Ben Lee is set to release his new album, Ayahuasca: Welcome To The Work on May 14 via his own Ten Fingers Records. The 10-track set has been described by Lee as a "sonic document" of his 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."
He maintains a responsibility to be intimately vulnerable in his art. "I wanted to make music as a gift to the medicine 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."
Ayahuasca: Welcome To The Work was co-created by Lee and Jessica Chapnik Kahn, an Argentinean-Australian actress and musician. Jessica is also featured as the female vocals present on the record under her musical guise, Appleonia.
All royalties will benefit MAPS (The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) and the Amazon Conservation Team. Ben 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 physical compact disc packaging is 100% biodegradable. Seeds are embedded within the paper goods and fans are encouraged to plant the album cover in order to grow wildflowers.
Lee will perform the album in its entirety during two performances at Stanton Street Yoga in New York City on May 18.
"This is an event that attempts to awaken the consciousness of the musicians and the audience. It's not really a concert, but an attempt to pray in a new way. The first step of awakening is realizing we are asleep, which we can hopefully all admit to when looking at the state of the world. The next step is coming together and connecting in earnest desire to create something transcendent, something beyond our egos and personal histories. This is what we will attempt to do at these events."
Ayahuasca: Welcome To The Work Track Listing:
Welcome To The House Of Mystical Death
Meditation On Being Born
In The Silence
The Shadow Of The Mind
The Will To Grow
On My Knees
I Am That I Am
Song For Samael
Ayahuasca: Welcome To The Work Live Performances: