loud

Sometimes I need to be loud. I don?t mean jamming your stereo at home or your ipod as you ride the tube. I mean loud. 150 decibels of raw audio. Not the recording of the act but the act itself. What is it about the desire to create tremendous amounts of brutal sonic fabric that draws certain people like a moth to flame?

There is a sense of power, of magical energy, that surrounds the act of creating amplified sounds. The volume knob has unlimited capabilities at creating a dense wall of distinct form and content – like a sonic tornado thats focal point is the performer. Those in the near field of the live creation of loudness can experience an ‘almost similar’ experience to that of the performer. But the performer’s neural system is in the feedback loop of listen and respond. Any movement is amplified, all sound is equal.

There is no wonder that most of the practitioners of magick (in whatever form) I know are musicians. Some of them professionals that make a living at it, others who pursue music making as a hobby after work. But many many magickians make music and though they do not realize or know it all musicians practice magick. Making music is making magick occur.

But back to loud. Why so damn loud? I feel inhabited, possessed, when I am creating live sounds at very high volumes. It is as if the enveloping wall of sound is an extension of my form, a morphing analog field of energy that is projected by my movements in whatever direction I face the speakers.

I have been to some very loud shows. Slayer at Blondies in Hamtramck, The Jesus and Marychain, Ministry in Detroit, Melvins with Jucifer opening (both amazingly loud), Wolfeyes in dozens of places, more recently My Bloody Valentine at the Roundhouse. The hands-down loudest most intense show I ever saw was Lightning Bolt play Grandmas House in Oakland, where Randy Lee lived and I was staying at the start of a tour. That show wasnt even real. I dreamt it and still everyone I was with got two years taken off their hearing.

[The best places to be loud are at venues and recording studios. Both are in acceptance of the religion of loud. One of them deals it to you, the other exploits you when you are on it.]

So tonight I will be loud for the first time in months. It will be good to stretch out.

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my bloody valentine

My thoughts about this show are now completely scrambled. It started off with an unknown opening slot of a solo guitarist who seemed more of a gate crasher than a real opener. Not bad but he could have done more with his row of effects pedals. MBV came out on stage after over an hour wait between sets for no reason as all the equipment was already setup on stage.

The first few songs were rather weak. Not bad just not really together. A few punches of inappropriate feedback made this feel even worse. The visuals were totally miserable (I will go into this after the music).

But by the 4th or 5th song they had come together. The unnecessary guitar changes for ever song seemed in keeping with the legend of Kevin Shields (his guitar tech was onstage the entire time just standing in the shadows.) But the feeling had come together and the tunes were really starting to take me someplace.

And then after a full set’s worth of material, covering most of the known tunes and a few obscure songs, they made it real. The stories of the MBV shows that were “Like putting your head in a jet engine” all came into focus as the band began a 25 minute set of pure sonic music concrete. It was absolutely astounding. The sound shook the Roundhouse venue to the core, I stood with my eyes closed, arms loosely at my sides and it was if I was in a vast space made of pure sound. I was flying, the bits of light that penetrated my eyelids barely outlining this landscape of tone. It went on and on like a trance. I lost all sense of time and realized why this band was so damn important. “Why have they not put out a record of this material?” I wondered as I floated in the sea of bass frequencies. After 20 plus minutes the drummers wall of sound coalesced into a rhythm, returning to the song from which they had launched the hammered it out and then it was over. The feedback leaving a slow wake after the band left the stage. The techs turning of the amps being the only thing to stop the sounds.

So it was good. It was great, but about the visual content.

I have never seen such boring visual tripe as I did at this show. Wavering between “Look at the tree footage I shot on my cell phone from the car on the way over!” to “Isnt my screensaver so cool?” It was the biggest waste of a perfectly good video projector (If I had to guess I would say it cost upwards of 20K and ran about 6000 lumens) and a ridiculously expensive set of programmable stage lights that conflicted with the video all night. The stage lights were the better of the two I must say.

Never in sync with the music the visuals ran through a bag of cheap tricks in the first 5 minutes. All the songs were made to endure 8 second loops played on and on, nothing interesting or in anyway adding to the experience. I had to actually close my eyes for most of the show to enjoy it, that or mentally block out the huge screen dominating the stage. Like the demo mode of some expensive video mixer.

The epitome of this was during the concrete part of the show. The VJ (if you could even call it that) had no idea how to deal with 25 minutes of unchanging ball blasting drone. Ever 2 minutes he tried to reuse some shitty thing he had done before, nothing working with the barrage of sound. (Well for about 4 minutes toward the end he gave up and used a very simple set of horizontal lines that was at least not distracting from the beautiful sounds.) But eventually it went back to more of the screen saver bullshit for the rest of the show.

But all of this begs the question of who was doing all of the visual content? Did the venue just shove this guy on the band or is he a friend f the band somehow? I mean no disrespect to the person who was doing the work, if they consider themselves some kind of visual artist then at least they are getting good gigs, but this was absolute shit.

