Grab your cup-o-joe, and get into today’s email list from Projekt Record’s Sam Rosenthal…
Last Friday, I went to the movies and caught a 35mm print of the Maysles’ documentary, Gimme Shelter; it’s about the 1969 Rolling Stones tour that ended with the horrific Altamonte free concert. There are so many thoughts still running through my head. Imagine being Mick Jagger: 26 years old, at the height of the Stone’s 60s popularity. What an amazing & scary position to be in. And think of the culture as the 60s drew to a close: “It was also a grim time around the world. The assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, the Tet Offensive, the brutal suppression of the Prague Spring – all of these were recent memories.” (open culture)
Mick was attractive and charasmatic, the Stones were hot! What did people really expect them to do? They were in the middle of a messed up situation, they tried to calm the audience and Angels down, they played their music, they got the hell out of there. Obviously there should have been real security, and a moat between the audience and the stage. But sometimes things are just bad; none of the acts on stage were able to prevent the way that day went down.
That day, almost 45 years ago.
Although I run a goth/electronic/ambient label, I was informed by the late-60s rock-n-roll sensibility. I think in those terms, as far as success, and popularity, and reach. Sadly, it’s a world that is receding into the past. What band is as big as the Beatles or the Stones? Who puts out music that is as meaningful to such a large group of people? Do fans still follow a band’s progress like they did back then, anticipating their next single or album?
|Download this great compilation, your soundtrack to today’s elist. It’s a pay-as-you-wish Projekt electronic / ambient sampler. Ninty minutes of fabulous music, available for download or streaming at Bandcamp.|
People often tell me that in order to keep Projekt alive, I have to get with the times: I have to run a label based on the modern way the record industry works. This is usually said by people who don’t realize I have been keeping up with the times; I am aware of the industry trends. It doesn’t mean I agree with all of them, or want to follow all of them. It doesn’t mean that all of the trends apply to the music Projekt releases.
Projekt is still here; I run the label for the people who follow the label. Projekt still functions in the world of selling stuff, and money earned off albums that artists have recorded.
The music business today is about giving music away for free to gain “exposure,” to enable touring and merchandising – this is where the big artists make their money. The Stones or U2 or Lady Gaga earn hundreds of millions of dollars touring. The biggest source of income is no longer the recorded album.
Which is sad. Because there are so many classic albums that mean so much to me. Fripp & Eno’s No Pussyfooting never would have existed, if 1973 was only about playing live or singles. Sad.
And yet I am still thinking about albums, and concept albums, and my friends recording in their home studios. That’s what I do, that’s the way I work. The nice thing is that there are fans out there who appreciate the recorded work of Projekt artists. When I check the stats, about 66% of Projekt’s digital income comes from full-album downloads. And physically, the label is almost entirely full-albums.
Projekt’s not a hit-song label. Voltaire is the exception. He has tracks that are massively downloaded individually, rather than as part of an album. But when somebody is interested in Steve Roach or Erik Wollo or Unto Ashes, they generally want the whole album. They want to dive into the work. I think that’s a legacy of the 60s and 70s perspective on music.
I am told that’s yesterday’s news, and I should get over it. But come on! I love that world.
I’m a rock-n-roller. I want to listen to an artist’s vision: 40 or 60 minutes of their work. I rarely put on single songs. I listen to albums. I know it’s archaic of me; yet it’s the way music exists for me. As a listener and as an artist.
