(Field Hymns, 2015)
In an apocraphyl bit of history, as the management team led by Bob Herbert, Chris Herbert, and Lindsey Casbon set out to hold auditions in 1994 for the group that would eventually become the Spice Girls, Ak’chamel the Giver of Illness – an actual minor deity – showed up at the very last tryout. I can only imagine the conversation that went down there:
SPICE TEAM: “OK, what’s the ‘Spice’ name that you came up with? We found one called ‘Scary Spice’ already, so that’s right out.”
AK’CHAMEL: “I AM AK’CHAMEL, THE GIVER OF ILLNESS!”
SPICE TEAM: “That doesn’t quite work. Plus you’re not a girl. Who’s next?
AK’CHAMEL: “I WILL DESTROY YOUR CRAFT SERVICES TABLE!”
Oh, Ak’chamel, you scamp.
Anyhoo, Ak’chamel decamped to “somewhere in Texas,” well out of sight, and laid low. (A call from Neil Gaiman went unanswered, so Gaiman went with Odin instead as his lead subject for the historical compendium American Gods.) Here he came out only at night, lit many campfires, and led his straggly group of worshipers in totemic rituals. During these ceremonies, bathed only in fire- and starlight, the group, whipped into a frenzy by Ak’chamel’s divine presence, bashed out their own hymns to the god, their ramshackle compositions filtered through their improvised instruments assembled from scrap in a heavenly din. Ak’chamel looked down upon them, and bent his ear to the din, and it was good.
So, not to be outdone by the flipping Spice Girls, Ak’chamel set up a four-track recorder to document these desert sessions, in the hopes of furthering his diseased gospel beyond the wilderness where his followers camped. The results were shipped to his minions at Field Hymns, where they were commanded to print “a limited edition of 100 pro-dubbed & imprinted chrome cassettes,” with the attendant, diabolical “digital download.” Ak’chamel hoped the 100 cassettes would be sufficiently contagious to infect the rest of the world.
So far so good. The ghouls at Field Hymns complied and spread the word. I’ve come under Ak’chamel’s spell, and I write here so that you may also become one of us. Although it’s not the most fun cult to be in – we’re sick, like all the time – it’s going to be the last one standing. Geri Hallowell is already a member – even the Spice Girls aren’t immune! So ingest this somehow – maybe we can compare afflictions. He struck me with mumps. *frowny face*