Monday, January 31, 2011

Mind/No Mind - Music For Dead Phones

The name came from a series of espionage novels featuring emotionally-tortured ninja assassins written by Eric Van Lustbader (noticed recently that he has penned several post-Ludlum Bourne novels which makes perfect sense). I devoured these as a pre-teen. Long complicated plots featuring copious amounts of tawdry sex, set pieces in tragic nations like Cambodia and Vietnam, labyrinthine plot threads featuring all manner of betrayal and emotional violence, and killer action sequences full of stealth, shadows, and quick death. The protagonists were usually young men with a horrific past full of murder and despair, tossed by the currents of life into the hands of power-mad father figures intent on using their skills to manipulate global politics and economics, puppet-masters with only the most devious of intentions. Toss in a bit of Eastern mysticism and philosophy and I was sold. And that's where the name came from. The master assassin character would inevitably slip into the "mind/no mind" state; a perfect Zen headspace where you were both operating on total instinct and hyperaware perceptions. To achieve the mind/no mind state was to be a primitive animal and an intellectual of almost supernatural ability, simultaneously. I really dug that. Isn't that what we all want? Perhaps not, but if I could be a knuckle-dragging Einstein, I would.

So, years later, when I started to cut n' paste together zines of dubious distinction, I named my little venture, Mind/No Mind Enterprises. All business. Punk rock CEO.
So, then, even more years later, when I cobbled together various home-recorded experiments of the previous half-decade, I decided to name it Mind/No Mind.

Below you can download the A-side of a c60 that I "put out" in 2000. It features all sorts of weirdness recorded on tape recorders and 4-tracks starting around 1995. The cassette was called Music for Dead Phones. The titles are as follows:

The Shape of Noise to Come
Taking Cover in the Mekong Delta
My Whole Life is a Vibration
Passage of Time
Burning Me Sideways With Your Song
I Can't Even Figger Myself

"FRANKENSHTEEN!" has a fairly amusing story behind it, and is the earliest piece recorded (and really the only proper "song" on here). It was senior year of high school (ouch, this hurts just thinking about it), and I had an assignment due for my AP English class. Now, I hardly ever did homework (against my morals), or, really, much of anything in school besides sleep (how I managed to graduate with a 3.0 [exactly] is still beyond me). We had read Frankenstein (wow, how "advanced") and we were tasked to do some sort of project, any project (how progressive!), about how Shelley's book was a "frame" story. Y'know, a story-within-a-story (within-another-story for ye olde Victorian yarn, I believe). So, typically, it's the night before, I haven't done shit, and I'm starting to feel a bit of anxiety, as my grade sucked in the class and even the extra point might not save me from an F (pretty sure I had never received an F despite my endless scholastic naps). I'm downstairs in the computer room/den and in my turmoil I turn and see my pathetic little music set-up: generic shit guitar, Gorilla 15 watt practice amp (which ruled), a floor tom given to me by a friend with head that had to have been on there at least a decade, one Radio Shack mic, and a Tascam porta 03 4-track. The lightbulb went off. Within an hour I had recorded "FRANKENSHTEEN!" (yes, you are correct, a Young Frankenstein reference), dodgy English accent and and all. At the end of the narration I say, "That's very nice, you should write that down and put it in a frame," which makes virtually no sense, but is my one concession towards the stated aim of the assignment. I was so proud of my strange lumbering song. The next day, I brought in the tape and a small boombox. When my time came to present to the class, I strode up to the front, popped the cassette in, hit PLAY, and watched the looks of confusion pass over everyone's faces like a stormcloud gathering on the plains. "What The Fuck?" seemed to be the common sentiment silently communicated by these need-to-fart facial expressions. The teacher, who already thought I was a weirdo and resented my complete disinterest in the class (also, she was bitter that she lost on Jeopardy! to her fellow teacher, who kinda liked me even though she thought I was a weirdo too; her bewildered response to my 20-page thesis on Naked Lunch the year before was "A+") just looked at me like I was wearing a trenchcoat with a semiautomatic hidden underneath. Who knows what grade I got. And who cares. I still like that song, and high school was a load of shit.

The rest of the side features early experiments with tape recorders, delay pedals, and even a snatch of spoken word. I'll spare you side 2 for now, as it gets a bit redundant, but perhaps in the future you will be able to hear its lost, uh, genius. Don't you wanna know what "The Real Sound of Cyberspace on Macgillicuddy's Farm" sounds like? Remember when people used to say "cyberspace?" Oh those were the days.

