Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I rarely listen to things I have recorded. But right now I am trying to finish up a piece for this new record that should be out in January or February. Side B needs some edits. I was unsure about the composition, wondering if it was any good at all. Aaron Dilloway suggested that I merely edit the beginning. Really, It could be more accurately described as an introduction as it is a brief bit that leads into the main body of the piece. In any case, I listened to the track thinking that it might require significant revision. However, it seems that since I have forgotten what the track sounds like, it is actually much better than I remember. I still agree that the intro needs to be worked on, but I m quite pleased with the rest. I have been trying out a few ways to change the beginning and think I might be onto something. Perhaps I will be able to finish it tomorrow.

As I was saying, I rarely listen to things I have recorded. While trying to determine how to edit this piece, I listened through the track that will be side A of the same record. I wanted to remind myself of what that one sounded like for 2 reasons. The first is that I wanted to make sure that any of the changes I was thinking about making would actually fit: I needed to make sure that the tracks would still be thematically linked given the changes I was about to make. The second is that I wanted to make sure that the tracks would not be too similar in narrative structure.

The result of this new listen is that I have a renewed love of both tracks. It is nice to be away from these pieces long enough to be able to discover them fresh. In this case, it had been since the summer that I last listened to them. That seemed to be just enough time and distance for them to sound better than I had remembered.

After listening to these two tracks, my Itunes went to a track of mine from quite a while ago: "Heraclitus." I often remember liking the CD but am usually afraid to listen to it. I fear that if I listen to it, it will be no good. Probably the last time I listened to this CD was in 2009. Hearing it again just now, felt good. The record is good. It is really nice to be reminded sometimes that doing this work is not futile and sometimes it works out okay.

For your information, here is a link to Frans DeWaard's review of the cd from when it originally came out.

In the very first few minutes of Jason Zeh's debut CD (following several CDR releases including one on Gameboy Records) we hear a 'tabletop cassette recorder over a candle flame while recording'. This is the very basic thing that is used to create the rest of the composition - all melted into one piece, from start to finish. The processing stages this went through all deals with cassettes, in which literally everything from the cassette, the shells, guide rollers and pressure pads is used to alter the sound. All of these stages were recorded and from all these recordings the final composition was created. A dense work, which at times had some similarities to the work of Howard Stezler (especially his most recent work 'Bond Inlets') or Brutum Fullmen, of corroded sounds, rotten sounds and decay in general. Divided into several parts, with quite some dynamics (although things never get really loud), this is simply one of the most engaging things I heard recently. While on one hand connected to the world of microsound, mainly through the final composition, the techniques are more or less ancient, yet even by any old standard, this all sounds mysterious and not muffled, or hidden in a bath of hiss, like many of his ancestors did sound on tape. It owes in the technique department more to the old masters of musique concrete, yet with an entirely different outcome. As Heraclitus said you can never step into the same river twice (panta rhei), you can loop a tape, but it never sounds the same. Highlight, for me, of this week. (FdW)

Also, on an unrelated note, here is a sound sample Frans recently posted. It is a clip of Brombron 16 that Ben Gwilliam and I recorded in Nijmegen Netherlands last October. The CD should be out now on Frans DeWaard's Korm Plastics.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Nostalgia is such a bizarre emotion.

It feels like an odd ache: an insatiable longing for something that you can't exactly place and that you can never be certain is real.

I remember the first time I became consciously aware of my tendency toward nostalgia. I was around 23. I was driving in a car, probably coming home from a show. I began to feel that I was becoming older and I feared that I was losing my grip on something.

Perhaps nostalgia is a kind of fear.

On one hand, that ache associated with nostalgia is rather painful and provokes a profound sense of terror. On the other, the fact that it has persisted, in very much the same form, for so many years, suggests to me that whatever it is that I fear losing my grasp on is not anything real. If it was real, I would think that the pain would go away as I fully lost whatever it is that I am trying to hold on to, or it would get more and more unbearable as the loss became more and more irreversible.

For now, I will just enjoy those moments like the perverse pleasure that can be gained from becoming absorbed by unrequited love.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Natural History of Failure

Re-posted from

The third Human Quena Orchestra album, A Natural History of Failure, was released on Utech Records this past week. The recording lineup consisted of Brandon Nickell (AEMAE, isounderscore), Jason Zeh, David Graham (Requiem), Matthew H. Reis (Teeth Collection), Renata Castagna (Samothrace, Black Christmas), and Ryan Unks. It is available directly through, and also from Aquarius Records, who had the following kind words to say about it:

