Archive for September 2014 | Monthly archive page
From Projekt Records’ Sam Rosenthal…
Back in the old days, I mailed tons of Projekt catalogs. I was telling my son about the early 90s, when I’d have 10,000 catalogs spread across my entire living room, as I sorted them by zipcode for bulk mailing. It was like rows of crops, waiting to be harvested and bagged and driven to the post office in South Central Los Angeles (This was after the 1992 L.A. riots; honestly, I always felt a bit nervous about driving down to South Central).
Before I got into printing those large 24+ page catalogs, I’d print 3-panel flyers at the local P.I.P.
A few of you messaged to tell me you really liked the paper catalogs, and I agree: it’s fun to hold something in your hand when you’re listening to your new Projekt order. So, while they last, when you order at projekt.com, you’ll get a limited edition Astrobright Lunar Blue 3-panel flyer, featuring Dirk Serries’ The Origin Reversal on the cover.
Of course, if you’ve moved on from physical objects, yet still want a catalog, I’ll take care of you. For the first 20 people who contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’ll give you details to paypal me a buck (for USA postage, more for overseas), and I’ll throw two of these in an envelope to you.
I only made 246 of these 3-panel flyers. When they’re gone, they’ll be gone (and then I will make a new one with a different design).Link-a-doodle-doo
* You might know that artist cannot copyright song or album titles. But there’s an interesting fact, that we can trademark our titles. I discovered this, when reading about The Red Hot Chili Pepper’s lawsuit against Californication at out-law.com. And here’s what I found even more interesting:
A quick search on Rolling Stone’s Top 10 Greatest Albums of All Time at the trade mark registries of the US and UK shows that none of the album titles are protected by the artists or their record companies. An individual applied to register Highway 61 Revisited, the Bob Dylan album that appears at number 4 in Rolling Stone’s list; but that application was abandoned. Rubber Soul, ranked number 5, is registered as a mark, but not to The Beatles. And Sgt. Pepper’s, the top-ranked album, is registered as a footwear brand by a company in Spain and as a pepper spray brand in the US. David Bowie appears to be more savvy than most of his counterparts, though: he has registered Ziggy Stardust as a trade mark for music and entertainment services. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars is ranked at number 35 in Rolling Stone’s list.
Huzzah to Bowie for being savvy enough to trademaqrk Ziggy!
* Nick Eakins sent me this message on Facebook: “I just got back from our local coffee house. I played a couple of Mors Syphalitica tunes for them and they played some death metal. Ethereal Goth is like floating on a cloud making love to angels. Death Metal is like getting hit upside the head with a shovel and being sodomized by a gorilla.” To which I replied: “Um, Both good options! : )”
* Please insert your own joke here: Sex toys to be auctioned to pay business’s delinquent Kansas taxes.
While supplies last, your purchase of Mirabilis’ »Here and the Hereafter« includes their first two albums for free! To save on shipping costs, the two additional CDs will not be in jewel boxes. Their barcode will be struck.
Submerse yourself in the third ethereal/darkwave foray from Mirabilis featuring Dru Allen and Summer Bowman, two of the genre’s most-celebrated vocalists. As Mirabilis, these women go beyond the rock-hued sounds of their respective bands (This Ascension/Mercury’s Antennae and the Machine in the Garden) to create beautiful, vocal-centered originals alongside reinterpreted pieces ranging from medieval to pop.
As on their previous Projekt releases, 2004’s Pleiades and 2008’s Sub Rosa, Allen and Bowman weave their signature heavenly voices into a lush bed of dream-like harmonies amidst understated electronics, acoustic instruments, and majestic percussive elements. Their most diverse work to date, Here and the Hereafter transcends genres from cinematic, orchestral pieces to traditional folk and chant to spoken word. Accompanied by instruments including hammered dulcimer and recorder, these 16 tracks — with roots as diverse as Bulgaria, India and Japan — span ages and cultures, reality and dream.
The album marks the band’s first composition with long-time inspiration Monica Richards (Faith and the Muse), who writes and sings on the piece “Here and Hereafter.”
