Saturday, December 31, 2011

Various Artists


                I feel there aren’t enough Compilations anymore. Today I am going to change that. Hopefully this is a beautiful beginning to my ‘Various Artists’ section here. Oftentimes I see so many wonderful songs, compilations, and albums; I do not know where to begin. As a way of bringing together all these wonderful odds and ends, I present the first (of perhaps many) Various Artists. Enjoy!

                Jensen Sportag did a lot this year on Cascine, a new jet-set label. Mostly they were absolutely plush sounding remixes, the kinds of remixes that you cherish. Memorable remixes are a rare breed indeed, but somehow Jensen managed to pull it off in 2011. Actually next year there will be a new album out for them. Listen to the teaser here. Or just listen to one of their smooth (I mean a sort of smooth beyond all human comprehension) remixes. I’m a sloth. I comprehend it. 

                Psychic Occupations is a compilation of shoegaze and psych songs. All proceeds help out the Occupy Wall Street movement. They are relatively cheap. Even as the Occupy movement is physically removed, from occupying actual land, I feel they shall continue to spread the good word of reducing income inequality, etc. Normally I do not talk about politics on here, it is rather rare. Yet the bands on this shindig are worth the $5, and the movement is still strong. Help out some good bands with good hearts. 

                Breaking out of the Christmas spirit is Vacation. I’ve heard Vacation before, doing their creepy folk thing, generally writing some beautifully bleak songs. Now they’ve decided to take a grimier, more electronic approach to their sound for 'Broken Bones'. Their odd voices are still there. Instead of guitars they have electrical static. It is not Christmas-friendly unless you happen to have extremely disturbing Christmases. Man, it is a seriously creepy, creepy song, meant for nightmares. Glad this came out around Christmas, right when I needed it. 

                 Do not fret. This will not be the last Various Artists collection. I shall have more. Since many of these are seasonally based, I’d feel bad to let them linger. Besides, shortly I will have extremely limited (read: no) internet access, and to let these simply go ignored would be unfair. Hope you enjoy all these wonderful tunes!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dead Midgets Review


                ‘Dead Midgets’ is a movie about a particular form of necrophilia. To call it vile, offensive, and obscene is a compliment. I am still in shock about this movie’s premise and its look into the seedy underbelly of the ‘cool kid’ lifestyle. Since I lack any form of hipness I’m better off for it. Besides, now I do not need to drink midget blood to be hip. Though I admit, I am jealous of the close relationship he has with himself on Facebook. I mean, Buttercup McGillicuddy and Stephen Michael McDowell have a nice ring to it. Maybe it is time for Beach Sloth to enter a relationship with…

                Stephen Michael McDowell has better sunglasses than me. He also made a movie. I feel inadequate once I compare myself to this magnificent, Baltimore-based creature. Glad such a cool person lives in my city. Or at least that’s what I thought before I saw the first several seconds of the ‘Dead Midgets’ trailer. 

                In the opening scene we witness Stephen giving the ‘oral lovins’ to a lovely lady. She says stop. He fails at orally satisfying her. She feels disappointment from an inability to get off sexually from his lackluster nether region performance. How bad is the disappointment? She drinks National Bohemian. Drinking National Bohemian is the saddest thing one can possibly do. Perhaps suicide is sadder than drinking National Bohemian, but in a very small way, like suicide is a 100 out of 100 and drinking National Bohemian is a 98 out of 100. Fuck National Bohemian.  

We see all sorts of crazy stuff happen to young, lovable Stephen, his sexy friends, parents, and band mates. Stephen suffers from a directionless life. He is part of some band that does the soundtrack to his life which sounds pretty sweet. A soundtrack to life makes most people happy, but maybe Stephen needs something bigger. Too bad young Stephen suffers from an obsession of self-image, something anonymous bloggers never worry about. 

                He tries to cure this problem. Stephen swings around in an orgy cage and defiles the bodies of midgets. This is the bacchanal. Other people encourage him to search for himself, to find himself just like Siddhartha did, only Siddhartha never looked this good. Siddhartha had a serious self-image problem too. Stephen avoids this fate by swinging around the basement in the orgy cage. He stabs a National Bohemian can, angry at it for taking his girl earlier in the film. 

