29 Sep 2006

Retrograduation

I rambled to Roxe about the almighty value system last time I was on coke. I love calling it coke, cause it’s classique, cocoa in ornate script, beyond cola. Freud got a lot of mileage out of it, he must have had a good connection. But it's gak to me. Just compresses my conscious awareness of the rich spectrum of life's pleasures into a narrow band, bringing me back to that garish bichromatic dichotomy, quick wringout of vitality. Thank god I don't have a good connection. I’m a psychoanalyst like everyone else, but I can’t find any way out of my own labyrinth, so I certainly don’t want to supercharge the trip.

The almighty value system. All it takes is a week of sobriety and I can talk myself into putting the art and music and words on the shelf again and going back to the bar – to get high on low society, subvert my sober values and obligations to be cool, shrug off the burden of stylistic integrity. So I can ramble again. I like saying Roxe. Stokes my imagination. Strokes an alter ego, Alt-F4, control alternate delete, inhibition’s end, a quantum experiment. See where that takes you. Me. Who?

The run of the mill value system, personally tailored. It's complicated - it's social dynamics - it's interlocking layers of cultural programming, carried genetically, broadcast epigenetically, stretching back to antiquity. I'll never figure it out. I'm a groove pattern on vinyl. I'm gritty, scratched, analog. Haven't used the needle yet, I guess I've got enough holes for now, though they did IV me saltwater at the hospital. In the Welfare Cosmos, every citizen is allotted fifty grams of fentanyl in a bank vault for use thirty days prior to death. So if you're on schedule, citizen... you're good to go. I wonder about some people I know. Where they may be going. Prepositions - from here, they seem to matter. It’s not time for my fentanyl yet. So I’m making due with gigapiano. Potential samples on the horizon. I could buy them, or I could rent an apartment for the short term, build a bubble, be another casino bum, finally float into the profiteer’s lair, hey, for the price of future despair give me shelter, short lived like a Monopoly venture, the game will be over soon, enjoy it now, take a Chance, cause the community chest’s broken ribs are poking through the skin and it’s just an ugly scene.

I don't feel the sickness right now though. Maybe because I'm in the interlude - between healthy art-driven life, and the burn of debauchery I may soon feel, kinetic energy, what keeps the cycle of entropy going. Funny to read about old fixations - times when I was so giddily obsessed with those... what were they called? Entheogens? Ah yes. The mind-expanding agents. Not that I really invited them to turn my life upside down, I just liked the idea of it, the abstraction, and the elvish edifice shimmering across the chasm of human values - the unattainable elves. When I realized drugs actually had the power to do what I was writing about, for real... I wasn’t sure if that was actually something I wanted, though it took a lot of de-conditioning to realize that. It’s nice to know I can go there I guess, but... no, it's not nice to know that, it's kind of freaky. Hallucinations aren't free, they tax your sanity.

No matter what I go through, I can never get hip to state boundaries. I can never detach from the wheel of life and lounge comfortably in the godchair, taking it all in. Dispassionately - obviously that's not an activity for the Christian god, or Allah, or any of those assholes. But it seems the most God-like thing to do, to me. And I guess that's why I'm here. Because I'm not dispassionate. I still have passion. Passion for passion. I'm here to feel. Squeeze feeling out of this horrific moldfruit planetrip. That’s why I dropped into this dioxyribonucleic niche, someone’s gotta play the role. Of a creature whose taxonomic tag bears the name “Jonathan Deon”. Parental patterns dubbed me thus, daubed in anglo-christian symbolism.

Would I want to retire to the God chair? Sometimes I feel like I would. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a partner. Sometimes that fentanyl tempts me. Five hundred well-fed rock stars can't be wrong. Deadhead bedspread cosmonauts, craving icy celesta. Under the bridge, he said. So archetypal, I have to wonder if it's even real. Maybe cartoons exist. Maybe they exist when you draw blood, wherever you draw blood. Does it matter? A mansion, a bridge, a bedroom - anyplace will do when you're filling holes that have lives in them, families, concept albums barely begun, burying your dreams with drugs. I have faith in fentanyl. Like I had faith in God, the dispassionate God of enlightenment, that ground zero glory hole. Careful what you wish for, I said. A phrase I coined, millennia-ago, as some street corner prophet, or maybe Brian of Judea.

