One of the conditions of one of my jobs is that I will be exposed to the “fusion of entertainment and enlightenment” that is Glenn Beck. The job pays well, so I tolerate it.
Mr. Beck recently delivered a sermon/rant protesting the oppression of heterosexual white men in America, during which he mentioned several individuals –heterosexual white males - who have made significant positive contributions to society, but obviously, he could not mention them all. I would like to mention a few heterosexual white males, unnamed by Mr. Beck, who have made the world a better place.
Moondog, aka the Viking of Sixth Avenue. Completely insane experimental composer, blinded by a farm accident which somehow involved a dynamite cap when he was a teenager. Moondog had some brilliant ideas about rhythm: he felt it shouldn’t be so rigid, a concept that this Espresso Shaman independently stumbled onto some years ago. Moondog’s most famous composition is a song titled “ENOUGH ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS”. You can expect a BDSR version of that to hit the Bandcamp in the near future.
Raymond Scott was among the greatest lunatics in the early years of jazz, composing frenetic songs with titles like “Dinner Music For A Pack Of Hungry Cannibals”. He also composed soothing, electronic music for babies and built room-sized “instruments”. Warner Brothers bought the rights to all of his music and used it in Bugs Bunny cartoons. You’ve heard “Powerhouse”.
Father Yod. The Pacific Theatre in World War II was horrific. Islands were battled over repeatedly. It wasn’t unusual for there to be corpses laying around in various states of decay. Everyone who was there was affected by it – including my grandfather – and some couldn’t return to “normal” life afterwards. Father Yod came back from the war, tried to resume his life in New Jersey, but somehow found himself out in California with long hair, a beard, several “spirit wives” and a psychedelic rock band. Huh. Yod gave everybody new names – the “family name” was Aquarius – put out a couple LPs and died in a hang-gliding accident.
Benny Goodman. I’m totally serious. Goodman wasn’t a ground-breaking musician, but he put out a shitload of very good jazz. And he was the first bandleader to appear on stage with a racially mixed combo. Or at least the first one anybody knows about. I’m sure that blacks and whites had played music in front of audiences before, but Goodman did it big and he knew he was taking a chance. It could’ve meant the end of his career, but he went ahead and did it. That deserves some props.
Roky Erickson. Jesus motherfucking Christ, man. Roky has been to the mountains of madness and has returned to tell the tale. I’ve seen some of the alligators and I’ve been up in the attic with that baby ghost, but I can’t begin to convey the reality of insanity like Roky Erickson. Saddhu, saddhu, saddhu.
Angus MacLise. I’ve waxed poetic all over MacLise, but I don’t think I mentioned the fact that he was a heterosexual white male. Also, he was the original percussionist for the Velvet Underground. I’m kinda glad his big ego clashed with Lou Reed’s – if Maclise had stayed with VU, we wouldn’t’ve gotten to hear Mo Tucker’s monobeat. I like monobeat. I use it a lot. Lou Reed was a white male, but he wasn’t entirely heterosexual so he doesn’t make this list. Also, I pretty much can’t stand anything he did after Metal Machine Music. MacLise died of malnutrition in Nepal.
Harry Smith. Of all these, Smith is the one I most identify with. He was an artist, film-maker, musician and all-around nutjob. He was a mystic, a visionary, a hoarder, who spent much of his life in poverty. Of all his accomplishments, the one he is most known for is compiling the Anthology Of American Folk Music, a goddammed eight-album set of the best of traditional American songs fron the 1920’s. The Anthology woke America up to her own heritage, which was in danger of being lost forever, and sparked the Folk Revival of the ‘60’s which yielded a raft of watered-down, bullshit pseudofolk by assholes like the New Riders Of The Purple Sage and the Grateful Dead, but that can’t be blamed on Smith.
At the end of his life, Smith was able to say “I saw my dream come true. I saw the world changed by music.”
Full disclosure: I am also a heterosexual white male. However, I am not at all bothered by the backlash against heterosexual white males that so troubles Mr. Beck. I completely understand how and why women, people of color and non-hets are a bit peeved about the demographic that has only very recently begun to lose the power to keep them segregated, alienated, incarcerated, frustrated, voiceless, choiceless and generally holding the shit end of the stick. I understand because I’ve been involved in the fight against oppression for decades. I may be a man but I’ve never been the Man.
