Thursday, August 30, 2012

Small Life Form – Voice in the Sky 7.4

                Small Life Form is eerie. Picture the items making these sounds. Textures feel metallic. Melodies stay hidden among so much manipulation. Everything here is heavily filtered, leaving no trace of its origin. The drone is utterly doomed. Light is hidden on here. All that remains of the sounds are their shadows serving more as a reminder than as a specific hook in its own right. 

                ‘Voice in the Sky’ begins with far-away machine gently buzzing. Things remain extremely quiet during the first ten minutes. Sounds linger on beyond their allotted time. Little fragments of near melody appear out of the molasses. As soon as they come out of the far-off buzz they submerge once more into the mire. Around the ten to fourteen minute mark Small Life Form gets cozy. ‘Voice in the Sky’ gets a little warmer in tone. The sound comes close to inviting. Pings in the distance reminds us of an unseen geography, of the unknowable place where these sounds live. Right from the thirty minute mark the guitar makes itself felt. Here Small Life Form feels the need to turn away from the distance and approach the listener directly. Finally at the very finish we hear the small phrases and words from the writer. As expected it is a dark outlook, extraordinarily unhappy. Yet the voice at the end gives it a more approachable feel, like there are humans behind these machines. 

                This is one of the most sedated pieces I’ve heard for a long time. Listen to it late at night with little distraction. It’ll gently lull you to sleep.

F (4) ~ FORWARD! By Jonsy Chewy

                Jonsy Chewy is another fellow animal in the alt lit kingdom. See him? Yeah he’s a stuffed animal panda bear. Alt lit has seen a lot of unusual characters: chairs, various animals, snack pack addicts, people just ‘living their LIEFs’ all sorts of madness. Never has a stuffed animal managed to come up with a full-ish length book…until now! 

                ‘LIT’ introduces us to Jonsy’s way of thinking. He doubts himself. The internet pulls us into this writing life. In real life nobody reads your blog. Here in alt lit everybody does. Positive feedback loops exist on the internet. Stay here. Do not leave the internet cold. Cuddle up with your internet. Tuck your internet into bed late at night. Make your internet hot cocoa. Internet will keep you company late at night, like it does with Jonsy. Poor Jonsy gets no sleep. Rather the insomnia makes him bask in the warmth that his computer shows him. 

                Age is a mutation of the past. The present morphs into unknowable futures. Dads on the internet have children. Glad alt lit is so dad-friendly. Hope someday Jonsy joins us and has Beanie Babies. Obsessions come and go. Jonsy documents them all. Maps are a lifelong passion of mine too. That’s how I got my first job. We outgrow our interests. It is better that way. Long ago I used to love cars. Now I do not understand why. So I could have designed your car but choose to blog. This is the path less taken. 

                Flarf gets attention. Restrict yourself. What speaks to you? Jonsy knows what appeals to him. Pronouns are on ‘shit lists’ here. ‘I’ is never used. All he wants is to talk to you. Let him. He’s a panda. Genres are what he knows. Right before your eyes he forges a new genre, better than alt lit, neu lit, or ‘post-alt lit’. Take your pick. Speed is necessary to get through these many ideas. Feel them flow from his brain into yours through the power of the information highway. 

                Suburbs are alt lit breeding grounds. Alt lit grew up in the suburbs. Most of humanity goes up in the suburbs. We share similar experiences. Look at the faded storefronts. They can’t replace the letters but you can understand the misspelling. ‘Sore’ means ‘Store’ it just lost the tea. Office parks look brutal. Thank the early twentieth century for polite blandness. Back then they called it modern. Now we call it ‘tired’. Our forefathers could not have predicted the boredom we’d live in, constantly needing to entertain ourselves. 

                It ends with a warning: do not confuse pandas for lazy animals. Sloths are lazy animals. Pandas are magnificent beasts just like people. Like people pandas are afraid of meeting new pandas. Like people pandas watch porn. Unlike people pandas are cute cuddly creatures that just want to release books on the internet. Let them. The world is better for it.

Airplane Food by Gabby Gabby

                Airplane Food sustains millions stuck in flying tubes. Here the airplane food is love. Far distances can’t stop it. One person on the East Coast, the other on the west met on the internet. This happens every day. Yet they cannot afford to meet one another. Words are given to replace this feeling, this want to simply hold another creature. Happiness results from these meetings but they rarely happen. It takes time. 

                Portland-based experiences are imagined. A vegan thanksgiving dinner to thank the Tofu for sacrificing itself appears. Washing dishes next to each other becomes an intimate act. Film trailers inspire confidence or disappointment. 90 minutes worth of silence as others speak a. Random accidents, explosions, and acts of violence happen without any connection. 

                Revving up is necessary for Frisbee. Frisbee is a serious sport for bros, by bros. Portland is a place to inspire others. It can improve. You can find happiness. Libraries exist to let us know of what we’re missing out on. All that knowledge can never be known. Sit there quietly and think about your surroundings, successes and failures. In a library no one can feel your emotions. There is no one to talk to, talking is not allowed. 