Though brimming with musical styles and instrumentations, ultimately it is the exquisite interplay between the two vocalists that serves as the driving force on Here and the Hereafter. The vocals serve not just as conveyer of lyrics but also as a distinct instrument unto itself. This is a spellbinding, affirming work that transports the listener on a sweeping, emotional journey.
Mercury’s Antennae: A Waking Ghost Inside CD $14 Extremely limited to 300 copies.| Stream & Download for $10 Bandcamp. Ethereal, hypnotic, dizzying, gripping, lush, oceanic, driving, cinematic, haunting. The debut release from San Francisco-based Mercury’s Antennae. Comprised of vocalist Dru Allen (This Ascension, Mirabilis) and multi-instrumentalist Erick R. Scheid (Translucia), the band’s sound is distinctly reminiscent of ‘90s-era Projekt acts. Ranging from the heavy moodiness and guitar drone of Lycia to the unadorned acoustic beauty of Love Spirals Downwards to the passionate rock of This Ascension, the duo also draws on ambient and tribal influences, contemporary electronica, the sweet melodic pop of 4AD, and the blissful guitar noise of bands like Curve.
From Projekt Records’ Sam Rosenthal. I’m listening to R.E.M. rarities at rdio. Why? I heard “Talk about the passion” at Trader Joes a few days ago, and I’ve had R.E.M. stuck in my head since then…
In response to last week’s post, Andy G wrote (and I summarize):
Hi, Most entertaining reading. Way back, through the seventies and eighties, for me, the thrill was always in finding that new band, new artist; finding something new each time I picked up a magazine. Some people just play safe with one band or genre, others are braver and let their mind take them to new musical dimensions. Cue the new millennium – the internet and mp3s – now, all of a sudden, to the discoverer of new music, there are hundreds of thousands of bands worldwide in every genre known to man, all available to listen on the web – it’s mind-blowing. The late John Peel was on record as lamenting that he couldn’t listen to all the cassettes and vinyl that was sent to him and he shuddered at the thought that in that box may be the next Fall or Undertones but because he can’t listen to everything, they may go undiscovered. Here in Scotland I have a weekly radio show for unsigned bands, primarily from Scotland, but worldwide depending on what I find. Now, in Scotland alone, there are new band springing up every week – right now I have a list of about 100 bands from the last 5-6 months who I’ve yet to check out. But, thanks to downloads and mp3’s I am able to get new tracks, EP’s and albums every week; a lot of music, although probably not a great deal more per week than way back. Through all this, there have been many many tracks that have not hit the spot which have been discarded along the way – but the new technology has allowed me to find a huge wealth of fantastic tracks which I could simply not have found any other way; I am now able to play these on the radio show in the hope that someone without the same time available as me will find that one gem that makes them go weak at the knees; then it’s job well done. It’s all down to using the technology, not being phased or daunted by it, accepting that you will only ever scratch the surface, but at the same time, still finding that thrill of the next new band or artist. All the best, Andy G.
In reply, I wrote:
Hi Andy, You are a braver man that I. I don’t have that thrill, anymore; I gave up on demos ten years ago. For every 200 demos, there was maybe 1 gem worth releasing on Projekt. And the torture of listening to the other 199 made the price-of-the-hunt too impossibly high. We actually ran an “unsigned band” contest in conjunction with Gothic Beauty Magazine, in 2004. Out of the entire box of demo CDs (and there were at least 150), there was only one band that Shea and I thought good enough to sign; and it turned out I had already signed to Projekt a few months earlier (Autumn’s Grey Solace)!
Just this week, somebody I know sent an artist my way. In his cover email, the artist included this line: “His influences range from Iron Maiden, Rush, Zebra and Carol King to name a few.” With influences that horrible, my curiosity got the best of me, I gave it a listen. Pass! It didn’t sound like any of them, it sounded like poppy dark rock. (A friend on Facebook pointed out that he spelled Carole King’s name wrong!)
With that said, I will admit that I lament, “There are no good new bands anymore.” The only new music I hear that I like comes from bands I already know. It is very rare when something unknown to me suddenly shows up on my radar as amazing. So my favorite “new bands” are now bands that are 10 years old.