I'm always caught in the moment. Well, that's what emotions will do to you - override the intellect. Emotions seem to define reality, they’re always stronger than the wispy thoughts. They’re the load bearing structures of reality. And they’re chemicals. Chemical composites. Complex chemistry. Organic chemistry. That's what we are, unusually complicated beings of the molecular level. The cutting edge, in some sense. At least in the sense that makes sense to the densely ramified matter we call the cerebral cortex. Brown Algae beat Low Grade Psychgnosis in the Grohman Narrows beauty pageant, but it was a close call. Douglas Fir was a controversial judge, because there’s no accounting for taste, and those fucking trees are biased against brainwaves, anyway.

And that's why I can't stop talking about drugs, even after I stopped doing them. Because we are drugs. Our thoughts are enabled by mother nature's multi-faceted apothecary, variation I for you, variation II for me, barely binary, on a distant limb of the genetic tree, a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. Luke Skywalker was not from around these parts. But he was closer to the bright center of the universe than he thought.

Paint peeling from my hoarse bark, rustbloom over the slickgrate. Tyred of the fyre, deus never got the smackdown he deserved. Still more hopscotch games to play with language, the chalk washed off in the rain last night, the new pattern looks familiar but I can't quite remember why, hazey daze, hazel stopped by again, crazy, there was an interchange, somebody rasped out an ozzy melody, somebody riffed on it, we played four-square on the school grounds, the asphalt pavement, the ball was lost down the street, tumbled down that steep Josephine tilt, it's nobody's fault... It's still tumbling and I'm still here - not wanting to grow up, not thinking about it much though. My worries are more here and now, because I forget how to think long term. Retrograduation. Let's go to Lakeside. Stop by Dairy Queen on the way, get a blizzard. Reeses' pieces blizzard. That's the ticket. Like keystone city on the holodeck. A dream of electric sheep.

28 Sep 2006

June with Gigapiano

After much research and tinkering, I finally got my downloaded copy of Gigastudio working, which means I can record with my very realistic piano sample, gigapiano. So the first thing I did with that was record a performance of Tchaikovsky's "June" from the "Seasons" suite. It's a composite of several takes.

24 Sep 2006

Falling into patterns

What am I looking for? The words? The soliloquy. The fragments. The meta--crack resonance, daydream shining through, thick sick-light. I could annotate but... why? The soliliquy. The fragments.

I could rhyme but assonance won't drive me today. Sometimes words mean something. Sometimes in brief moments they sum up my thoughts, feelings, self, and by extention existence. A human conditioner applied to a planet's hair - there - a pun. Because it's there. You could find a reason for it. You could look at it anthropologically. But why?

A pastiche of fragments, beaded together along a stretch of time so gerrymandered I can't call it a "moment" with a straight face - but my publisher will market it suitably. Where there's a will, there's a way. And will I wander astray from that will with its posioned well? Well if I do, the assonance will still be there to entertain the patrons of this sad saloon with its piano plinkin' honky tonk blues, like "Hey Jude" in Tull, like Steven King in 77, retro and records. Like a grocery list trasmitted to a hapless ham radio operator from a tilted-axis planet.

I'm making a barely-conscious effort to keep this on some kind of theme, which is funny, because the best chance of that is to effortlessly flow with this bastardized "moment" in its failed state status, in its hackneyed civil war, done before, four score and seven years ago. Falling into patterns, yes, stranguled on the sutra of life. Never heard anyone describe it quite like that before, though Blue Oyster Cult came close.

Now what? Must write... anything... it helps me ecscape my real visceral problems, my career anxieties, my rut-dwelling routines through angsty abstraction.

Waves of stupidity. Profundity in feeling enormous idiocy. I can never predict them. They just arrive. If there's any pattern to their occurences, it's too complicated for me to have discovered it. They look to me like a random algorithm.

I felt one of those waves about an hour ago - they never last longer than a few minutes, mercifully. But there's always something strangely wonderful about them, even when I swoon in terrifying nausea over how absurd and awkward and pathetic I feel as a person. Because along with this feeling is an invitation for me to detach from being that person. The feeling doesn't demand this, but it suggests the possibility of me viewing the stupidty externally. It allows me to contemplate joining the objective universe in laughing at this abritrary ground-zero of I. It almost made me crave the nihilistic pursuit of psychedelics again.

