Saturday, April 26, 2008

I Was a Mute

On Friday I was silent the entire day. I didn't speak for 24 hours.

My original intent was to protest the mistreatment of homosexual and transgender teenagers. It was successful. It brought the matter to quite a few people's attention.

A friend and I decided to keep going without talking for 24 hours, even when we were out of public and any possibility of having an impact on the aforementioned issue. It became a personal experiment. I had willfully become mute, and I wanted to see what it was like to live as if I were mute for one day.

It was certainly enlightening.

It isn't just that it is difficult to communicate without speech. That is a given. Truly knowing the extent, however, is less easy to assume. By revoking the act of speech - something so integral to human-to-human communication - you become trapped, shut off, and locked inside your own head, just a spectator of the outside world. The actor reverts to being a mere audience member. Other modes of communication are too innefficient to offer any real benefit, and you are at a severe disadvantage. You cannot mutter even a few words to yourself in a moment on stress! Willingly holding something so dear (and so taken for granted) away, you essentially find yourself enduring a trial of masochism, as well as form of self-conditioning and discipline. Don't talk! Don't even say hello. All you can do is wave; you, being merely an observer behind the window panes of the eyes, can only knock or gesture to direct people this way or that. The skull, after all, is soundproof. You can scream as much as you want within the confines of your own head, but no one will ever hear you. How appropriate an allegory for the oppressed.

Taking this idea further, I want to attempt to be blind or deaf (or both) for a whole day, sometime within the next few months. It is an analogous form of the masochistic conditioning of what I did yesterday. It is a way to learn things about yourself, how you communicate, and how you interact with the world around you. If nothing else, it certainly produces a form of empathy for people who actually are mute, deaf, and so forth.

Could you imagine never speaking? For those who came from Direct-Waves (and other big music fans) - could you imagine never hearing your favorite records again?

Monday, April 21, 2008

33 1/3: 20 Jazz Funk Greats (a few notes)

Yeah. The Throbbing Gristle album. Someone wrote a whole book on it. Which, if you're a TG fanatic, you know of by now (it's been out for a few months).

The book reviews the whole album, piece by piece, from cover art, release, to each track. And, my god. I knew TG were brilliant before, but the amount of thoughtful subversion that went into each and every track is simply amazing. An album I previously found mediocre in the Gristle ouevre is now, in my mind, perhaps their most brilliant. Beneath the simple beats of each track is much more than distorted pop, funk, jazz, or exotica: it is its own perverse and subverse mindbomb - it's own LOCALE, if you will.

What seems to be a quaint, somewhat cheesey cover happens to be the location of a suicide spot. Seemingly half-assed attempts at jazz, techno, rock and other conventionalized genres are really clever, undercover mockeries of such popular modes of expression. Rife with odd references to Mesopotamian goddesses, Polanski films, Margaret Thatcher, the industrial workplace, and so forth - the album is all over the place. And the lyrics for Six Six Sixties? They're cryptic messages recieved by Gen from a spirit calling himself "Mebar". Hot on the Heels of Love is a dangerous flirt with what may be one of the first true examples of techno music. And so on and so forth. Ah...I really can't explain how fascinating some of this stuff is in a few quick paragraphs; this just glosses over the obvious. Each song has its own charm, as do the numerous diversions into other social, political, philosophical, musical and even magical territory.


Of particular interest:

C&C explain that the track Still Walking is much like (what it seems to me) a spoken version of the Surrealist exquisite corpse, in which two people are having a conversation with a seperate person in their head, and, taking turns, fire off consecutive phrases to create a new, hidden conversation, analogous in manner to the cadavre exquis and analogous in purpose to the cut-up. Once the lyrical text has been completed, each member of the band recites the text - so it is being heard four times, from four people. The purpose, as Gen describes, lies in the fact that "an overlay of multiple streams of information produces a new space that is not merely additive", and compares it to a musical form of a cabalistic square (with its four sides). Possibly the most interesting song on the whole album. Music like this is fascinating - that which can go beyond being merely sound, and can affect people by doing more than simply relaying audible information, or working on a certain emotion - music that can affect brainwaves, become magical, or, as Steven Stapleton of Nurse With Wound once suggested, could elicit violent reactions such as vomiting or orgasm in the listener. Or, perhaps, one might even call for music that causes physical pain. That is, music that affects "a new space that is not merely additive" - music which goes above and beyond. (This is something I've tried to target in my own music at times). Why resort to a traditional mode of expression, when you can target someone at the gut, the genitalia, or even invoke the world of the spiritual?

