Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Saying "Fuck It" Without Giving Up

You tell 'em, Hank!

Well, about six weeks ago, I finally, finally, finally put the finishing touches on a project that has consumed much of my time over the past year. The relief I felt was so great that the weight removed from my shoulders felt almost physical. Huzzah! At long last, I could drink things other than coffee, watch & talk to people who weren't on my laptop screen, and if I chose to sit at a computer, I could do something other than edit fucking sound effects all day.

Seriously, folks. You have no idea how many times it takes to listen to a fart sound effect until all the funny has melted right out of it.

As February turned out to be kind of unpleasant outdoors, I found myself... still in front of the computer, but at least now of my own volition. Following my vocational curiosities, I began trolling various blogs, mostly about the intersection of politics & art. (A number of these sites are linked to the right - well worth perusing.) Now, what better way to regain my sense of self than engage in some spirited conversation with my fellow human beings, eh?

It wasn't anywhere near as encouraging as I'd hoped. By now, anyone reading this will know how generally unsociable & contemptful one can feel towards his fellow man following many hours of keyboard-bound gruntwork. I'd foolishly thought that by turning to the Internet, of all places, I'd be able to rekindle some sense of kinship & investment in our species. Fat fucking chance.

Instead, I was met with a feedback loop of self-congratulatory myopia that generally left me convinced, in all my time shackled to my laptop, I'd missed sweet fuck all. Allow me to illustrate the kind of conversations I had during my sojourn into e-debate. For example, the average political exchange was limited to something akin to...

Netizen: I think White!
Me: I think a dark shade of grey!
Netizen: Stop thinking so Black!
Me: Uh... No, I said grey. I'm not Black.
Netizen: Neither is Barack Obama!
Me: What?!

And so forth. People are perennially bloody-minded in real life, so to think you can meaningfully challenge their opinions online is worse than tilting at windmills: it's skeet-shooting with marshmallows.

What really drove me back offline was a certain exchange regarding the "Ecclesiastical Nihilism" of SunnO))) on the normally-excellent K-Punk blog. (Seriously, Mark's musings on the Fall are bloody brilliant.) Instead of trying to recount that ugly epistemological pile-up directly, let's indulge in a little metaphorical dramatization...

(Seb walks into a record store and finds a bunch of guys in the metal section having a circle-jerk)

Seb: Woah! Uh...
Guy #1: No, don't worry! Just us guys, nothin' weird. We're just getting a little carried away with these nude photos of Hillary Duff. I mean, come on, dude, isn't that just so smokin' hot?
Seb: But that's... isn't that just Duff's face glued on top of Sherilyn Fenn's body?
Everyone: Who?
Seb: Sherilyn Fenn, y'know, she was the hot, rich chick off Twin Peaks. Aren't those the shots she did that one time for Hustler magazine or something?

(The glued face of Hillary Duff peels off and falls to the floor, revealing Fenn's Pepsodent smile & brunette bob hairdo)

Seb: Yeah, see? That's her.
Guy #1: Well... I still think Hillary Duff's hotter.
Guy #2; Ah HA! Foolish n00b! Fenn never posed for Hustler - those are from her Playboy spread!
Seb: Well, okay, fine, Playboy, whatever, but the point is that I was rig-
Guy #3: OOOOOOOH god, I'm gonna bust! Hillary, why are you soooo HOT?!
Seb: What the hell is wrong with you people?

Actually, that last line would more accurately be attributed to my comrade, Jonny, who wrote the "enraged e-mail" which Mark mentions to chastise the pretension of all those involved in the conversation. And "pretenstion" is precisely the right word: as Jonny would say to me later, "these guys talk as though they precisely know everything they're talking about when you just proved that they don't."

(Jonny, an avid Black Metalhead, called out Dominic's ersatz obsession with Xasthur as a further mark of toe-dipper tourism, "because anyone into Californian black metal knows to go straight to Leviathan!" I'll have to take Jonny's word on that.)

And please don't think that I chose the masturbation metaphor arbitrarily. It's quite impossible to talk about music online without everything collapsing into a cockfight, usually replete with ad hominem insults. As someone put it so succinctly: Arguing on the internet is like running in the Special Olympics... Even if you win, you're still retarded.

