I have been going through my archives, which includes many recordings by band I either produced, played in, or both. Today I've uploaded several compilations to youtube. Vietkings was a one-off garage band started by teenage girls as a summer 2008 going-away band (Lauren was moving to Sweden). We were surprisingly successful in that short period of time, playing a number of local shows and recording three songs for a single on Die Slaughterhaus. The previous summer we recorded a conceptual 7" called The Grown-Ups, which was a sort of Kiwis/K Holes/Black Lips/Deerhunter supergroup with Andrew, Adam, Jack and Julie. Lastly there is the complete set of Psychic Vampires, the halloween punk trio cobbled together to annihilate the crowd at one of the biggest disasters of a show I have ever set up in my life. I was trying to set up a big Halloween show, like we used to have back in the day, and bands kept signing on and then dropping out. Luckily the unwavering rock energy of Paul Harper and Joey Comonte got us through this once-in-a-lifetime set at the veritable Wonder Root. We rocked the hell out of that show!
Night Terrors are something I had as a kid, and all my life I have struggled with physical, chemical, and mental imbalances. I was born with a lot of medical issues, bless my parents, and they raised me with an appreciation for music and art that has given me a reason to live. I mean, I have lots of reasons to live, but music is a good one! This album is some pure uncut psych, maybe it will come across as Outsider Art. I am hoping. Because to be honest I have always felt like an outsider, even amongst other my friends and outsiders. Maybe this is the psychic curse of being an artist. Dr. Who understands.
01 What's the Difference Some Black Lips/Deerhunter-aping stuff. Lots of this album is songs I wrote pretending I was 10 years younger. Back in 2005/2004/2003 there were several art/punk houses I used to visit on a daily basis, improvising music and songs and recordings with the best friends I have ever had. I still listen to all of their music alot, it reminds me of the good old days. Anyways this is if I wrote a song for Deerhunter in 2004 and only got around to recording it ten years later.
02 Rats Inspired by Metal Gear Solid 3 and Lou Reed. Solid Snake Swoop Swoop. Some T-Rex in the chorus. Glam rock narcotic. Goes on way too long but yay for noise guitar. I wanted to do things like that and just experiment with sound. Just because I can.
03 Vacant Cloud Inspired by the Beat Happening and maybe a little Pavement and Georgiana Starlington. I don't think the singing on this album is technically good at all, but hey maybe that is why I am not playing in any bands. This song makes me think of my friend Alex who got married last year, he was living with me when I was in Deerhunter, and introduced me to all this amazing video art. Stuff they teach you in art school, Kenneth Anger and Jodorowsky. Maya Deren. Yoko Ono. All that amazing shit. There is def some Maya Deren and Yoko Ono in this.
04 Clover Kenneth Anger is for real, he is kind of baroque in his methods but he's the real deal, spiritually/magically speaking. See, aside from writing songs I was reading books on magic and divination, so I like to think some of that knowledge seeped into these songs. At the very least I tried to come upon an abstract form and subtly give it form, invoking the spirit of the song through arrangement or repetition or maybe just inventing the words on the spot. This is a song about my roommate's cat Clover, who was killing birds with my cat Five. If I ever recorded this for real it would have a thick Kula Shaker-style production, some 90s psychedelia, with sitars and everything.
05 I'll Never Be Destroyed This is trying to be some spiritual punk. I was pretty angry at the time, with some people that appeared to be one way but in truth were but mere illusions. Fake wizards, fraud mystics, phony eco-idolatrists. People who think spirituality has something to do with taking things for granted. Part of the reason I stopped going out was not wanting to deal with these toxic influences. So writing some of these songs was a bit of therapy. My friend Jennifer sings on this, she was in the Kiwis back in the day.
06 Talking a Lot This was a request from a friend sitting on the front porch in the winter, light coming from a broken pinball machine next to us. I was always playing cover songs -- Dust Bunnies started as a cover song solo band -- and she wanted to hear something original, so I started playing this riff. I don't think the words came until later. It's more sanctimonious holier-than-thou stuff. I guess I am like George Harrison in that way. This song def has a White Album feel to it imo. This album is sort of a split between late-60s psychedelia and late-70s post-punk. This song goes on too long. Yeah, the album is a bit self-indulgent. Whatever.
