The year 2018 is proceeding well for me so far, and - even with my wallet emptied by automotive and health expenses - I’m still optimistic about my ongoing opportunities to stay active in the cultural battle of authentic expressiveness vs. destructive contrivance (yes, I am trying to fight on the former side…I hope others will agree). My most recent updates for this month are music-related, which doesn’t mean writing activity has completely ceased, although I am taking some time to decide on some topics to cover that are fairly un-discussed at present and yet would have a substantial enough audience. In the meantime…
La Reproduction Interdite on Elevator Bath
First order of business is that my La Reproduction Interdite album, which was slated for release last year and then placed in limbo, will be out in the near future via the local Elevator Bath label. I’ve been featured at a number of the label’s events here in Austin, and have come have a very high level of confidence in their aesthetic judgement and their ability to release products that expand the definition of artful music. At the moment it looks like this package will be a cassette / download combo with some interesting extras: namely, some written material by me dealing with the subject of autoscopy / the hallucination of döppelgangers. This is a condition which seems to have many parallels to being obsessively immersed in those “virtual” realities designed as an escape from the limitations of “consensus reality,” and I’m fascinated in particular by the concept of the döppelganger mutating into such an independent agent that it eventually encourages harmful, even fatal, behavior on the behalf of its parent body.
I’m now looking over a couple different striking cover art concepts (like my previous release, cover will be provided by friends rather than myself...whatever skills I have in that area are diminishing from lack of use). Also like my previous release, upright citizen Alex Keller will once again be helping to master this recording and to prevent it from being a red-lining, speaker-destroying nightmare. Nearly a full hour’s worth of new music will be on the table here, including a half-hour “educational” or narrative piece that features me reading excerpts of medical journals, confessionals etc. over a dense, yet detailed, electronic fog. The flip side of this will be a re-worked “dub” bearing some similarity to the original but with some radical re-working of key passages.
TBWB & The Félix Fénéon Memorial Choir
My next audio project is going to - speaking of radical re-workings - make good on my many promises to work outside of a purely “electronic music” idiom. Though electronic manipulation will still be responsible for a lot of the ‘syntactical’ elements in this new work, it’s largely going to be a voice-driven project. I’m going to have at least a dozen distinct voices reading selections from the famous “novels in three lines” that were penned for early 20th-century French newspapers by the anarchist and cultural bonding cement Félix Fénéon, and all of these will be interwoven into an intense, brawling mix filled with all of the tragicomic items that enlivened Fénéon’s original work : bizarre forms of premature death, violent lovers’ quarrels, rebellious animals and natural phenomena, bicycle accidents and much much more.
I stumbled across the compilation of Fénéon’s « Faits Divers » writings totally on a whim at the local library, and was immediately taken by just how different its treatment of newsworthy items is from what we now deal with. In the era of the 24-hour news cycle, emphasis seems to be upon delaying gratification and the natural need for closure by endlessly prolonging certain key stories, often to the point of fabricating details from whole cloth OR passing off speculations and assumptions as striking « new developments » in a story. By comparison, Fénéon’s « three-line novels » are news items that complete themselves, literally, almost after they begin - totally denying advertisers a chance to cut in and move unrelated products, and somehow making a more significant statement about societal obsessions and moral failings than news cycles which take weeks or months to run their course.
I’ve enlisted an impressive cast of people to bring this project to fruition, and should be receiving voice samples within the next couple weeks.
Live appearances and non-appearances
I played a couple of Texas shows this past January, both solo and as part of an all-synthesizer ensemble at the "Experimental Meditations" event in Taylor alongside Austin veterans Rick Reed, Tara Bhattacharya-Reed and Brent Fariss. For this last set in particular, everything came together splendidly and resulted in a cosmic improvisation not necessarily beholden to any one musical genre (I’ll make live recordings available here very soon). We were billed as Tara Vs. The Synth Hydra, which was a reference to the fact that Tara was to either sing or play some non-synthesizer instrument, yet we all ended up playing synths in the end (for those to whom minutiae are important, I played a Korg Monologue, Tara played a Korg MS-20, Rick a Buchla Music Easel and Brent a Moog SubPhatty).
I’m also going to be organizing an event that will take advantage of the bountiful harvest of live improvisors here in Austin - the show will be based around duo performances, randomly chosen before the show so as to add an element of risk to the proceedings. I envision things unfolding in a kind of “tag team” format: the night begins with two musicians squaring off for a certain minimum amount of time, until one musician deems it time to “tag out” to be replaced by fresh blood, a process which will repeat itself until the full roster of musicians is exhausted. I’ll be sending out invites to this in the coming weeks, and seeking out an appropriate venue - if you live inside or outside of Austin and would like to partake in such a thing, please get in touch with me.
A note about non-performances: I’m now making more concerted efforts to avoid gigs that raise ‘red flags’ about poor quality control. I worked briefly here in Austin with a local promoter who was beginning a series of ‘electronic’-themed music events, and gradually lost interest as these things appeared to be mainly a salve to this promoter’s ego, in particular a means by which he could pat himself on the back for finding a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist (i.e. simply presenting opportunities for off-the-radar electronic musicians to perform live in Austin). My final appearance under this fellow’s banner, which I didn’t report on here, involved playing in front of six or seven disengaged / disinterested people who did eventually get up and shake tailfeathers for the more conventional ‘party’ DJ following me, who proceeded to engage in circus tricks like throwing records behind his back and catching them.
I was booked to play an art opening this month for this same character and withdrew because of the poor quality of art I’d be essentially lending my endorsement to, and because of what I perceived as a pointlessly competitive attitude towards the presentation of live art / music. As I reach some acceptable level of maturity as a creative human being, I’m becoming gradually more comfortable with optimizing my public exposure rather than maximizing it. As should we all.