                An entire wall welcomes her to the doctor’s office. Walls are friendly things. They support roofs. See the walls around you. Hug them. Let them know you are thankful they exist and keep you warm. Often the world can be so removed. Every time the future happens you feel the same, like ‘Oh so this is it?’ You travel into the future at regular speed and watch things pass by. Gabby wants to learn how to play an instrument. It is never too late. Music ages but it is always timeless. 

                ‘Depression for Dummies’ sounds silly. You don’t need a book to tell you how to be sad. People figure that out by themselves. It is called ‘life’. Gabby gives her truck life. Though she is in a big truck she has lots of progressive stickers on the back of it like ‘My other truck is a Prius’ and ‘Tweet at me bro’, the latter of which displays her twitter handle. Gabby gets twitter followers through this method. 

                First dates are rough. Killing each other is a good thing. Resurrection brings people closer together. Look what it did for Jesus. People really liked Jesus after he became a Zombie. Guess that’s where the whole ‘Zombie’ fad started. Online there are Zombies. Call them online presences. They resurrect every day. Many of us live through an online presence since the internet is much easier than live. Get more joy from the internet than from any other source.

                California beckons Gabby. Hope California welcomes this killer of flowers. So much in life is lost. We lose pets, we lose internet. This is part of life. Our interests change to keep us interesting. It is okay to change to find new things. Stand in a kiddie pool and think about what it was like when you were a kid. Back then it was easy and you never realized it, until it got difficult and pangs of regret swarmed in. That’s fine. That’s okay. It is part of life. 

                Love this chapbook. Gabby Gabby manages to make me simultaneously laugh and cry.

Snow Poems by Janey Smith

                Janey Smith warms herself with snow love. Every winter it is the same thing: it falls all over the place. It grows sick of us. Once the warm air comes around it leaves. Warm air bores the snow. People have fun with it for a short period. Cold, watery sadness is only so entertaining for a certain period of time. At that time the light goes away. Thus this lack of light makes snow more appealing. 

                Shadows come together in a cold house. Janey has her own room. Baby seal pup fails to put shadows together. That’s why we are people and they are seals. Enough charm is behind the baby seal pup to bring out Janey and her companion. For destroying icicles she gets extra-warm clothing. Cold hates this sort of material. No matter how much we protect ourselves cold wants to touch us. It wants to feel human and loved. Unfortunately people appreciate the cold after it leaves. When it is there lingering everyone grows upset. 

                 Brothers are good to have in the snow. I know. Snow wants everyone to be alone and depressed. Tragedy strikes its blows. Cold makes us do desperate comfortable things. We hate the weather. We stay inside. Any trip outside hurts too much. Days are shorter since they do not want to be there. Janey tries to steal the moon hiding in the water’s reflection. It is hopeless. The moon and the snow are friends. Both are underappreciated, cold, and alone. Sun and spring get the glory. Winter gets no love whatsoever. 

                Igloos have foyers. They are formal places. Building materials of ice sound Scandinavian. People have done it forever. Extreme heat or cold is lethargic weather. A walk around the snow needs to be in near silence. Lucky animals love the snow. It alerts them when we come for them. Natural defense requires sound. I know. I am blind. My ability to move is based off of echolocation. 

                Dreams together are beautiful. I appear in people’s dreams. Wish my friends could live in my dreams. People in my dreams are treated very well. In my dreams I avoid hurting people. I care for them exactly the way they deserve. Life makes that tough for me. All I want to do is care for people in my life. Care is my only concern. My dreams are full of hugs I always wanted to give. 

                Age takes lifetime to understand. Life melts away like the snow on Janey’s eyelashes as she feels a tree trunk in the cold. We leave memories of each other everywhere. I wonder why people carve names in tree trunks. That’s something I never did. Every time I came close I thought about how the tree would feel. I refuse to give tattoos to tree trunks. Let them be as free of me as they can be. Nature is not my broken heart. 

                This feels so calm. I like the absolute quietness of these pieces. Glad to see Janey conquer the sad emptiness of the cold.

Brian John Mitchell - four and a half 7.0

                Brian John Mitchell’s ‘four and a half’ gives new meaning to the word ‘patience’. Drone is known for its hypnotic quality, with four and a half though this is taken to its logical extreme. Over the course of four and a half hours of uninterrupted music it remains nearly stationary. Thanks to the help of digital media this is even possible. Before pieces this long and this extended (Eliane Radigue’s work comes to mind in terms of sheer length) were cut up into smaller, one hour pieces. 

                The length of the piece makes this intimidating. With the large amount of digitalized music going for shorter lengths this is completely massive. Being able to understand what is going on here is almost hopeless. In the face of such sheer size it is impossible to pick a ‘defining moment’. ‘Four and half ’comes the closest to the concept of ‘infinity’ I’ve ever heard in music. Shifts do occur but these are so gradual it remains impossible to detect. Sonically this is an interesting experience as the initially harsh combination of guitar and electronic drone creates an oddly soothing sound. On the low end is where Brian gets the most interesting, subtly panning the piece in pivotal moments and adding phasing effects when needed. 

