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What Is Psychedelic Gospel?

By Nathan Payne | pablosmoglives | 10 Dec 2022

"It is not sufficient
to be innocent—
Jesus rhymes with cross"
Los Espíritus


How does a band or songwriter traverse the minefield of contradictory, dogmatic absolutes without being torn to shreds by an artistic booby-trap?  How does a soldier, or a singer, navigate the killing fields of a culture beset with institutionalized stupidity without losing his or her mind, or an arm?  What can be done when innocence and truth have been wired to explode, and what appears to be a harmless stuffed rabbit who promises to make you rich, is actually a landmine?

Do we abandon the search for truth altogether, because we can't stand the way it blows up in our face, seems to kill everyone we know, or sounds?

How does an artist keep their heart, soul, and mind intact when the truth of the spirit world can only be found crucified on a florid bed of Contemporary Christian, Rococo+ Kitsch?  Is God really magnified by a derivative attempt at appeasing those who believe virtue is only possible by reducing every art form to its basest, most artless and decorative denominator? 

Like a beautiful woman who wears too much perfume, clashing pastels, and whose speech is over-emotive, maudlin, and excessively reliant on Major 7th chords, with Contemporary Christian music, the devil has succeeded in tarnishing a natural beauty, in making the truth unlistenable.

So what's a lost toy in a box of stale Cracker Jacks to do?

Let's ask my new favorite band, Los Espíritus  from Buenos Aires.


Hmmm, that's not very Christian imagery, is it.  The title Agua Ardiente (burning water) makes me think of the Lake of Fire, but the other album is named Gratitude, and there's no overt blasphemy in sight.  There is a non-denominational indigenous person depicted in a psychedelic light, with a shadow of a 3rd eye strategically placed on the forehead of the obvious heathen, who is staring with bloodshot eyes at whatever idolatrous practice passes for culture in his or her doomed, unpaved society.  The album in the middle depicts 2 well-dressed, faceless demons.  Demons, presumably.  Because I haven't asked, and am afraid to look.

Unlike most pop music today, however, there is no overtly Satanic imagery, no MK Ultra sex slave chained to a python, no disemboweled cake babies lying flayed on the birthday tables of the modern ruling class, what I call The Nouveau Douche, or the "bikini-meat elite," I refer to in my gloopy drug poem, "Soap Dick/I'm a Rat." 

You can turn around if you like, and go back to the exploding stuffed bunnies of mainstream culture, but I'm going to give it a shot.

Let's start with "El Palacio."

A psychedelic masterpiece on the surface, in which the singer sings,


I went to the place where the dead go
and what to say
I can't do more than laugh
I went to the palace, I saw the palace
and there was no darkness
not a shadow


Clearly not a preacher, he.  So... is it true?  You can decide for yourself if he's telling the truth, but you can't decide whether or not what he's saying is actually true.  No one can.  The statement itself is either is true, or it is not.  But, whether it is true or not, and the palace of the dead is a place in which no shadow of darkness exists, or not, at least the singer isn't lying to me while he's singing about it.

It seems to me that hearing a piece of music in which the singer isn't lying to the audience shouldn't be such a rare event.

And yet it is.


And even if the lyric is a fantastical piece of delusional nonsense inspired by the consumption of indigenous witchcraft drugs, it is also true that it's beautiful, at least.  Which is more than can be said about the sound product produced by the over-righteous denizens of our culture-wide postmodern fallout zone in which everyone is all hung-up on being right all the time about everything, to the point that their rightness has become ugly in its myopic incapacity to ever consider the possibility that it's wrong, ever, about anything.  Not even a little.  Perhaps even to the point that this ugliness has permeated... everything.

And who knows, maybe Los Espíritus don't think they know everything, aren't preaching, and are on a journey of discovery.  Crazy that.  Let's see where it goes.

Ooh, now that's a dark one.  "Perdida en el fuego."  Lost in the fire.  Should I be scared?  Or rather, is there something to be afraid of?  Is there?  What is the guy saying?