"The horror is so beautiful". I haven't yet come up with a good image to directly convey what the "horror" represents. Maybe I should just mine Marlin Brando's improvised dialog. Maybe we need another "real" Vietnam. Maybe the horror is contracting to an ever narrower niche, becoming all things bad for the bourgeoise as the unthinkable grows in scope, codes in computer simulation, re-invigorates a tired film industry for a few months. There's still new takes on nuclear war. Where's the definitive speculative movie about war between Canada and the U.S.?

Expression. What can I say about that? I'm just about fully apathetic, but I wish this pain in my lower right abdomen would stop. It's not that bad physically, but the mental worry that goes along with it is really marring my enjoyment of life. "Really"? Well I wouldn't go that far, actually.

I could talk about the unspoken addiction. That sort of fits under the umbrella of "falling into patterns" but... no. I'm just going to sleep now. Without editing. This will be forever unedited. I intend to maintain the integrity of this entry's spontaneity.

18 Sep 2006

Thanks for the trip, Johnny's -- sorry you couldn't stay afloat

Lost one of my best friends, my girlfriend, and now my job. What a fucking year this has turned out to be. Does that complete the triad of loss, the old adage about trouble coming in threes? Cause I'd hate to think what else might be coming down the pike for me. Maybe this stab of pain I'm getting in my lower right abdominal area every thirty seconds will turn out to be the symptom of some terminal illness.

So the bakery went under. As of the end of this month, I will be unemployed. I'm sad, not just for me, but for the others. Strange, but I get sentimental about it. It represented a lot to me - security, a certain amount of self respect, a life, what I lacked before, what lifted me up to something a little better than my prior larval voidful existence. As such, I had warm feelings for the people I worked with (even though we didn’t socialize) and even the business itself. I had a sense of loyalty. I was treated nicely, they let me listen to my music all night.

The job was a modest position, and a drag sometimes, but ultimately a far more tolerable way to earn a living than I'd allowed myself to hope for during my endless, futile, degrading job search, dreading as I was all sorts of potential service sector stress I was thankfully spared as a breadpacker. The search was futile because it wasn't looking that got me the job, but rather my dad knowing the manager. Thus, I lucked out. But it couldn't last.

All I can think about is how much I hate capitalism. And markets. All I see in this society is deliberately engineered unsustainability. On all levels. Resources, communities. Who cares about people, institutions? Tear them down, bring in the big box bastards or let some poor hopeful entrepreneur move into the vacancy and try her lottery venture, see how long she lasts, my money’s on two weeks at best. I find it so depressing. People just take for granted this desperate way of life. Grab what you can from whatever opportunity you can get a toe-hold on, then scrabble rat-like to the next. Some people like hustling I guess. Some people got the frequency for that. The people who profit from it, obviously, and the people who take pleasure from the game. I’m not a player, which leaves me profoundly out of place.


Well, three hours later, I continue this entry. With cottonballs taped to my arm and wrist. Just got back from the hospital.

The stab of pain. I still don’t know what it is but it’s not severe. Just weird and disturbing, provoking my hypochondria. My dad said I should go to the hospital and ask about it. So I did. Before I went, I started thinking about appendicitis, and got that queasy feeling I get, being so squeamish about body malfunction and disease anywhere my ego is attached. I couldn’t even take the symptom quiz, because I got nauseas and felt faint. I thought I’d be okay if I just breathed it out. So I went to the emergency room to see if they could tell me what my mysterious pains might be about. See if I might have to get anything removed.

I started talking to the nurse, answering questions. Then the ridiculous feedback loop began. Not fear of anything specific, but fear of fear. The fear. Because this has happened before. Loss of control. My vision blacked out. I was conscious but I couldn’t see anything. I could feel nothing but an overwhelming dread. It’s a feeling I know well, but can never deal with. Panic attack, I guess. Lost a few seconds of consciousness. They put me in a bed, put an IV in me, gave me saltwater, took my blood. I tried to tell them I'd just had one of my stupid ridiculous flip-outs but they wanted to keep me there a while. So they did. I felt pretty silly. They don’t know what the pain might be, but it’s not severe enough to warrant extra attention.


Interesting experience though. As soon as the panic attack wore off, I felt perfectly calm, just embarrassed. Once I get over that spike of terror, I’m okay – it’s the kinetics leading up to it that plunge me into the abyss. It’s a farce that must unfold, in the same absurd order, every time, triggered by the abstraction of mental and physical disorders and the feedback loop it sets off in my brain. I’ve still got those stupid little pains, but I guess there’s no need to freak out about them.

