Tony Bassett is an incomparable electronic engineer, and more specifically an enlightened manufacturer of Theremins. His fans - among whom are Massive Attack and The Spice Girls - get their supplies of curious electronic devices from N°1DERLAND, his London workshop. There, one can find machines such as Plant Chants - which enable to hear to the biolectricity produced by plants - or Sleep Machines and Brain Machines - which can be used to reach altered states of consciousness.
How did you start building Theremins ?
In 1962, I bought an American magazine which said how to build this, how to build that, and how to build a Theremin. I said, "what’s that ? I don’t know what a Theremin is." So I looked at the magazine article and decided to build the Theremin. And after I built it, I got it working ok, and it was very surprising to me what it did, and surprising to my neighbours because they could hear it and my friends got a big shock because when you waved your hands near it the sound came out. In those days, musicians didn’t want to know about Theremins at all they had a very conservative attitude. So, I didn’t sell very many of them, I just kept making them for my own interest. Then, when Leon Theremin died, there was a great deal more interest because this got into the media, and people wanted to know where they could get one of these things and they came to me. Very few people could make them. Since then I’ve been selling quite a lot of them all around the world. I also have interest in other kinds of electronic stuff, amusing and strange piece of equipment.
Such as the Orb for instance ?
Woody Allen did a film called Sleeper, and according to this, he was transported into the future, where they have a party, where instead of passing around a cannabis joint, they pass the Orb and feel high, just by holding this round thing. And so, a young man came to my workshop and said, "Tony, you make Brain Machines which give altered states of consciousness, don’t you ? Ok, I want you to make a special one for my party, just like an Orb, like in Woody Allen’s film." And I thought, "Ok, if I can make one for him, other people will also want it." And so I made more than a hundred of them and people would really like it. One girl said to me, "I hold an Orb for ten minutes every day before I go to school. And when I hold it, my mind clears, my thoughts become fast and quicker." She really does her work better than if she forgets to hold it. When she told me that, she was using an Orb, which was maybe eight years old, and it was still working like that after all these years !
Do you know what happens with this machine ?
Well, it is concerned with the aura. Because I don’t make these Orbs the same way as Brain Machines. I use a radionic machine to give the Orbs a very good aura. So it affects people who come close to it, they feel good.
Who taught you that ? How did you learn to work with this type of energy ?
In the mid ’70s, somebody brought me a radionic machine to mend. But I didn’t know anything about it. I’ve been told it’s a fake machine. How can I mend it if it’s fake ? He said he didn’t know anybody who could mend it, and he left it with me. So I opened it and found a loose wire inside. I mended the loose wire, put it back where it should be. He told me, "it’s better now but it’s not quite right." How could he know that ? I couldn’t understand how he knew if it worked or not. So he left it, and I opened it again. I looked right through it and I couldn’t find any loose wire again or any other problem. Until I found an imperfect join in the construction. And it’s very difficult to find because it looks ok, but it’s not. So when I found it is not really ok, and made it ok, closed it all up, he can’t see what I’ve done. Then he came and he said that it’s ok now ! If this is a fake machine, how does he know if it works or if it doesn’t ? How does he know I mended it ? I said to him that I don’t understand this thing, I don’t know what I’m doing. So I asked him, "don’t send any more to me for mending." But he sent plenty ! Plenty of more radionic machines came for mending. And every time one came, I asked the owner many questions, "how does it work, that and the other." Until in the end, I see the inside of many of them, and I mend many of them, and I start to know how it works and how to use it. And in fact I know now more than many of the practitioners because I know what’s inside those things, they just know how to operate. Radionic machines are used for the detection and the transmission of distant influence. There are all sorts of ideas, of concepts of radionics. But to me, it has to have equipment inside the box that relates to reality.
Is there a link with Theremins ?
That’s an interesting question actually, because people are telling me that there is. Sometimes, I’m operating a Theremin and people hear the sound and they say, "that’s a healing sound". The sound of the Theremin makes them feel good. It feels like it’s lifting them up somehow. And so the vibration and the sound produced by the Theremin can have an uplifting effect. But I also think this depends, to some extent, on who is playing it, on who is operating it. Because the vibration of the person is being transmitted through the Theremin, it’s picking up their own personal vibrations.
So it produces both audible and non-audible vibrations ?
Yes. One thing is it depends on who made the Theremin, because their vibrations are in the Theremin by making it. And then it depends on who plays it, because that is putting out their vibrations also. And if both of those are good, then it gives a healing sound. If the Theremin is made by somebody who is in a very bad mood or ill or something like that, then maybe it’s going to have an effect on the final product.
Can you tell us more about Brain Machines ?
Brain Machines are very interesting. I made many different kinds. In facts there are hundreds of different kinds of them. But they divide into two main categories. One category of Brain Machines is one which has sensors which pick up the brainwaves and give you information about what is going on in the brain. So by means of this information you can start to control your own brain.
What kind of information does it give ?
It can give you information such as what is the dominant brainwave frequency that you’re experiencing at this moment, whether this is a frequency which is conducive or meditation, or speed reading or speed learning. The meditation is a slow frequency, the speed reading and speed learning are a fast frequency. So for instance, if there are people who lose their temper very easily, freak out on small things. Then, when they do so, they go to a high frequency quite quickly. Then they can say, "I was feeling fine and I wasn’t freaking out five minutes ago and now I am. How do I get back there ?" They don’t know. That’s why they continue to freak out and be angry. If they use a Brain Machine to train their brainwaves down, they can learn to maintain a calm frequency. And you can actually get a warning, an early warning from the machine if there’s a deviation. If you’re going to a higher frequency, you can say that you are not going to let this happen and stop it. That’s how it can help people to control their emotions. So for people who have emotional problems, this kind of machine can be very beneficial.