07 Heart Stands Started out as a Tyrannosaurus Rex-style psych folk tune before I landed on this Twin Peaks-style dream pop thing. I like my singing here. This is about me being born with a hole in my heart, and what that means for me as a social human being.
08 Is It Real Love You're Looking For Dust Bunnies used to be all about keyboard-driven noise pop and back in the day I used to wrack my brain wondering if I could ever come up with some songs that sounded this certain way and had this melodic hook to it. I feel like I really hit the nail on the head with this one! Kind of girl group-inspired or northern soul pop music. I like this song a lot. If I ever edit down this record I am definitely keeping this one. Lead single?
09 Wah Wah Wah I'm a Baby on the Internet My first band was Plastic Caskets and we played mostly Ramones covers, which is where this comes from. Had so much fun writing and recording this! I like the wah wah wah hook, I think it's real commercial man. This could be in a mobile commercial or something! Please! Give me money! But seriously....it's about me complaining about stuff. I'm a little older than the internet, so I think there is still some disconnect between me and that level of communication. I need to remember to Keep It Posi. This was a lot of fun because my roommate being a irl complainer was getting everyone kicked out of the house I had lived in for 3 years, so I decided to move my drums into my room so I could finish working on this album I was trying to do. It was right next to his room, but because of him I lost my rehearsal/recording space, my theremin was broken, and I realized he had stolen hundreds of dollars from me years ago. So yeah I was complaining a lot, but looking back on it, I had a lot to be upset about.
10 Devil's Castle Level 2 music from the original NES Castlevania. The music was originally written by Kinuyo Yamashita, a Japanese woman who I found on Facebook and actually wrote a fan message to - and she responded kindly! Castlevania is my favorite game series of all time, a Japanese mash-up of Western Horror Movies and Gothic World Myths. I tried to think of some Serge Gainsbourg lyrics for this but nothing came to mind.
11 199X Paul Harper is a BFF and fellow musician I play with from time to time. He recently moved to Ohio, but he lived in Atlanta for years, and I would walk over to his place in Cabbage Town or he would skateboard down to mine in Candler Park and play video games. Or he would play me a tape of something he made. Or we would just make up music, him playing guitar and me playing organ. I taped some of that once and used it to build this song, 199X. It's about punk music and video games. I think he moved away partly because of frustration with the local scene, which is something I shared. The previous time we had played was a huge Halloween event at Wonder Root, where all of the door money and tip money was stolen by our supposed 'friends'. The time before that was at the Big House, where his skateboard and some equipment was stolen, and instead of being helped out we were asked to pay for the food that we ate. Anyways that stuff is in the past. Hopefully I will see Paul again sometime soon and play music with him, but it feels like everyone I used to do that with is moving on with their lives. =( New Games.
12 Why Can't I Fly Some actual accessible stuff, maybe they could play this in a coffee shop or something. I wrote this while recording something else, and was setting up my guitar, and just started playing this song. Inspired greatly by Atlas Sound. I hope it's not too direct a rip-off, but he is a huge huge huge influence on me and always has been. It's funny, this feels like a sequel to some of the weirder awkward things I wrote when I was 16.
13 Chromatic Fugue (Demo) Losing access to my recording space sucked because I never got to go in and re-record stuff like this with my good mic and setup. This is an improvised song and the build-up/performance is so damn good I wanted to keep it on the internet. Cos it's free, man. Probably goes on too long but again it's free you can just hit 'next' or something if you don't want to hear the ending.
14 Something Wrong This is just me literalizing some stuff, putting on my Kurt Cobain wig. It's definitely some stuff I should have written when I was 16 or something, but I don't have any shame. I can shave, put on a tie, and go to work sober on a Monday, and I can drink some wine and record this weird awkward punk shit at home in my own time. Do what you want as long as it doesn't affect other people, basically. I think Jesus said that.