Well, what to do? What to do but get serious about music, I guess. Get off the night shift. Get on scales and sight-reading. Get a goddamn band, if I can.

17 Sep 2006

Post Existential dry heaves

I was just reading Sartre's Nausea. "What the hell do you mean?" I kept screaming. Because although I got it, intellectually, yeah yeah, categories dissolve into the essence-less existence, I didn't really get the point. The emotion. Then I thought, maybe I'm post existential. Because everything that seems to be hitting you as a revelation, I've pretty much always taken for granted anyway, or for so long that I can't remember any other mindset. What can you do with philosophy these days? In this information age? Try in vain to clear the tetris blocks of reality? I guess, if that's what floats your boat. Rock on! Snack on cheese, the X factor. The nihilistic provolone made it across the county line, damn those duke boys!

Now I'm drinking beer. It's dulling my senses a bit, and diffusing the mania. Maybe I'll keep a slow burn going for the rest of this evening. Was driving myself insane because I couldn't focus on anything, and felt compelled to. That empty energy.

There could be titanic revelations coming for me, get out of jail plot twists, golden tickets to the chocolate factory... but more and more, I feel increasingly entwined in society with all its bullshit. An illusion of wisdom scabs over my eyes like a cataract. I don't really believe in "maturity", "wisdom", or even "enlightenment". And if it's all one big Dao, that seems a dour and dull cosmos, to me. Yin and yang, is that all we got? Hallucinogens had me bullshitting about seeing colors beyond the spectrum.

Hey, there's always salvia. I gotta admit, it's a confounding deja-thread. Drugs are bullshit, I don't believe in them anymore either, and they make me sad and sick... but there's still a child-like charm in getting so messed up I don't know what I am anymore. Yeah, still prattling on about drugs. Serving my life-sentence with no possibility of sobriety, no going back to pristine thought, forever tainted from here on out, forever Faust. Ah, mythology. That's bullshit too.

Movement 2, Andante dolce, Gretchen to the rescue. Hey, that's what I should be writing about. Gretchen as Britney Spears. I can't wait for her autobiography. After her brief stint as the CEO of scientology. The hell with Katie, Britney was my first love. I got a soft spot for the blonds. The teen queen. Just the right chemical composite, that plastic epidermal alloy. You inspired some lusty poetry from me, but it always had that extra layer of meaning, that American merit-badge, auto-neurotic asphyxiation, lethal sexuality, Lynchian deathgrip slipped from my clenched fist, the malt liquor in my milkshake, the satellite-uplinked parasite engorged at the bottom of the straw. Yeah, that'll do I guess. And other Hippie Craque like tendencies.

This is making me nostalgic for when writing counted, when I was a writer, when I didn't exist! Ha, so Sartre did something for me after all. Gave me a vocabulary for the wordless, anyway. Nobody can really cure the nausea, all you can do is become it, eliminate the subject/object dichotomy and subversively affect some other poor bastard with your retch-inducing essence. Heave ho - it's off to work we go!

between convulsions

Something physical? Something physical? No, that won't work. Transcription? No. Sensory overload? Yes. With margins of radioactive waste. Energy with nothing to do. Empty. Still thinking about chemicals. Nothing else. Trapped on the chemical level. Nausea. Didn't Sartre write about that?

To try and clarify further gakked-out gruntings: I still feel empty, but now I've got energy. For no purpose. Sunday afternoon. Went for a walk, drank a double Americano. I fretted about whether to say that or not, because when I talk about what drugs I'm doing, it just brings me down, pallors everything with SICKlight, hypercontext, what nobody really needs to know, what I know too well.

Finally I decided I might as well say it, if it comes to mind. Because that which RESISTS, PERSISTS. State bounded, like a picked-on child, bound to a toboggan with duct-tape, bound for the innocent victim ring of hell, sledge-ride to the mentos minty aftertaste of oblivion. The victim with his brains on the library floor, killed by someone less picked-on than him, unpigeonholable sociopath. Gus van Sant epitaph, what does the Elephant symbolize? That guy truly is a filmmaker for our times. OUR times, this collective clashwork. Threads, stitch, syringe, mundane death on morphine drip, yes I know how sick that sounds, wheezy poetry, cheese-doodles, sketched out, chocolate-glazed fun-sized elation in a short hourglass, bite-sized bliss slipping through my fingers. What am I going to do with this? Sell it to some sucker, sell myself as a trend, as a friend, as I want you to be. Publishers jonesying for novelty, eventually they'll get to me, I'll be ready with a massive shitpile for sale. The new aesthetic will wrap around my moldy fuzz contours, I'll learn how to hustle myself, saturate the market, we'll form a partnership.