I made about 20 of these. A decade-plus later, not a single one exists most likely. Hey Not Not Fun, why don't you "reissue" this crap? You got nothin' to lose.

Within a year of releasing this tape, I had begun to play live shows under the Mind/No Mind moniker. The first one being a Men's Recovery Project show at Speak in Tongues in Cleveland (big ups to Jake Kelly for both organizing this show and asking me to play it, basically out of the blue). It went OK, so periodically I would perform some weird mix between experimental-not-quite-noise muzik with a sort of performance art twist. Each show was with different personnel and featured a completely new, one-time-only performance, seeded from some half-baked vision I had. Mind/No Mind played with such early Ought luminaries like Lightning Bolt and Black Dice. These performances culminated in the "American Cherry Burst" performance at SIT in 2001, of which I will be posting a recording of in the near future.

Anyway, "enjoy":

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fucking in The Fitting Room

Long out of print split 7" between my band (Golden Error) and NYC (nay the world's) #1 one-man band, LiveFastDie. We were supposed to make a video for this (w/ Keith Marlowe). We had a spot (Metropolis) and a girl and some ideas (I wanted it to look supershitty early 80s public access style with all the lyrics pretty much acted out), but, cuz we're dumb punks, we never brought it to climax. Lame.

Record live in our practice space (including vocals which were coming out of a vintage Fender PA reverb tank). 4 mics into a 4 channel mixer going directly into a cassette deck. Engineered by the talented Mr. Greg Ashley, of Gris Gris/Mirrors/Stratecoats fame. Thanks, Greg, you da best.

I put this out myself on Mind/No Mind Records. 500 pressed. All gone.
If you happened to get one of the ones with the jackets made out of vintage potato chip bags from
Akron OH, count yourself lucky.

GE side art by Brandon Mulloy (and I need to get an image up here cuz it's a doozy).
LFD side by Camero Werewolf.
LFD songs were "Dawn of fhe VHS" (an all-time LFD classic for sure) and a cover of The Spits' "She Don't Kare." One day the Wolfman will put out a singles comp LP and that'll be radness personified. One of the better singles bands of the last half-decade.

Anyway, here's the song!


Decaying decrepit city
like an old woman with a broken hip
You got pockets of beauty in those
tattered pants
    but even those are filled with dirt

Your children are dangerous because they are bored
Your pimps ride the bus because they are broke
Your old men drive motorized wheelchairs
    not because they are crippled
But because they have given up walking

Deceitful disastrous city
like a leaking gas stove in a brokedown apartment
So eager to poison us while we sleep
So delighted at the exploding future
So hateful, hissing in our fated ear

My breath is holding me, dead civic.
Who dares hold you? Who hears your weeping
when the day is over? Who watches their backs during long
cold nights, just to see your true face?

Demonic destroyed city
You took out Levy and Laughner and untold
thousands before them
Sneer blind at the attempts   ATTEMPTS
Your contempt at these attempts is so apparent
So fluid So pervasive
Just look around yourself for the evidence
                                              the disgust

Hart Crane is still swimming, for sure
His sail soars, his suicide merely symbolic,
his soul searches for shore, he is replenishing
the ocean with his tears.

Albert Ayler is Heaven's marching band.

Cleveland - born to Purgatory
New York - drown in Hell

He finds his destiny in the darkness of the river
Dreaming feverishly of Cleveland's nightmare
skyline, refusing his too-soon recruitment into
legend, with his young lungs' rage --

"I am not ready for the fires! I am not ready for the clouds!
   I am not ready for the long dive into past, into this world
  with no Here, no Present, no Whole Sound, NO BREATH!
                                                                                  No Breath!
                                                                               no breath no breath no breath

Eventually, your river, your artery, erupted into flame
In the dead of night you could hear a saxophone
 gobbling oxygen    greedily. drunkenly
devouring every last vestige of free air

Far, deep in the folds of abandoned factory flesh
wild dogs wield fangs
wear random animal pelts
stalk lone persons down Murder Alley
grinning, laughing without a sound
immune to Ayler's wail
Levy's hazy anger
the cavernous hollowness blowing through
and around and all over
   and so spread

Days clicking away
Scraping on

Originally published in Flat Bike #5 by Matthew Wascovich (Slow Toe Publications).