                By the end of the film, Stephen finds Jesus Christ. Stephen also makes up with the shitty, foul-tasting fluid National Bohemian that barely even counts as a beverage, that worthless can of alcoholic piss. All his friends return. Everything is fantastic.

                I highly recommend this movie for its sheer filth and depravity. I am appalled by Stephen’s sheer gall throughout the movie, though at the same time I want to shake his hand. Hope one day I can do it. 

See the trailer here!

The Alt Lit Gossip Awards ‘The ALTIES’


                I was stoked. December 28th, 2011 changed my life. What changed? I’d say everything. First, I got published by Thought Catalog under yet another pseudonym, Erik Baker. That tickled me all shades of pink, from the lightest of pinks to the darkest of pinks. Or perhaps, just perhaps that is my real name. I felt overwhelmingly happy about seeing another fictional name of mine up on the site. As a way of giving thanks, I shall get upset at the most recent defiler of Thought Catalog, one ‘Gawker’. 

                We pre-gamed before the ALTIES. Tiny chat was packed with the altest of the alts. All of them were there. The UK, Texas, California, Ohio, some other places, they all brought heart to the pre-game. Unfortunately we were unable to tailgate for the event. Maybe at some point in the future we can all live together virtually. Or at least transmit limited quantities of alcohol virtually. I hope scientists are working around the clock on that. 

                Multiple blogs were readying themselves for ‘live-blogging’. Banango, the literary blog headed by the alt lit trinity, prepared for the sweet boosting power. Some other blogs readied themselves, but I haven’t guest posted for them, so I’m not going to mention them. We strapped ourselves in and got shot into orbit around the Earth. How would we know that we’d be above the Earth, hearing Steve from space? I thought in space, no one could hear you scream. Guess Roggenbuck has enough volume to cut through space’s emptiness, to touch my heart. 

                Steve Roggenbuck won the ‘most gayest’ award. Everyone nominated him. Steve cried for only a brief period of time, just for a couple of minutes. After Steve won he jerked his body around for a while in a style reminiscent of ‘dancing’. Grace Marston won for the best alt lit gossiper. Horse_ebooks, the best tweeter of 2011, tweeted about the winning the award, tweeting ‘Learn how to tame your horse’.


                Best Alt Lit Short Story – Training by Sam Pink. Sam Pink is one of the strongest members of the alt lit community. Had he not won, he might have beaten us up. I am glad he won. I don’t want to be hunted down by some alt lit strongman.

                Best Alt Lit Poem – Pigs by Darby Larsen. This is a crazy, insane-type poem. It takes a strong writer to write an entire thing about pigs. Pigs usually get bad press, so I’m happy for Darby. He earned it. Steve read it for a really long period of time. Read it here. 

                Best Alt Lit Online Mag – Lies/Isle. It flashes before my eyes. I feel nothing but the utmost happiness about this selection. 

                Best Alt Lit Journal Mag – Pop Serial. I heart pop serial. I eat pop serial with milk every morning. Stephen Tully Dierks is also referred to as the ‘babe’ of the alt lit gossip circle. 

                Best Debut Novel – Today and Tomorrow by Ofelia Hunt. Ofelia Hunt’s book is pretty damn balls-to the wall. Of course I mean that as a compliment. 

                Alt Lit Prom King and Queen – Richard Chiem and Frances Dinger won. I am pretty damn happy. They are the cutest alt lit couple ever. They’ve hosted ustreams before, life-changing ustreams. 

                Best Alt Lit Chapbook – There was a lot of competition. Man, there was a ton of competition. “I don’t respect Female Expression” won. I’m proud of Frank Hinton. 


                If Beach Sloth is a bot, then I’m blown away by computer technology. – Steve Roggenbuck. This was the best quote of the night, easily. 


                Best Alt Lit Moment – Tao Lin marries Megan Boyle. I feel pretty happy about this one. I wrote about their relationship. I want to say I was the first on their ‘loving scene’ but that’s not true. I think they beat me to blogging about their own wedding. 