I'll get a good hookup, the most refined euphoria yet, nearly 100%, Peruvian, Moctezuma's stash, brought to me by contemporary human sacrifice, arms and drugs and leg-humping thugs, amphetamine cruise control, my sure and steady hands at the wheel, to die with rignity like Leary on the internet, like L. Ron sea-orging the circle of death, atoll sci-fi themepark, Costner optioned, an offshore community, dianetic house arrest, voluntary, straight man in a straight jacket, straight shootin' son of a gun.

Necessary evil, necessary percentage. Twitchtime, time to drink from the stream, it's the only option left. Oh stop this sick septic simulation of schizophrenia. Goddamn, what does one do with empty energy? Meta-crack's in the past, but the echoes come out to play like the cliché of haunting children's skipping songs at the site of slasher sets. Enlightened at knife-point, nothing hackneyed about the first stab, although by the last, I was rather droll about the whole thing.

The whole thing comes down to a paradigm slasher, it cuts values to ribbons, blows stars into fairy dust. A chorus of Uncle Daves broadcast to the universe, glades of saved waves, informing the vacuum, complaining, energy, empty. Stick a pitchfork in me, I'm done.

16 Sep 2006

Polygon solution

So I waited at the Rez...

till I snapped, and said, "fuck it"...
I've got paddywhack at home
for whatever that's worth
it's just me, living with myself
minus the social scene - but it's the plain vanilla drug
ugh, i can't even get off on that anymore
nothing floats my boat.

I'm angry tonight, but I got no outlet. My girlfriend. She's no longer my girlfriend. Out fucking when she can. Well who can resist? Well, what's new? She fucked around when we were together anyway. I've got to learn to accept it. I'm trying. Part of me still clings to the concept of fidelity like static electricity. Nothing but idiocy.

There is a difference. She felt more guilt then. Less now. But still some. I guess that touches my heart, somewhere in that fucking cholestoral clogged mess. The BAD kind of cholesterol. The kind never touched by McCain Superfries. There's still SOME guilt.

LET'S ALL SING THE NECESSARY EVIL SONG!
NO PAIN NO GAIN! IN THE BEST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS!

I'm not a hustler. Nor a go getter. Negative. The firm baseline of reality. That I make for me. Isn't it so laid bare? Good. That's what this is for. I make no apologies. This is my blog, I write for me. Honesty. Let the reader beware.

Don't fucking fish for metaphors. I'm just trying to lay it out, no bullshit.

Destruction. Isn't it strange, what the products of AFFIRMATION MODE can produce? How sharp the ends can be? Weapons, even when they aren't intended as such. If I was smart, or wise, or whatever the fuck, I would realize everything is context specific. And I do. But where does that get me NOW? NOWHERE!

Goddamnit, where are my weapons? Where are my victims? I've long since past those times, when the only solution to aggrievement was murderous delusion. Yeah, you could have been a victim, but that's only intellectual wankery in a blood soaked aesthetic. You aren't, so enjoy your life.

Just fast forward, I think. We feel the temptation. To finish. But somehow, the Best of All Possible Worlds didn't intend us to have our fingers on the controls. Yet. This is just a node. A vertice. A pathetic limp wristed vertex. I won't edit a thing. No. I will. I probably will. GODDAMNIT! I'll cut it up.

What fucking good is reigning it in? What good does that do me? Does it give me a good credit rating? Does it make me the PERFECT TENANT? Guess what? I don't have a pussy for you to fuck... but aside from that obvious fact... I'm pretty clean, and I pay my rent on time.

Funny, I got called a slut tonight. Hilarious. Don't pin your insecurities on me. I never called you anything. Oh hell yeah, I called you that in my mind, when I was packing bread, and I had nothing else to do. When you follow a standard chain of thought through its every permutation of fractal societal cliche, you get to that eventually - just going through the motions. The solution to polygons. You polygonal slut. Not that that means much to me. Whatever floats your boat, nevermind what it does to my pathetic inconsequential emotions. I really do mean that, it's just that I'm not ACTUALLY detached. So I'm sarcastic, but sincere.