I guess I need a filter, just like everyone else. Somebody sending new bands my way. Because these days, for every 10 new bands that contact me with Soundcloud pages or Bandcamp pages, I hear 0% that interest me enough to want to listen further.
I find it hard to imagine that you could find 100 new bands that you are excited about. Bravo for you, for having the patience.
So now — a few days later — I am reading back on my response. It’s not that I am phased or daunted by the technology. It’s that I’m not excited by what I find via that technology. Sure, I’ve always been picky. Most of us are. Somewhere out there is the next Lycia or Mira or Android Lust. But I’m resigned that I’m going to miss them. Unlike John Peel, it’s not because I don’t have the time to listen. It’s because I don’t have the stomach to listen to all the bad ones. I know this post is going to get a lot of responses from bands who want me to listen to their demos. That’s fine, post your links below. I’ll try.
How can I get signed to Projekt? In fact, the #1 question you asked, when I put out a call for my recent Q&A, concerns how I find bands to sign to Projekt. These days, it is via the recommendation of other artists on the label, and occasionally the recommendation of writers. For a while, I discovered new bands when they opened up for Black Tape For A Blue Girl. Back in the early days, it was often from demo cassettes. Nowadays, most of the new acts on Projekt are electronic/ambient artists who collaborate with other artists on the label (ie: Erik Wollo, Byron Metcalf, Loren Nerell, etc).
There are bands out there who believe that all they need to bring to a label is their beautiful raw talent. But more than ever, talent is just a portion of what it takes. Bands need to be able to market themselves. They need to be able to spread the word; this is a talent just as important as making the music. If a band has no fans and no “buzz,” there’s not a lot Projekt can do. I can put out CDs, sure. But I cannot make people care. It’s different from the old days. I think about when I released SoulWhirlingSomewhere’s Eating the Sea debut in 1993. Michael had a few fans in Phoenix and he didn’t play live to spread the word; yet Projekt was able to release the CD and get quite a lot of people to discover the music. It just doesn’t work that way anymore. Or rather, people discover the music, but they don’t necessarily purchase it. There needs to be some additional “connection” that the band makes with the fans. Good music has never been enough. Talent isn’t enough. What is it? I was writing to Jill Tracy a few weeks back, and I was telling her that she has it. That undefinable charisma and star-power, mixed with talent, that an audience loves. Voltaire has it. Nicki Jaine had it. I personally don’t have it; I’m not exciting and ineffable on stage! I make music that people care about, yes. but I don’t have that stage persona that I define as ‘it.” Yup.
Can we all get along? Two people responded to last week’s post by attacking my friend Case, and being quite rude about it. I messaged them back that they seemed to have missed the part where I said Case was my friend! And that perhaps they could have disagreed in a way that wasn’t insulting. Couching their criticism in insults and attacks really prevents their communication from being heard. I doubt these two would have been as rude in face-to-face meeting; the internet does that, doesn’t it? Have you heard of Non-Violent Communication? I love the concept. It’s about taking the tone, blame, criticism out of difficult conversations, so you can get your message across with as little distortion as possible. It’s a way of communicating your feelings and thoughts in a non-confrontational way, with the hopes of everyone getting something positive out of the solution. Does it work? Well, I think it can come off a bit pedantic. At least that’s how people hear it, when they want to fight with you. But still, it’s worth a shot. Check out Marshall Rosenberg’s book at Amazon.
Is Technology the New Opiate of the Masses? I’ve been meeting more and more people who admit they have a problem. An article at HufPost said, “A 2010 survey found that 61 percent of Americans (the number is higher among young people) say they are addicted to the Internet.” This percentage can only be more dramatic now.
I’ve mentioned this problem in past lists: I’ll go to Facebook because I am looking for a message from one particular person who insists on messaging me there; then find myself waking up from a daze 30 minutes later, reading an article on BuzzFeed, or watching an animal video. Did you see the squirrel that photobombed Bernie Sanders? Jump in 5-minutes on this John Stewart video.
I’ve been trying some techniques to reduce my wasteful use of technology. The first step is awareness. “I’m going to just answer that one message, and then get the hell out of Facebook.” There’s also e.ggtimer.com where you can set yourself a timer.
