Ben Lee is set to release new album, Ayahuasca: Welcome To The Work on May 7 via his own Ten Fingers Records.
The set is a "sonic document" of Lee's experiences with the medicinal plant ayahuasca. A jungle vine found in South America, ayahuasca is known as the "death vine," or "vine of souls" and has been used as a healing medicine by shamans for thousands of years.
In spiritual practice, the plant is brewed into a tea, which is consumed ceremoniously as a ritual. What ensues is a journey into the depth of the mind, illuminating the soul's contents and often facilitating a soaring journey of the spirit. The album's subtitle "Welcome To The Work" refers to the process of discovering what is inside, and the active transformation of turning darkness into light.
From the album liner notes, Ben Lee states "The Work, as the experience of taking part in an ayahuasca ceremony is often called, asks us to examine our integrity with great detail. To become aware of our flaws and fantasies. To strive to become a healthier, more integrated human being. I have approached ayahuasca not as a drug experience, but as a sacred, spiritual experience used to uncover untouched depths of my own consciousness."
Lee maintains a responsibility to be intimately vulnerable in his art. "I wanted to make music as a gift to the medicine," Lee underscores, "in love and gratitude. It's more devotional music than anything else, but not easy listening. It's demanding, experimental music, just as 'the work' itself is demanding."
All the artist royalties will benefit MAPS (The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) and the Amazon Conservation Team. Lee feels that donating his royalties to charity is a way of keeping all aspects of the album's release in alignment with the healing nature of the medicine itself. The CD packaging will be completely biodegradable. Seeds will be embedded within the paper goods and fans are encouraged to plant the album cover in order to grow wildflowers.
Ben also recently premiered his original new web series Deep Talk In The Shallow End: Pop Culture From A Consciousness Perspective. It is a look at the intersection of media/celebrity culture and spirituality/consciousness-evolution. Designed to exist at the meeting point between high and low thought, plastic and gold, bubblegum and dharma. The first episode examines the significance of the CBS memo to attendants of the 2013 Grammy's regarding dress code.
A documentary about Ben's life and career, "Catch My Disease" is available now digitally. Shot over eight years, the film was directed by Amiel Courtin-Wilson and premiered at the Melbourne Film Festival. It features interviews with Thurston Moore, Mike Watt, Mike D, Claire Danes, Winona Ryder, Jason Schwartzman, Michelle Williams and more.
As much as he has been drawn to music all of his life, Ben has been equally passionate about esoteric-science - the workings of the human mind and spirit. Ayahuasca: Welcome To The Work may be Lee's most willful, creative and honest work yet. Lee resides in Los Angeles with his wife, actress/painter Ione Skye Lee (who also painted the above cover of the album) and family.