But don't fucking milk me for sympathy tonight. Oh you did. Oh but fuck that, I'm no saint. I'll just lie lie lie on the sand dunes... lie lie lie some more. Far far away from the trees. Far far away. Lie some more.

The candyman Can. It doesn't mean ANYTHING. To call me by that name. Farewell to the flesh? The swan song's still playing. Nerve endings seem endless. Just a hilarious hopping one-legged dance for the incompletion of closure. A war-amp hop-skotch totenanz. I wonder how many of these lines I'll use for my Carnegie Hall recital. Probably none. Because it's just another node. Another chode in the wall, as I laughed my ass off tonight. At least there was something.

Now, GO, my unholy army of the night. KILL!

Someone's got to do it, I'm no longer the revolutionary. I'm acid burnout Charlie Manson, recruiting an army for the entertainment, even if I don't know the lyrics to helter skelter, even if this analogy was dead before it was born. Ugh, prepositional abortions. AGH! Dextromethorphan gnosis for 200 Alex! Just don't man-in-black my street-song, cause you can never tell who is posting from an internet cafe. Fade out again.

14 Sep 2006

Doppio

Too much love, too much yearning. I could use a little dead for a while. When the void opens up, I remember how I got through those years of emotional starvation.

4 Sep 2006

Amputechture (The Mars Volta)



I’m the only Mars Volta fan I know, so I doubt anyone else will care, but… here is my real-time review of their new record.

I’ve avoided listening to the leak for some time, but I just paid 300$ to see them live so I think I’ve earned the right. I’m worried about this album, for three reasons:

1 - The departure of drummer Jon Theodore, because of his unwillingness to practice enough, or so the story goes. I have to wonder if the heart of it might really be his lack of enthusiasm for the new material.

2 – The Denver show. The new songs were hard to follow, and left little impression on me, except one of confusion. The rhythm was tight, but musical intervals were obscured in a wall of noise. Identifying melodies and harmonic context proved impossible. I think it’s likely this could be blamed on technical issues, because even “Roulette Dares”, which I know better than the alphabet, sounded murky, and I don’t think it was because of the performances, which seemed solid.

3 – “Vermicide” and “Viscera Eyes”, the only tracks from Amputechture I snuck a listen to, which have both been released as singles. They seemed lifeless, predictable, and uninspired. I’m really hoping the rest of the album will be more interesting or I’ll have to give it a bad review, something I could never imagine doing to “The Most Exhilarating Rock Band on the Planet”. A hard reputation to live up to, I know.

“Vicarious Atonement”

Opens with a mysterious sound pastiche. Waveforms surge and crash behind loose guitar riffage. A grin spreads across my face as I’m pulled into this unmistakably familiar soundscape. Instruments are better separated than on Frances. I can hear the whole band, plus the condiments. Omar’s got a new repertoire of studio tricks. Jazz piano near the end – a new element to the Volta, but I expect eclecticism. Adrian’s sax rivals the guitars in textural malleability. So far, so good!

“Tetragrammaton”

This is so Mars Volta. It could be the work of no one else. I’m relieved they’re remaining true to themselves, and yet pushing beyond what they’ve put out the last two albums. I’m hearing longer, more complicated chord progressions, complex harmony that isn't just atonal noodling, more interesting rhythms, production, and melodic sound salads reminiscent of Boards of Canada’s last album. Fucking yeah!

Omar is unbelievable at layering guitars. It’s almost symphonic. Intro and verse are well-linked. Incredible drive. Sounds like they’re building upon what they’ve done in both Deloused and Frances. A nostalgic, forward-looking fusion. Tremolo guitars and leslied organ build to a climactic wail from Cedric who stars in this section, wresting control from Omar’s sonata.

Now I understand why I couldn't make sense of the new material at their live show in Denver. The mix must be zestfully clean to convey these ideas with any fidelity, unless the listener already know where it's going, tonally. Otherwise, it will sound like mush. I didn't realize what they were doing with these songs. Now I do. Also, this stuff would be very challenging to pull off live, even moreso than the already demanding Deloused and Frances. It’s going to be an interesting touring year for The Mars Volta.