                Breakout Alt Lit Writer (Male) – Steve Roggenbuck won. How much of a boost was this? I can’t express it. What hasn’t Steve Roggenbuck done? Duke hosted him; he toured around the Northeast, met his fans, boosted about a billion internet-based people, and generally has a grand old time of maintaining a great internet presence. 

                Breakout Alt Lit Writer (Female) - Megan Boyle won. She earned this award. I am proud of her. Now that she has won, I shall introduce myself next time I see her read. Plus, she offered me a ‘beverage of my choice’ next time we meet. I’d be a fool to pass that up. 

                Best New Lit Zine – Shallow. This is Zachary Whalen’s newest blog. Finally Canada has a literary mastermind, besides all those other literary masterminds, like the one I met in Bushwick, or the one who created this award ceremony in general (one Frank Hinton). 

                The Jonathan Safran Foer Franzen Lifetime Achievement Award – Dennis Cooper won. His blog sucks you in, in the best way possible. 

                Alt Lit Writer of the Year (Female) – XTX won. She is the winner. She deserves it. I like her writing. It talks about pounding. Pounding is important in literature. 

                Alt Lit Writer of the Year (Male) – Blake Butler won. Usually he gives me nightmares, but today he achieved his goal. Steve Roggenbuck will visit Blake Butler to check on his peen for peen check #2012              

                Best Debut Novel – ‘There is No Year’ by Blake Butler. His book got reviewed in the New York Times, so that’s unsurprising. He seems chill. 

                ‘I hate to tell you but this guy is a jerk’ – some guy’s mom. The guy’s mom hated on Steve Roggenbuck. When I next meet Steve I’ll hug him to make him happy. It is a shame that mothers don’t approve of Steve Roggenbuck, yet have no problem giving free advertising to KIX cereal. That sounds like bullshit to me. 


The BEACHIES                       
                                                    
                Steve introduced me in the kindest way possible. Everyone began to write in caps lock. For a moment, Steve wanted to sit down. But when anyone reads off a series of amazing winners, there is no way they can just ‘sit down’. You got to get up off the floor. Get off that chair. Shout it from the rooftops, from the internet cafes, from the apartment blocks, from the computer library, and from your car. Wherever you are you must shout it, you must celebrate our great literary tradition of flarfing.  


                Happy Dog Mom Litjournal - Best Online Squatter Award
I really like with Happy Dog Mom Litjournal do. I know there are many online squatters who make the world a better place, but Happy Dog Mom, for camping out in a fictional HTML Giant link, win my heart. Their extreme anonymity and collective presence makes me like them. I think there are a few people responsible but I have little evidence. 

                Meghan Lamb - Best Named after an animal award
Sure, Meghan Lamb isn’t the only one. Now the obvious question is: why not nominate yourself? I am an animal, but a humble one. I have this whole ceremony named after me anyway. 

                Jennifer Fallingstar - Best use of shooting star imagery
Jennifer is Beach Sloth’s first Facebook fan. Besides this, she emits positive energy throughout the internet. 

                Christopher Higgs - Best person confused for being Beach Sloth
I am jealous of this guy’s beard. People question my identity on a regular basis, asking about all sorts of people, but this happens to be the most interesting person. 

                Chadwick Redden - Best person to overcome arrest in chapbook publication
Chadwick is a trooper. He also met one, who arrested him for being ‘too alt’. Some parts of the United States have not recognized the importance of being alt. I hope all my alt brothers, sisters, and anonymous online presences. 

                Megan Boyle - Best fo' sho'
Yep. Megan Boyle is the best fo’ sho’. I feel this award is self-explanatory.

                Shaun Gannon - Best Syllabus
I am taking Shaun Gannon’s class next year. 

                Michael Seidlinger - Best portrayal of an online presence
I really like his book. When I read it, I thought to myself “Oh fuck, this book is about me and my online presence.” Still though, it rocks. You should probably buy it. 

                Justin Carter - Best use of a potato salad
I like potato salad. People don’t write about potato salad enough. 

                Peterbd - Best anonymous online presence
Yeah, I dig Peterbd. He is awesome. Peter sends the best emails. 

                Neon Glittery - Best use of neon and glitter
I enjoy Neon Glittery’s work. No one uses neon or glitter in quite the same way, or in any way. 

