John Fahey – Death Chants, Breakdowns, and Military Waltzes

I read a survey in the paper a while back thats suggests the modern person cannot sit quietly with their thoughts for twelve minutes. We’re talking no stimulus whatsoever. So, no colour, a plain hard chair in a white room with only a rubber band as company. Included in the room, other than the band, is an electric shock machine. Press the button, receive a little shock. You, the band, the shock. Yeah?

Nearly all participants tired of the band quickly, not too surprising there I suppose, and went on to try out the shock. They gave it a whirl. Confronted then, with a choice for their attention. Choose to pay attention to their mind. Infinite space and time. Be universal. Create vast fictions. Talk candidly with oneself perhaps. Surmount personal problems. Cast back on honed memories of cherished times.

Or, focus on receiving an electric shock. Preparing to tense muscles and the pleasure of feeling our bodies out of our control. Because secretly we love that, losing control. Being outside of ourselves. Changing states of mind. Whole industries prey on this desire.

Music at one time did it best for the masses. It’s transcendental for the enlightened. And, it’s not just us, please consider that different kinds of apes and monkeys also take drugs. Tea is a drug too y’know. Sky diving is exhilarating. My guess is adreneline is one of the most addictive and transformative drugs. Who comes back the same? Think of how zen your snowboard instructor was. People covet escapist entertainment. Novels were first. TV then Films, now back to TV.  Weird sex acts. And not weird sex acts. Even cynical imagery like advertisements syphons reality out the door; oh and the News, dummy! That certainly isn’t reality.

The latest craze? Selfies! Capturing unreal photos of ourselves. Look! That’s the real me!

We like escaping. Becoming something else, someone else…

Electric shocks then, supplies the body a brief euphoria. Brief. Too long, and it’s hell. We know pleasure shares boundaries with pain, so we don’t push it too long. Our thoughts stop momentarily, a positively charged blankness wipes our minds clear.  We walk away  invigorated. A rush of blood to the head. There’s nausea. Better than any coffee. Again, too much and you’re on the other side of the room. Generally, I’m saying, I see the appeal.

Now, in the context of this survey, especially as I imagine the participants would have known the researchers were observing their behaviour – I assume they did – results show one participant in this survey, in the twelve allotted minutes, pressed the button a hundred and nineteen times. One shock every three seconds, if I was to space each shock out evenly across the time. He probably didn’t lunge straight for the button. So really, the last few minutes must have a been real buzz.

He was not the only one to rack up impressive numbers. A majority tested and played, shocking themselves with intermittant jolts to keep the mood going. Here we can see habit showing its true colours. Habits help us escape ourselves and our thoughts, flick on autopilot, away we go! We’ll keep on doing the same old thing if we can abandon our menial shit with other eversoslightly less menial shit.  And advertisers have known this for years.

So, they create a habit by using a stimulus. Like TV. Was that invention intended to educate the world, or to propogate propaganda, and broadcast business into our homes around the clock? With facts as a byproduct because the medium needs some credibility. Habits need regular reinforcement, to make us dependent and crave the stimulus, albeit not consciously. Fools we are to think we exert free will.

What sources of information do you trust? The company that’s on the bus stop, or the company that’s in the background of a tennis court? We are looking for that information there as it provides a certain expectational quality consumers come to base their own expectations and standards on. They may return for similar quality products, but the most important thing is that they’ll return.

Sooo the thoughts are a little at odds with the music, this is John Fahey, 1963 sophomore record, Death Chants, Breakdowns, and Military WaltzesThis is proper finger picking blues.  Beautiful stuff.

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Fat Freddy’s Drop – Based on a True Story

‘One of the ways we create safety: The more we have in common, the less alone we are.’ – (Mike Powell, 2013 here.)

‘To say a record came out in 1968 is a matter of historical fact, but the reality is that records come out whenever people hear them first. Having been born in 1982, the year 1968 is an abstraction to me. At best, I can read a book about it, or talk about it with my parents. But in the context of my own experience, Astral Weeks was released around 1998.’ – ibid.

It’s the first quote I’m most interested in, but I want to consider the second first as it too has delectable sentiments with which I agree. I’m going to lift an idea from E.M. Forster’s book Aspects of a Novel for exhibition. What Forster proposes when a reader is considering a novel, which I am now extending to when a listener considers a record too, is that they should not consider what came before or what came after, as one is inclined to do. Its context in history muddies perception. What they should imagine is each artist, each maker in the same room simultaneously creating at the same time. The writers scribbling away in unison, Woolf, Dostoevsky, Homer, Voltaire, all there… The musician’s strumming, humming, clapping along; Jimmy Page, John Cage, Shostakovich, Son House… each tortured, each inspired all creating as if in stream of conscious their the final draft, the polished recording arising from their fingers. It does not matter when each individual piece was created, it’s what was created that’s important. Upon discovery that’s when you’ve turned your head to that corner of the room. They’re already there, quietly doing what they’ve always been doing.