                Picking out a favorite part of this piece is hopeless. What remains impressive is how Brian can slow time down with this sort of music. There are no melodies or rhythms to hold onto, unless the sound of gently moving waves counts. Despite the harshness and massive scale of the piece it remains rather engaging, like picking out the individual patterns in a giant boulder.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Toothpicks by Patrick Trotti

                Static’ begins it. When you’re young and unpopular you have few options. Just ask me. That corner table housed me and my friends. Occasionally popular kids spoke to me out of a hope to make me ‘cool’. If I cared about being cool I wouldn’t be a blogger. Even then I remember caring very little about what went on around me. Like these kids I felt no allegiance to school. Here they escape school to find affirmation. Unfortunately they never find it. Insight does not reside in our dad’s basements.

                Worry about leaving the house. This trip to the outside hurts. Poor person hears nothing but anxiety and concern. CVS is meant to be a prying place. Going to CVS is a tough experience. Every corner has a CVS, Walgreens, or whatever pharmacy for old people they want. Cuts between the dialogue and memories of the side effect are partly jarring. It hurts to witness this kind of small-town vibe. Cities are my place. I like hiding in plain sight. Without enough people around curiosity takes hold. Give too many people and suddenly nowhere cares. I love the apathy people show me. Apathy is an emotion born out of urban neurosis. 

                A snowstorm shrinks one’s world. With a shrunken world everything gets a heightened sense of attention. The child notices the mundane details, the crackle pops of electric lines, what people eat, boring things. Our lives are filled with distraction. Distraction makes it easier to ignore the terrible things that occur. News exists for a reason. Electricity makes it possible to escape this level of entertainment. I wonder whether or not the child would have noticed anything going on with the electricity on. Or would the entertainment blind the child to the real life drama.

                Bleakness takes hold of a former YUPPIE. YUPPIES are foreign creatures to me. I see them all the time. How do they operate? What do they want out of life? Seems people get sad when they expect so much from life. It is easy when we ask for little: space, food, comfort, etc. Here this person chooses loneliness. That’s rough. Yet being alone can be a comfortable feeling. What does it mean to even hang out or be around people? No longer do we need to be with people IRL to hang out. TINYCHAT, GCHAT, all sorts of chats make us social without having to leave home. 

                Patrick ends with a happy story. These are bleak tales. It is hard to find the happiness. Yet each one offers a sense of calm among the confusion. We get glimpses of lives but never a full picture. Not knowing is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the pieces. By keeping the entire story out of view Patrick brings us a quieter world.

Featherslippery by Greg Santos

                Greg Santos is the original alt lit dad. See his site. Only if you are a dad can you understand ‘daddering time’. That’s when dads retreat to their man-caves to write poetry on the internet. Avoid asking your dad about this habit. Dads take a vow of silence regarding poetry. My kids still think I spend my time online playing solitaire by myself. Note my kids are not particularly savvy on the online presence thing though. Your experience may vary. 

                Over 70% of the world is covered in water. Makes sense to enjoy it. Bob up and down in the ocean. Try to splash it. Water cannot be splashed by itself. Let it take you where it will. Swimming is the closest experience I have to living on another planet. Feel the atmosphere. Hug a Sea Otter. They are cute creatures. 

                Instructions for life are necessary. Sleep at night. Wake during the day. Understand other people care about you. Realize there are agencies whose incompetence makes our lives a little easier. Incompetence can work in your favor. Appreciate the stupider things in life. Pleasures are simple.  Never leave them unattended. Care for the people you love in life. They care back. Do not sweat the stuff. Stuff is replaceable. People are forever. 

                Like the use of movie titles. Culture is ripe for remixing already. Happy to see some of my favorites made the list. Interested to note as I read the titles I deliberately misread ‘Stranger than Fiction’ as ‘Stranger than Paradise’. That’s a beautiful movie of Eastern Europeans wandering aimlessly without purpose. I sometimes wonder if that’s pretty much my life, sans Hungarian origin. 

                Happy memories fly away from us right when we need them most. Keep them around. Go back to them. Have the happy memory bird fly you away from hurt. We all hurt. Remember there will be good and bad times. Store the good times in your mind. Get carried away when you are about to get sad. Featherslippery things bring you to better places and remind you that good things happen too.

                The end of the world will not be tweeted. Rather there will probably be some trending topics or hashtags for the end of the world. Users of twitter know what’s up. Burger King is the official sponsor of the end of the world. Once the end of the world happens it’ll get so much sponsorship. Heck the end of the world may become yet another marketing gimmick, playing off the greatest worries and fears of humanity for great-tasting French fries. 

                Train bathrooms are beyond nasty. Unsanitary fails to describe the horror. Passengers on a train rarely smile. All they do is numb themselves with the scenery of people’s backyards and giant buildings they’ll never visit. Greg is sorry. I wonder why. Worry can take over a life. Greg should relax, take it easy, and be an alt lit dad. Finally he realizes this as his heart takes over the sky. 

                Greg Santos may be the sweetest alt lit dad in the biz. I like the pictures that go alongside these poems. They add to the playful nature of the chapbook. If you do not smile at any part of ‘Featherslippery’ you are not alive.