Glenn Beck is the Man. He is the embodiment of the white heterosexual power structure that has clung to wealth and power and forced anyone not like him into ghettos or reservations all through America’s history. Now that those people have started to gain ground in the struggle for freedom and equality, Beck is cashing in on the fear felt by “his” people. Fuck that asshole. Fuck that heterosexual white male piece of shit. Fuck him for being so desperate to stay on top of the social heap and fuck him again for profiting by selling racist, sexist, homophobic justifications to people who are just as heinous as he is.
I’m not gonna quit that job. I like painting houses. I’d rather do it for the fun of doing it, but unfortunately, I live in capitalist America, so I need filthy lucre to live and it does pay well.
I got ordained today. Somebody was talking about how she’s supposed to officiate at a friend’s wedding – apparently, you can be temporarily ordained by a Justice of the Peace to officiate at one wedding – and I mentioned that it’s actually really easy to be ordained. Anybody can do it. I pulled up a website and in a few minutes, I was ordained. I didn’t order my official certificate because, while the ordination is free, you have to pay for the paperwork. I would’ve but I blew my last paycheck on electricity and child support. But even without the paperwork, I am ordained and can perform weddings. And I will perform: if anybody is willing to cover travel, food and lodging, plus a nominal fee, I will officiate at their wedding and I’ll play at the reception free of charge. I’m totally serious. I don’t care if you’re straight or gay, just trying to get citizenship or anything. I’ll marry polyamorous covens on peyote in a nudist camp – actually, I’ll waive the fee for that.
Officiating at weddings is only one of the services I am willing and able to provide, only one of the many things I can do for you. As a deeply spiritual person, I am always looking for opportunities to contribute something positive to the world we live in.
Anyone reading this surely knows about the hours upon hours of noisy (not Noise), experimental, mostly improvisational and frequently difficult music that I have made available, much of it totally free, none of it priced at the ridiculously high rates charged by the mainstream music industry scum. You may also know that I have taken the Vow of the Bodhisattva and that I will, therefore, remain voluntarily in the cycle of death and rebirth, forsaking the incomprehensible bliss of Nirvana, until all sentient beings have achieved Enlightenment, at which point there will be no one left except a bunch of Bodhisattvas standing around saying “no, please, after you”. If you need a koan, I can provide you with one. If you are so close to attaining Enlightenment that all you need is someone to whack you with a stick or shout “katz!” at you, come on over. (Occasionally I pass a Wal-Mart or I see someone wearing an Insane Clown Posse shirt and I think about how many incarnations it’s going to take for all those assholes to be Awakened and I get kinda bummed out. I took the Vow – now I’m kinda stuck with it.)
If you’ve been following this thing for a while, you may recall that I once announced that I was starting a shamanic advice column. I got only one query from a snarky little barista, which I responded to with all due respect, but the advice column still stands. Send an email, letter or hand me a note and I will solve your life problem(s) right here in this space.
These are a few of the services I will provide. There are others. For example, if you ever need a B-side or a track to submit to a compilation – possibly a comp I am organizing – send me one of your songs and I’ll do a dub version. Actually, I don’t need the whole thing, just the drums and bass. If your song doesn’t have drums or bass, that’s fine. Just send what you have and I’ll do an alternative mix.
Need art? I got that. Need cover art? Well, by golly, let’s talk. I do a lot of the cover art for BDSR – if the label is willing to do it, I’m usually happy to let them – and I would be happy to provide cover art for you. Unless you are Insane Clown Posse, in which case I won’t.
Handpoke tattoos: $20/hr. I used to do them for free, but then I got tired of doing them. Another thing I used to do for free that I now charge $20/hr for: explaining why I don’t like your poetry.
Also, I’m a shaman. I shamanize. Usually, that takes the form of organizing and participating in performances, but I do other shamany shit too. For example, if your community is experiencing drought or if your usual food-animals have disappeared from the hunting grounds, I would happy to take care of that for you. I would, of course, require the complete cooperation of your community and payment in advance. Provide me with the details – estimates are free.