"Part three in the Human Quena Orchestra's ever evolving sonic mission to create what could possibly be the darkest, and most intense post industrial metallic blacknoise EVER. Not like there's a lot of competition, and having worked our way now through all three records, even if there were any other outfits foolhardy to have a go at HQO, they'd most likely be dispatched in short order. As anyone who's heard either Means Without Ends or The Politics Of The Irredeemable can attest to. Easily, two of the bleakest, most abject and miserable collections of hellish hymns and burntblack dronescapes ever committed to tape. HQO's modus operandi is a combination of caustic black buzz, of pounding machine like percussion and howling anguished shrieked vokills, all wound tight into throbbing, churning, nightmarish chunks of jagged black filth, and crusty musical misanthropy. Think the usual suspects, Khanate, diSEMBOWELMENT, Winter, Skepticism, Esoteric, even Swans, and then tune it further down, slow it further down, pile on layer after layer of suffocating buzz, of oozing soul crushing low-end, and let it fester, and rot, and crumble and decay, and you'll begin to get close to the strange and sick soundworld of HQO.
A Natural History Of Failure finds HQO mastermind Ryan Unks, joined by a handful of likeminded volunteers, each adding their own secret ingredients to Unks' noxious brew, and weirdly enough, if anything, more players has not resulted in more sound, or more accurately, the sound itself does seem MORE, more dense, heavier, thicker, more filthy and fraught with emotional peril, but the songs, the structures, somehow seem even more minimal. The opening track is more a thick, pulsing drone, a dense layered funereal creep, the sounds burnt and blown out, a single riff slowed down to near static, and left to churn and chug in slow motion, while more and more buzz and thrum and hiss is piled on top, a sound so heavy and so dense, it seems constantly on the verge of collapse. The second track two is more drone than crush or pummel, beginning as a hushed distant throb, an impossibly deep low end that drifts beneath ethereal streaks of grey melody, processed voices, and textured whirs, the sound builds to a furious roil, only to settle back down into what sounds like a symphony of warped SUNNO))) records, being played simultaneously with the needle stuck in the runoff grooves. And so it continues, a warped tarpit drift, vocals only show up in track three, and even then, so low in the mix, they just sound like jagged shards of static, nearly suffocated by the heaving rumbles above.
The whole first half of the record is constant low end punishment, but part 5 is where it changes, a processed voice, stretched into a perpetual moan, a looped bit of human bred sonic texture, over a lumbering bit bit of low-end, soon subsumed by a dense cloud of corrosive hiss, of swirling white noise, which leads directly into the most minimal track on the record, a hushed minimal pulse, warm and languid, but still subtly menacing, laced with high end shimmer, and blurred tinkling melodies, leading you gently into a truly ominous and monstrous plod, a robotic pound, trudging along a series of deep buzzing swells, being slowly torn apart by some sort of static driven industrial grey noise demon, the sound rendered and recontextualized into a slowly stuttery field of deep whirs and jagged shards of crumbling static, before finally finishing off with a brief bit of muted beauty, again, the sound impossibly thick and heavy, but blurred into something almost shoegazey, but still grim and gorgeously hopeless."


I am thinking about getting my website going soon. Can I call it "On the Ruins of the Great Black Swamp?" or is that too long?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Improvised Evening of Improvised Music (of Autoschediastic Doom) II featuring improv legends, Jack Wright and Bob Marsh!

Today · 9:00pm - 11:00pm

Legion of Doom
1579 Indianola Ave.
Columbus, OH

Inspired by Jack and Bob's tour, there will be an informal meeting of artists with disparate backgrounds in experimental, noise and electro-acoustic music who have developed a relationship with "improvisation". Possible groupings from solos to septet will be formed the night of the concert, occasionally bringin...g together long time collaborators in addition to many first time encounters.

The session will start promptly at 9:00.
$5 suggested donation for the touring musicians
All ages. No booze.

The players:
Ben Bennett (membranes, Columbus, OH)
Ryan Jewell (snare, Columbus, OH)
Larry Marotta (guitar, Columbus, OH)
Bob Marsh (guitar/ voice, Bay Area, CA)
Mike Shiflet (laptop/ electronics, Columbus, OH)
Jack Wright (saxes, Easton, PA)
Jason Zeh (tape, Bowling Green, OH)


Here's some info about the touring musicians:

Jack and Bob have been playing together at least annually since they met in Detroit in 1986, their duo transforming over time as their music has developed. In 2002 they toured the West Coast and released the recordings on Public Eyesore records as Birds in the Hand. They have toured on the East and West Coast and the Midwest, most recently connecting in the Bay Area. Their music has shifted from a huge web of notes and fast-shifting directions on conventional instruments to sound and space, with Bob playing electronics and distorted voice....yet still they are indelibly the same duo.

"When two legends of American improvised music decide to share with us the space of a moment, their passion for the duo, we can only be curious, then won over. The saxophonist Jack Wright remains the most indispensable musician of his generation. A true catalyst of energy, indefatigable explorer, conjurer of white magic in a music inspired by black, he is still the reference par excellence for all the generations who have followed. As for Bob Marsh, he can be described as an agitator of the American alternative scene. Showing up everywhere, from California to Chicago, he brings his freshness and vigor of renewal to all projects in which he participates. We can understand from this past why he is still so courted. Birds in the Hand includes all the qualities and surprises we can expect, with a bonus of rare humor and complicity."---From Sebastian Moig, writing for Jazzosphere no. 19 (a French publication)

For more info on the two of them visit
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Sunday, July 25, 2010