So yeah, how terribly depressing. The truth of the matter is (as you've noticed) I'm not exactly a committed online presence anyway. But I'd be lying if I said I'd resolved to walk away from any kind of online exchange; after all, open communication is by far superior to the alternative. What I intend to do with this space, then, is remove any pretense of "Blog-ness" - no more apologies of a lack of posts, no commitment to communicative constancy, no more afternoons flushed into writing self-indulgent diatribes that will slip into online oblivion quicker than you can say "Sanjaya Malakar." No, instead, this shall be an intermittent webcast, subject to personal whim & technological circumstance. But I can promise you this: I have excellent taste.

The first of such webcasts would therefore have been last month's Fight Songs MP3 mix, in honour of the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. For the second, I offer you the following...

Yr. a Space Cowboy

1. Scratch Acid - "Skin Drips" (00:00)
2. The Billy Nayer Show - "Ceres Walk (03:02)
3. Link Wray - "The Swag" (05:05)
4. Slim Whitman - "I'm Casting My Lasso Towards the Sky" (07:22)
5. Henry Mancini - "Midnight Cowboy" (10:05)
6. Pavement - "Stare" (12:06)
7. The Dandy Warhols - "Orange" (14:54)
8. The Cramps - "I Can't Stand It" (20:31)
9. Big Lazy - "Skinless Boneless" (23:09)
10. Gordon Downie - "Mystery" (25:42)
11. Captain Beefheart - "I'm Gonna Booglarize You Baby" (29:15)
12. Big Black - "The Power of Independent Trucking" (33:45)
13. Tom Waits - "Gun Street Girl" (35:12)
14. The Tragically Hip - "Titanic Terrarium" (39:49)
15. Earth - "An Inquest Concerning Teeth" (44:16)
16. Lungfish - "Infinite Daybreak" (49:23)

Over the course of my many frosty February evening strolls around Tokyo, I for some reason found myself listening to very, well, Western music. This isn't to be confused with Country & Western, but something more gruff, lean, macho, all clashing metal and thundering wood - Cowboy rock. Perhaps it was the beginning of my psychic disentanglement from Japan; perhaps the cold sting in the air made me pine for the austere vacuity of my native prairie landscape in wintertime. (I've always likened Alberta in the winter to staring at a sheet of grey paper with a line drawn across the middle.) Either way, I'm still unable to kick my aversion to folk music, so there's almost no acoustic music in earshot; rather, everything is wrapped in spring reverb and spun through tremolo, those antiquated sounds that were overused in the first generation of monster & alien B-movies.

Ergo... Space Cowboy music. In short, get ready of a set of tunes that'd be at home on the jukebox in either the Double-R Diner or the Ceres Crossroads.

By the way, should you want any of the MP3 mixes after the link has expired, just drop me a line in the current comments box. Happy listening.


Dominic said...

You assume I don't also like Leviathan...

Anyway, how many of the soloes off ...And Justice For All can you play from memory?

Seb said...

Metallica, I'm afraid, is out of my personal repertoire. I can, however, perform:

-any/all of the guitar parts from "Eric's Trip" by Sonic Youth
-a reasonable fascimile of Kevin Shields' Loveless-era guitar sound
-Pages 1, 4, and 27 from the eponymous Fantomas album
-"Dueling Banjos"

I dunno, not much I suppose. But I gave up on trying to learn other people's music unless it could somehow advance my own. Sure, it would be a great party trick to be able to whip out some of the Dillinger Escape Plan's fractal phrygian metalcore maelstroms, but... come on, that doesn't make me special at all.

And please don't let me pass myself off as someone at all knowledgeable in Black Metal. As I said, I've gotta take my friend's word because I know S.F.A. other than corpse paint, shitty bell-curve-frequency production, blastbeats, and Gollum impressions.

So I hope you didn't really take umbrage at my remarks, Dominic. Black metal isn't my battle, and I trust you know that of which you speak - even if my friend may think otherwise.

Dominic said...

shitty bell-curve-frequency production

That's the best bit. Mmm...midrange.

Seb said...

And therein lies the difference: anything between 300Hz and 1.1kHz is my enemy. Ugh.

Sub, baby, sub. And high-mids. That's the gravy on the meat.