The biggest time-suck is our inbox. I just finished reading the book The 4 Hour Workweek which has some useful advice for focusing on priorities (and a lot of talk about adventuring in foreign countries… filler, if you ask me). The part I found very useful is now written on a large note stuck to my computer:
Complete most-important tasks before 11 am. Then check email. Don’t check email again until 4pm.
Ok, it’s hard NOT to check my email more than twice a day. However, getting my most-important tasks done before I start getting distracted by email… wow! This is a great idea. I’ve been doing this for about 10 days, and I feel like I’ve gotten so much more done. This strategy forces me to ignore the less important stuff, because I don’t have time to do busy work. The book is worth reading, just bare in mind that 30% is going to be about Ferriss’ obsession with going to foreign countries and learning kickboxing. : )
“CD-Loving Japan Resists Move to Online Music.” Read the article at The New York Times. “Japan may be a perennial early adopter of technologies, but its attachment to the CD puts it sharply at odds with the rest of the global music industry.”
A review of Steve Roach’s The Desert Collection from ProgArchives “Gently soothing, hypnotic and endlessly melodic, the disc is a perfect way to relieve tensions, slowly unwind from the busyness of everyday life while still offering fascinating light progressive-electronic soundscapes for fans of the genre. Mr. Roach has successfully chosen a fitting selection of pieces that maintain an evocative mood in line with the title of the disc, always full of direction and variety yet frequently open-ended and unhurried.”
Speaking of wasting your life with your technology, Shea brings to my attention this Goat Simulator app. A customer review says, “Imagine the old Tony Hawk pro-skater games, but you’re a goat and you run around laying waste to the city in ridiculously unimaginable, completely laughable ways. This is the kind of game where you can pick up and play a few minutes just to kill time, or get really into it and waste a few hours.”
This one is NOT a waste of time: Rust Radio streams Neil Young concerts 24/7, with shows dating back to the 60s. I find it remarkable that this site has been on-line since 2003, yet I just now heard of it!?!? Nice!
A great video introduction to Projekt’s Soriah. Watch at Vimeo.
Dirk Serries: The Origin Reversal with Bonus CD | $15
Now shipping; Limited edition of 300. Dirk Serries returns to Projekt Records with The Origin Reversal, a re-boot of his classic vidnaObmana sound. This is ambient music that flows from its discreet origins: sonic purity, washes of harmony, and organic textures which slow time to a phase of transcendence.
Mirabilis: Here and the Hereafter with 2 Bonus CDs | $15
Shipping late September; Limited edition of 300. Submerse yourself in the third ethereal/darkwave foray from Mirabilis featuring Dru Allen and Summer Bowman, two of the genre’s most-celebrated vocalists. As Mirabilis, these women go beyond the rock-hued sounds of their respective bands (This Ascension/Mercury’s Antennae and the Machine in the Garden).
Feel free to post a comment below. If you are signed in, your comment appears immediately. Otherwise, it will appear when I go in and approve it. http://www.projekt.com/store/?p=6263
From Projekt Records’ Sam Rosenthal…
My 20-something friend, and I were messaging about music. She wrote:
I feel like having access to so much of something devalues it. I had few toys growing up. The toys I had were very valuable to me. I knew each of them by name and played with them often. When I went to the houses of other kids my age, I found them filled to the brim with plastic toys and junk. Entire floors covered like a scene from Hoarders, the reality TV show about people living with too much stuff.
Many people are digital hoarders. They acquire something simply because it is there (in this case, music) yet rarely look at it again, or savor it. When I dug out my hard drives from 12 years ago, I found 250 gigs of music. Almost all of it was crap. I realized that I had only acquired it because I could. Once I had it, there was too much to listen to. I didn’t savor each song because everything was the same, a name in a digital list. Compare that to my dad’s music. Thought I would make fun of him for purchasing so much, especially what I considered overpriced CDs, that’s where I got the most joy out of listening. Each CD or album or cassette in the living room was a new experience waiting to be explored.
I feel like the MP3 culture was anemic. Growing up, most of the people I knew who downloaded MP3s had absolutely awful taste in music. They didn’t respect it. At LAN parties we’d trade entire hard drives full of music. Did it make anything special? Did we cherish any of that music? Absolutely not. It was just hoarding behavior. The understanding of a limit had been lost. The exceptions were people with parents who passed down their excitement for music.
