If you read the last review I did of Junky, you probably know I haven’t read Burroughs in a few decades before listening to Junky at work last month & now I just finished listening to an audio book of Naked Lunch (fun fact – title comes from mis-reading of the phrase “naked lust”). I imagine I read this book in one or two settings when an intoxicated teen & my memory of it is near lost & blended with the Cronenberg movie & so many of Burroughs other publications that had similar passages re-worked. But this is of course his most known work & so I feel necessary for me to re-visit.
So for me the best parts of this book are the re-workings of Junky & I had completely forgotten the long bizarre sexual fantasy scenes & even now they are nearly forgotten again because I didn’t find them particularly interesting. I do feel that this in the end was way more influential to me as a writer & artist than Junky with its stream of consciousness style & lack of characterization or traditional literary devices in favor of creation of surreal & dream-like scenes. So much of my writing is inspired by my dreams & I really think this might be where that dream obsession started, either here or the origin story of the writing of Frankenstein or the stories of Joseph’s dream interpretations in Genesis – all of which probably became apparent to me in the same era when I was starting my initial attempt at becoming an un-understood experimental writer instead of my current era where the inaccessible nature of my writing to anyone but me is fully satisfying. So at any rate I guess I do recommend this book to anyone who has ever thought about it, though I’m not sure calling it a novel is accurate as much as an exposure to the inside of another’s mind, a mind of an addict looking for transcendence through new experiences whether drugs or sex or adventures in police states & fears of police states.
It’s been a long time since I wrote a piece for Nostalgia Equals Distortion or any review in general or even a blog entry at this point. Life’s been busy & my workload from my jobs (including Siber) has been pretty heavy. At any rate at one of my jobs I can listen to audiobooks occasionally & generally I listen to old sci-fi radio. But I’ve been working on & off on some comic scripts inspired by Burroughs & leaving people voicemails doing an impression of him & then my wife re-read Junky last August, so I’ve been thinking about it & when I stumbled on it being read by Burroughs himself I thought that sounded like a match for my life.
So I originally read this when I was 16 or so & generally speaking I haven’t read much Burroughs since my early 20s (hard to believe it’s 20 years ago), but he’s always been dear to me (I actually had sent him a copy of my first book of short stories shortly before his death (never heard back, but that’s okay)). Since I’d read a lot of his books together in a swoop, I didn’t really have specific memories of this book versus a lot of his other drug addled works, but my wife assured me it was one of his best & I imagine it’s true. I can’t separate this book from my own drug biography & it’s hard to know how influential it was to me as a teen.
At any rate, on the revisiting there are some things I noticed. There interestingly seems to be no characterization or development & it just comes across as facts & feels intimately personal, but given that it seems it would only be of interest to someone interested in Burroughs himself (which I am). It was interesting to note how little somethings have changed in the decades since this was written, like the complaint about selling weed sucks because all the buyers want to be your buddy & smoke with you & who wants to hang out with them? There were a couple subtle reveal moments that I found interesting, three quarters of the way through the book it’s revealed he’s married (which is hard to fathom with all of the content of the book) & around the same point it’s somewhat revealed that he’s got a significant safety net in life. But for me the most interesting thing was the final bit where he reveals his junky journey is as a psychonaut on a quest for enlightenment through substance abuse with a hope to find the truth in a drug used by indians in South America & that it’s impossible for him to ever be clean as long as there’s something that offers that hope for transcendence & I think it’s safe to say this was true for him his whole life & maybe would’ve been true for me if I’d had the resources & lack of responsibilities to allow it.
You probably know the end of the year is coming soon & that means Christmas, so this should be the newsletter where I talk about our Christmas releases, but instead you’ll get that one next week, because we have a ton of other stuff to tell you about first.
Over the past couple of months I’ve been really bad about getting the word out about new releases. There are 8 that have been soft released on Spotify & I just put them up on Bandcamp & they’re up on the frontpage of the Silber site now – http://www.silbermedia.com – & maybe by the time you read this I’ll have made the individual streaming pages for them (if not listen on Bandcamp – https://silbermedia.bandcamp.com or Spotify – http://tinyurl.com/latestfromsilber ) & hopefully I’ll get the promo emails & posts sent out by the end of the weekend. So here’s the list & a little info:
5in5 series (artists facing the challenge of creating 5 pieces with a total runtime of 5 minutes)
Klator: Mosaic – Klator is an analog spacetronica side venture for Third Of Never guitarist/founder Jon Dawson. Mosaic is a 5 minute soundtrack for space travel & sci-fi romance.