I admit that I am not as skilled as some at diagnosing and treating physical ailments. I have not focused much attention on this aspect of the shaman trade. I can witch your warts away, sure, that’s easy. If you have a lump on your testicle or bloody diarrhea, go to a fucking doctor. I will attend to some cases involving mental disorders, but I gotta tell ya, those can be tricky. Some things, situational depression for example, are relatively easy to cure; others can’t be cured at all. Certainly, a hearty helping of shamanic ritual can break through the psychological barriers that prevent an individual from locating their own hidden resources, which can completely eliminate some conditions and can make others much easier to deal with, but I would never advise anyone to substitute shamanic medicine for SSRIs or any other form of pharmacology. In general, I advocate psychiatric treatment, including medication as prescribed by the attending physician, as well as active spiritual development as the best possible treatment for mental disorders. As your Espresso Shaman, I would be happy to assist you in dealing with your fucked-up brain.
Obviously, I am able to facilitate vision quests. I prefer to host, as my spirit animals are happiest here in the oldest mountain range in the world. I can travel, but that’ll cost ya. A vision quest is not a camping trip. There will be no Iron John-style men’s movement New Age bullshit. You will not have fun and there is no guarantee that you will have any kind of vision. Basically, you will pay me to take you out into the woods, get you lost, tell you to sit someplace for a day or so with no food and almost no water, without sleeping, possibly enduring some additional hardships which I will make up on the spot, all in the hope of experiencing some sort of vision or hallucination or esoteric wet dream or whatthefuckever and if you don’t get what you’re after, tough shit. Also, you will have to sign a waiver so your family can’t sue me if you die. You could just do it yourself, though I would advise doing a bit of research first. If you do hire me to facilitate your vision quest, I will help you figure out what you experienced, if anything. That’s really the crux of the whole vision quest thing. Anybody can go sit in the woods and be uncomfortable for a few days and almost anybody who does so will have some sort of noteworthy experience, but if you don’t know how to separate the wheat from the chaff and make sense of it, it’s nigh impossible to put it to any good use.
Musical instruction is not part of the shamanic trade, but I don’t feel the need to be bound by tradition, so: shamanic guitar lessons. Whether you are an accomplished shredder or a rank amateur, I will teach you to slough off “the right way” to play guitar and access your own personal style of making sounds come out of a guitar with no regard whatsoever for how “good” or “bad” those sounds are. The whole (spirit) world of shamanolodics will open up before you, beckoning you to strum your way in.
Honestly, though, it really is easier to teach people who don’t know anything. If you’re one of those, I will teach some basics – you really do have to know a little bit before you can launch off into inner space. I don’t mean sight-reading or transposition or any of that useless shit; I mean I’ll explain standard tuning so you’ll know what to avoid, how to annoy the shit out of people with perfect pitch and what to feed your wolf tones. If you don’t have a guitar, you can use one of mine until I locate one to sell you.
If you do know how to play, I’ll still work with you, but I’ll be a lot more abusive. It’s for your own good.
What else? I can explain Finnegans Wake, extract teeth, paint fences… really, I’m wide open. As I said, I’m constantly looking for ways to make the world a better place, constantly looking for ways to be of service.
How may I help you?
I'm sitting in a room. Specifically, the basement of the Blue Nile, an Ethiopian restaurant here in Harrisonburg, VA. We used to play here a lot, back when I worked in the kitchen and could badger the soundguy for shows all the time. After I left, I didn't see him as much and we haven't played here in a year or so.
The line-up tonight is Helgamite, some heavily bearded, corrugated metalheads frfom up in Luray, Joey Molinaro, a grindcore violinist from New York or some such Yankee state, us, and the Subtlerrrs, a band I never heard of who were added to the list by the soundguy, probably because there's some possibility that somebody might want to hear them and the night won't be a total loss. I've been in touch with Molinaro via the www for a while, but this'll be the first time we play a show. Hopefully, he'll get here sometime soon.