Black Lung: The Great Golden Goal $15
Die Form: Rayon X Standard CD | $19
Grendel: Soilbleed Redux V.2 $12
Hexperos: Lost in the Great Sea | $20
In Strict Confidence: Lifelines Vol. 1 (91-98) – The Extended Versions $16
In Strict Confidence: Lifelines Vol. 2 (98-04) – The Extended Versions $16
The Klinik: 1984-1991 8-CD Box Set | $90
Lacrimosa: Live in Mexico City $30
Lustmord: Beyond Re-issue $15
Lustmord: The Dark Places of the Earth Re-issue $15
Noisuf-X: Invasion Limited 2-CD $24
Raison D’etre: Requiem for Abandoned Souls Expanded 2-CD Re-issue | $22
Steve Roach: The Delicate Forever with Bonus CD | $14 (only a few bonus CDs left)
Steve Roach: The Desert Collection (Volume One) | $14
Tanzwut: Eselsmesse Limited Edition 2-CD | $25
Various Artists: History of NDW $22
Erik Wøllo: Tundra EP | $10
I am often told by people (on Facebook) that the album format is dead. They say we should all give up on that and release singles. Or Eps. I know the Cocteau Twins used to do that in the 80s, and I was always excited to hear their new work. Yet, I really loved getting a whole album, so I could drift below the surface and immerse myself in the world they created.
That’s the way I imagine Projekt fans: I imagine you’re a lot like me. You anticipate hearing where your favorite artist is going to take you. What new experience will they bring? That’s what music means to me. Yeah.
And that’s what I do in my band, Black Tape For A Blue Girl. I work on a set of songs that capture where I am at; I capture a certain moment in time. Alas, it takes me longer and longer between albums; I get distracted by all my obligations at Projekt. But I try to give myself time alone, to focus on music. This weekend, I created the basis for two new songs. When I begin, I don’t have a melody or lyric in mind. I turn on the synths, or get out the guitar, and I layer sounds together. I let it evolve. There’s some sort of ineffable process. I don’t know why this instrument needs to be turned up, or why I chose that chain of effects to process a sound, or why I think, “it needs something stringy here.” But I just know it needs to happen; that’s the creative process. You can’t explain it.
I have a number of new tracks evolving (separate from the June’14 studio access release, which you can still download for free here). These are song-oriented pieces; some sound like they are going to be dark-instrumentals, with violins on top.
There are two pieces to this concept in my mind. One is “time” and the other is “return.” I have an idea to return to the mood and sound of this lush garden or remnants of a deeper purity. To work in that vein, but with modern tools. I am intrigued. The “time” component has to do with all of us changing, growing, evolving. What has happened to us since those albums were released? It was almost 20 years ago!< I'll be in NYC in October, and I plan to go into a studio to record with my band. We will work on the pieces I've begun here in Portland; I'm excited to hear what we come up with. If I'm happy with the progress, I plan to Kickstart a new album for 2015 release. Yeah, I know. Six years after 10 Neurotics! Forever. “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” as John Lennon said.
See, that’s the way I think. All these quotes, and moments, and events from rock-n-roll history. They have shaped my brain. Shaped my identity. And shaped who I am as a musician.
Projekt is 31 years old this month. Most of my life has been shaped by rock-n-roll!
And who thought I would quote Taylor Swift, but here goes:
Arrows Through the Heart
There are always going to be those artists who break through on an emotional level and end up in people’s lives forever. The way I see it, fans view music the way they view their relationships. Some music is just for fun, a passing fling (the ones they dance to at clubs and parties for a month while the song is a huge radio hit, that they will soon forget they ever danced to). Some songs and albums represent seasons of our lives, like relationships that we hold dear in our memories but had their time and place in the past.
However, some artists will be like finding “the one.” We will cherish every album they put out until they retire and we will play their music for our children and grandchildren. As an artist, this is the dream bond we hope to establish with our fans.
10 Projekt Cds for $15.
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I know there are Projekt artists that you cherish, that will stay with you all your life. Those of you who read this list and order from our store have probably found “the one.” And I really appreciate that it’s an artist I’ve released on Projekt. You are the people who support our creativity and truly value that we’re still out there on the edge, making new music.