Hot on the Heels of Love, being a proto-techno song, is, as Cosey (if I remember correctly) describes as an "attempt to combine the systems music of riley and reich" with trance music. Hot on the Heels of Love is also described as a "mini-eternity", a "momentary illusion of an infinite horizon, a smooth plateau peirced by the transient spike of each momentary kick drum, sprindled upon the beat but spiraling outward in all directions". The author adds, "thankfully, help from above never arrives". Nice.

Gen remarks of his own writing, "I was exploring options, trying to take the lyric to the final level after the VU, where the lyric could be journalistic and anecdotal (think slug bait!), with lou reed using the...Factory and the downtown underground scene as his source...everything is fair game for the lyric." Also,

"It's the job of the artist to reflect their times and...illuminate some of the dark shadow side of society's guilt and fear, and expose that for the hypocrisy and danger that it represents." ... Gen was (unlike Whitehouse, as he makes clear), "trying to discuss motives, the dynamic of how people behave, because...I believe that human behavior is the key to change, to evolution. If we don't behave differently, we're doomed. Art has to ultimately deal with issues of human behavior, and why we behave in ways that are counterproductive, cruel, desctuctive, aggressive. Why is it that we keep falling back into the same loops, damaging ourselves, when anyone...knows that pain and violence are not good? That's what I want to find out: Why? Why do people keep repeating this aberrent behavior? Why are people titillated and stimulated by second-hand descriptions of other people's aberrent behavior? ... If we can find out what that is, what that story is, that has stopped us from evolving with our technology, then maybe...we can finally let go of our prehistoric behavior and actually become a species that we can truly be proud of when we look at ourselves."

And also, "It's obviously my responsibility as a writer to propose some escapes, some alternatives." Gen explains that 2nd Annual Report was supposed representative of "here's the problem", and 3rd Annual Report explains the severity of it (it even goes down to personal relationships, as with Weeping), and 20 Jazz Funk Greats represents "some escapes, some alternatives". Just what those alternatives are is not so clear.

Noteworthy for anyone interested in permutation, cut-ups, or musical repetition, Gen notes, drawing on Burroughs and Gysin, that "by the repetition of certain phrases, there is a subvocal resonance of meaning that is inarticulable with straightforward language. It exists in the actual act of repetition rather than in the linear sense of meaning." He also reiterates Burroughs theory of Language as a Virus, going into an interesting discussion of how he believes language to be literally alive, among other things. (I happen to be reading a Crowley book right now where he discusses much the same thing - no doubt this is where Gen draws this from). A sample of that discussion:

DREW: "So with the repitition of phrases you push the cadence toward hidden associations, and...the repetitions stack up for the listener, they become hungry for new information, and so they try to hear something new even in the repetition of the "same" phrase?"

GEN: "All words are alive, in a literal sense...They have the ability to create and pressure people to bend and manifest the agendas of those very words. Certain words are vying to control the direction of what you write. They work a bit like the gene strands of DNA. " [shades of burroughs]

DREW: "We are all in the prison house of language?"

GEN: "Tape recorded loops. As Burroughs asked: in a pre-recorded universe, who made the first recording?...Words are trying to push me to reveal or hide, to camouflage certain things that need to be discussed. I'm always looking for ways to trap words in little games so that their particular agendas are confounded and something that's a little closer to the real story of what is happening comes through."


There's all kinds of great stuff you can pull from the ideas expressed in this book (or, rather, the album itself). These are just a few particular parts that caught my interest. This is no review, and certainly no summary; it is merely the isolation of certain ideas that may otherwise be overlooked as unimportant. For the TG fan, it's essential. For anyone else, it's highly intriguing - bursting will all sorts of radiant implications, each song, and each discussion, is its own set of LOCALES. Right?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Roger Miller - POP Record/Evolving

This is probably gonna be the last music upload for awhile (if any more even follow), as this pretty much cleans out my LP collection.