15 Castlevania I had this great country song I wanted to do a chicken-pickin' Johnny Cash style thing with but after losing use of my drums (I live in a 2nd floor apt now) decided to record this like Jimmie Rogers recorded by Beck. I think Castlevania is utterly beautiful. My favorite lyrics are the openers "I tried to jump on the spinning wheel", which just sounds like something weird you would hear in an old bluegrass song. But it's about that Castlevania level where you are in a clock tower jumping on giant gears. I'm a giant nerd.
16 Any Way This Could Happen Some pretty, posi, and priestly drone folk. This song is about the Grace of God. The Good Word. The miracle that is life.
17 Honey This performance kind of sucks but I like the song. Another song made up on a spot. Just like 2 guitar riffs and an echo pedal on the vocals. Some of the other similar songs were also performed better as an original lofi demo, but this has it's own charm. Vocals supposed to be some stupid Iggy Pop-style character.
18 Hippie Fuck You Here is an original lofi demo. I had this awesome 4-track progam on a tablet and was using it to improvise songs. For a while I was using an Interface given to me by someone who asked it back one day as I was getting together with friends to record with it. Nice guy. Anyways this is not about anyone in particular, this is about the whole fake hippie thing, people who talk about how spiritual they are but only do things for themselves, people that put on this image of caring for animals but suggest you keep your cat on a leash rather than ask them to close the front door. This guy who runs a 'art commune' did just this, letting out Clover twice in two days last summer, the second time her getting attacked on the leg so bad she needed $500 surgery. Dude decided to split town and travel with theater people instead of pitch in for this poor cat, and said the cats were tricking him.
19 I'll Never Be Destroyed Wrote this several years ago on Christmas. This is the demo take, which is a better performance imo. It's about the eternal nature of the soul, and how no matter or energy can ever be destroyed. I may end up just keeping this on the album, but I like Jennifer's vocals on track 05.
20 Goodnight to Thee White Album-inspired psychedelic lullaby. Looking back on the record I like a lot of it but I think it could seriously be trimmed down.... but I supposed people said that about the White Album. Yes you heard me, I am a one-man Beatles.
Last year was a pretty changeful year for me, turning 33 and ending up not performing in any bands for the first time since I was a teenager. Maybe this is why I socially regressed, getting into old habits like video games and writing/recording new material every day, at any time of the day, even in the middle of already recording a new song. For the first time in years I was super effing creative, and I was writing so many songs I decided to record an album. Do something constructive with my free time. Not that I wasn't working, but my work was a contract position I could do from home, and when I needed to go to a meeting the scheduling was always nice and flexible.
When I was a kid I did not know what "Anarcho-Syndacalist Commune" meant, but I did see Monty Python & The Holy Grail, which introduced me to the term. The movie is high fantasy, post-modernism that is way ahead of its time. The funniest bit to me was this segment, because I am doing research about the Middle Ages and reading all these history books and apparently most of the satire in this movie is based on how things really were. Which is to say, a lot like today! I find history more interesting to read about than Game Of Thrones or Lord of the Rings or any other Medieval-derived IP/modern corporate intellectual universe. You had a mafia-like system of oligarchs pillaging the continent/world, exploiting natural resources, price-setting/speculating on fossil fuels, polluting the environment, exploiting the peasant class, and doing it all in the name of religion. Actual morality/spirituality/real religion seemed to have meant as much to the bishops and popes that hired hitmen and/or prostituted their way into positions of power as it does to modern day politicians, who more or less do the same only for our general amusement/clickviews/ad revenue. Which is a shield or tool with which to control the populace. That and fear. While people now may fear/distrust a government because of how it treats the rest of the world (war, bombing, sanctions, torture, etc.) back then they feared because they did these things directly to their own citizens. Christian Anarchists leading peasant revolts were hunted down like animals, drawn-and-quartered, or burned in public. Rebellion was a dangerous thing for a common peasant to consider -- especially when the last guy to do so is sitting in a cage, a corpse hanging up high in front of the village. Intimidation tactics like these kept the populace under control, but the literally intoxicating influence of alcohol was also invaluable to the Ruling Class. Taverns were not just a place to go and entertain yourself, they were the only source of unpolluted liquids because with no environmental regulations to hold them in place any mining or manufacturing operation could simply dumb their refuse into the local water supply unchallenged. Taverns supplied the beer and wine, and they also supplied the medieval version of bar fights. Rabble-rousers would be sent off to jail, or simply be too spent from internal fueds to do anything constructive with their free time. Everyone, no matter the age, drank constantly. This niche has recently been filled by prescription medications and rock n roll/pop culture.
