Bob smiled at me, raised his eyebrows and quietly smoked while we waited. Within a few moments the door opened. What met my gaze went far beyond my expectations. In fact, I had never seen anything like it in all my years of recording. A concrete floor was met by 10 to 12 feet of vertical 2 x 4’s, racked with recording equipment that went from floor to ceiling. A pair of Advent speakers hung from the ceiling. These were fastened by rope and eye hooks, and held precariously over a lounge chair occupied by another senior citizen who went by the name of Martin.
Martin greeted us as he stopped one tape machine and inspected another which continued rolling. “Rita is in the booth,” he said to Bob and pointed to the glass on the left wall. Bob acknowledged him with a smile.
I looked around the room, still adjusting to what I was seeing. The room resembled a recording studio control room, only in that it had a lot of equipment. The room had no sound proofing. No oddly angled walls and ceiling. The recording console was mounted at a 45 degree angle with the 2 x 4 frames. There must have been at least 4 multi-track recorders in various formats. The Advent speakers were decent speakers for home audio, but lacked any use as studio reference monitors. The concrete floors in my opinion, were an absolute no no. This was certainly not a studio fit for recording music.
I looked at the glass window which Martin had pointed to when referencing Rita. In a large room beyond the glass, there was what appeared to be a big walk in freezer in the middle of the room. This place was getting more bizarre by the moment.
“Well kid. Whadaya think?” I heard Bob’s voice asking through the haze of my own perplexed state. I turned to look at him smiling with pride at his collection. I collected myself and wondered, what I could say that might match his obvious pride? “This is quite a collection you have here,” I offered.
Noticing a patch bay, which is like a switch board for all audio signal paths in the studio, I asked, “Is all this gear calibrated to the console?” Bob looked at me slyly and asked, “You know how to do that?” My job interview finally begun.
I walked over to the console and patched in a few machines at the bay. I flew a 1 kHz signal through the subgroups and began adjusting the inputs on the multitrack. I was happy to do this. The action seemed somewhat normal, in what was a surreal circumstance. The normal feeling was short lived. Bob said, “Well, Kid, you seem to know what you’re doing. Let’s get some lunch.”
Bob drove us to his favorite Nellysford dinner at a snails pace through the winding back roads of Nelson County. As he did, I continued my line of inquiry regarding what went on at The Monroe Institute of Applied Sciences. So far, I knew he had an atrocious recording studio that was used to make sounds that did something to the brains of the people listening. Taking into account the people wandering around the pristine acreage, I imagined that the sounds must be doing something. I thought about the mysterious Rita (in the booth beyond the glass), and wondered what the story was there. I had lots of questions, but opted for small talk.
It turned out that Mr. Monroe and I had a great deal in common. I was from NYC. He lived in NYC for many years through the fifties and sixties. I was a musician/composer. He was a musician/composer. I was in broadcasting. He was in broadcasting. I was of Italian decent. He liked Italian food. We shared some jokes and smokes over a nice hamburger and became fast friends. It was an easy conversation.
Now, it was time to get more information about the job at hand. I asked what it was he needed from me. He explained that he was creating a series of tapes which he referred to as H+.
He told me that he had fifty masters to prepare for mass production. My mission was to run a sub mix that Bob had already prepared on video cassette, through the console, and fly in some inserts containing a voice track that he would provide from time to time on audio cassette format. I was to mix these two together on to a two track reel to reel, with the appropriate reference tones to insure proper duplication.
For someone with my background this was a cakewalk, although time consuming. A finished production master take about two hours per. So I was looking at about 100 billable hours plus travel time. It would go a long way toward paying off my studio equipment loans.
However, Bob insisted on a few things:
1. “Tell no one about the project. It is a secret until release date.”
2. “You have to do the work in house.”
“OK.” It would sound better at my place but no objection, I thought.
3. “You have to work with headphones on.”
“No problem there.” Those Advents hanging off the ceiling were of no use to me.
It was my turn to ask the questions now. “Why are we doing a sub mix rather than multitrack?” I asked.
“Because the technology is proprietary,” he responded with a grin in his deep blue eyes.
“What exactly does the technology do?”
“I’ll have to explain that at another time.”
“What is H+ all about?”
“It is a process designed to enhance human capability through the power of mind.”
“Hmmm. You mean like Silva Mind Control and the power of positive thinking?”
Suddenly, Bob’s face lit up. He had a look in his eye that I had not seen till that point, but would see many times from that moment on. It was a look of gratified acknowledgement. The look of a man when he finally understands how all of the pieces fit together.
“Ummhum. Something like that. So you know about this stuff then?”, he asked with his sly grin. “Oh yeah,” I replied, meeting his smile. “I have been doing that work for a few years.”
“Well. You ought to fit in here quite well then.” He chuckled slightly and took a bite of his burger.
Apparently he knew something I didn’t. My job interview was completed and my new life had begun, although I had no idea of it at the time. My plan was to get him through this project and if the fates allowed, continue doing projects for him as time went on.
During this meeting Bob told me that he had done all of the recording of Hemi-Sync tapes up till that time. He kept his cards very close to his chest regarding the technology and his methodology. I came to find out later that Bob Monroe had developed a technology which could produce marvelous results. His technology was actually patented, and he had no desire to see it stolen or replicated. I wasn’t interested in stealing or even learning the in and outs of this technology. For me, this was just another recording gig.
The only reason he invited me to do this work was because his physical body was now failing him to varying degrees. Now in his mid-seventies, his hearing was no longer as accurate as it once was. His finger dexterity was deteriorating to the point where slow fader movements on the console were beyond him. His hands shook too much for the delicate movements. I remember feeling badly for him. I couldn’t imagine not being able to physically do something that I loved and hoped I would never find out.
So, I took the gig. We worked out a favorable hourly rate and determined which days of the week I would show up to be let into the secure lab. I imagined that I would probably be done with the whole thing before the year was over. On that first meeting, I found Bob extremely pleasant. Perhaps a bit eccentric, like most artists including myself. He was very down to earth and friendly. We concluded our meeting with him handing me a copy of his latest book entitled Far Journeys. I promised him I would read it and would return to the grounds at TMI the following week to begin working on his masters.
There is an old saying: “If you want to make God laugh, have a plan.” This is an attempt to express the common knowledge that from time to time in the life of every person, something occurs which alters the trajectory of one’s life path. Why this happens, I am not entirely sure, although I have my suspicions. From my observations however, it is truth.