I realize now that some people learned about music from siblings, or friends, physically bringing records over, or going to record stores and listening there, or at local live shows. How did you get introduced to the music of Brian Eno or David Bowie?
I’ve been thinking about this. How did I discover music when I was young?
I was introduced to David Bowie on the radio, along with Kraftwerk, The Strawbs, Frank Zappa, the B52s. It was strange music, compared to the popular mainstream rock of the time: acts such as Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Meatloaf, Molly Hatchet, Lynyrd Skynyrd – remember, I lived in South Florida! WSHE (103.5) was our local rock radio station mixing in unusual tracks along with the mainstream hits.
The first song I remember hearing a million times on the radio was Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” (which went to #9 in the USA in 1976). It is a weird rock song! Can you imagine something that bizarre getting radio play today? I remember being at the beach with a friend (and his mom) and the song blasting out of car windows in the parking lot.
Wow! WSHE played odd music, which led to finding more odd music.
I cannot honestly say I remember the first time I heard Bowie on the radio; but it must have been “Space Odyssey” or “Starman.” It was the end of the 70s, but his tracks of 5 years earlier were still new to us. Bowie’s music came before his image. I’m sure I was interested in the space theme (teenage boy in the 1970s, of course I was into SciFi), and also the alienation. You know: feeling like an outsider in your own world.
But where was the connection from Bowie to Brian Eno? You might think it was via the Low album, but I don’t remember getting into that side of Bowie until a while later. It was the very early Ziggy Stardust-period that was familiar to me.
There were two magazines – Cream and Circus – which covered rock music. Lots of Bowie, Alice Cooper, Stones, etc. Rolling Stone Magazine was a bit too square for me (Hall & Oats, Fleetwood Mac, Peter Frampton) and SPIN didn’t exist yet (it started in 1985).
Ah ha! Here’s the holy grail. I remember buying the October 1978 issue of Trouser Press with Peter Gabriel, Robert Fripp and Brian Eno. This was the doorway to a variety of amazing English music I didn’t hear on WSHE. Trouser Press covered mostly prog and English artrock; then in the early 80s it morphed into New Wave & New Romantic. There were also UK magazines (cannot remember the name, but probably Smash Hits, Slash, Underground or something. I still have some of them in a box in my storage space.)
The three magazine covers included in this blog are iconic in my mind. They bring me right back to that era, pouring over the words before I heard the music, and then eventually entering the new sounds and new worlds created for me within this music.
By this time I had bought the Eno Working Backwards 11-LP box set, yet I cannot honestly say that I listened to the first two albums. I was a fan of Before and After Science, Ambient 1, and Discrete Music. I was more about his ambient side and wasn’t interested in his glam / pre-punk sound. Nowadays, I love Here Comes the Warm Jets; it’s a really catchy and quirky album!
Moving along with the “weird electronic” music, I introduced to Gary Numan when a redneck friend in high school gave me the “Cars” single. It was alien, distant, bizarre. I liked it and dug into Numan, purchasing The Pleasure Principle, but more importantly, Replicas. From Numan, I leaned about an obscure band that influenced him, Ultravox! (Check out “I want to be a machine:” Ultravox! produced by Brian Eno.) I was late to the game, John Foxx had already left the band. The week it was released, I bought Midge-Ure-era Ultravox’s Vienna album. I also hit upon other electro pop / synth bands, such as Depeche Mode (bought the first album when it came out!) and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. A friend in high school turned me on to “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell, and I had a new favorite band! And let’s not overlook DEVO! Are we not men? was an amazing find (again, produced by Eno!).
For me, then, it seems RADIO served as my introduction to music in middle school. In high school it was MAGAZINES, FRIENDS and exploring at RECORD STORES.