                Mike Bushnell - Best use of physical violence at a reading
I need to explain this one. I saw Mike perform a reading. During the performance, a member of the audience got rowdy, asking Mike to be quiet. Instead, Mike hit him with a cupcake holder container, an aluminum pan. That ruled. 

                MDMA Films - Best use of reality
These are great films. Years from now, people will love them. MDMA Films will be seen as some sort of ‘artistic triumph’. 

                Jackson Nieuwland - Fantastic Award, Great Job              
Jackson Nieuwland is pure positivity. He likes everything. Facebook can barely handle him. 


                I am glad Alt Lit finally has an awards ceremony. I am glad Steve Roggenbuck hosted the first annual Alties. Hopefully he will host next year’s and the year after that. Glad it worked out. Also I am happy to see an award ceremony named after myself. It makes me smile on the inside and outside. Thanks for attending. This was the best attended ustream I have ever seen.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dolan Morgan


                Dolan Morgan is a crazy bitchass who doesn’t give a fuck. I mean that in the most sincere way possible, from one crazy bitchass to another. ‘Google Place Reviews’, available on Amazon.com, shows us the mindset of this young, intrepid writer. Rather than ‘write’ a book, he put together Google Place Reviews in two seconds. Then he draws some serious kindergarten style pictures and sells it for two bucks. It is number #63 in its category, ‘Consumer Guides’. 

                Here’s the genius part: he throws your money away. If you read the description on Amazon, he explicitly states it. None of your money is being kept. He wants it free to soar, like the eagle soars. So rather than me go over the inane drivel inside the stupid, stupid book that is total shit, I want to discuss how he goes about throwing away your money. 

                The first one creates its own society. He threw $2 in change on Knickerbocker Avenue. In his Tumblr post, he lets you see where he threw the money. That way an observant person could make a couple of bucks. 200 pennies are enough pennies to start a whole new world. 

                Warning: the second one is rough. He flushes money down the toilet. People take offense to this sort of thing. Dolan is a transgressive writer though, as I stated earlier, he doesn’t give a fuck. Why do you buy his book if he is just going to flush it down the toilet? Plus, he states this and people still purchase it. 

                For the third act, he puts it nearby to where I live. This is true. I go past there on a regular basis. That fence makes a fine gated community. Most of the area around there is quite simply stunning. Dolan tells us the dollars want to sail around the world. I hope they do it. 

                People may be onto Dolan’s method. Perhaps they actually read his blurb about his book. Still, there is a fourth act to this madness. Money demands justice. Money also buys justice, but that’s probably not part of Dolan’s commentary. A dollar anchored by four quarters sits there, waiting for you. 

                I want to travel with Dolan, do some serious ‘on the ground investigative journalism’ stuff with his project. I want to see exactly how he puts the money down. Then I’ll pick it up. We will go get beers at that bar that has arcades. The bar has a snappy title like ‘The Bar that has Arcades’. 

                Usually people throw away money for stupider reasons. Dolan’s project reminds me of Yves Klein’s work, specifically Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility. Yves sold pieces of empty space to people in exchange for gold. If the owner of the empty space burned the certificate for the space, Yves would dump half the gold into the Seine River, creating a natural balance. I feel Dolan’s work does this to some degree. Obviously an Amazon book does not translate into gold. Seeing how Dolan approaches the idea of ownership and money with such an impish attitude is funny to me. 

                Oh, Dolan. You truly are a crazy bastard. Please let me attend future money actions (time and space permitting).

The Lawless – Habit Forming 8.2


                The Lawless brings Mille Plateaux back into full form. Mille Plateaux moves further away from glitch with ‘The Lawless’. ‘Habit Forming’ brings to mind Jaga Jazzist at his most symphonic. What’s really weird is the whole thing is the product of one person tinkering in a studio for two years. Perhaps it is Ross McLean’s absolute control over each and every detail that makes the album so interesting. His mastery over every instrument is a bit amazing at times, as is the restraint of many of these pieces.  It is also notable for a considerable focus on organic sound, right down to the violins and drums. For Mille Plateaux, this is rather dramatic. 

