Track listening and links to 192kpbs mp3s:
- First Day Of School
- Down Dirty: Mindfuck Remix
- Automatic Response
- Nice One, Dude.
- The Burden Of Modern Architecture
- Dj Kool
- Enter The Code
- Quiet Revolution (three movements)
- I. The Ingenious Strike
- II. Constructivism: Psychic Author Recall
- III. Embers Or Sanity’s End
This is a “re-release” of an old album I did on Fast Tracker II in late 2000. It generally won’t be for everyone, but if you’re up for some rather experimental, absurdist, lofi, noise, dark and bizarre electronica then this is for you. The above files are not remastered, so this is as you would have heard it on CD years ago. I am not fussing over promoting this album everywhere, but it is good to have it available for completion’s sake. Previously there were only only a handful of CD copies of this album floating about. Also included is the full digital artwork set which I did back at the same time for a very early version of this website.
What to say about re-releasing this old monster? It’s been boggling my mind lately and I’ve been putting off the re-release as a result. It’s hard to get in the head of the yourself of long ago when you were practically a different person. Takes a deep breath Let’s look at the context first:
Back in the year 2000 I was in the second year of my studies at UNE and living at Mary White College. College culture in Armidale is particularly well known for it’s drinking of alchol and student partying at both the lodgings and the then-active UNE Bistro. A combination of a few following pressures and circumstances meant that I was getting rather caught up in the darker end of the spectrum with this activity: I really wasn’t enjoying my study channelling me to be a school teacher; I had hyper-critical self image problems that led to destructive behaviour; I had a brief intense relationship with a girl that had its fair share of unhealthy drama; and to top it all off I was mid-way through some intense mind-altering relationships with a few friends looking in their own ways to break out of the conformity box in both healthy and unhealthy ways. Naturally, a fair amount of booze and irregular sleep patterns lubricated this whole experience. All this equated to a lot of dark questioning energy that fed back into the music in acts somewhere between catharsis and self mutilation. Musical choices were done out of demented passion rather than being guided from accessible structure. What you hear is FT2 trying its best survive me destroying music as I knew it, composing as fast as possible.
At the time I though about what was happing with the music and the absurdity of it all: the album shaped up to be a sort of manifesto for “rude music”. A little bit like a spoilt brat defying expectations, twisting where you least expect and want him to go. Appropriately, all of these ideas of “rude music” spilt over into the Malnoia Project with Martin Kidd, more on that another time.
At any point I wasn’t even deliberately trying to set out to ‘make an album’, having successfully completed that task earlier that year with Puddles. What I remember is that at some point I noticed that my song folders were full of these works that fitted together under the themes aforementioned. Once I realised I wasn’t far from a finished body of work I think I belted out three songs in a day (”Burden”, “Public” and “Cup”), and later threw it all together as a CD putting the aggressively absurd title on it “Pornography and Other Corporate Nonseses”. In those moments of white-heat creativity I had no foresight into how future web-search-bots would bring me unwanted attention due to the porn part of the title and filenames - this was never intended! You only have to look at the sheep on the album cover to realise this is about something else and in particular was inspired by early encounters with the University’s system of bureaucracy and endless witnessable sleaze underneath it all looming in the college’s residential system. I was fascinated with the incorporated opposite poles of that situation, just as much as I was interested in bending sound so much to question whether it was a ’song’ any more. It all seem fairly evident back then, and you can be forgiven for not understanding any of it as much I struggle to do right now (and get a little laugh out of too). I’m glad it is finally out there! Let the world decided just what colour of mad it is instead of it festering away collecting dust somewhere.
What follows is some commentary of each song on the album:
First Day Of School - This is easily my favourite track from the whole album and it has a classic sadness to it as well as textured lofi industrialism. The long bass drones are a detuned sample from my DX9 that mostly cycle through a 1st - 6th minor set probably influenced by Aphex Twin’s “At The Heart of It All”. The clumsy sounding noise in the background that later builds at the end of the song is a combo of some distroted low reverberation and a ‘distortion conversion’ (a cool feature in FT2’s sample editor called ‘Convert’ turning the sound inside out) of a standard funky guitar riff I did. A piano sample also got ‘converted’ and ended up being the improvised melody line echoing off. One part in this song I’m still proud of is the minimalist industrial percussion with a simple echo off to the right to give the song a sense of acoustic spatiality like some abandoned factory. The massive noise build at the end of the song that cuts served as a template outro that I must have repeated in other songs 4 or 5 times since (I’ve no idea why it just sounds cool). The build stops revealing a mangled voice sample of me saying “Today is a fine day to play god”. This echoes the phrases I repeat earlier in the song “So hungry…”, which I guess builds the doomy scene of an abstracted ‘first day of school’ - ready to face the melancholia of institutional conformity with a patient will to enact chaos ‘from the inside’.