There was a amazing shop — Open Books & Records (1979-1994) — that stocked all the imports and the local bands and underground USA music. I would read about a band in a magazine, then go to Open to check if they had a copy. I’d listen to a track or two to see if I liked the music. Sometimes I picked things up, based purely on the cover (such as The Last Man in Europe Corporation.) Leslie at Open would say, “David Sylvian’s solo album is coming out in two weeks, would you like me to order one for you?” or “You like Ultravox, have you checked out Visage? There’s a different singer but Midge Ure and Billy Currie write the music…”
My friend talked about trading hard drives of music, but it having no real value, being merely unseen data without context, unsavored. Our situation was just the opposite back in the early 80s; we had to intentionally work to discover music. Each new musical experience was gained by overcoming obstacles, finding something unique. The hunt gave the music a lot of value. While most of my classmates were listening to The Doobie Brothers’ “Minute by Minute,” or “Sgt Peppers” for the seven thousandth time, I was adventuring into the musical unknown. These albums I found meant so much to me. The obscure music we followed was wrapped deeply into how we identified ourselves. We were underground, individual, non-mainstream. Music was part of that identity,
I began my fanzine, Alternative Rhythms, to cover a mix of the European bands I was interested in, plus local South Florida bands I’d hear about from singles at Open Records. South Florida’s music scene was diverse; we had electro-pop from Futurisk (“Split Second Decision” 1982, on YouTube) and Stones/Velvet Rock-n-Roll from Charlie Pickett (“If This is Love, Can I Get My Money Back” 1983, on YouTube). Writing about music served as a pretext to get into bars when I was underage, I went out to cover these bands for the ‘zine.
Music discovery meant everything to me. That’s still true today. My job at Projekt is finding new music, and spreading the word. It’s a different era, yet it’s similar to 35 years ago; the difference is now I have taken on the role of being the person who exposes new music to people. Music is part of who I am.
DOVE: the band of love. Devo’s Christian Rock alter-ego from 1980. Read a short article & watch 3 videos at Dangerous Minds
Burger King Japan goes goth with a black bun and burger.
I just voted for STEVE ROACH! Show your support by voting for Steve’s music in Echoes Radio’s 25th anniversary poll.
Because we all want to smell a bit more like Brian Eno! Knock-off perfume using the Before and After Science image.
This New York Times article had an interesting factoid regarding how little experience the current Republicans have. And I mean experience making the government function. Besides the speaker, no member of the House Republican leadership was in Congress for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, or the invasion of Iraq. The top six Republican leaders have served a collective 64 years in the House. The top three Democratic leaders have served 80. “This is unique,” said Norman J. Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “You now have a sizable number in leadership who were not there when the parties routinely worked together or who have a significant understanding of operating in divided governance. The only thing they’ve seen is tribalism.”
September Top-5 in the Projekt webstore Dirk Serries – The Origin Reversal (with Bonus CD) CD $15 Mirabilis: Here and the Hereafter (with 2 bonus CDs) (Pre-order, shipping late September) CD $15 Erik Wøllo: Tundra EP (sold out) Metcalf, Nerell & Seelig: Intention / Tree of Life / Dream Tracker 3-pack 3-CD $29 Sam Rosenthal: Rye (an erotic novel) Novel $12
Hi. This offer is limited to 60 copies, order your box today! Shipping within the USA + international.
• 10 CDs in the box. This is an ambient/electronic box: all 10 CDs are ambient / electronic. • These boxes are pre-made from overstock CDs. We cannot put specific titles in for you. We pick the albums you receive. • All barcodes are struck. • Most CDs are in digipaks or ecoWallets. CDs will be removed from jewel boxes where applicable (this saves you postage). • If you purchase two boxes, you will receive the same titles twice • No refunds or replacements except if you receive a defective title. Then you will be issued a $3 refund.
dirk serries – the origin reversal (Pre-Order, shipping early-September) CD $15 | Stream & Download for $10 Bandcamp. Extremely limited to 300 copies. Early Bird Bonus: The first 50 buyers receive a free copy of vidnaObmana’s 1998 CD Crossing the Trail.
Dirk has three performances to kick-off the release of The Origin Reversal::
September 19 Trondheim (Norway) : Facebook Event Page September 20 Trondheim (Norway) : Facebook Event Page October 25 The Netherlands : TBA December 5 Kortrijk (Belgium) : Facebook Event Page Dirk Serries returns to Projekt Records with The Origin Reversal, a re-boot of his classic vidnaObmana sound. This is ambient music that flows from its discreet origins: sonic purity, washes of harmony, and organic textures which slow time to a phase of transcendence.