                Shifts in mood help too. For the first two songs you hear a positive, upbeat vibe. On “New Habits” you’re treated to something truly excellent, beginning with soaring guitar, violin and vocals. It is quite excellent.  Along with “Habit Forming” this forms my favorite part of the album. Fifi Dewey’s wordless vocals fit right into place on these songs. From these two songs the album appears to focus on larger, grander gestures, and slower, more gradual build-ups. 

                Other songs take a louder approach. “Lines upon Lines” builds up gradually into something sweeping and loud, taking a few cues from Post-Rock in the process. “Noon Dunes” takes a similar approach for an even louder crescendo at the very end. 

                Cinematic describes this music quite well. Influenced by jazz, electronic, and a fondness for Spaghetti westerns, ‘Habit Forming’ is undeniably charming.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Alt Lit Gossip Awards


                Steve Roggenbuck is the MC of the internet. It makes sense that he’s hosting the first annual Alt Lit Gossip Awards, brought to you by American Apparel. And oh boy, what a show it is! Bloggers, internet writers, and tweeters are beyond excited. No word exists, and the closest phrase we have is ‘lief changing’. Yeah, you think that’s intense. Wait until you see it. The American Apparel ads only make it sexier, in case a hot bothered Steve Roggenbuck jumping around isn’t hot enough for you. 

                Rehearsals have already begun, in preparation for the big day. Ken and Barbie will be there. You can see them in the event invite. For the event, Ken grew a pair. He now makes love to Barbie night and day. Frank Hinton’s best-selling book ‘I don’t Respect Female Expression’ is responsible for this change. If her book allows plastic dolls’ balls to descend, imagine what it can do for you. Besides, Frank Hinton’s book makes a great addition to any respectable alt library. Remember the advice of John Waters: “If you go home with somebody, and they don't have books, don't fuck 'em!” Frank Hinton’s writing can get you laid, very laid indeed. 

                No introduction is necessary for Steve Roggenbuck. You may remember him from such important ustreams as ALL OF THEM. Steve is everywhere. Steve Roggenbuck is the air internet poetry breathes. It is an intoxicating internet-bound musk, rich and fragrant. You can purchase Steve Roggenbuck’s musk through a little company called, I don’t know, CALVIN freaking Klein; maybe you’ve heard of them. Do you want to support his great cause, this master-blaster of online writing disaster? How about you buy a shirt of his, to support his brand? For you can re-tweet him all you want online, but he needs your help offline. With your donation of just $20, you can help feed a Steve Roggenbuck. Do it today! If you live outside of the US, it is $25 because the US is the most relevant country in the blog-o-sphere. And just wait until Jackson Nieuwland immigrates over here. The US will be unstoppable with the power of a thousand likes and boosts. 

                What are the awards though? Yeah, an awards ceremony needs awards. Winners receive a million buzz bucks. Buzz bucks are the currency of the relevant part of the internet. They can be exchanged for goods and services such as: shout-outs, re-tweets, re-blogs, likes, and comments. Imagine all these young, intrepid, and alt writers can do with the money. Finally, they will get the true online attention they so right deserve. Perhaps they will be recognized as that guy their Facebook friends talk about. And remember, where buzz bucks talk, everybody can walk. 

                Tune in this Wednesday, December 28th, 2011, for an orgy of literature. Get in the chat. Noah Cicero, famous writer, is hosting a party for this once-in-a-year event. Jordan Castro too is attending. You can witness his penis, better known as his internet presence. The famous (and hottest) alt lit couple Jackson Nieuwland and Carolyn DeCarlo are watching from sunny New Zealand. 

                Get jacked.

Malibu 1992 **Warning: Spoilers**


                Malibu 1992 makes no sense whatsoever. This is its selling point. I have a thing for the weird and nonsensical. Dorian and Death in Plains appeal to my love of the end of the world. A bizarre, oftentimes nonsensical video set to trashy 90s club music is movie and soundtrack of the end of the world.

                It begins with the only non-club music, “The Zombies” set to a funeral for the Navy. They look sad, and it is perhaps the requiem for our civilization, as it heralds the end of the world. Don’t worry though, the sadness lasts only a little while. One suffers before the end of the world. People have different ideas about the end of the world, but I figure it’ll probably be pretty trashy and hedonistic. In fact, we may already be living at the end of the world. 