Roger Miller is, of course, the brains behind Mission of Burma. I'm not a big fan of MoB, but the three minutes of static and pops on his solo release encapsulate a brilliant little Cageian-derived idea. It is highly interesting, if nothing else.

Side A ("Pop Record") consists only of pops and crackles - the fuzz before and after tracks on a record. There's a lot more to this than just surface noise - see below. Side B is no doubt just a bit of mischevious fuckery: a few bars of a Bach composition are hand-etched into the vinyl, making it unplayable (on Miller's CD Exquisite Corpse, there is a 30-second track of an attempt to play this side of the record). The record even comes with a disclaimer!

From the album itself:

"POP" Record/Evolving
Organized by Roger Miller
Idea: Feb. 1984
Tape made: July 25, 1985
Inspiration: Duchamp, then Cage


One problem with vinyl records is that they start virgin and degenerate.
Another problem, as John Cage complained, is that recorded performances are frozen, with no life to them.

It was Cage's complaint which caused me to act. I made a recording of sound surface noise, the sounds found before and after the recorded selections, and had this cut to acetate, which is notorious for wearing away quickly. (Although vinyl does not degenerate as rapidly as acetate, the process is essentially the same). The result is a record which constantly evolves and never gets any "worse." The degeneration - old pops wearing away and new ones appearing as the acetate/vinyl breaks up - becomes regeneration, solving Cage's problem with "static" recordings as well.

Side B features four bars of Bach's Fugue XVI inscribed by hand into the vinyl. I had planned this in 1985, but it was not executed on the original acetate until 1994.
A recording of this appears as the final track on Roger Miller's Exquisite Corpse: Unfold (SST CD 307).
Neither RRRecords or Roger Miller can be held libel for any damage to needles incurred while playing this selection.

While you can't really witness the idea first-hand without actually owning the record, you can still get something from it vicariously.

If you're interested in hearing the first play of Side A from this record, then click here. (Obviously I'm not going to play side B).

A very rare and bizarre, yet brilliant little artifact.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Trick

"This writing is trying to pull you in much like an eye-catching picture. It is designed to get you to READ IT. This is called luring the VICTIM, and you are the VICTIM. But if you have a free mind you should STOP READING NOW! because all we are attempting to do is to get you to read on. Yet this is a DOUBLE BIND because if you indeed stop you'll be doing what we tell you, and if you read on you'll be doing what we've wanted all along. And the more you read on the more you're falling for this simple device of telling you exactly how a good commercial design works. They're TRICKS and this is the worst TRICK of all since it's describing the TRICK whilst trying to TRICK you, and if you've read this far then you're TRICKED but you wouldn't have known this unless you'd read this far. At least we're telling you directly instead of seducing you with a beautiful or haunting visual that may never tell you. ... What we are really suggesting is that you are FOOLISH to buy or not buy an album merely as a consequence of the design on its cover. This is a con because if you agree then you'll probably like this writing - which is the cover design - and hence the album inside. But we've just warned you against that. The con is a con."

From the album cover of XTC's Go 2 album
Designed by Peter Christopherson's Hipgnosis

Trans Museq Mega-Post (DOWNLOAD)

These guys are a brilliant little improv group from Alabama, from which the name of this blog, as well as my last blog, have been taken (I'm just prone to taking their titles, aren't I?). I normally am not that big on improv, and I am obsessive about these guys, if that tells you anything. They're extremely obscure and most of their notoriety comes from the NWW List.

Trans Museq centers around the duo (once a couple) of LaDonna Smith on viola and/or violin (and similar) and Davey Williams on guitar, banjo, and percussion (and similar). They put out ten LP's on a label of the same name, and each one is numbered to designate that each improv group is different: Trans Museq 1, Trans 2, etc. (They collaborate quite a lot). If you recognize the name Andrea Centazzo, he's connected with these guys.