Down Dirty: Mindfuck Remix - I remember recording the looped screaming in my little room at college later to find that the other students in my block heard me and wondered if it was alright! Most of the other sounds in the song are made of from samples from another tracker artist at the time named Marc Crouch - he had put up his song on United Trackers called “Down Dirty” for remix. Seeing that this was a fairly boring loungy club dance song I decided to ‘really fuck it up’ and really bring out the predatory sleaze element. The vocal line “You gave me something I’ve been waiting for” is actually Marc stretched out and repeated, while noise and drones happily lay waste to the sonic landscape. Needlessly to say Marc and the audience at the time on UT found my version disturbing, so mission accomplished.
Automatic Response - This song is where I really started to get into that “rude music” idea and defy my own expectations of what a song should be. The song mood is acidic and full of negative tension - I guess that’s pretty obvious when I’m repeating “don’t” and “just you fucking don’t” throughout. The word “don’t” became a bit of a catch-phrase at the time with its empowering negative assertion. To throw it into a song was just a simple natural step. All the music completely screams that assertion, moving startlingly between bursts of noise to quiet brooding movements that break unexpectedly. And of course in a appropriately Dadaist or Postmodern way the song ends with “Ha!”.
Nice One, Dude. - The phrase “Nice one, dude” was as omnipresent in vacuous student conversation as much as the word ‘cool’. So why not give yet another noisy experimental piece that name? There are some interesting sound sorces in this abstract dirge: the main distorted drum original build out of some filter sweeping on drums out of Rebirth. There’s a looped thumb piano dawdling through the soundscape not doing anything much except moping. There’s the usual distorted keyboard samples as well as a looped detuned drone from my electric guitar. And then wham! - everything cuts and I say “this is the bit in the song where I have a dramatic change” as if you really needed to hear that! Immediately after three looped recordings cycle: one of my hand slapping the desk; one of my mouth going ‘dddddddrrr’; and another of me aimlessly whistling. Again it abruptly changes to a recording of me going ‘gulp!’ with my throat and the decaying noise loops for a second. Make of all this what you will!
The Burden Of Modern Architecture - A short transition joke with a deliberately innappropriate long and ‘important’ title. It’s simply me saying dismissively “yeah this just another one of these wacky experimental songs” as if to ironically undermine the purpose of even having a song in the first place. A scream builds, and cuts immediately into…
Dj Kool - Much like “Automatic Response” this song continues the “rude music” path, and really is an orgasmic celebration of noise and absurdity. A 3-cycle industrial noise stomp builds until a it cuts into a humble little major chord on a noise instrument. Some jazzy chords cycle through until it settles on an inane repeated major chord, only to pointlessly give way to some fucked up beats stumbling about. The craziness continues into a depressed repeated sample of me singing very badly “hello how was your day, I hope you were wll, I hope everything is fine for you, yes I do.” Why? Hey, this dj is kool! That’s why!
Enter The Code - I’ve been putting labels on the CDs of this album for years stating that ‘!Warning! Track 7 is ‘uncool’”. To be honest “Enter The Code” is probably my least favourite track on the album due to it being just a little bit too cheesy with the ‘dark soundscape’, as its got an almost b-grade horror ambience to it. There’s some strange mangled sounds in there as well as some girl reading from a book I found on a cassette and me repeating “access” and “thought” over and over. It builds into some sort of comic book scene of trying to break into something at the will of some dark force instead of heeding the judgement of a female companion. As the song builds to its demonic and noisy peak I repeat “do not listen to her, enter the code, enter the code…” For some reason I’ve just never been able to vibe with the fakeness of this scene. There is some redemption however with the doom bass line and the piercing pain of the high sine wave melody.