However, the big difference we have is THE INTERNET, which is really the most life-changing thing to happen since the printing press. We forget how important the printing press was. Ancient authorities portrayed it as an invention of Faust, or tool of the Devil. Like alchemy it was something used to create false copies of holy works (or counterfeit money, for alchemy), encroaching on the monopoly the oligarchy had on information. Some who were caught copying the Bible, for instance, ended up thrown in a dungeon. The fact was that the Ruling Class spoke in an entirely different language than the common people -- latin. Imagine if our representatives spoke a different language than us, how alienated that would make us feel from control over our own existence? Perhaps in a way they still do, in the convoluted language of The Law, in idolizing words and ideals that are as foreign to our everyday lives as High Latin was to, say, a 12th century shoemaker.
I have faith in the internet. Information will set you free.
I am currently 4 songs in to recording a new Dust Bunnies album. Ever since my lone working band Black Lodge went on hiatus in 2014 I have been constantly writing and recording new material. In fact 2014 was the most creatively successful musical year of my life, at least since I was a teenager recording stuff on 4-track. Anyways these new songs are less noisey more classic rock, but still pretty sloppy and psychedelic. When I should be out looking for a wife or trying to find a real job and buy a house, I am usually at home having fun playing in my own world with this stuff. I wouldn't have it any other way!
If you haven't heard last year's album then check out Night Terrors HD.
Video art is something I think is really important and I have been lucky enough to afford opportunities to introduce some of my personal aesthetics to the culture at large. Above is a Dan Deacon video called "USA", created by Adult Swim, that I created some CGI for. At around 8:50 you can see a bunch of stuff flying through outer space for a space of 20-30 seconds. I did that. I bring this up because I am going through my youtube channel, which I fear is a bit unfocused. Most channels focus on either confessional vlogs or video game playthroughs or music videos or animations but doing all at once it is a bit difficult to "brand" yourself. I spent last week saving a bunch of old data and that includes hours and hours of video art/music videos/animations/etc that I will be uploading to youtube. I also plan on making a new demo reel, primarily so that non-subscribed visitors to my youtube can get something of an introduction to my channel. Also because I am looking for work and putting together a demo of my video prowess may help in that endeavor.
Anyways so there is another thing on my plate. You can stop by my youtube channel to watch me destroy the Gaping Demon in Dark Souls or sing a cover of "Candy Says" or watch an early edit of a Deerhunter music video that never happened. Let the Renaissance continue!
Yes so I am making a videogame. It's not meant to be a good videogame, nor one that places emphasis on gameplay, though I am a connoisseur having grown up with 2nd generation consoles and an Atari 7800 and remembering very clearly the first day I laid eyes on Super Mario Bros. and had a revelation not unlike looking into the dawn of a strange new world. So the game I am making will not be driven by plot or narrative but the overall experience. Essentially I want to combine art and music, sound and design, and create an abstract dadist-style collage of a weird fantasy world. The game will primarily be about seeing the sights and hearing the sounds. Back when I played Super Mario Bros. and those other 2d-sidescrollers I remember being amazed by the graphics and the fantastic worlds they created. Beating the game was not a goal of reaching the end credits, it was about mastering the controls/hazards enough to the point where I could TAKE IN all that content, I could experience the bizarre worlds in full. If you have ever played a game and got to a difficult part that gave you a lot of trouble, and eventually you beat it, and the screen continues to scroll, revealing previously unseen pastures. That sense of discovery is what I want more than anything.