Picking up on the 1988 – 1996 vidnaObmana ambient period (mostly released on Projekt), The Origin Reversal‘s six tracks are informed with a subtlety that only comes from Serries’ decades of musical growth exploring his craft. After the understated, meditative 2012 collaboration with Steve Roach, Low Volume Music (on sale for $10 this month), Serries reestablished himself as the ambient artist known worldwide for minimal, warm and introspective sonic atmospheres. Performed in real-time directly to a stereo 2-track, Serries created these six tracks armed only with a Gibson Les Paul custom guitar and a few pedals. Despite the use of different tools from his electronic heritage,The Origin Reversal shows a refinement and maturity achieved through extensive touring, intriguing side-projects, recordings and collaborations.
The Belgium-based Serries has experimented with ambient music for over 30 years. His earliest work came out under the vidnaObmana pseudonym, until he closed the book on that project in 2007. In the ensuing seven years, he released over twenty albums under various monikers before returning to a refined stream of ambient works. October 2013 saw three solo albums on limited edition 180-gram vinyl. Unedited live performances meant to run the length of a side of a vinyl record, they were published on the boutique Tonefloat:Ikon imprint. These three LPs were followed by a few digital-only albums.
The hypnotic nature of Serries’ music comes with time and restrained anticipation. It’s all about a delicate touch that never disturbs the continuum between sound and silence.
August’s Top-5 sellers at the Projekt webstore #1 Erik Wøllo: Tundra EP | CD $10 #2 Steve Roach: The Delicate Forever| CD $14 #3 Mirabilis: Here and the Hereafter (with 2 bonus CDs)| CD $15 #4 Various Artists: 10 Projekt CDs for $25 | 10-CD $25 #5 Steve Roach: Structures From Silence (30th Anniversary Remastered Edition) | 3-CD $18
From Projekt Record’s Sam Rosenthal…
Hello to everyone on this day of non-laboring.
My novel, Rye, was published nearly two years ago (Nov 5, 2012). It’s an erotic novel; however for myself, many of the reviewers and people who’ve read the book, it’s more than that. Ultimately, it’s about characters and the lives they are trying to build together.
Underneath all the androgyny and fluctuation, the book’s about human connection. Rosenthal’s use of sex and gender identities to illustrate how we reach toward and away from relationships is merely a new approach to an old idea: We all need intimacy with others to deepen our understanding of ourselves.”— Time Out Chicago.
One of the subtexts of Rye comes from a nugget I found in Buddhism’s Diamond Sutra text. As in the Kierkegaard quote above, it’s the idea that most of the time we don’t see things for what they are, because we are misled by our perception of the thing. Once we categorize or describe something, we expect it to behave like the label we have ascribed to it.
In this bit, Matt (the narrator) relays to his partner Rye (a science teacher) a few quotes from a monk he interviewed for a documentary he’s working on:
“ ‘Where there is a description there is a deception.’ And something about ‘we’re all part of the continuity of things changing their form, because the real nature of things is that there’s no definable single state.’” “I was with you there at first. But that second half…?” Rye sounds doubtful. “Rye, the world changes under the weight of our perceptions.” “That’s crazy-talk, Matt! Things are what they are. Don’t taunt me.” I picture his wrinkled nose and frown. “I respect Buddhism, but it can be a bit out there. Science is absolute.”
Later in the story, without really noticing it, Rye has a more understanding view of the topic. This is an exchange between Rye, and Mischa (Matt’s 12 year old son), as they walk home from Misha’s Summer Camp.
“It’s different from what you’re usually taught,” Rye says. “Dad reads to me about something like that. About illusions and not being stuck in how we describe things. The words that are just a story.” I smile at Mischa, proud that he made the connection. “Yeah, you got it, kiddo,” Rye says, standing slowly and patting his shoulder. “They’re all a bunch of words. I’m just me. You see who I am.” “…and the words don’t really matter,” Mischa says, finishing Rye’s thought. “You two are great,” I say, taking one in each arm. “I think I’m gonna keep you both.” Rye smiles and kisses my cheek.