Quiet Revolution - Another ‘joke song’ but a little more conceptual in ‘rudeness’. The song is listed as being made up in three movements: - I. The Ingenious Strike - II. Constructivism: Psychic Author Recall - III. Embers Or Sanity’s End. But, what actually happens is very little - blasting over the sound of myself quietly whispering nonsense are three sets of 5th chords, each made from a different sample. This achieves a nothing feeling or comes off as coldly academic. The joke is on you for expecting three elaborate musical movements and instead getting nothing much at all. Interestingly the title phrase stuck in my head for a while afterwards and later evolved into being the name for the collective online music project “The Quiet Revolution”, which is still where this website is hosted still today.
Track 6: Man Gets On Bus - If you’ve read this far you’ll probably realise that it’s fitting that a song with “Track 6″ in it is at position number 9. This song lies at the destructive core of this album and at the time in college was the most well known work from the album. This was largely to do with the fact that it was partly conceived at a drinking session with Michael Kortt and Glen Evans while listening to the Dust Brother’s soundtrack to Fight Club. Glen said “put the CD on that song where he gets on the bus!” but of course that was no help for anyone! Michael asked “which track is?” and Glen replied “I don’t know, probably something like ‘Track 6: Man Gets On Bus!’” We had a good laugh about that and I decided I’d make the song for Glen myself. So this noisy dark beast was born, drifting from paranoid break cruising to all-out sonic destruction. I wrote the lyrics in mind for Michael to speak. He had expressed he wanted to get more into ‘alternative dark art’, so this was one of my ways of giving him the opportunity. Michael was an interesting paradox: a squarish Economics Ph.D that loved bands like Ministry, The Dead Kennedys and Nine Inch Nails, and he he had a reciprocal creative side he had to express. One day we sampled him saying:
Where do you want to go today?
And this, my loyal people
Is an overt expression
Of self destructive re-assurance
Tending to the directive
Of being devoid of sincerity
(And plastic reconstructions.)
Let not this sentence
Walk along ridiculous paths
Once trodden before by
My desires of help.
I offer to you something more-
I offer you nothing.
Today is when my song ends.
I think Michael now works high up in Canberra’s public service sector. These mad things happen in residential colleges, and I’m glad we captured the intensity of that time, as dark as it was. The chimed low bells are in there because Glen liked that sound.
My Pet Human - This track is easistly the most uncomfortable to listen on the album. The spoken word and overly tense distorted strings throbbing make for a soundtrack to some sort of scene of an accident where the pain is real and the anxieties are high. Of course, in keeping with absurdism the nightmare breaks abruptly with a cheesy lofi major key melody to finish it off.
Public Sponsorship Delirium - Synaesthesia - One of my favourite funny songs off the album this song starts off with the deceptive calm of a d-major bliss. I then threw on some dumb vocals saying “you’re the funniest automaton I’ve ever seen!” and half way through the second repeat the most god-awful noise cuts in ripping your ears to shreds. This texture was made by recording the sound my lips made when sucking in air trhough my lips making a kissing shape - and THEN I ‘converted’ them inside out. The noise gives way to more major key sillyness while I whisper ‘love’. The absurdity is completed with the keyboard melting with a pitching-down sound.
Opera - This dark and murky piece stomps around in an industrial style 6/8. There’s not much to say about this one, I was just trying to go for a progressive-dark-metal feel. The fluttered vocal in there simply asks “Why?”.
Cup Of Tea? - I’ve written elsewhere in this blog about my fatigue problems at college (especially in the song “Sleep Is God:”), and this closing song fits into that theme. Even though black tea is caffinated, I’d still fall asleep every afternoon after having a cup to end lunch. The questioning title also has a welcoming concilitory side to it, but also has an ambiguity suitable for finishing albums. There is a ‘out-of-tune’ dissonance in this song that aches underneath the smooth minor progression - it’s full of anxiety and brooding building that peaks with clouds of catastrophic pain via distortion. The storm gives way to a sleepy sad guitar progression and I echo the start of the album with the phrase “so sleepy…” Repeat and fade… The drama is over.
Bizarre confused reactions especially welcome.
EDIT: fixed individual links with TinyURL.