                A tasteful piece of jewelry pops up. The palm tree always looks so much better this shatteringly beautiful. We take a drive through California. Some unknown voice says “Malibu 1992”. We get into a beach party from the early 90s. Everyone seems to be having a grand old time. I live on that beach. Multiple versions of those classy pieces of jewelry assault our senses. 

                Glamor and home videos vie for our attention. While we drive down the highway we see a fashion show. Eventually this goes from a fashion show to an intro to ‘more adult’ material. Right in the middle of this adult material, a computerized voice speaks ‘love’, equating love with pornography. Or all art with pornography, as this video suggests. 

                Smoke rises from a burning yacht. A clubby version of Chris Isaak comes up. I like this particular segment of the video. Perhaps the end of the world involves setting rich douche-bags’ playthings ablaze. If this is the case I may get behind this whole ‘end of times’ thing. 

                We are out in some field with what looks to be a high-school/college age kid. He breathes out of a discarded Bud Light can. Upon breathing through this can, he begins laughing. I like this ‘amateur video’ which comes between more polished footage. This is the closest the home video gets to importance. The kid lies on the ground and watches his fingers fing. 

                Prince sings to us as we hover above Malibu. If Prince announces the end of the world, I welcome it. Bring it on. ‘All that glitters ain’t gold’ Prince tells us. He wants us to understand the importance of relationships. Once the world is consumed by fire, we probably won’t have pretty things. The video suggests once we are raptured, we will see the beautiful Malibu coast line right before the reckoning. 

                The announcer returns. She tells us we are power users. Never in my entire life have I seen a MEME as powerful as Malibu 1992. 

                See it here.        

St Ranger – Life Coach 8.3


                St Ranger is a good life coach. That much is clear. Each one of these songs sounds like something they’ve practiced in front of countless audiences across the Southwestern United States. From the feedback, they tweaked each song. I know this is exactly what they did, how they toured extensively before they released an album. Most bands generally state the album sounds better live, since they know how to make it sound a bit more organic. St Ranger reverses the process, touring first and releasing later. What that does is give ‘Life Coach’ an approachable, easily lovable, sunlit feel. 

                ‘It’s ‘Appening’ swallows the letter ‘H’. A ready acknowledgement of the wait (their last songs came out in March) it gives them a true identity. The obvious influence for the group is the carefully arranged pop of Grizzly Bear or a less bossa-nova obsessed Sea and Cake, yet there’s something else here. They introduce their own sun-soaked, summertime image into the mix. ‘Tranquilo’ has a huggable groove to it, taking it easy should just last forever, turning into an endless mantra. ‘Smoke/Soaked’ is by far my favorite on the entire album. Here is where they get the most dramatic, and the multiple sections come together beautifully, veering between the intricate and overly ornate. When this song lightly erupts at the end, it feels deserved. They earned it. 

                Each song radiates pure joy. This kind of detailed, yet carefree, music takes multiple tries before anybody can get it right. Clearly St Ranger has spent the past few months honing their craft both live and in the studio. I’m happy St Ranger put in so much time and effort into this fun, jubilant joyride of an album. Maybe someday they’ll come to the East coast. We need the sun.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Trackback by Zack Schuster


                Trackback indulges the music nerd’s obsession with track lengths. Every story gets its own track length and listing, a pretty clever way of announcing the size of the chapters. I like it, I compare each ‘running time’ with the page length. Zack stays true to his track length concept as well throughout the book.

                Each character has a hang up. Not one appears to have a normal life or well-adjusted way of life. The characters are afraid. They want acceptance, compassion, care, love and attention. Despite this need, they never ask for any of these things. Instead they are crippled by fear. They worry about how other see them, they want to do the right thing for others but not themselves. I enjoy all the obligations, normal fears, and even suburban life that get thrown together in these interconnected stories. 

                ‘Snapshot’ offers a positive view of a first date. There are worse first dates. I like the change between the two individuals’ perspectives. You get a sense of each one’s worries, concerns, and hopes. First dates can be funny, especially when each person has their own ideas of each attention. One wants anxiety, the other wants calm. ‘Food’ is the photographic negative of the previous story. Zack gives the reader two completely opposite experiences involving the same place. 

