plants with the aggressive power of a lion for survival. These will be the Plants for the 25th century. I regret coming here, but regret is a minor thing when you consider the great design."
Although seemingly different in references, character, and tone, the themes of a renewed and radically different environment are what create a bridge towards the other two prophecies. Current readings of these prophecies understand this text to depict a distant future set in the narrative of the previous prophecies, as evidenced by the reference to the 25th century in the last paragraph. As such, life has significantly changed, and the new race of hybrid entities has receded under the surface of the earth, from where they influence the world above. Consequently, the surface world is inhabited by strange and dangerous creatures, such as plants with the aggressive power of a lion, and phenomena such as the cemetery lights, while the remnants of humanity are set back to a quasi-feudal state, as indicated by the fisherman motif and the loss of cognitive functions in response to the cemetery lights. A distinguishing feature of this prophecy is the theme of violence, making frequent and open references to blood and other acts of cruelty, while the other prophecies just vaguely imply them through the use of catastrophes and calamities. This remaking of nature is understood as a return to a paradisiac state, in which humanity is subject to the incomprehensible moods of an alien nature. Regarding this, the prophecy implies that life is objectively better under such conditions, although the subjective living experience seems worse through the line "I regret coming here, but regret is a minor thing when you consider the great design."
The open discussion of Lee Jeong-suk's visions and her Christian interpretations of them proved to be a point of contention within her congregation. As she openly shared her divinely inspired experiences, she faced rejection and was ultimately expelled from the established church. Undeterred by this setback, Lee Jeong-suk, along with a group of like-minded individuals, established their own religious movement in the serene countryside of Gangneung. There, they sought refuge and freedom to practice their unorthodox beliefs. In this secluded sanctuary, Lee Jeong-suk became a vessel for regular visions, receiving profound insights into matters of faith and spirituality. During this time, she accumulated a large collection of over three thousand religious texts, both Korean and Western, to make sense of and delve deeper into her visions and supernatural experiences. It was during this time that she compiled the texts and settled on the name "Adventures Beyond Regular Size," as the significance of these visions was tied to what she called "a lower level of existence" — a layer of micro-reality that is beyond human senses and exists parallel to our lived experience. Thereby, highlighting the importance of the microbial references in all three visions. Her interpretation of her visions and the texts that she deemed to be of religious significance ultimatly suggest that some kind of fungus, bacteria, or even virus will change the biology of people and destroy the known world.
As World War II engulfed the world, she devoted herself to the study of religious histories, seeking wisdom and guidance amidst the turmoil. Most of her writings from this period are believed to be destroyed. However, rumors suggest that a substantial amount of texts survived and are kept by the Jeung San Do. These texts are supposedly only accessible to people who are set on the path of the fourth Tenth Mu. Lee Jeong-suk herself came to the conclusion that she was directly related to Lady Kim Min-Ji and the first Tenth Mu. Having no confirmed children of her own, this insight caused great grief among the members of her cult, as the line of succession would be broken, and the powers of the Tenth Mu would vanish from Earth. However, Lee Jeong-suk supposedly remained calm and, according to her supporters, said, "This does not end with me. It will never end," suggesting that she had a secret child or sibling. Some theories suggest that due to her initial embrace of Japanese education, she may have served as a comfort woman. Another theory, based on lost details regarding her parents, suggests that she may have had younger relatives that she was only aware of in visions. In any case, her cult firmly established itself in the region and provided support to various independence movements, offering shelter and sustenance to those fighting for Korea's freedom.
In the aftermath of the war, her cult became a target of the new Korean Republic, as they exerted substantial influence over the countryside and were targeted during the Bodo League massacres. Accused of sympathizing with communist ideals, she was captured and executed at a minor site of the massacres. American officers captured a photograph of her just moments before her execution. This photograph remained classified for several decades until its release in 1999. It is the only surviving photograph of Lee Jeong-suk.