It's St. Patrick's Day. Five years ago, I was sitting in the waiting room of a hospital in Charlottesville, VA, waiting for the Spotted Opossum. I was vaguely wondering how I'd handle a St Patrick's Day birth. I am, by nature, prone to think about such things and I was wondering what kind of sacrifice I should offer to Patty as thanks for a happy, healthy delivery. A goat? A potato? In the event, the wee grrrl didn't arrive until 3am the following morning. She was a tiny thing.
Today, I spent the afternoon with her. She was all about watching My Little Pony and not a bit happy that I still don't have internet at the apartment. I made her put together a puzzle instead. I am that parent - the one who doesn't have an Ipad or TV or internet or any of that cool shit. When this snow melts off, I'll be dragging her out to the woods and making her swim in creeks, capture small varmints and roll around in mud. Actually, I don't have to make her do that stuff. She is my child, after all. Given the chance, she'll wander along a creek picking up quartz crystals and fresh-water mussel shells all day long. It's only when she's inside that she wants to zone out in front of a glowing screen.
Since I've been away from this, I've been working a lot at the Little Grill, a collectively-owned restaurant. I discovered that place when I was 16. It was amazing. There was always something going on - poetry reading, play, bands. The bands then were mostly of the rural variety, bluegrass, country blues, folk, but there were enough rock, punk and just fucked-up noise bands that you never knew what was gonna go down. I lost my virginity in a car in the little Grill parking lot. After, we went inside to see the band.
And the people who worked there then were all cool as fuck. I was 16, so guys in their mid-twenties who drank and did drugs and were in bands were like demi-gods to me. They put up with me pretty well, I guess. I was an obnoxious little piss-drunk kid.
Eventually, a new owner got the place and immediately fired me. I can't say he was wrong.
Over the years, I've mostly avoided the place. I worked there briefly in '06. Got mad and walked out. Last summer, it started to seem like signs were telling me to apply and I always pay attention to that. Even with my shoddy history, they hired me. I announced my intention to become a worker/owner a month or so ago. The A&E recently took a job with a band based out of Nashville (or Ashville, I'm not sure) and the A&E slot fell in my lap. I had been plotting for months how I was gonna take it over, but it just happened without me doing anything.
I've been pretty clear about my agenda. In the past decade or so, the Grill has lost it's way as far as music is concerned. Its all folk now. Folk and old-time. The kinda stuff they play on NPR on Sunday afternoons when old hippies are napping. Boring, hackneyed shit.
No more. Obviously, I'll have to keep some of the boring dreck, but a new day is dawning at the Little Grill. All the freakish glory of my teenage years with none of the vomiting and suicidal hangovers.
Helgamite is destroying. These guys are louder than anybody needs. Molinaro showed up. I sent him looking for the soundguy, who is hiding someplace. I think the Helgamite bassist is sitting in with BDSR tonight. I never know what the fuck is happening with my band. Or why. Molinaro wants to play third, which puts BDSR in the #2 position.
I was hoping to get a recording from the soundboard, but apparently that isn't possible, so it'll be the standard ghetto, sounds-like-shit muddle that we've all come to know and love.
I have just been informed that the Subtlerrrs will be next, then Molinaro and BDSR last. This is how it always goes down. There's some blond with a Eurotrash haircut roaming around making me wanna, Drummer Boy is rockin' out, the order is changing, the soundguy is cranky. Typical. This afternoon, I was kinda hoping the show would be cancelled. I always kinda hope the show will be cancelled on the day of. I'm not a person who wants to be in the spotlight. I do it and I actually do enjoy it when I'm up there and everything is coming together like it's s'posed to, but I'm much more comfortable climbing a mountain or drawing or picking up mussel shells with the grrrl or cooking on a flatgrill or driving my truck or just about anything. I have stage fright - that's part of why I wear the medicine hat. It allows me to get in character, to get out of myself. And when the noise is full-on, cored-out and rolling, I get really far out of myself. Sometimes, when I'm performing I really do love it. Sometimes.
The college girls in green plastic hats just fled. I'm surprised they were here as long as they were. Molinaro told me his tour is going good, which is good. Hopefully, he'll get enough money from the door to cover his gas to the next gig.
And why is BDSR last? How does that make any fuckin' sense? I used to be able to count on us getting the opening slot.