What I think sets them apart from other improv groups is their emphasis on the subconcious (which is, to an extent, present in all improv). However, I find them to be the only true application of the concept of automatic writing to music (that I've come across). Drawing directly on Surrealism and Dada, there are references to Tristan Tzara and the like and each title is its own little mind-boggling surreal mindbomb. The music is chaotic, hectic, and all over the place - snapshots of the sprawling chaos of the subconcious of these individuals. It would be interesting to try this same sort of thing, no?

They also run a periodical called the-improvisor (at as a network for improv musicians. I get the impression that its just LaDonna running the show now, but you know, whatever works. If you order one of their LP's, they sent you one of their issues free (if you're interested). At least, they used to.

In short, I think they're brilliant, and I'd like for them to be heard. What follows is their first 9 LP's (the 10th is actually a cassette, called Travellers, which I can't seem to find). If you're here for the NWW List significance, download the first album. If you're looking for a good starting point, well...there really just isn't one. You have to just dive in. If it helps, my favorites are Trans 1, 5 (direct waves), 8 (a davey williams solo), and 9 (locales for ecstasy).


Trans Museq 1 - Transcendprovisation

Trans 1

Trans Museq 2 - Folk Music

Trans 2

Trans Museq 3 - Jewels

Trans 3

Trans Museq 4 - Velocities

This one I already uploaded on the old blog, so click here to redirect:

Trans 4

Trans Museq 5 - Direct Waves

Trans 5

Trans Museq 6 (Trans-Idio) - Alchemical Rowdies

Trans 6

Trans Museq 7 - White Earth Streak + Song of an Aeropteryx 7"

This one also exists on the old blog, so:

Trans 7 + 7"

Trans Museq 8 (Davey Williams) - Criminal Pursuits

Trans 8

Trans Museq 9 - Locales for Ecstasy

Trans 9

Trans Museq - Transmutating

The duo released another unnumbered release on CD. Here it is, also from Direct-Waves:


Friday, April 18, 2008

Iannis Xenakis - Album 2 (DOWNLOAD)

Iannis Xenakis - Not much more to be said. Someone gave me this album a long time ago as a gift. It's probably available elsewhere but I thought I'd share anyway. As far as I know these pieces aren't on CD. A great collection from a great composer.

Side A
Polla Ta Dhina for Children's Chorus and Orchestra (1962)
ST/10=1-080262 for Ten Instruments (1956-1962)

Side B
Akrata for 16 Wind Instruments (1964-1965)
Achorripsis for 21 Instruments (1956-1957)


Tamia - Tamia (Senza Tempo) (DOWNLOAD)

A lost NWW gem, I'm not aware of this ever being available anywhere. French album from T records (Tapioca records?) that was connected to the legendary Pole records. Lyricless vocal-only experiments (for the most part), sometimes solo, sometimes with a group. Sometimes eerie, sometimes ominous, but always emotionally effective.


Brief comments on meditation.

People have said a great deal about meditation, and people use it for a variety of reasons. It is a few millenia old, and therefore it is very hard to say anything that hasn't already been said before about it. I will make this brief.

I've started meditating recently, partly for experimentation, partly for some peace of mind; not so much spiritual reasons. But, my god, its done an incredible job already. I've been meditating for a few weeks now, about 10-20 minutes a day (sometimes 30). Not only does it allow me to clear my mind, I've noticed the following positive changes:

-I now have a greater ability to find the root cause of various problems I have (analytical followed by contemplative meditation).

-I can more easily seperate myself from fear, even if I am not meditating. Sometimes just putting myself in that same breathing rhythm works.

-My overall anxiety has gone down incredibly. I'm still stressed all the time. However, I have suffered from crippling anxiety all my life (I am afflicted with obsessive compulsive disorder and social anxiety). Both are more manageable now. My social anxiety is almost gone, and I am so relieved, yet also shocked that it has dissipated so quickly. My shell, which was before so crippling, has now broken down.

-I also have sleep problems. Meditation helps me sleep before bedtime, probably by getting my heart and breathing rates in a nice, slow, steady rhythm.

As much as I like it so far, I have two concerns with it. I do not necessarily believe the following, but I am afraid they may be true:

-I am afraid that meditation can become a form of escapism in the same vein as religious belief, or even activities such as addictive drug use. I want alleviation so that I am more apt to do what I please, not to escape things. So far it seems my purpose is being fulfilled.

