Lamp Of The Universe is Craig Williamson's one-man band. After his stoner rock band Datura broke up at the end of the 90s, the New Zealander tried it on his own. With "Align In The Fourth Dimension" the tenth Lamp Of The Universe album is now released on the German Sulatron label. Like all previous albums "Align In The Fourth Dimension" offers a soft, relaxed psychedelic wrapped in cotton wool, full of organs, tablas, sitar, guitars, mellotron, flute and hypnotic, trance-like rhythms as well as beguiling melodies. An oasis of bliss and spirituality. eclipsed talked to Williamson about the new album, his inspirations and 20 years of Lamp Of The Universe.
eclipsed: Craig, please describe the making of the album.
Craig Williamson: All the songs have a long journey behind them. There were different versions, different mixes. Various starting points, which I tried out and rejected again. That's why the songs changed so long until I was satisfied with them. It is not easy to question yourself critically if you are the only one who composes everything and plays all instruments. So it took a lot of time and patience. I'm not planning what I'm doing, I just have a feeling about the direction it's going. This album should be a bit more direct and the songs should be structured more simple.
eclipsed: Lamp Of The Universe is a one-man band. How do you work? What are you starting with?
Williamson: First I compose small instrumental pieces on the acoustic guitar. It becomes demos. Melodies and lyrics come later. What the song still needs, I decide then simply after my hearing.
eclipsed: Have you ever thought about getting other musicians on board?
Williamson: I've already played with the idea a few times. Maybe I'll do it someday. Maybe not. Nothing's planned, so he'll probably stay the way he is.
eclipsed: What are your lyrics about?
Williamson: All the lyrics are general and free in their interpretation. Whatever you see in them is also in them. The listener decides for himself. I have my own opinion of what they are and what they mean. I like to address everyone, at any level, in any way possible.
eclipsed: Your previous albums and many of your songs have spiritual titles. Are you a spiritual person?
Williamson: Simply put: yes. But my faith and my views are my private things. I don't have to force them on anyone. Everyone must decide for himself what or in whom he believes. If someone is spiritually stimulated by my music, then I am happy about it. If someone can dive deeper into spirituality through my music, my lyrics, my artwork, then so much the better.
eclipsed: What inspires you? Books? Religion? Nature?
Williamson: Anything, actually. I listen, I read a lot, I always have new experiences. I let all this flow into me unconsciously. I'm not consciously letting anything take the biggest place. It's just that what I'm feeling is right. Other than that: obscure religions, unknown psychedelic of the 60s and 70s and the landscapes of New Zealand.
eclipsed: Lamp Of The Universe has been around for 20 years now. A good opportunity to review the development.
Williamson: I never thought about how long I could do that. But the idea that it's been 20 years is really great. Summarizing all this is not easy. I don't think there were any lows. All this is an everlasting highlight for me. To be able to make music, to publish on fantastic labels worldwide, to have met great people. This is all great. Just recently my first album "The Cosmic Union" has been re-released on vinyl at Krauted Minds Records. With bonus tracks and demos. It was the first time since the recording that I listened to the album again. That was a great feeling. Hearing myself hear what I created 20 years ago brought up a lot of memories. But it also showed me how far I have come to this day and how many things have changed. It was also strange to hear my old singing, my playing on the instruments and the old production. I am very grateful that I can continue to be creative. I don't think far ahead. I just concentrate on the next song on the next album.
eclipsed: Where does the band name Lamp Of The Universe come from?
Williamson: He comes from an old Datura song. The lyrics of this song are about personal inner strength and the light of the personal universe. Lamp Of The Universe matches the feeling I had when Datura broke apart. I only had myself left. All I could do was make music on my own. Where I got the words from, I can't remember exactly. Probably from one of my many books on religion. I just liked the sound of words.
eclipsed: You mentioned datura. With this band you released some Stonerrock albums in the 90s. What memories do you have of it?
Williamson: Oh, I love these old albums. The songs are great. We played great. I'm glad I got to witness all this. Even today, more than 20 years later, I still think we sound cool.
eclipsed: In contrast to Datura, Lamp Of The Universe almost always sound soft and calm. Wouldn't you like to play a little harder? Or are you just living it up with your other current band, the stoner rockers Arc Of Ascent?
Williamson: There are definitely harder moments in Lamp Of The Universe. But you're right. Maybe I'll play a little harder sometime. But then it has to happen the right way, with the right feeling. Of course, in Arc Of Ascent I live out my harder side. But Arc Of Ascent is about the same things as Lamp Of The Universe. The same thoughts, the same messages, the same sources. Only the way of communication and transmission is different.
*** Interview: Bernd Sievers