Nebh: Black Heaven – Nebh is dark drone. Minimalist laments in the vein of Harold Budd. The sound of abandoned cities left to decay in the open desert plains. This is heaven & it’s black & empty & lonely.
CNSNNT: 5in5 – CNSNNT is minimalist, dark ambient, proto-techno with field recordings. Spend five minutes in another’s dreams.
Petridisch: 5 in 5 – Somewhere between the soundtracks of John Carpenter & the songs with pop sensibility from horror anime is the musical work of Petridisch. Lament, a need for knowledge, a sense of peace, the desires of a reluctant monster heroine performed by a Vocaloid named Hatsune Miku. Enjoy five minutes from the future.
Luka Fisher: Internecine Vampires – Luka Fisher returns to Silber with a new set of explorations into drone & sound.
Konbanwa: Live Flaying – Led by Rowland Yeargan, Konbanwa is a project of loose composition & lots of improvisation. On Live Flaying Yeargan asked collaborators to show up with cymbals & like-minded instruments while Yeargan himself played simple synthesizer, floor tom, & cymbal. The result is a sound that mixes world music with no wave, eastern hypnotics with noise, drone with gamelan. Let the sonic waves shimmer over you. Free download on Bandcamp!
Yellow6: Reflect – “Whenever you reach a milestone, it’s natural to reflect. Reflect on the past, your achievements, the possible futures. In 1998 the first Yellow6 record was released, two sides of a 7” single totaling about nine minutes of music. Twenty years on, comes Reflect – a set of thirty-two pieces & five & a half hours of music. Not a retrospective, best of, or greatest hits that you would expect to mark this anniversary, but essentially five albums worth of new music. For long time fans, Reflect showcases the process & creativity of Yellow6, for newcomers it’s a perfect opportunity to here a project continuing to explore & find new sounds after two decades.
Chvad SB: Intone Drone – For decades Chvad SB has been following his own muse, creating music that fulfills his personal interests & so he does again in his latest exploration Intone Drone. Beginning January 17, 2018 & continued for 15 hours every weeknight after 5pm EST streaming from his studio to whomever happened upon it via Shoutcast, Chvad was sculpting a new drone piece. Each passing day a new element was either introduced into, removed from or changed within the drone. Three weeks later the drone ended. Unsure at the beginning of the project how long it would last, on the 21st day it felt complete. For this release, segments of each 15 hour day were arranged to create a complete remnant for this first installment of Intone Drone. It’s the mixture of meditation & sleep soundtrack you didn’t realize you were looking for, because the more personal & necessary to be made music is, somehow the more universal it also is.
What else have we got going on? We launched what is supposed to be a multiple person dream journaling group for the month of December on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/dreamcember/ We’re going to have some Christmas EPs next week from Electric Bird Noise, Remora, Small Life Form, Yellow6, & Nonconnah. & starting in January is the project I’ve been working on for several months (maybe years depending on how you calculate things) called Droneuary that will be a new hit drone single by a different artist every day for as long as I can keep it going (may last until March). Also I did an interview about Silber for the “Hey, How’s It Going” podcast – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcCQoVIwOZk – if you are interested in hearing me talk about the label for an hour.
So Stan Lee died. Over the last ten years or so there’s been a lot of animosity about him having stolen more credit than he deserved; but in general I’ve always kinda sided that his position as editor, publisher, & curator as well as writer/co-creator of the characters made his side of the argument sensible.
But the thing that really makes him interesting to me is if you look at the story of his creativity, it seems he spent his time from age 17-39 hacking away in the comic industry learning his craft & gaining competence at it & exploded on the scene in 1962 with 10 years as one of the hardest working creatives with writing credit on around 600 comics during that period & since then I’d guess he has “only done” 100 comics while spending a lot of time as curator/ambassador/exploiter of his work & the comics medium in general.
I was born in 1975, so by the time I could read Stan Lee was long retired & just a legend & I’m not sure I actually read anything from his classic era until I was in my 30s & read the first 25 issues of The Avengers. I was shocked by the quality & how much I could relate to Captain America (a character I assumed represented everything dumb about America) as a guy feeling isolated & alone in a world that no longer needed him going on quasi-suicidal quests to defeat evil. A broken hero, which I guess is what Stan Lee made popular in the 1960s with Spider-Man & The Hulk & The Fantastic Four & the rest of the Marvel pantheon that have generally been watered down over the decades since Stan let them be taken over by other creators & compromised to be more marketable for kids’ cartoons. So go back & read some of his work. I have a couple of romance comics he did during the 1950s in my reading stack & I hope they’re just as great as the stuff he was doing with super heroes in the 1960s.