A favourite Woody Allen quote which I’m going to paraphrase is ‘There are two sorts of lives; one is horrible, and the other is miserable. Horrible is being born with a deformity, born blind & deaf, crippled, genetic defects. So you better be thankful you’re miserable.’ Or something along those lines.

Now to return to the first quote, a phrase that struck me into observation. We strive for commonality to prove to ourselves we are not abject abnormal anomalies. The more in common we have the more we can share experiences, more of our lives feel justified if there are others who are in agreement of a time well spent. It aids our identities as we are social creatures and require affirmation from somewhere, particularly coming from colleagues. We have but one life, its conception is held together by those around you. Orphans tend to live pretty fast.

With all that said, the advent of the internet over the last ten years has created a Tower of Babel society, we all speak different languages. What interests me, and the society I belong to, is of no importance to you, in fact it doesn’t even exist to you. We are in micro-audience mode and it’s only the pre-millenials who are amassing together under festival tents and we’re only going to get smaller us micros.

Talk of technological ecosystems is interesting, Google synthesises one’s entire internet experience: search, social media, blogging, email, shopping, so many ways of sharing and yet none of us do! The crap we do in our lives gets dumped on Facebook, what about what we’re thinking on ideas and subjects? If you’re doing that on Facebook stop boring everyone! People don’t give a damn what you and your buddies have  to say on something infinitesmal to them.

There, they want stories to replace the soapbox on TV because that’s failed to hold their attention. Takes too long. Where are my .Gifs and instant gratification? That’s what unites people nowadays, look at the shares, that’s what online advertising is latching onto now, why, because it works! We’re the generation of 3 second videos and 141 characters. Marshall McLuhan said ‘the medium is the message’, and oh boy what a message…

More to come on this I think. For now this is Fat Freddy’s Drop 2005 debut, music honed on tour and recorded so exquisitely and compiled into what is called Based on a True Story this is polished dub, think Thievery Corporation but with bigger swells, better songs, an attitude that can only be found in the Kiwis. A big seller downunder, and cruelly overlooked up here. Quality.

Todd Terje – It’s Album Time!

Contemplation is nirvana, but no one has the attention span to sit still and attain it. Not everyone is after eternal bliss.

The internet has evaporated the quiet moments to ourselves where we think over what we’ve just said; where we think about what’s happening at the time; where we think about the other person what they may want. Where we think what’s important to me right now. It’s in these brief moments between different actions, tending to habits, traveling, it’s in these moments eureka occurs. We can gain insight by ourselves.

As the universe crashes in on itself, as all these different seemingly random acts collide into eachother and life just happens as we all determine,  in our environment built, education crafted, and parented reinforced, life, ideology, motivation, we do what we do because we want to do it, right?

And we can use those tools the universe has gifted upon us generously, for we who can read this have won the birth lottery. We are rich. Because of our ancestors success in achieving human progress, our lands being resource rich and profitable, we have the world in our favour simply by being where we are. It’s a birth lottery. What stopped your consciousness from manifesting itself inside a baby born in an Angolan desert?

The lives we lead are purely chance, right down to our consciousness. How do we know we could not manifest as a cabbage in a field? Or as a tree in the forest? These are living consciousnesses too. In this way I look at the animals we slaughter for our food. The way we breed them, genetically play with their DNA, eat them, tame them and keep them as pets.

These were once wild creatures we have enslaved to our hands. They are now dependent on us as a species, for our own benefit. Which makes them disposible too. Of course.

Can you see your eyes in your pet dogs? Aren’t pets meant to look like their owners?

Do you think cows look sad when they’re queuing up to be slaughtered? Hearing the other cows scream as they wait. Terrified. Then pushing the button and standing back. Oh yes, the smell too. Oh the smell would be horrific, wouldn’t it?

We need these brief moments to give us time to expand on what we critically think about. It is when the mind is at it’s most malleable. You’re fast and loose. In transition where anything goes, because you’re not thinking about anything! So it’s all alright. I don’t need so much stuff. You should be thinking!

It’s not natural for us to consume our mind with so much weight-baring information. So much visual. We are going to be a blind species in the future. Big business has exploited our habit forming tendencies. We don’t need to break the old ones, just form new ones. The positive will engulf the negative rather than fight it off. There is no peace to be found in war.