Your gifts
Your shadow
of witch
They burn at the stake

Your song
And your desire to sing, ah—
lost in the fire


Super heavy, that.  Like all good art, there is more than one way to read it.  If the singer is lying to me, I have no choice but to take his or her flat, 2-dimensional sermon for what it is, and either be intimidated into accepting it, or suffer the consequences of rejecting it, of aligning myself with the unworthy and unrighteous.

Consequences, such as being burned at the stake, perhaps.  As the lyric suggests.

Am I the witch?  Are you?  Who are the witch-hunters?  A bunch of dramatic teenagers with a thespianic bent from Salem, Mass. in a Calvinist age in which art was a sin, or a bunch of cultural gatekeepers and sex-obsessed control freaks who make everybody step and fetch to their ever-shifting, disconsolate whims, and for whom every sentiment that deviates from the increasingly-narrow orthodoxy of acceptable norms is, you guessed it:

A sin.

Calvinists, Marxists, sniveling functionaries who subvert due process in the name of justice, the willing and malleable clay in the twisted clutches of the Nouveau Douche, and whose deaths will be even more unfulfilling than their lives, which play out like steamrollers paving over a jungle of unique and interesting individuals with all kinds of dogma about perpetual compliance, guilt, and submission...

Perhaps the desire to sing has been lost in the fire they've started, as the lyric suggests.  But nevermind those clowns for now.  Let's continue.

Jesus rima con cruz.  "Jesus rhymes with cross."  Let's see what this band that visits the palace of the dead and sings about witches has to say about Jesus and the cross.  Who knows, it might be among the most unflinching Christian sentiments ever sung:


It is not sufficient
to be innocent—
Jesus rhymes with cross


I didn't see that coming.  Is it better to trip over a rare, beautiful mineral in an unlikely place and get a face full of dirt, to the possible saving of your soul, than to pave your own road to hell with good vibes and positive thinking in a room full of morally-upstanding people who don't need to be forgiven of anything?

Jesus rhymes with cross?

It's not enough to not be Jeffrey Dahmer or Adolf Hitler, in other words.  It's not enough to pursue your "best life now," and believe God wants you to be rich, or that it doesn't matter if you're shacking up with that chick, or that dude, because "you love each other," no.  "Jesus rhymes with cross."  From some band that has the wisdom to laugh when faced with the pagan palace of death in their other song.  Jesus rhymes with cross?


"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." (Jesus Christ, Luke 9:23)

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”  2 Timothy 3:12


Is it possible that being a "good person" is not enough?  "Good people," after all, don't have anything in themselves to deny vis-à-vis Luke 9:23.  What cross could there possibly be to bear, for the upright denizens of a degenerate postmodern prosperity movement?  Are they not hyper-compliant to every tenet of virtue ever devised by man?  Nevermind the virtues that aren't devised by man, none of us could conform to if we tried, which would lead us to a humbling, harrowing need for an actual savior, if we had the guts to admit it; those virtues are for the weak, the stupid, and the dangerous.  The virtues of the good are all obvious.  Shall we attend another screening of The Hunger Games at The Colosseum?


In my endless pursuit of an expression of the search for genuine truth that isn't morbidly sugary, I found (or perhaps God led me to) Los Espíritus.  A band which, perhaps more than merely not being saccharine, isn't sweet at all.

Even if the band has several albums, all of which are at least a few years old, did I just discover psychedelic gospel?  Even if it's only one song's worth?  Like a rare mineral no bigger than a grain of sand, but whose beauty is all the more obvious for being rare, have I found a hardcore Christian truth in a trippy band from Argentina, which is all but unheard of in well-known Christian music circles?   Did I stumble on a clearing in the jungle, in which the indigenous people who have never heard of the Lord are actually looking for Him?  Have I left behind the land of people who use the Bible as a self-help book, if they don't dismiss it altogether?  People who not only take for granted the ease with which they can access the priceless gift before them, but who also expect their artists to convert all questions into answers, so that the audience has no room to make their own decisions?

Is it a sermon, or a work of art?  Both have their place, but must they always be the same?

Isn't that the definition of propaganda?

Thanks for listening.


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Nathan Payne
Nathan Payne

I am a songwriter and bandleader who travels the world in search of the golden ticket.


Replacing my blog at

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