So thanks Stan, not just for creating a beloved world of characters that may last as long as Shakespeare’s, but also for letting us know that you can hit your creative peak in your 40s & when you want to walk away from it, that that’s okay too.
I’m running behind on a lot of things & there’s so much going on I want to go ahead & get the word out about some of them before I forget.
First of all there is a bunch of new music & I am running behind on creating the press releases & all that so they aren’t available on the Silber site or Bandcamp yet, but you can listen to them streaming on Spotify now & I’ll tell you more about their droney goodness next time: http://tinyurl.com/latestfromsilber
Here in October I’ve been taking part in the sketch-a-day Inktober thing & I’ve really enjoyed it. The push for me to spend a few minutes a day doing something artistic & feeling like it somehow makes me part of a community. So with that in mind I am launching Dreamcember in December. Basically keeping a dream journal for a month. I made a Facebook group about it if you want to join in telling your dreams or just reading other people’s. I think of the couple thousand pages of vaguely fictional prose writing I’ve done over the years 80% of it is based on dreams & I find real joy & wisdom keeping the dream journal & occasionally reading an entry from decades ago, so I kinda want to help other people get the experience. Anyway, here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1612757202359153
Speaking of month long projects, in January we’ll be launching Droneuary, which will be a drone release a day for as long as it lasts. I’ve been really pleased by the amount of interest in the project & already feel like it’s a success for me personally regardless of sales & press (same goes for the 5in5 series – which you can listen to on Spotify to help it rain pennies around here – https://tinyurl.com/silber5in5). Lycia, Baptizer, Nonconnah, Ocean in a Bottle, Llarks, & more already have tracks in with interest from a lot of other folks. It’s going to be fun.
Generally this blog is just about the label, so I’ll let you know that today I sent four 5in5 EPs off to Spotify with a need to do all the stuff for promotion & proper release on Silber at an undisclosed time.
Meanwhile it’s easier to put some things down in this than to actually talk about it. It’s October. Which is still a rough month for me even though my grandmother died in an October 7 years ago now. Having a kid, the quilt my grandmother made me when I was a teenager is quickly turning into a rag & it feels indicative of all reality. The years of my life I put so many things on hold so I could take care of my grandmother are drifting away like they never even happened & it feels the same about most things. The feeling of uselessness, not having made the world a better place & maybe in some ways making it a worse place is overwhelming. I don’t think I’m unique at all in that regard, though maybe my level of recognition of it is unhealthy. It’s been pushing me into this spot that I occasionally fall into where it feels like my time on Earth is coming to an end & I need to get my things in order. This time out I got a life insurance policy just in case & it gives me a certain piece of mind, but I really don’t know what the point of anything else is & I feel I’ve lost a lot of the ability to have joy or pride over things. That said, I’m still trying. Trying to push my way through. Trying to work more so there’s less time to dwell on things. We’ll see how it all goes, hopefully this oppressive spirit leaves before it becomes to noticeable to the outside world. Thanks for letting me share.
I’ve been really stressed out lately with some things going wrong, but I’m doing my best to keep upbeat. Some of you may know there’s been an on again/off again problem with my email host getting my messages marked as spam & I found a mild work around, I’m not really sure if it works or not as I’m still getting relatively little interest in the newest batch of releases; but I know when I look at my allegedly music-centric feed on Facebook I see a lot more about politics & TV shows than music these days, so it may not have anything to do with that or me personally, just be a change of times.
So anyway, I formally announced my Droneuary project last week (it’s different than my original vision from 5 years ago, this one is a drone from a different artist each day) & while I don’t have many tracks in as yet, I have gotten enough promises to fill up January & move into February. We’ll see what happens.
Thought I should post it here since some of you might be interested that there’s a new album from Low out that is getting pretty good reviews & while I’m not so sure it’s their best album (I’m still stuck on Drums & Guns) it is definitely towards the top of their catalog. In similar news, Lycia has a new album that’s available for pre-order over at Projekt. In other similar news I hear that there’s a new Aarktica in the mixing process currently. In more personal similar news, I cut up & mastered the micro-cassette recordings I did a while back for the label that is putting it out (I’m really not sure what anyone will think of it, but the process has been very inspiring to me & based on it I’m thinking about finally launching the “Silber Special Product” sub-label with a series called “demo demons” where a band/artist does twenty minutes of lo-fi demos – for me that’s the most fun part of music & what I have the most inclination for at this point in my life.).