-Apparently, meditation, if not done correctly or done by the wrong individual, can cause serious problems. Or so says this writer: Can Meditation Be Bad for You?

Finally, I've had one bizarre experience so far that other people may dub "spiritual" or religious. I'm not exactly one to believe in such things, and as of now I just attribute it to psychology, but I'm not closed to other ideas. Think what you will.

Upon meditating one night, I got so into it so quickly - more so than ever before - and I began to lose contact with my body, and I had what I believe to be the beginning of an out of body experience. Any minor sound or movement seemed like a cataclysm. I began to feel like I had just "fallen out" of my body, as if I'd been shot, and was staring up from the floor. This happened a few times. It wasn't necessarily scary, but I stopped nonetheless. It could have been anything.

It isn't something exactly profound; other "spiritual" experiences can be much more intense. However, it's still unusual...

The effect of Gysin's dreamachine is very similar, and I want to start experimenting with that again.

Neal Cassady

"Although his name is unrecognizable to many, Neal Cassady is one of those rare individuals whose existence changed the culture of a nation. In fact he was such an integral part of the cultural revolution birthed with the Beats and set ablaze by the Hippies that Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead was to later describe Cassady as “a tool of the cosmos.”
"There was always some kind of cosmic synchronicity flowing into and out of him. He could predict the gender or appearance of the next person to walk in the room, as well as what they had come for. He could accurately rattle off the serial numbers of the dollar bills in your pocket, often up to the tenth digit. And he was legendary for his ability to carry on multiple conversations at once or even to resume conversations from days or weeks earlier without missing a beat."
I can only hope to ever be as vivacious and full of life as this man.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Direct-Waves, and a few other Share Blogs

I used to run another blogspot that was specifically for sharing experimental, rare, or out of print music. It's no longer operating, but all the links still work. If you're interested in this kind of thing and you'd like to thumb through it, go here:

To brag a little, the site was pretty successful, with tens of thousands of downloads (not albums, but actual downloads) towards the end. I didn't think it would have turned out to be anything, but it did. Then again, my writing style sucked back then, and a lot of the reviews come off as really amateurish. It's kinda sloppy at times. But, uh, ignore all that.

If you're aware of what the NWW List is, or Vanity Records, or Trans Museq, you'll wanna check it out. There are also a few cool other gems here and there; fluxus sound works, Dada and Futurist recordings (Luigi Russolo and Marcel Duchamp), etc.

Now, the absolute KING of experimental blog-sharing is:

who inspired me to make my own, as well as opening me and others up to hundreds of great albums. Seriously, this guy (now a trio) has put up a couple thousand albums. Go look through it, it's worth it.

A few other favorites: (no more updates?)

Now Let's Be More Realistic

The last post was pretty nice, but a bit idealistic. Let's get down to what this site is actually going to entail (as far as I can tell so far)...

The whole idea of "locales for ecstasy" and a search for knowledge due to disillusionment is basically the root cause of the creation of this blog. But it doesn't really describe content.

See, I plan on searching through a lot of different subjects, but I can already tell they're not gonna get represented equally. Music is one of my core interests, especially EXPERIMENTAL music, and so you'll probably see a lot of posts about that, but it's a rather specific field. I've been getting interested in a lot of religious and occult stuff lately but I know little about it (though I don't believe in almost any of it). So you might see a lot of that too. The same goes for Surrealism. However, my interests change rapidly. You're going to see a lot more than that. But everything you see is going to be something obscure or just different. That's the point - to discover everything that society has forgotten about or simply tried to shamelessly hide.

This blog is half personal and half public. If it comes off as amateurish or even ignorant at times, it's supposed to be. Some of it is more professional and sophisticated - articles and essays and the like - but quite a lot of it is just simple curiosity.

This blog has a backbone of ideals. Freedom of speech, an emphasis on intellect, a Da Vinci-like curiosity and dabbling in a plethora of subjects, the idea that the creative experience is a catharsis (an Aristotelian derivative), a free mind, and freedom of expression are all important.