To be healthy you don’t need a trendy diet. You eat everything you need not everything you want. Easy. Small moments of contemplation can benefit everyone. It helps us reevaluate our lives. How is it going. What am I doing. What’s important to me. Who’s important to me. Where are we going. What should I do to improve the things and those around me. Should I care.

The above tune from Todd Terje’s first record It’s Album time! is just a slice of this exotic pie. Lots of funk, swing, feels light, airy, it’s destined to revitalise the groans of the current flatulent scene.

In my mind, this is the record deadmau5 wishes he made, and will sit dwelling inside his stuffy giant mau5head sweating in his panic of irrelevance as he gazes at his aimless latest which does not take a While (92347<934729) as we have to drool through its 2 hour waste.

Hey DEAD! Who cares about legacy when the future is now?? Write another hit! Or admit you can’t.

Mastodon – ‘Once More ‘Round The Sun’

The turning point of a music website is when they start triumphing certain records to appeal to that audience. Like a magazine writes for an audience, they’re appealing to those who have the sensibilities to have enjoyed the record and agreed with the website. If they agree with the website then they’re likely to follow it. They like things they agree with. They’ll follow what agrees with them. I don’t know how many different ways I can say it. The things they agree with, they will follow.

Underground movements, if you can call such things as such, hm, they are always attracting new recruits. New people are coming along all the time. So many fans look inwards. It’s an in crowd, I suppose why wouldn’t you? But winners see a movement as magnetic. There will always be new people to cater for. Electorate’s preferences perpetually transform with age and new voters can be grasped. So the in crowd can be swayed too as each wave of generation of new members have their effect on their society.

Older years at school often put down the younger years. But it’s these noobies who are up for grabs. To plant an idealogy, a way of how their society runs, and should be run. How they agree that certain music sounds good. Here’s some writing tips. They appreciate similar gauges of discernment. They don’t want to hear how other people like a record. They want to hear how they like the record. Appreciate the same things. Then too, perhaps, open them up to something they hadn’t thought of but still appeals.

That’s the base. That’s the success ratio right there. That’s the golden honey 60 foot up a tree in the forest where it’s taken you 2 hours to climb and tap and get stung for 45 minutes to taste that delicious nectar after having to have had put up with all that bullshit to finally get to the good stuff. People want that, on a plate, infront of them, 24 hours a day if they can get it. The trouble is, it’s not golden.

The crap we wade through is no drinking water. It’s not a slurry pit dive. At least that’s reusable. What we consume, daily, nigh hourly, nigh minutely is disposable and not reusable. It’s gone the moment you have finished consuming it. It won’t remain with you. Your memories of that time will disappear quickly. It wouldn’t be a blur because you wouldn’t consider it off hand. So does it matter if it’s shit?

Quality, diverse information enrichens ideas and perception of the world. We are able to understand bigger and more complex ideas when we are confronted with them regularly. Why do you think we learn so much in education? We are confronted with new ideas every single day. More people than ever are reading every single day, thanks to the internet, but is it causing the upper ceiling of media to lower so it can involve everyone?

How to attract those who do not read, or first readers, look at the growing numbers of English speakers around the world, they can spout views too. What is it that appeals to the most number of people, and guess what there are lots of people who are below the national average grades. These people may not be vital contributors to society, but they are popular culture because they’re the ones paying to attention to the most passive and easily accesible mediums because they aren’t that motivated, skilled, educated, to press further, to dig deeper, and not exert pressure on themselves because hell, life screwed them over. Born in the wrong place they could say.

But ballooning up the belt size, becoming Mr. LCD, slays integrity. Personal integrity. People don’t give a fuck. They’re impressed you’re a winner. You’re making the money via hard work. Good work! It may not sit right, seeing publications shift in the market place swiveling away from where it got its cred. Like leaving the hood. It can be painful, but they got that money to tend to. They may lose credibility, yet to the unitiated they’re right and I agree with them! Lets see what else they have to say….

So this is Mastodon’s sixth record, Once More ‘Round the Sun, dropped 2014, so spanking new. A rock and roller that doesn’t resemble anything like what they used be like. Sure, the Led Zep riffs are still there, the little chugging present reminisces rather than provokes. It’s not as pretty as The Hunter, and certainly not as elegant and sophisticated as Crack the Sky. The previous three clinches are mere blurs to this record, and frankly it’s surprising not many publications have picked up on the emotional wailing on this record. So timid in their lyrics. Nothing daring. Nothing exploratory. No rhyme nor reason. Rubbish. Boys, if you’re going to be a cleanly sung band listeners are going to understand what you’re saying. It owes to the mediocrity of this record in that Mastodon are frequently caught talking nonsense. Boring, repetitive lyricists suffer the punishment every bad conversationalist faces. First we ignore you, then we exclude you.