With the advent of lighting and relatively inexpensive video projection at venues more bands are incorporating visual content into their performance. A band of MBVs caliber has got to be accountable for the quality of visual content being presenting during their shows. I know from experience that the band cannot really see what is being done visually while they are playing. They are, after all, the screen and not the viewer. But to foist some shitty screen saver over a miraculously beautiful performance is a crime. The video last night blatantly distracted from the show. Creating a disjointed and amateurish veil which would have ruined the show had the performance of the musicians not been so damn good.

The longest day of the year.

Somehow the summer is half over. I have crossed the threshold of the longest day of light and yet I am not even started with my year.

After two months in London I have finally found a place of my own. So now I officially live in London and work in Chicago (as I still have my studio Beta in Chicago)

I am writing this blog from the plane. I am actually writing during the take off because in first class you can do that sort of thing and no one bothers you about it. I have to say that a random upgrade to first class really makes life a lot nicer. I was pissed standing in line when the auto check in said I had to go through the line anyway but when I got to the front it was because I had been upgraded to first class. Not sure why, I hope this doesn’t affect my flight miles but hell, it is rather nice in the pods. I like it up here I think.

So even though Saturday was the solstice and thus the real longest day today I will chase the sun over the ocean, leaving at 1 pm and getting to Chicago at 3pm the same day even though I have spent 8 hours in the air. So for me, today is the longest day of the year.

My life has been up and down lately. I have seen some amazing things, saw Pete Nolan play drums for Jandek, went to see MBV last night (thank you for the tickets Carrie!) not to mention Bansky exhibitions, personally painting the worlds largest single artist graffiti on the lawn of Victoria Park last month (145 meters by 70 meters – 20+ 750ml cans of field line marking paint), getting an email from Kramer (of Shimmy Disc fame) saying he likes my songs on myspace, and swimming in the multicultural sea of greater London itself. But through all of these great ups I have been haunted by the money demon. Wondering constantly how to make it in the world of art and experimental film. I have been navigating these waters for so damn long but as I get older I get tired of the struggle.

Its not that I will give up on doing what I do and go back to working at some ad agency. I have had enough of doing odd jobs and struggling to pay the rent for 5 lives, but I can not do anything but make art. Film, paint, video, sound – all these things are who I am and what I believe. They are my religion and my philosophy. I make things, ideas, daydreams that become some kind of color or tone. It just happens to be who I am.

But it has never been an easy life. I have had so many great experiences, been so many places and done as much as I could with what I have in the time I have been given. But the world is not shaped to support creativity. I am just lucky, both in the sense of true luck (as in, why and I in first class right now reading the selection of wines?) and in that I have been surrounded by great people.

But still there is the struggle. My work exists and in the end that is all that is important but who sees it and how it becomes something that changes the way people see the world matters to me as well. I long for something larger, for some foothold that would allow my bigger dreams to escape into the world.

In the meantime I will take the randomness of a winelist and a random flight upgrade but when I hit the ground in Chicago its back to the struggle. Back to the world of harsh edges and getting by. Tomorrow will be only slightly shorter than today, but I will notice nonetheless.

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myspaces sucks

I was about to reply to myspace and instead thought I would write it all here as writing to myspace is just pointless. Over the past year I have found myself managing about 12 myspace pages. Most of them bands I am in or involved with in some way but a couple are directly my own. In this time I have come into all kinds of strange errors in code, problems with very specific issues with the site and have tried to do the obvious thing and report the problem to myspace in the hope of having it sorted out by their staff.

Instead I get the most ridiculous responses, most of the time it is as if they dont even read what I am writing to them and just give the most canned response to the issues.

For instance. About two weeks ago a page I was working on would not let me register its user URL (the pages address) every time I tried it either gave me an error or in two instances crashed my browser. I wrote to myspace help and they responded that this was a “known error” and to please be patient. After a day or so I tried again and still the same issues. I wrote to them again and they wrote back instructions on how to setup a myspace account. I replied that I knew how and had an account and again outlined the problem, even offering suggestions as to what might be causing the problem (in programmer speak) and they responded with instructions on how to navigate the page in order to register the URL (as if I wasnt already doing that). I wrote back asking if they even read my problems or just forward on blanket statements instead of attempting to help and they never got back to me.

Today I noticed that my profile views have a tendency to go down, sometimes as much as ten units at a time and then go back up later. I asked them to explain the process of how the profile views were actually calculated and instead the gave me some ridiculous blanket statement about internal problems being currently fixed without addressing my concerns at all. Namely that profile view numbers are totally bogus and can be whatever they say they are.

This all leads me to the conclusion that the programmers supposedly working on myspace are out to lunch or smoking reefer instead of doing their jobs. What the hell are they thinking?

Not to say that myspace isnt a helpful forum for getting the word out about music, etc but you would think that they could employ a few reasonably helpful people able to answer questions and not just copy and paste text from a group of prewritten responses.

[of course now I am trying to actually post this blog but Myspace keeps giving me a error page instead.] Sorry! An unexpected error has occurred, This error has been forwarded to a bunch of idiots who get paid a lot of money to sit on their asses and do nothing about it.

Guess I will try again in the morning.