Posts Tagged ‘memory’

Mystified – “Sovereign”

November 18, 2015

So here’s a release that needs a little unpacking– in 2001, Robin Storey released an album under his Rapoon solo project called “Cold War: Drum ‘N’ Bass,” which set Storey’s ambient looping against drum and bass figures. Although I wouldn’t have guessed at the theme in a million years without the help of thematic titles and imagery, the music largely functions as a means for Storey to re-examine the beauty of his own remembered places from childhood against the omnipresent apparatus of the military and state. Although I enjoy Rapoon, (and perhaps to a greater extent, Storey’s involvement in Zoviet France) there is a definite English sensibility to the music that, as it draws heavily on memory and shared experience, I will freely admit I am not able to entirely share. Works from The Advisory Circle or Belbury Poly are similar in this regard.

Still, some of these nostalgic elements are shared– and unfortunately, so is the experience of growing up and realizing that some of these fond memories contain more menacing elements. Perhaps this is the experience that Mystified draws upon for his self-described “tribute” to “Cold War: Drum ‘N’ Bass,” a freely-released collection called “Sovereign.”

For Mystified’s part, the unpacking is likely in two parts. On the one hand, a colleague and fan’s personal history with the original album itself. Mystified has always been up-front with his admiration of Storey, and of the Rapoon project in particular. Although Mystified releases happily carry their own weight (or I would not deal with them at all) there is doubtless a certain artistic push or inspiration that must be acknowledged. On the other hand, there is Mystified’s own experience of re-examining memory– of course, it is complicated by the prior concerns. It’s a conundrum, a loop, formed from another’s memories and experiences; impossible for an outside party to fully discern.

So where does that leave the listener? Perhaps, right where Mystified intends us to be– suspended in an uneasy repetition of shadowy motives and retreating understanding. Like “Sovereign” itself, the simplicity is only skin-deep, and the complexity is entirely dependent on how far you’ll continue into the rabbit hole.

Mystified – “Sovereign” on Treetrunk

Saying goodbye to my twenties…

April 23, 2008

In a little over 8 hours, I’ll be thirty years old. Although I always have a good time making a tremendous fuss about my birthday– mostly for present-gathering purposes– the truth is my birthday doesn’t usually mean a whole lot to me. And while I haven’t gotten weepy or anything, I have to admit that thirty seems like a bigger deal somehow.

I’ve grown up quite a bit since 20, and a heck of a lot has changed. This time ten years ago, there was no Google. Seriously– reflect on that for a minute. I probably hit Google 300 times a day. What the hell was I using back then? Excite? iMacs were just coming out… now I have one my eight-year-old will barely bother with.

I’ve been through more crappy vehicles than you’d believe if I numbered them, buried three people and two dogs, crossed the country a few times, watched two kids take their first breath, lost half as many friends as I did cars, held about a half-dozen jobs, and personally spent at least a week in the hospital.

I don’t remember a lot of it. I’m not even sure I’d want to.

Mostly, I’ve learned to let go. I figured out that control was a big elusive carrot, and that I was a lot happier letting things come as they may. I found the mental flexibility to come to terms with the world’s absurdity, and started trying to live more in the moment– not just the lip service most folks pay it, either– but accepting the loveliness that comes with knowing that tomorrow simply does not exist.

“The crack of Doom / is coming soon / Let it come / it doesn’t matter”

I still haven’t quite made it to 30 proper yet. Ended up in the woods last night, in a deep culvert somewhere around the center of my block… dashing a flashlight about, whose failing battery cast a dim yellowness on my surroundings. I couldn’t see a thing, but I sure could hear my puppy, the aptly-named Squeaky. He was trapped in a neighbors garage somehow. So there I was, well past midnight, introducing myself to a guy named Randy– “I’m sorry to be on your porch so late, and I know this sounds crazy, but I think my puppy is in your garage.”

So it begins.

PS: Forgot to get me something for my big day? Make it up to me by recommending Startling Moniker to someone who wouldn’t ordinarily read such a thing, and leave me a comment. Thanks!

RIP Karlheinz Stockhausen

December 7, 2007

I just heard that Karlheinz Stockhausen died today. For a proper obit, you can read the Guardian Unlimited article. I just figured that since I was playing Stockhausen’s work last week, I’d write a little bit about why Stockhausen matters to me– this is, after all, a blog.