I am doing research for a videogame I am making called Super Madrigal Bros., which is based in medieval times. Mostly this is Googling images of Renaissance and Baroque paintings, opening them in Photoshop, and cutting out parts that look interesting, filing them in a folder for later. Today I ended up in a Wikipedia wormhole about someone who is definitely going to be in this game:
Paracelsus was born Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim in 1493, the son of a Swiss German chemist and physician. By age 16 he was considered a prodigy in Alchemical studies and began started studying medicine at the University of Basel, moved to Vienna, and eventually finished schooling at the University of Ferrara when he was 25. Thus began a charmed life of travelling -- first around Europe, attempting to hold official positions. He considered himself a Revolutionary, and publicly criticized traditional methods while rebelling at authority. "All they can do is gaze at piss", he sneered.
This won him many enemies and his cantankerous nature led the rest of his life to be spent travelling. He travelled around Europe as a Plague Doctor, at a time when trained physicians stayed out of that profession. Indeed, he displayed a lifelong commitment to the impoverished and suffering, of which there were many. Europe experienced nearly half a millenia of plague outbreaks occuring once a generation, and the population was consistently devastated.
One of his contributions to science was considering the health of a person as result of something bad ingested from food or the air, rather than the Four Humors of Hippocratic Medicine which were commonly accepted at the time. He devised a tincture of opium that became widely used for hundreds of years, primarily as a cough suppressant (it is related to codeine). This substance and others were packed into the beak of a strange mask, resulting in the surreal bird-like costume of the Plague Doctors. Doctors began wearing these outfits while attending to plague victims, so much so that the sight of one could terrify an unsuspecting villager. The sight of a plague doctor foretold nothing less than a local apocalypse.
It is difficult to consider this kind of life, from the 21st century. The plague continued to decimate Europe until the 20th century, and medical practices were for a long time unable to have any positive effect whatsoever. In the face of such hopelessness I'm sure any success, however incidental to procedure, would be seen as a sign of hope. If the plague doctors were powerful enough to inspire fear (their presence so often coinciding with the plague) no doubt their powers were looked up to, however fanciful. A successful plague doctor was tirelessly self-promoting, perhaps not adverse to inventing an Initiation to Grand Mysteries upon visiting an exotic location. Certainly if you were travelling around Europe, surviving while watching thousands of people die around you, granted the anonymity of a mask, and intoxicated on potent narcotic mixtures you yourself were experimenting with, you would have quite a high opinion of yourself!
In 1526 he bought the rights of citizenship in Strasbourg to establish his own practice. But soon after he was called to Basel to the sickbed of Johann Froben or Frobenius, a successful printer and publisher. Based on historical accounts, Paracelsus cured Frobenius.-- Wikipedia
Paracelsus was one of the first medical professors to recognize that physicians required a solid academic knowledge in the natural sciences, especially chemistry. Furthermore, he allowed for the access of medical academic work to learned people. Surgeons for example often were not academically trained and ranked with the barbers and butchers in the same guild.
Paracelsus is also a folk legend, and bizarre tales about his life circulated Central Europe for centuries. In the minds of many, he became a wonder-healer and spiritual protector of health. His aid to villages during the plague in the 16th century was for many an act of heroism, his works and achievements therefore often abused and falsely copied.
While attending the sick bed of Frobenius (see above), Erasmus of Rotterdam witnessed the curative powers of Paracelsus' therapy. Deeply impressed by his skills, he must have recommended him to his humanist friends at the University of Basel, one of the most progressive schools at that time. Paracelsus' contact with Erasmus also initiated a letter dialogue between them.
He died at the age of 47 in Salzburg, and his remains were buried according to his wishes in the cemetery at the church of St. Sebastian in Salzburg. His remains are now located in a tomb in the porch of that church.
After his death, the movement of Paracelsianism was seized upon by many wishing to subvert the traditional Galenic physics, and his therapies became more widely known and used.