                ‘If Only’ sets the framework for the ‘The Piano’ and the corresponding stories about ‘The Prodigy’. These stories create a family. Everyone in this family is afraid. Big Brother worries about his future. Meanwhile, the kid has problems with other children. The kid dislikes other kids due to a clumsy nature, one he greatly exaggerates. Eventually the kid finds solace in a lonely activity by playing the piano. Mom and Dad work together to keep the children normal. Yet the story gives the impression of overly sheltered children, children who receive too much vague encouragement, not enough literal commitments of attention, a way of dealing with problems without thinking. Finally the Prodigy comes in to blow away the poor kid. 

                ‘Bonds’ begins the latter quarter of the book. In this quarter, things take a murkier approach. Characters become a wee bit more amorphous. There is quite a bit of playfulness in the narration. Zack employs a certain narrator character throughout the whole book, but this last quarter is where the narrator asserts their presence the most. Actually this section contains the most distraught and disappointed characters. Anxiousness present in the previous sections comes into full bloom. I enjoy the focus on writers and writing at the ending, it is pretty damning but a bit funny. 

                Anxiety is all over. Trackback offers an inner working of some of the characters minds’. It is interesting watching the difference between reality and their internal rationalization for their behavior. Zack creates an unresolved tension that feels familiar, that feels human. Trackback depicts life with a rare honesty.

The Fucked Up Beat – Chronopolis 7.5


                The Fucked Up Beat creates noir industrial landscapes in its two extended pieces on Chronopolis. ‘Chronopolis’ appears to be well-named, as both pieces display a certain urban unease. Beats do exist, but more as a form of atmosphere. Melodies found within these two large slabs of sound are rather cryptic, and often fleeting beneath many layers of murk.

                ‘Chronopolis I’ initially starts off as rather positive before venturing into darker terrain. How this evolves is fascinating. The melody takes on a dreamier approach before it becomes fully disconnected from its happier origins. Eventually it becomes an anxious form of jazz. Going through the piece one discovers fragments of melodies, movement, and near-grooves. Finally the entire thing collapses in a series of overwhelming bass and static blasts. I enjoy how the instability of the piece eventually crashes into a satisfying collusion. 

                 ‘Chronopolis III’ has recognizable beats. This is the more-rhythm, pulse orientated track of the bunch. At times it feels almost kraut-rock like, particularly in the center of the track. A faint melody appears at certain parts of the track. That makes it considerably more approachable than the nearly thirty minute epic ‘Chronopolis I’.  

                Overall, this is a big step forward for Eddie J. Palmer, of ‘Happiness in Aeroplanes’ fame. I have heard some of his previous work, showing a clear path towards this sort of sound, but never before has it showed quite so sure of itself. Perhaps collaborator Brett Zehner has a bit to do with the pacing, and with the long nature of the work. These two pieces are perfect for getting lost in while traveling late at night on the train.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Marc Broude – Vampire Salt


                Marc Broude has come a long way. If you check out his bio at Last.fm, it seems like he came from a very different, more aggressive background. While at the surface ‘Vampire Salt’ appears to take a mellower, sedated approach to sound, it has an underlying menace to it that excites me. 

                I am happy this came out during the bleakest time of the year (for me). Winter is a cold, dead place to me. Now I can handle the cold, but I still have problems with the lack of sunshine. During this season I tend to get a little down, listening to bleaker music than usual. Low gets played quite a bit during this time. Marc Broude’s slow moving song definitely counts as some sort of slowcore, perhaps with a just a hint of violence. 

                ‘Vampire Salt’ fits my need like a glove. The song is quite simple in execution. Drums are kept at a brooding pace. Guitars come in threatening to explode at some moment, but choosing to seethe in the background at the moment. At least the beginning reminds me of early Don Caballero, specifically the song ‘For Respect’. Like that song, there’s a certain looming threat, a readiness to burst. Eventually that does happen. Towards the end the tempo slowly increases, resulting in languid static intensity.

                At no point do the guitars or vocals come closer. The sound’s distance is part of the threat. I consider this perfect bleak winter music.