Since concluding Rye in 2012, I’ve been thinking about the follow-up novel; my plan is to pick up where the story left off.
I’d like to report that I’ve been doing more than “thinking about” it and actually “working on” it. But that wouldn’t be true. I’ve been unable to begin, as often happens after finishing a creative work. Some artists go right back to work; they use their head of steam to get down to business. I’m different. I always feel the need to delay and collect new ideas; to let the sail deflate, and wait for the next breeze.
I’ve had vague ideas about what would happen with the characters; I’ve been preparing for an idea to show up, another Buddhist theme to serve as a subtext for the next novel. [ Yes, I know. As an aside one could ask, “Who writes an erotic novel, based around Buddhist ideas?!” ]
Reading Thich Nhat Hahn’s book, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching, I came upon this line:
“In The Discourse on the Many Realms, the Buddha taught that all of our anxieties and difficulties come from our inability to see the true face, or true sign of things, which means that although we see their appearance, we fail to recognize their impermanent and interbeing nature.” (Page 77)
Oh, I like that.
I like that this builds upon Rye‘s thread about failing to see things as they are. My brain quickly connected that with other ideas concerning relationships, and the pain we feel when they crumble. I wrote this in my journal:
Part of suffering comes from our attachment; our inability to accept that everything is transient. We fall in love, and we want it to stay that way forever. We take it for granted when we have it. And we don’t want it to end when we have already lost it. How can you enjoy love to it’s fullest while it’s happening, yet let it go when it’s over? Can we say, “That was nice, and now it’s gone”? Because that’s going to be true of everything in life: there is nothing we will take with us, at the end. How can we enjoy it to its fullest and then smile and let it go?
This got me quite excited.
It seems that one of the hardest things to do is to live with this sort of non-attachment.
Many assume ‘non-attachment’ means to not care for things. Rather, it means to care deeply, yet also to allow things to be free; to not hold too tightly. “Overcoming attachment does not mean becoming cold and indifferent. On the contrary, it means learning to have relaxed control over our mind through understanding the real causes of happiness and fulfillment, and this enables us to enjoy life more and suffer less.” – Kathleen McDonald, How to Meditate
Thich Nhat Hahn says there are three essential elements: Non-attachment, impermanence and bliss. I think a thorough understanding of the first two leads to the third; Hahn would also say that they all inter-are. That you cannot have any one of them without the other.
Much to think about.
New in the store
Ataraxia: Wind At Mount Elo | CD $18 The Moon and the Nightspirit: Holdrejtek | CD $23 The Moon and the Nightspirit: Rego Rejtem Re-issue | CD $22 The Moon and the Nightspirit: Of Dreams Forgotten and Fables Untold Re-issue | CD $22 The Moon and the Nightspirit: Mohalepte Re-issue | 2-CD $25 Spiritual Front: Vladimir Central 12″ (Extremely Limited, Only A Few Copies Available!) | Vinyl $35
Listen to Gavin Bryars’ Sinking of the Titanic performed in an aquatic center. This is a pretty great live rendition of this piece. Video at youTube.
Maybe Raccoons are the new goats which were the new cats. Oy! These things change so quickly! Raccoon dentist at youTube.
Cats say, “Wait, we’re not done with our reign just yet!” An oldie goldie, Olympic Cat Curling.
End the Tyranny of 24/7 Email
I posted a Facebook link to this New York Times article. As a boss, I totally endorse what it says; I think it’s CRAZY that many of my friends are expected to answer their work email 24 hours a day. Screw that! You’re not slaves; employers don’t have the rights to expect replies when you are off the clock.
My friend, Sam Saia, replied: I’ve always refused linking my business email to my cell phone for this very reason. My shift begins at 8:30am and ends at 5pm Mon-Fri. End of story!
This blog by Tim Ferriss talks about making more time for your own work, by spending less time taking in other people’s work. To that end, he suggest checking your email only twice a day! “The real hard part, of course, is keeping yourself away from that damn inbox. Get on a strict low-information diet and focus on output instead of input; your wallet and weekends will thank you for it.”