The Subtlerrrs are setting up. I've been talking to dudes in local bands, telling them I'll be the booking guy at the grill, trying to generate some interest. Most dudes in bands just wanna play shows, so it ain't hard. I should have no trouble getting two or three bands every Friday without repeating too often. Outta towners are always welcome, of course.
I always feel weird sitting around in bars waiting for someone to tell me it's time to play. I was never into the whole bar scene. When I was a drunk, I avoided bars as a rule - too expensive and I was prone to becoming somewhat antisocial after I reached a certain level of drunk. Incapable of decent behavior. Getting drunk in a bar was too likely to end in arrest or brutal beatdown. Now I find myself sober sitting in bars.
The Subtlerrrs are reading Genesis. The guitar has a no-name guitar. It ain't even a Silvertone. I'm playing the black, left-handed Hondo tonight. Standard tuning. Black X wanted to switch to open E - I usually work in some D-based tuning. It seemed easier to just tune standard than tune to open D and raise eveything a step. Standard tuning has it's uses. I'm not opposed to standard; I just like variety. Actually, standard tuning is a change of pace for me. At home I've been fucking around a lot in DADAAD.
These guys are pretty good. I gotta get contact info.
I also gotta get working on this piece of art I brought. Pen work, easy and portable. I've got a visual art show in April and I need new stuff.
I'll try to get stuff up here more often.
So, I haven't posted in a while because I've been busy and because the word program I was using was actually a temporary thing that my mom had on this computer and it ran out or stopped working or some such and I'm trying to figure out how to get another one without, ya know, paying for it.
And I been busy. All good stuff - work, daughter, art, music, snow, good things. I set up a BDSR Bandcamp and put up a bunch of songs. But I haven't been doing this thing, which I don't feel good about because I usually do three or four a month and I feel like I should put something up once in a while at least. So, enjoy some photos of my mom's back yard which she also left on this computer.
Oh yeah, uh, religion is the best thing people ever came up with. I haven't been depressed or dropped acid. I rode my skateboard to the mailbox and back t'other day. I'm reading The Gateless Gate again - it's awesome. My daughter turns five next month! Holy Shite, seems like just yesterday she was in diapers. Not Noise, meditation, look both ways, smell the coffee.
A friend called t’other day and asked if I wanted to work with him refinishing a hardwood floor. I told him I’d never done that kind of work, but I’d show up and learn as fast as possible. As it turned out, he’d never done that kind of work either, so we were even. I’m fortunate to have a number of friends who approach work with this kind of fearlessness. So what if I don’t know how to do the job I’m committing to do? I’ll figure it out and if I need any help I’ll hire a guy who also doesn’t know what he’s doing.
We did the big sanding and then the other guy went to get us more coffee, leaving me to the detail work on the stairs with this little power sander. I was hunched down over the thing, buzzing away on the risers when I realized that beneath the electric motor drone I could hear a high-pitched “deity-deet-deet”*, which was definitely coming from the sander. It was a pleasant little sound, rhythmically similar to a dot-matrix printer and tantalizingly reminiscent of something I couldn’t place, though I think it was from a movie – radar or sonar sound effect, or a computer on a space ship, or something. Or maybe the sound that accompanies the printer when a hot news flash comes in over the wire. Whatever. I really enjoyed listening to it, barely audible over the hum and not unlike the melodies buried in the scree on Lou Reeds’ Metal Machine Music, definitely the best thing Blue Lou ever did after White Light/White Heat and the only thing he did post-VU that I can stand.
Music is everywhere. Well, sound is everywhere and it is possible to listen to any sound as music. I really became consciously aware of this in ’03 or so. I was living in a little house that was gradually crumbling into its own basement as a result of shoddy construction and the vibrations in the ground from the rock quarry at the end of the road. At that point, I still had music blasting most of the time. I went outside to smoke a cigarette on the porch one sunny day and as I sat there, I became increasingly captivated by the sounds around me: low rumble of trucks and bulldozers to the right, medium-range car traffic to the left, high-end birds in the trees above. Occasionally, a door would slam somewhere in the sound-field, or a dog would bark. I had been experimenting with making music for a year or so at that point – had gotten used to thinking of my own compositions from a technical angle, separating the various components and arranging them in the two-speaker stereo arena. That day on the porch I realized that any and all sounds can be heard the same way. I started trying it out in different places and found it to be pretty easy and pleasurable in most situations.