Three weeks ago, Projekt released Steve Roach’s The Delicate Forever. The first 500 customers (at steveroach.com and projekt) received a bonus album, The Delicate Beyond. Steve and I brainstormed many different ideas for how to release that second disc, and what felt really good was giving it away with initial orders. We appreciate your support of Steve’s music, and your dedication to his creativity.
For artists, the number of loyal fans have decreased over the years. Yet speaking from my own experience with Blacktape, those of you who have stuck with me are more devoted than ever. I’ve learned this doing a few Kickstarters. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, I’d connect with people via snail mail. Letters. Then when the internet came along, communication dropped off (strangely enough). Doing Kickstarters has rekindled this relationship. You tell me about the joy you get from the work I create. It really is a big thing for me.
I have to be honest. Back in the day, recording a song was a relief valve. It was a way to deal with personal angst (“For you will burn your wings upon the sun,” for example!). Over the years, I changed. I got more comfortable with myself. And being a dad has been a wonderful opportunity to connect with somebody, to love somebody completely, and be more than my own personal collection of angst and drama.
I still make music, but it serves a different purpose.
All along, the song itself was not the source of my satisfaction. What I was excited about was connecting with listeners: having my communication received. In other words, I don’t think I’d keep making music, if nobody heard it. It just wouldn’t fulfill me to make a song, and put it in a drawer. The completion of the communication is what I like.
For that reason, I should get over this concern I have about my music being out there for free. I will admit that I’m a contradiction in this regards. I grew up in the 70s, and came up through the 80s music scene when we sold cassettes and LPs. On into the 90s, Blacktape (and Projekt) sold a lot of music. Blacktape has sold over 120,000 units! These things (sales) indicate “success” to me as an artist. It meant my communication was being received. Nowadays, so much music is heard, but there is no real way to measure that ‘success.’
Maybe I just need to get over it?
I have to really think into this. Am I attempting to justify the change I don’t like? Or can I let go of the past and the old way of doing things? Can I move on with the way things are? As Buddhists say: Suffering is not accepting reality for what it is.
“People suffer because they are caught in their views. As soon as we release those views, we are free and we don’t suffer anymore.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching:
Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation
I’ll admit that it fu¢ks with my head. Can I work with the way things are? My views of the past are sometimes productive, but sometimes they get in the way. There is only now.
I have a number of musician friends who – thought they won’t say it publicly – have given up on making music. They feel like a very personal part of themselves is taken for granted, or worse: stolen from them. They just aren’t happy anymore with what is going on, as well as the reality that they cannot break even making their art. It’s a great loss. It’s sad that they are chosing to quiet their voice out of disappointment.
For me, I know I have a dillema about this. I could use a therapist who talks us musicians off the ledge. Somebody who helps us see what we’re gaining in the new music industry. We’ve been raised with certain mileposts. Things have changed. That is clear.
Back to the Stones.
I never expected to write another “Gimme Shelter,” or play a free concert for 300,000 people. But I have grown up on rock, and music is my world. I do what I do because it’s part of me.
It’s really great that you enjoy it, and you allow me to live my non-mainstream life, via it. That’s pretty cool, people. Thank you again.
