Decade

Friday, 3 January 2020

This has been a decade.

Apart from the obviously bad stuff of ongoing mental health issues, hopefully resolved physical health issues, global warming crisis and the global rise of fascism, I’ve had a productive one. Looking at my discography, I’m surprised to see that the 2010s takes up more than half the space. In this post, I’m going to link to what I think are my best releases of the 2010s. This might be a lot because I really think I did some good work this last ten years. There’s enough albums here to have a rate of almost two albums per year that I feel boastful about, that’s pretty good. Not going to have regrets shouting about my music because, as I’ve said before, I have to “toot my own horn”, because no one else will toot the darn thing.

2010

Fragment Three Reworks was something I had wanted to do for a long time, to use some of the music that had influenced me in my early days of making abstract music to make new music. PBK and Vidna Obmana were gracious to allow me to proceed and release this derivative work based on a split tape they did in the 1990s for the ND label.

2011

Owning Extinctions was my first artistic comment on the climate crisis and the injustice of global capitalism. It was made directly in response to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, expressing my anger against the conservative voices who protected the oil industry in the face of public outrage. The title goes a lot further in condemning the raft of species extinctions that the capitalist system is directly responsible for, and damning those who profit from it. How many extinctions are in your investment portfolio?

2012

Drone music is something I come back to again and again. In my practice, it’s a comfort zone, not something I want to constantly do, but maybe a way to hit a reset switch. This has been on my mind lately as I broke through a bit of a stagnant period during 2019 by making a new drone record. One of my favorite pieces on here is the tumbling, square-wheeled rhythmic piece Drone Control Center, titled to reference the growing prominence of the secondary meaning of the word “drone”. This track represents my thoughts about drone music, that it’s not just a static tone, that drone is itself rhythmic music, and/or that maybe the concept of “drone” as pertains to music really says more about scale of perception than about any particular style of doing music. Rhythm & drone are different ways of saying the same thing. There’s also some gender stuff going on in the song titles, just as there’s some going on in me.

2013

In a way, Hold Music is kind of a catch-all, featuring field recordings, pieces done for the Disquiet Junto and other work that was done not specifically toward making this album. That’s one way I like to work – just doing work, not toward a specific goal, then compiling later. The title “Silenus’ Advice” references the pessimistic philosopher’s pithy dictum: “the best thing for a man is not to be born, and if already born, to die as soon as possible”.

2014

This was a big year, so I’m including several releases from 2014 here.

I’d’ve was a collection of melancholic drone / ambient music that I’d done long before, but had never been released. I used to be more reticent about releasing what I thought was my best work, thinking maybe a label would pick it up, and release it with some care, but I don’t think that so much anymore, after being burned a few times. I held back release on this for years because a label in Germany was going to press “At the Monolith” to a 7″, then basically sat on it / flaked out. This has happened to me multiple times, and it’s beyond frustrating. DIY is the way to go.

Another release of long-held-back music, again melancholic, but less drone based, more repetitive and melodic. This & I’d’ve represents a direction I really wanted to pursue during one period of my creative life, but I’ve now moved on from in some senses. You can still hear the sensibilities that led to these albums in the things I’m doing now, I think. The word plangent means a reverberant, melancholy sound. Both I’d’ve and the Plangents have perfect cover art photographed by my partner Carrie, I love those photos intensely. Those two releases pair up nicely.

Detritus 1&2, (I really plan on doing 3&4 someday, I promise) is a rough-hewn selection of field recordings, voicemail and weird musical sketches all quilted together. There’s just so much in this, it’s hard not to like it.

After Drone Forest split in 2008, ending five years of creatively conforming to the rule “No beats, no melody”, naturally I wanted to work with beats and tones. Awkward Hugs collected some of the better things I did in a sort of lo-fi, wonky, minimal techno style. Modest Phase tried to bring the idea of “minimal techno” and “minimalist composition” together by doing a Steve Reich phase technique on an amateur-hour Maurizio type beat. I dunno, I think this stuff works for what it is.

2015

I kind of think of the music on Certainty Reducing Signals as my “classic” style of abstract noise-drone. Very similar in style to Owning Extinctions, Fragment Three Reworks et al. Lovely etching on the cover by Mara Tegethoff. This features a few collaborative pieces with respected colleagues such as the Implicit Order and Mysterybear. There are also some Junto pieces doing derivative work based on multiple artists.

Tape Loops was almost like a visual art project. I wanted to do something physical, so I spent a long time finding different ways to cut & adhere tape to itself and I experimented a lot with snaking the loops around many different pivot points inside a tape shell. Released on the Linear Obsessional label. There should be a big ass pdf in the download for that album with an essay that describes some techniques and several photographs.

2016

A project that took forever to finish for various reasons. The second Tarkatak collaboration was a drifting, moody collage. I approached this like any album where I have a set of sound sources as a constraint. I invested a lot of work in these mixes, and its strange how it doesn’t feel really like “my” music in a sense. Definitely more approachable if you’re one of the more ambient-inclined listeners out there.

2017

Another year with several good releases.

This one, Chew Cinders (another train reference, out of many in my discography) released on Midnight Circles, was a particularly nice example of the collage style of composing I’ve been leaning heavily towards in the last few years.

Young Music collects some of my very early work from the 1980s & 90s that hadn’t previously been published. The drone music version of “art in the vernacular”.

Listening After the End was my acoustic album, made at the prompting of my friend Cody Yantis, and released on tape for his small imprint (there are still tapes available!!). I really like this one. There’s also a big pdf of descriptions of the pieces, if you get the digital download from Reno Park Press, be sure that is included.

Another collection of older material

2018

Sun Kinks (yet another train reference) was a creative burst of energy for me featuring several new approaches, including some sequenced synth stuff. Unfortunately, that burst of energy was dampened significantly by labels holding up this album for release for years only to finally decide it wasn’t up to their standards. I love this one still.

More intense selections of sequenced synth music, revealing industrial, techno, minimalist & psychedelic influences. Probably my “druggiest” music, ymmv.

2019

…a trustable cloud is the product of what I thought was a really good concept, and a rigorous application of it. All the sounds were made online with instrument simulations and other webpages that make noise in web browsers. The theme is complicated, dealing w/ climate change and the strange disassociative effects of living online.

I’m proud of this body of work that I’ve done in the last decade, and humbled and appreciative by the people who choose to spend time listening to it. Thank you.


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