I guess most people know that a hurricane went through my state. Most people I know didn’t really get much damage. However the place my parents got at the beach ten years ago took a pretty big hit & it’s having a pretty big impact on my parents’ mental health, which in turn is having an impact on my mental health. Years ago when I was taking care of my grandmother (changing diapers & all that) my mother said she didn’t want me to end up taking care of her because nobody should have to do that multiple times in their life, but the reality of it all is closing in now & I think it’s becoming more clear that there’s not going to be anyone else around to do the heavy lifting & I don’t know how it can be done by me with a wife & daughter. We’ll see how it all goes down & I’ll try not to overthink it & just let things flow & keep doing as much as I have the energy for with family, Silber, QRD, Remora, Small Life Form, the mini-comics, & everything else. Thank you all for continued interest & support over the years.
I hope all is going well. Still going at a snail’s pace trying to get all the work at Silber done & hopefully things will be getting structured a little better with me being able to get more things done the next few weeks as the drone cub is back in pre-school three days a week. Meanwhile we have four new releases for you with more coming soon. This time out there are releases from Remora, Space Sweeper, & Goddakk all dealing in drone guitar experiments plus an album from slicnaton of electro-acoustics & glitch fused with post jazz. Links below to purchase or listen or of course you can listen to them all on Spotify here: http://tinyurl.com/latestfromsilber
Thanks for your interest & support, spread the word if you can.
Since 1996 Remora’s been exploring the guitar as a source for aggressive ambient soundscapes. “Warm Bodies” is Remora’s latest & most ambitious exploration of guitar feedback. Remora leader Brian John Mitchell controlls the feedback on three guitars while five other guitars & a bass are controlled by Nicholas Slaton (slicnaton), Martin Newman (Goddakk, DRLNG), Michael Wood (M is We), Micheal Madden (M is We), & Rowland Yeargan (Sportsmanship).
Led by Nicholas Slaton, slicnaton mixes elements of jazz, electroacoustics, no input mixing, glitch, drone, & noise. With a background in jazz & classical composition, Slaton comes to the drone & noise table with an exceptionally musical ear & nuance often lost in the genres. On the new album Ensemble he expands on his electroacoustic drone roots.
I have been slow to get things done lately. Energy has been hard to come by, it feels like the world is trying to hold me back with house problems & sick pets & day job issues & family responsibilities. But yesterday I played a Small Life Form show at a festival without practicing & literally breaking a piece of equipment when testing my rig & pulled off what I thought was a pretty solid performance (& I don’t think there is a recording, so I’ll be able to think that forever) . So it put me in a good mood & motivated me to get some things done. So tonight I wrote three press releases for stuff that has been up on Spotify for a month, but still isn’t up on Silber or Bandcamp or promoted because of me not having the press releases ready. So hopefully I’ll hear back from the bands shortly & get things going & promoted & move on to the next set of releases & do it again & again until it’s all caught up.
Here’s a story from the miracle department. For some reason an mwvm track recently got half a million plays on Spotify. While I don’t know exactly why, my research suggests a track was featured on the go to sleep playlist curated by Spotify. While it’s disconcerting that this didn’t cause a spike in sales or even listens to the rest of the mwvm catalog, it still makes it feel like Silber’s done some worth while things over the years & it makes it all seem like things are a lucky break away, which it hasn’t felt like for a long time.
So the other day the ten year old boy that lives across the street got his first electric guitar (he got it at an arcade, spending $100 to win enough tickets to get it & I didn’t have the heart to tell him it’s a $50 guitar, though maybe $50 guitars go for $100 these days) & his grandmother asked me if he could come over & I could help him tune it. I tuned his guitar & gave him a couple tips on hand position for his fretting hand & showed him that he can do picking patterns with his picking hand (previously just doing the chord strumming). It ends up he already had an acoustic guitar & had been occasionally taking lessons from his cousin for a couple years, so he already had some music stuff installed on his tablet that he brought over. Including a full version of Garage Band. I think the last time I messed with GarageBand was probably 2004 or something like that & things have changed & playing with it for five minutes really enlightened me about music. It was really easy to get good sounds out & using it really made it apparent that the defaults in there are being used a lot for the production music in various TV shows, commercials, video games, & YouTube videos which kinda points to why it seems like the music placement thing seems to be drying up. I mean, there have to be better versions than this & it’s pretty good. It reminds me of the rise of cheap keyboards that everybody got from their mom at Christmas & I feel like eventually made a whole generation of musicians (including me) not really respect the instrument. But it’s fun, it makes music accessible & non-elitist to make & I get why that devalues music in a way, makes it seem more like a game than work, & puts another nail in the coffin in the working musician class. Making music seem more of a hobby than a career. Music being the same as my dad playing tennis is a weird idea to me, but maybe if I can start thinking of music in that way instead of as a failing career I’ll be happier with it anyhow. Anything to let me walk into the future instead of being stuck in the past.