Agonoize: Apokalypse Limited 2-CD Berlin-based inferno of hard beats, brutal shouts and thudding bass. $23
Android Lust: The Dividing (10th anniversary 2-LP Vinyl edition) Limited edition on clear vinyl. $25
Ataraxia: Wind At Mount Elo Modern Classical/Neofolk masterpiece by the Italian project. $18
Cocksure: TVMALSV Bridging the gap between waxtrax! era industrial and future sounds of mass corruption. $14
Deine Lakaien: Acoustic II $25
Deine Lakaien: Farewell/Where the Winds Don’t Blow CDS First taster for the new album Crystal Palace. $11
Deine Lakaien: Crystal Palace Limited Box A return to the sonic atmospheres of the early days (1986-1990). $49
Deine Lakaien: Crystal Palace Limited Digipak +3 Bonus Tracks $25
Funker Vogt: Survivor 3-CD Box Collector’s Edition with bonus material and rare, unreleased tracks. $26
Heimataerde: Kaltwaerts Limited 2-CD BOX A unique mix of electro-sounds and medieval atmosphere. $85
Heimataerde: Kaltwaerts Limited 2-CD $23
Heimataerde: Kaltwaerts $19
In Slaughter Natives: Cannula Coma Legio The band delves into more obscure ambient territories. $14
KMFDM: We Are Live album features favorites new and old. $14
Lustmord: Kraków October 22 2010 Live limited edition. $24
Pride and Fall: Turn the Lights On EP Remix contest EP with exclusive b-side. $15
Project Pitchfork: Blood 2-CD + Book An interlocked, carefully conceive, powerful dark electro album. $59
Project Pitchfork: Blood $20
Prude: The Dark Age of Consent Wild mix of 70’s NYC punk/glam with a harsh, damaged electronic edge. $14
Sequential Access: Sex Addict Anonymous 13 tracks of pure golden era electro-industrial. $14
Sopor Aeternus: Mitternacht CD/Book All-new album with 36-page book. $55
Sopor Aeternus: Mitternacht 2-LP $90
Staubkind: Alles Was Ich Bin Limited 4-CD Box Berlin-based group walks the tightrope between cinematic rock anthems and fragile ballads. $53
Staubkind: Alles Was Ich Bin Limited 2-CD $23
The Birthday Massacre: Violet LP Limited Ediition purple vinyl. $19
The Lonely Soul Experience: Path of Blood Blutengel’s Chris Pohl takes us into opulent fantasy-worlds. $19
The Moon and the Nightspirit: Holdrejtek Medieval-influenced ethereal vocals, violin, acoustic and percussion. $23
The Moon and the Nightspirit: Mohalepte 2-CD Re-issue Bonus cd includes three previously unreleased songs! $25
The Moon and the Nightspirit: Of Dreams Forgotten And Fables Untold Re-issue $22
The Moon and the Nightspirit: Rego Rejtem Re-issue $22
Various Artists: Amphi Festival 2014 Who’s who of the electro and gothic scene. $15
Kurt Sutter Calls Out Google: Stop Profiting from Piracy
Read it at Variety | This is really good, and worth reading. And sharing. “Google is in the process of systematically destroying our artistic future, and more importantly, the future of our children and grandchildren. They’re spending tens of millions of dollars each year on eroding creative copyright laws.”
Tricky trademark question!
Read it at Telegraph.co.uk | Wikimedia, the non-profit organisation behind Wikipedia, has refused a photographer’s repeated requests to stop distributing his most famous shot for free – because a monkey pressed the shutter button and should own the copyright
Stephen Colbert Gives Life Advice to Young Girls
Watch it at Time.com
Clintons Support de Blasio’s Push to Bring Democratic Convention to Brooklyn
Read it at N.Y. Times | Well, don’t actually read it. I just wanted to point out this high quality, NYC snarksmanship: Asked about Mr. Rendell’s comments on Wednesday, Mr. Ragone replied, “Can you quote me shrugging?”
The Brazilian Bus Magnate Who’s Buying Up All the World’s Vinyl Records
Read it at N.Y. Times
Your Favorite Songs, Abridged
Read it at NPR.org | When they say “twice the music,” though, they actually mean half the song. That is, this station plays songs that have been heavily edited: long opening riffs, instrumental breaks, even a chorus or two might disappear. The goal, the station’s representatives say, is to keep listeners from getting bored.
Steve Roach: The Delicate Forever
“The title for this release is more than adequate, as the atmosphere it creates is so fragile and otherworldly that it feels as if it might shatter to little pieces at the slightest touch. . . . A concept so unreachable that it resembles a desert mirage.” – Santa Sangre Magazine
Summer 2014 – Projekt electronic & ambient sampler
(pay-as-you-wish) Available at Bandcamp.
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