I was reading a lot about Zen at that time. And I was becoming much more active in seeking out weird and challenging music. My drunk’n’cranked twenties, when I had some kind of aggressive artpunknoiserock blasting 24/7 were a few years gone and I was primed and ready for what Pauline Olivernos called “Deep Listening”. I began to deeply listen to all of the sounds in my environment. The hardest thing to overcome is actual music, most of which is popular and therefore utterly banal and grating. Traffic noise, industrial machinery, gunshots, trucks backing up, espresso machines, all these and more can be incorporated into a symphony of sounds which is pleasing; Eminem cannot.
Some friends and I went up to NYC for the Boredoms 7/7/07 show in Brooklyn Park – the Boredoms plus seventy-seven drummers. We got there a few hours before the show, but there were several thousand people in line ahead of us. Somebody official eventually came down the line informing people that the park was full, no more getting in, but that we could sit on the bank of the East River and hear the show. My friends were only sort of interested in the Boredoms, so they went back to Manhattan to I don’t know what they did, but I stayed. The Boredoms + 77 were clearly audible – and so was the river, the traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge, the seagulls, the tugboats, the taxi horns and all the other sounds of the city, which I would not have been able to hear if I had been standing in front of a mammoth wall of speakers. Not being able to get in to the park caused me to sit in one place for three hours and listen, which allowed me to hear the Boredoms and New York City. Sure, I’d’ve liked to’ve gotten in for the visual experience, but I had a better listening adventure than I could’ve asked for. Random noises certainly suit the Boredoms.
In one of my earlier bands, a free improv power trio, the other two people were the editors of all recorded material. As far as I was concerned, every single duffed note, feedback scree and drummer tantrum was solid gold and should be kept. They were much more selective about cutting out things that didn’t “sound good”, which caused me to shout “Shit! None of it sounds ‘good’!” on multiple occasions. I did soak up some of their arguments – I do edit out the most heinously offensive and annoying boring bits of BDSR jams – but free improv is free improv. Sometimes it doesn’t flow like molten chocolate – but then when it does, it’s all the sweeter for the bumbling mass of mess that the good stuff came out of.
Horace Walpole (1717-1797) invented the word “serendipity”, which means “a happy accident” or “a pleasant discovery”. He got the idea from a Persian fairytale, “The Three Princes Of Serendip”, the title characters of which were constantly happening upon wonderful discoveries when they were not looking for them. I would suggest that, while they were not looking for specific things, they were looking – they had their eyes and minds open, ready to receive. Frequent shoppers at thrift stores know that you don’t go thrifting with a goal in mind; you go looking for what’s there. This is a delightful and very profitable way of addressing reality. Everywhere I go, I know there are countless wonderful things for me to see, hear, touch, taste, smell and otherwise be aware of. I have shelves filled with amazing and weird trinkets and artifacts, very few of which have any value in a monetary sense, all of which are interesting and unique. I have spent untold hours sitting around in the woods with my daughter, identifying for her all the sounds around us and had the pleasure of having her return the favor – “You hear that sound, Daddy? That’s a sick-ay-duh.” It’s a hell of a lot of fun.
The world is a wonderful place, filled with sound for our listening pleasure – as long as nobody is playing Eminem.
* I typed “deety-deet-deet”, auto-correct made it “deity-deet-deet”, and I decided that was fine and dandy.
**Sometimes she likes it loud. She is a big Acid Mothers Temple fan but doesn’t like the No-Neck Blues Band at all. Go figure.
from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noise_music
“Noise music is a category consisting of multiple discrete genres of music that have employed noise as a musical resource.