I first heard one of Stockhausen’s works just over ten years ago, having been “introduced” to the master by Tony’s older brother Wess, who has long had a serious passion for modern and avant-garde composition. Tony and I could enjoy groups like Negativland, but on a deeper level, I guess I always wanted something more personally meaningful. When his brother started telling me about a German composer who would work months intricately splicing tape shards together, only to discard the resulting few moments as unacceptable… well, I knew I had better find out more about the mysterious Stockhausen.That first day, Wess let me make a copy of his “Elektronische Musik 1952-1960,” which he had ordered from Stockhausen’s own label. With the earliest of his electronic and tape pieces, including the amazing “Gesang der Junglinge,” it was a great place to start. Every track was exciting, full of new sounds, and very much what I wanted to hear.

It wasn’t long after that I found copies of “Mantra,” “Hymnen,” and “Mikrophonie,” all of which took numerous listens. I didn’t even like Mantra for quite a while, being unable to understand the ideas behind the music.

Of course, doing some reading helped. Hearing more of Stockhausen’s contemporaries helped. Even John Cage helped, as odd as that may seem.
It would be foolish to try to enumerate the many ways in which his work has influenced music, but it is amusing to see the unexpected ways he manages to pop up– it was only a few years back that I was remixing Harold Schellinx’s “Vicki’s Mosquitos,” a computer-read story set during one of the yearly Stockhausen summer courses.

There’s a lot more to hear, and a lot more to learn… and that’s the way I’m choosing to look at this. I’m still on my journey with Stockhausen, and perhaps you are as well. Good luck,


Update: A memorial booklet from the Stockhausen Foundation can be found here.


November 11, 2007

It’s funny how time sneaks up on us. Here I am, badgered with every conceivable variation of people’s endless fascination with it being 11/11 today, and I almost failed to realize that in just over three days it will be STARTLING MONIKER’s one-year anniversary.


Yeah, I know. I can hardly believe I’ve managed to stick with this for a year either. Like many of my projects, STARTLING MONIKER exists in the kind of push-pull relationship– usually caught between guilt and duty; but every so often, ambition and resignation.

Before I properly began writing this blog, I had the vague idea that I would enjoy sharing some of the sound-related ideas that seem to pop in my head each day. At the time I had been thinking a lot about my formative listening experiences, both recorded and natural. In my mental picture of the blog, I envisioned me writing mainly about these topics.

As all creative projects are wont to do, though, STARTLING MONIKER took on its own life– less a personal diary of sound musings, and more of a tightly-integrated facet of my radio broadcasts and my own musical work. I was surprised to see this happening, and am still surprised that many of the stories I fully expected to share within the first week of writing are still untold.Why I continue to hold these back, I cannot fully understand.

I’m fairly sure that one good reason is simply that such stories are difficult to tell. The vaporous nature of memory leaves too many gaps, especially in the area of sound. I know what it felt like to hear The Dixie Cups’ version of “Iko Iko;” with its alien lyric, oddly moaned “oh-oh” backgrounds, primitive percussion, and handclaps. What I can’t seem to describe is how it made me feel– confused, excited, swept up in something impenetrable?

My listening habits were equally strange. “Iko Iko” was in heavy rotation alongside the radio edit of Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” following my instant obsession with this song after hearing it on local radio one evening in the family car. I remember my dad calling my grandfather, who was by then a long-time record collector, to inquire about the name of the band who did this song. Of course, I soon learned an 18-minute version existed, though I wouldn’t own a copy of this unwieldy beast until high school.

You kids growing up with p2p have it SO easy.

For me, exposure to music arrived piecemeal, and often without context. To my elementary-school mind, The Surfaris’ “Wipeout” existed in the same time frame as Young MC’s “Bust-a-Move,” a tape I once borrowed from a friend, now deceased. My naivety about the origins and histories of these songs (and others) worked to my advantage– the unexamined connections, proto-mashups, and mental associations have led to all sorts of neat conclusions– and indirectly, to my enjoyment of experimental and difficult music.

It’s expectation and assumption that keeps us from greater ideas, and new paths, whether we’re blogging or listening to music. Hopefully, there will be a lot more wonderfully unexpected things to come in our next trip around the sun! –DaveX


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