His motto was "Alterius non sit qui suus esse potest" which means "Let no man belong to another who can belong to himself."
Had a huge brainstorm last weekend and decided to make a Super Madrigal Bros. videogame. If you don't know, SMB was a chiptune band started by Momus in 2001. I had been working on electronic music based on Gameboy samples for an album dedicated to Bjork (I was ~18) and impressed him with a demo enough to qualify for a spot in the duo, which was a conceptual idea he had had that was really quite flexible and naturally put together. I think at one point he may have even been singing, but he was organizing a tour and running a label and this was perhaps a concept he could have followed through had he not had all of that to deal with in addition to being an brilliant post-rock pervert DIY David Bowie. At any rate we put out an album and went on a tour in 2002 across the USA with three other additions to his personal label American Patchwork, inspired by Harry Smith-style and eclectic electronic folk people like Bruce Haack. The additional bands were Rroland, Phiiliip, and The Gongs, who all released some of my favorite music of all time during this period. Phiiliip was described as an electroclash version of early Beck, and had a Van Dyke Parks-meets-T-Rex thing going for him. He brought along some of the dancers from Fischerspooner and they performed during our sets in the New York shows. The Gongs were like third-album Velvet Underground-meets-The Incredible String Band, and they all played custom-made instruments with silly names like The Chucky, or a home-build drum machine made from a log found in Lake Eerie. Peter Blasser still makes futuristic analog-electro-acoustic instruments at http://www.ciat-lonbarde.net/. Rroland joined us for some dates in California, where he was a cool married middle-aged man (to us teenagers) who played amazing bubbly synth landscape expressions of his past lives. All incredible stuff.
Anyways back to the videogame I am making. The original idea was to use old art, because during the reign of SMB (2002-2004?) I made a great deal of sprite art, stills for websites, video art, etc, and of course we had all these songs and sounds and remixes and stuff. Plus it would have that pixel look that people love. I mean, I love that stuff, who doesn't. But my HD wouldn't work! I plugged it in and it said "File system not recognized."!!! It asked me if I wanted to format!!!
Fear not, I figured it out, cos I am a huge nerd who knows to how hack RAW file systems. Luckily that means my entire life's worth, all the music I have recorded, all the bands I have played with, all the videos I have made, have not been lost! That's kind of cool.
Transferring everything will take hours, probably all night long, so I can't access any of that stuff until my computer finishes up. It doesn't matter, I have this inspiration, I have wanted to make a videogame for a long time but just never had the right spark, so here I go. I have access to Unity and am programming in that, which is nice because (1) it has some great youtube tutorials and (2) can output to more or less any format, from Windows and OSX to Android and iPhone and even PS3/4, and the XBones. Nintendo is still out of reach but that's ok, they are wizards from the future and I wouldn't want to dilute their magic.
By the end of this week I aim to have a demo up for download. It probably will not be much, maybe a half dozen screens worth of level design that is mostly just pretty backgrounds layered on top of each other like a diorama. At first the desire was there to make a Castlevania clone, but the more I think about it the more I think it should be about exploring these strange lands and listening to this strange music instead. There can be enemies, but maybe they can hurt you but you can't hurt them. The game controller has a really sophisticated physics system built in, so I think you could build sliding puzzles or something. I don't know, I'm still learning. Right now there is a main character, who can walk left and right, and who has 2 different jumps with a single button. The sprite flips horizontally when you move from right to left and back again, so it does not look like he is moonwalking. There is a camera and it follows your movements, which is handy. The ground is a bit from a painting stretched out and colored green, it's only a placeholder. The background is from an idyllic landscape by Salvator Rosa, and the main character is from a Jan van Eyck, both Renaissance painters. I am not sure I will stick to this style the whole time or if the whole thing is going to be a mishmash of styles. I really want to do pixel art so there may be some levels like that. I also am interested in incorporating woodcuts, because lots of important books and grimoires from that time period used those. Then again since I'm digitizing it I may as well color and shade them myself. As you can see, I have my work cut out! I think art/sound is going to be 90% of this game!
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