It includes a wide range of musical styles, and sound based creative practices, that feature noise as a primary aspect. It can feature acoustically or electronically generated noise, and both traditional and unconventional musical instruments. It may incorporate live machine sounds, non-musical vocal techniques, physically manipulated audio media, processed sound recordings, field recordings, computer generated noise, stochastic processes and other randomly produced electronic signals such as distortion, feedback, static, hiss and hum. There may also be emphasis on high volume levels and lengthy, continuous pieces. More generally noise music may contain aspects such as improvisation, extended technique, cacophony and indeterminacy, and in many instances conventional use of melody, harmony, rhythm and pulse is often dispensed with….”
Yeah, BDSR uses all of that stuff, with the possible exception of “stochastic processes” which I don’t know what that means. Nevertheless, any true fan of Noise would surely agree that BDSR is not that. In the early days, we accepted that label, knowing it wasn’t accurate, because it seemed easier than trying to explain the difference between Noise and noisy, chaotic, mostly improvisational and often poorly executed experimental music. You want noise – check out Merzbow, Whitehouse or Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music. That’s Noise.
BDSR is, for lack of a better pigeonhole, experimental. Sometimes, the experiments don’t work, but that’s the nature of experiments. However, in contrast with Noise, BDSR uses deliberate tunings, modes, riffs, melodies, rhythm and structure. Surely, these things are frequently masked by layers of feedback, buried under drones and marred by technical failures, but they are there. We are firmly and assuredly attempting music, not Noise. (Note, I use the editorial “we” when referring to BDSR.)
Noise is great stuff. We have learnt much from it. We dig it, though we do find some aspects of it to be unfortunate. Like all established genres, Noise suffers from being an established genre, which is to say, it is narrowly confining. There is a “right” way to do Noise. Certain elements are expected; others verboten. Most troubling, Noise tends to have a visual aspect that is misogynist, to say the least: women in bondage, women in compromising positions, women as objects and objects of abuse. Noise titles – band, song, recording titles – frequently glorify or ridicule rape or other forms of violence. This is shit which BDSR cannot abide or condone. Nudity and sexuality are good and great things and we have employed and enjoyed both and we’re not pacifists, violence does have its place, but never, no, not ever, have we used exploitive imagery, nor will we.
This is not to say that BDSR will never release a Noise cd or cassette. At this writing, no such project is in the works, but we have put out a cd-length download of plunderphonics, Breakfast In Amorica, and a cd of acoustic guitar noodlings, Cat Shit Ananda. Another download, Ukiyo, was described by the label that released it as having “kind of a HM distortion black metal sound”; our cd Ghost Dance Party Hits is pure drone, as are several other pieces we’ve contributed to compilations, of which we’re most proud of our rendition of “Amazing Grace” on Droning Earth Vol. 35; and Pagan Futility Ritual is a single drum track, manipulated very slightly. Our “Beng Dreng In Me Skeng Releng” is thirty-plus minutes of samples piled on a dancehall reggae rhythm. The concept behind The High Lonesome Zounds Of… was the what-if a 1919 stringband tried to do harsh Noise. That one came off pretty hard to sit through, but in no way comparable to anything by the Haters or New Blockaders. We have long threatened to execute a piano-based onkyo-ma piece (that our piano is currently part of a local forest ecosystem may make that one more ma than onkyo).Given this history of dabbling in the realm of unpopular musics, it wouldn’t be surprising if we put together a release of manipulated lawnmower roar and feedback skree, titled it Metal Machine Muslim and found a Noise label to put it out. But we still wouldn’t be a Noise band. We might just as likely beg, borrow and/or steal an accordion and a tuba, the use of which would not make us a Polka combo.
Noise isn’t likely to become popular anytime soon, but there was a happy time when punk seemed firmly beyond the pale and that shite has now been castrated, defanged and sanitized by the mainstream music machine. Fame is something BDSR has no need of or desire for. Ours is a religion which flourishes best in the dark, deep depths of the underground, down in the ground where the dead men grow, where the rumblings of Mother Earth’s guts round out the low end of our chthonic sonics. If and when Noise becomes co-opted and Masonna teams with Madonna for a Superbowl half-time show, BDSR will still be prowling the musique concrete alleys of the experimental ghetto, rattling beads in coffee-cans, mindbending steel strings and channeling the glossalalias of the ancestral ghosts, and calling it a joyful noise, not Noise.
Brown Hat the Espresso Shaman
The pun is always intended.