Narcotized ebb explodes into gloriously self-indulgent guitar over Jon’s asymmetrical drumming, and if that’s not Omar I’ll be damned. Ikey is well represented, much to my delight. Tempo picks up as the vocals auto-tune in octave modulation. We get both clean and demonic Cedric in rapid succession. He goes farther out with digital manipulation every album, and gets away with it. “The kiosk in my temporal lobe is shaped like Rosalyn Carter”. Okay Ced. And I’m supposed to believe you don’t do drugs anymore? He sounds almost poppy at times, with the harmony, but I don't mind too much, I'm stretching out with him stylistically. The Mars Volta are as uncompromising as ever – always following their inspiration, wherever it takes them. I’m glad they make music for themselves and not their fans.

Sax seems to be playing Dies Irea in counterpoint to the chaos. A breakdown in the truest sense of the word, hypersonic madness. Tetragrammaton is reminding me of Take the Veil, with its patchwork of varying intensity levels. The song is a labyrinth, so many twists and turns, so many rooms, all connected with subterranean catacombs and hyperspacial wormholes. Awesome at 10:45, this album is knocking my expectations out of the park. I'm with you all the way Mars Volta, I'll follow you into hell (which is probably where Pitchfork Media – ironically enough – thinks I’m going).

Now a slow saxophone figuration over organ drone. They’re using the sax less as occasional solo flourish and more as an integral part of the arrangement. A progressively densifying guitar thrashes over the augmented harmony and melds into the voice. Sounds very Mahavishnu here, but in a uniquely Mars Volta way, about as far from generic as can be imagined. This is the music of the future.

14:00 and Tetragrammaton’s still going. A brilliant variation on the repeated A riff, this time with sax climbing upwards on each note, then a typical Mars Volta recap closes it out, with extra crazy guitar morphing into the surrounding waves of fiendish ambiance. The song dives a screaming death into a pit of static. It’s like a terse Cassandra, with actual chord progressions. This is the kind of epic rock I feared might be absent on Amputechture, based on the singles. Not a chance. The heart remains. I can't believe I thought this album would suck. Well now I know what's up – Vermicide and Viscera Eyes are Amputechture's "Widow".

“Vermicide”

I still feel it’s a little dull and uninspired, but I appreciate it a lot more in context. It's more like a section of a larger song. It doesn't stand on its own so well. But coming as a break from the fury of Tetragrammaton, it's lovely. Guitar tones are gorgeous. There’s something annoyingly poppy about it. But Cedric doesn't give a fuck if I think that. He's going to sing what he likes, no matter how trite I think it sounds, because he's into it. And more power to him. I like it better than The Widow, anyway.

If this album's missing something, it's an obvious concept we can relate all the music to, as a narrative. Deloused and Frances both had that, though Frances was considerably more obscure. But Amputechture still sounds like the soundtrack to a non-existent movie, what Omar the director seems to go for.

Great drumming around 3:00, Jon’s really livening this up. Vermicide would be nothing without this band’s unique style of playing and production, which is so good it makes a bad song worth repeated listens.

“Meccamputechture”

The music blasts out of the gate with four chords of Jon and Juan goodness – bitchin’ drum and bass, absolutely tragic this duo has fractured. Cedric’s almost rapping, bringing to mind his old vocal style from At The Drive In, nice contrast to his trademark wail. Too bad he does this so rarely nowadays. At least he’s venturing outside the blues scale occasionally, but his melodies are mostly predictable.

The sax is taking over some of the rhythm guitar, creating a more interesting counterpoint to Omar’s omnipresent lead shredding. I wasn’t sure about the addition of horns for a long time, but now I’m sold. Enjoying Ikey on the rhodes. I'd like him to lead occasionally though. He seems content to be Omar's organist.

The chorus is rocking my cock off! Cedric can make hackneyed melodies sound sublime. I'm noticing they're using a host of different effects for the drums. An unconventional style of production. I can see why Omar wants to go it alone in the studio. He's an artist, which is why many call his band pretentious. Some people have a problem with art. I salute his arrogance. Deloused had a lot of sound manipulation, but it also had a gritty vintage rust to it, like ‘70s sci-fi. This album has more of a futuristic, Shpongelian techno-tweak, like tryptamine hallucinations instead of an opiate delirium. Omar can freak out on the guitar as long as he wants. Builds to what sounds like an impending climax of titanic proportions at 5:30, but is suddenly sucked away in a vacuum.

I wouldn't mind some new by chords by this point. I know there’s nothing left to innovate in harmony, but they could be more interesting. Well they dropped down to a minor in the middle of the chorus repetition, which is more variation than L’Via offered.