What’s the other kind of Brain Machine ?
The other main category of Brain Machines generate frequencies, which are then headed to the brain and cause the brain to synchronize to a preset frequency. So these split up into many different categories. Some use flashing lights that flash at a particular frequency, some use sounds, some use direct electrical stimulation of the brain. Let me give you an example. A young man came to my shop and asked me what is a Brain Machine. I sat him on a chair, put it on, and showed him how to use it. After twenty minutes time, he said, "well, look, it’s great. I’m in a real altered state of consciousness now, but I’ve got to go, it’ll take hours to get home. How long will this altered state of consciousness last ?" I answered that if he doesn’t let anything disturb him too much, if he remains calm, then he’ll remain in that altered state of consciousness for a longer period of time. He rang me up afterwards and said, "when I got near to my home, more than an hour later, I still had an altered state of consciousness. So I decided not to go home and visit my friends and tell them about it." So he went to visit his friends and they were playing cards. He identified the card on the top of the pack, with its face down, correctly. For fifteen minutes, completely each card he identified correctly before it was drawn from the pack. And he said, "I’ve never done anything like that before, it’s fantastic !" So the thing is, even with this small Brain Machine, we get fantastic results. We can’t say that a person is going to identify cards like he did. But something else happens, somebody else starts being like clever or whatever. Some other things happen. But each person gets some kind of benefit in their own individual way. I had an instance where a young woman fell from a three-storey building on the concrete. And nearly every bone in her body was broken. So it was a very bad accident. The doctors mended her bones, mended her body, but they didn’t manage to mend her mind. So for thirteen years, she had very bad effects on concotions. So she came to me and I asked her what the problem was. And she said, "well, I can’t work or anything because if somebody asks me a question, I know I got the answer, but it’s as if my mind is full of mist and fog, and I can’t see where the answer lies. And so, maybe two or three hours after the person asked me the question, the answer would come to me. It makes practical thinking very difficult." I sold her a small Brain Machine and told her to use it for twenty minutes at a time. And she took it home and started to use it, but she went to sleep as it was still on, so it was all night. She phoned me, "I had it on all night long, not just twenty minutes. And it’s fantastic. For the first time in thirteen years, I had dreams, healing dreams. And as the dreams progressed, it cleared the fog in my mind. Part of my mind is clear now. I can think properly in that area. The next night I did the same thing. And now I got more healing dreams." So she just carried on with this because it was excellent for her. And after something like six weeks of doing this, she phoned me again, "you know, I can remember what my mind was like before the accident. And now, by using this machine, it’s clearer than it was even before the accident." So after a short while she called me again and said, "my mind is so clear now. I’m becoming aware of things that people normally aren’t aware of. I’m becoming clairvoyant." So she was becoming clairvoyant by means of the Brain Machine. She was so pleased. She really wanted to be clairvoyant and so this was happening. So that’s ok, what was happening with this Brain Machine was really beneficial for her. But then, a few weeks later, she comes to me again. She starts to become worried because this seems to have gone too far. She was starting to become like a medium ! She was hearing spirits speaking to her and all sorts of things like that... So I advised her, if this continues, to contact a psychic expert. This is the sort of thing that can be obtained, achieved with the smallest Brain Machine.
Is there a kind of danger with this kind of technology ?
Yes. It has to be carefully used. Simply because it’s got certain aspects which lots of people don’t understand and they start to use it irresponsibly. It can be also used by dictatorship ! There are various things like control of crowds by means of ultrasound or microwaves. But I think that people who would use it for electronic Big Brother, in the ultimate, they only have a short-term win. They can’t win. Because when people figure what they’re doing, which is wrong, and figure out who’s doing it, then they will start to lose support. Ultimately, people will realize that these things are possible to use for huge benefit of mankind. My feeling is that Internet is very important here, because people can know very quickly if somebody is misusing the energy or the resources of the Earth. And they can mobilize people to make that person lose support. I think that Internet is going to be really great think. So, we see that the technology itself can be misused very badly. Or, on the other hand, it can be used in fantastic ways. Like curing diseases. I think one of the problems for the future is to identify those people who are causing suffering and causing problems and take away their power. And give the power to those people who are uplifting the world.
Maybe we have to build the biggest Brain Machine ever made...
One can build a very big powerful Brain Machine, but how do you cause it to affect these negative people ? You can’t do it against their will really. One has to have a degree of free will. Machines can be our tools, for better or for worse. I think for instance that these cruise missiles can be fantastic if they’re not loaded with a bomb. Suppose that a cruise missile is loaded with medical supplies for an emergency somewhere. Why are people putting bombs in them ? You see, many times in my life, arms manufacturers have tried to make me design and produce weapons. And when I find that the job involves that, I always leave very quickly. Many times it’s happened that I go to a job and they need an electronic engineer. Nominally, it’s for something innocuous. But then I find in a backroom what is going on and I leave quickly. That is why I’m working for myself now. I don’t want to work for others because they’re nearly all involved. It’s a matter of how do we get away from these power structures, which causes technology to be used in ways that are not beneficial for the world. I mean humanity could advance fantastically if technology would focus on the positive. It’s a very big thing, people don’t realize how much of a difference it can make. So this idea of a big Brain Machine, I don’t know. Because if it was made and it was switched on for everybody in the world, it might be that people would say this is another form of dictatorship. But I mean, there’s nothing wrong with putting good vibrations. So if something could be made that would put out huge amounts of good vibrations, it’s fantastic. I mean, the things I make are only small machines.