Pictures of Salukis Looking Majestic by Russ Woods


                Russ Woods, what a man, what a man, what a mighty good man. There is no need to say it again now. What he does amazes me. Russ curates Red Lightbulbs with his wife Meghan Lamb. Both of them have a dog that inspires literary talent throughout the Chicago area. In their dog’s spare time, he edits poetry and plays in an avant-garde witchhouse/dubstep group.

                ‘Pictures of Salukis Looking Majestic’ begins with an argument. Or rather, Russ does not want an argument. In ‘All We Grow is Old’ he celebrates how people occasionally write about vital things about Christmastime, though that is due to armies of monkeys on typewriters. The whole thing gives off an ‘un-happy holidays’ vibe which is exactly what we need right now. 

                I like ‘City-Girl’. I enjoy how people change from cities to people. The poem reminds of Stereolab’s ‘The Incredible He Woman’. I don’t know why exactly. Reading about the transformation of a city into a woman makes sense. Cities are thought to have a personality, thus a transformation into a person doesn’t appear that unusual. 

                ‘Following Rules’. I do this every day. Russ follows them every day. Glad he does not eat silica gel. Eating silica gel is bad. Happy that ‘Following Rules’ acknowledges this important fact of life, that silica gel may be fine for sneakers but not for people. Russ encourages other to follow his path, his path of clean, good living. 

                Tiny things die inside of us each and every day. We can’t do a darn thing about it. Russ expresses frustration. He wonders how cells do in different parts of his body. Can they survive in new parts of his body? Are parts of body better or worse than others? I wonder, is there such a thing as body gentrification. 

                ‘All of my Teeth’ is the hallmark poem, the height of the Saluki. They do look majestic. Seeing their hopeful gaze at a world that doesn’t speak dog, well, it gives me hope. It fills me with happiness, much like the happiness Russ experiences. Unlike Russ, no dog has ever come into my bedroom late at night. Maybe someday I can see a dog come in late at a night, but not tonight. 

                ‘Real Cool Bands’ mocks the idea of cool bands. Now I don’t know much about cool bands, hip attitudes, or things of that nature, but a band with a polar bear player is blog-worthy. Probably that player would be eaten by the bear, but all art requires danger. Sometimes you just got to play that polar bear like you just don’t care…about your physical well-being. 

                The Fourth Quarter of this Fiscal Year deals with a tough year. We are in a recession right now. It is common for workers to slowly lose their minds and live in the rafters. Rafters can be a worker’s best friends, as can condiments in the refrigerator help to provide nourishment. 

                Mr. Woods is a man with a series of poems, poems about work, about dogs, about fucking invisible people. ‘Pictures of Salukis Looking Majestic’ is a collection of poems about America, sweet land of liberty.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Festive Greetings by Hibernate and Home Normal


                FestiveGreetings accurately captures the melancholy associated with the Holidays. I hear a lot of cheery, happy, hyper-active Christmas music during this time of year. Generally I can’t relate to any of it at all. While people appear to be happy during this time of year, I feel down. There is no accurate rhyme or reason for it, it just is. That is probably why I enjoy this collection Hibernate and Home Normal has put together. It is so invitingly slow.

                The artists on this collection usually deal with a classical ambient style. Browsing through the titles, one may notice normal Christmas standards like ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘O Christmas Tree’. Offthesky’s treatment is a bit different than one might expect, and Good Weather for an Airstrike someone makes the standard sound lonelier. 

                I like how much space there is in these songs. They seem to spread out for forever. Some of the songs have a sleepy method to them, such as ‘Silent Night’ one of the few to offer any singing. The voice is barely decipherable, and melts with the soundscape. This one along with Clem Leek’s piece is my two favorite pieces on the entire disc. To me, there’s warmth, like sitting on top of a rusty radiator, feeling the heat rise up, that is probably the feeling I most consistently feel with Christmas: one of quiet and warmth. 

                Hibernate and Home Normal’s collection gives me this warm sense. I am glad am I not alone in wanting a slow, quiet Christmas. This is ambient Christmas music. It is a reassuring kind of Christmas music. Christmas needs to slow down. I am glad at least ‘Festive Greetings’ understands that.