This blog is also centered on a part of a philosophy of life I've developed over the past couple years, and that is simply that 1) one must become as fully immersed in the world as possible, 2) the intellect and reason are of highest importance, 3) it is one's duty to put something back into the world (a progressive action) and not just leech off it, not questioning anything, 4) there is no such thing as talent; anything can be learned and acquired if one tries hard enough, and finally, 5) productivity, progressive action and creativity are all the end product in a system in which the mind takes in information, remodels it in the best way using reason, and regurtitates it into a positive form (which is the goal) - be it a novel, an essay, a manifesto, a painting, a demonstration, a protest, or a speech.

Very similar to the above philosophy is that of the American progressives - that people are capable of changing and enlightening society so that it is best. I extend this to personal life as well. As such, I am much of an activist, and you might see a lot of causes on here.

And finally, this blog is an experiment in intellectual exploration. I want to bring back the intellectual curiosity of the pre-Alexandrian Greek world. This blog isn't just about me, it's about you, too. YOU need to be engaged as well. Posts aren't always absolute or chronological - things can be constantly edited. Suggestions, contributions and discussion are always welcome. You can derive a new idea and open a whole world.

This blog isn't meant to always be serious, either.

Anyway. I guess I promised not to be too idealistic, but there I go again with that. This is the last post like this I'm gonna make, I promise. :) But I hope I gave a better idea of what this blog is supposed to be, in practice.

Any suggestsions? Thoughts? Am I confusing? Is this too ambitious?

An Explanation

The name of the blog, Locales for Ecstasy, I feel, is the most appropriate
I could have used. The phrase is taken from the name of an album by a small improv group known as Trans Museq, buts its use here lies in the meaning of the phrase
itself, and is disassociated from that album and that group. To take the phrase
piece-by-piece, a locale is, as defined by the American Heritage

A place, especially with reference to a particular event

and ecstasy is

the frenzy of poetic inspiration, OR
mental transport or rapture from the contemplation of divine things.

This blog deals with a great many things - music, art, writing, the occult,
science, religion, and philosophy, to name a few - but the thing connecting
them all is that which the phrase LOCALES FOR ECSTASY illuminates: each post,
let alone each paragraph, is its own LOCALE, its own little point in the
space of intellectual and explorative realms, providing an experience, upon
understanding, that can lead to ecstasy (that is, a catharsis of poetic
inspiration, or an epiphany due to contemplation). Take that as you will -
metaphorically, or literally. To be succinct,

This blog is all about curiosity. It is about experimentation. It is about
progressive thought and free speech. It is about creativity. It is about
life and joy and self-improvement. It is also an experiment in discussion and thinking.

Let me tell you where I am coming from. This is one of the few things I
will tell you about myself. The internet, like the publishing of
periodicals and books, offers a certain advantage to the author if he or
she is so inclined to take it: complete anonymity. And anonymity ensures no
prejudice, conscious or subconscious, based upon superficial details, such as race, sexuality,
religion, age, appearance or manner of being. You can judge me and anyone
else who comes to this blog only upon my interests and what I have to say -
which is exactly as it should be.

Back to my purpose. I am an extremely progressive thinker. I believe
human rights and the search of knowledge to be of utmost importance. I
believe knowledge should be made as widely available as possible. I am also
an extremely disillusioned person. I have rejected everything, and taking a
"stance from nowhere", I want to re-evaluate. I am an explorer. Unlike most, I have almost no truly concrete opinions of my own - I am willing to change the way I think with opposing evidence. I believe in logic and reason and not emotion. Reason is the greatest gift we have.

And that is about all I will tell you.

In the succeeding posts, I will explore various ideas - most of which are
obscure, experimental, or in some way different, each its own little
"mindbomb" - its own LOCALE FOR ECSTASY. I want to scour the underbelly of
society - I want all of its secrets to be known utterly and kept hidden no
longer. You will find these LOCALES appear in my posts. Maybe you'll get
something out of them too - hell, I figure if I'm going to do a lot of
work searching for satisfaction and contemplation, I might as well make it public, right? Perhaps you'll get something out of it too. This is also a place to DISCUSS - many ideas appear only due
to the processing of or the assocation with others, and those associations need to be revealed.

And that's about all you need to know about this blog! :)