Jazzy jam at 7:30, spicy interplay between keys and sax. Jon pounds away, Juan riffs away, hissing sound collage twists along, all in the absence of Omar. Love the dissonance. I’m bludgeoned with sound. Ikey brings it out of the chaos with a triumphant, outright solo. Is that Marcel on congas? They damn well better play this live!

It's going to take a while for these songs to become standards like Deloused tunes are now, and Frances tunes to a lesser extent, songs that people yell out to request at concerts with regularity. But they will. They'll sink in.

“Asilos Magdalena”

Magdalena is Morricone on mescaline. The opening synth/guitar combo reminds me of Ozric Tentacles. Then it goes into an austere guitar and voice acoustic number. Cedric the Matador. I like Omar's harmonies, though I guess that's probably Frusciante playing. If so, right on. As long as he's not writing the music. This would be another great song to add to their live repertoire. I like the restraint on this track. Can't imagine where it's going to go.

Now the satanic texture creeps in. Sonic imagination run rampant through the floors. The voice becomes distorted dementia, acid eaten, biting guitars like blackbirds pecking out your eyes. Sensory decay. I have no idea what the song is about. I'm sure the lyrics won’t help when I get around to reading them – assuming I can find a decent translation.

I’m glad they put a Miranda on the album. Televators, Miranda, and now Magdalena. The Mars Volta are great at this slow moody creeping towards the inexorable climax stuff. This style of theirs is underappreciated. I can see why Omar is into in scoring films.

“Viscera Eyes”

Vermicide and now Viscera Eyes. Same deal. One of the weaker songs, but still, much MUCH more enjoyable in context. Like the perfect rocking interlude to a meandering jam at a concert. If they played through this album in order, at concerts, with crazy improv breaks like they did in The Electric Ballroom show and a lot of their sets in 2003, I'd forgive the lack of Deloused material.

This song sounds more worldly. Content to remain in the mold. Conventional rock, which is why I'm not as enthused with it, but I'm much more receptive now. I can still hear ATDI-influence in the catchiness of it. Took me a while to assimilate the horns, but now I’m digging the sonic evolution. Resistance is futile.

Great, simple, solo around 4:00. Ah, there's actually new stuff here, the version on MySpace was shorter. Funny, the promo material they release gives me lower expectations than warranted. Kind of like movie previews. Lucky I downloaded the leak or I might not have bought the album. Hear that, RIAA? They made this song sound lame by taking out all the cool bits for MySpace. The core is perfunctory, but when they stray from that, it’s great.

More soloing. Definitely an Omar solo. I can't believe people disparage this guy's guitar playing. True, I'm not a guitarist, and he may not be a supervirtuoso, but it's fascinating to me, and it's got a shitload of soul. A nice fusion of heart and head. If it's actually John in this section, I'll have to eat my words.

Haha, they go from outer space oddities to proto-funk guitar rock that recalls “All Along the Watchtower”. I see the need for this song, at this point in the tracklist. Lest we forget the Volta are grounded in classic rock and capable of pumping out RHCP-like anthems if it suits their purposes.

“Day of the Baphomets”

Woah, that bass. Go Juan! This guy needs more solos. Fuck, did they do this in Denver? I can't remember. I'm going to have to see them live as headliners. Hopefully they'll have pulled it together really tight, and their goddamn mix will be decent.

Yeah! Go Ikey! Adrian compliments beautifully. This song seems like a reworking of Plague Upon Your Hissing.

I haven't heard any more exciting progressions like in Tetragrammaton, but a lot more predictable ones. No memorable melodies like on Eriatarka, or Cicatriz, or Miranda. That's another thing this album's missing. And there’s plenty of Spanish flavor, but no real L’Via-style salsa to speak of, which is a shame. But there's more than enough cool stuff to make up for those deficiencies.

Sick drumming at 4:30. Definitely sounds like Jon. And new chords, yay! And Omar's kicking ass, and trading off with Adrian, and they're both playing way outside the bar lines, awesomeness! They’ve gone full bore prog for Amputechture, which is just fine by me. I wouldn’t have thought they could get away with this much sax, but it fits right in.

Cedric's going crazy with the vocal effects, perhaps to his detriment. He’s using harmony too much, I miss his unaccompanied tone. He sounds like just another instrument in Omar's studio jam project. It seems like his creative contributions have been shunted to the side, and he’s not as organically integrated into the album as he was in Deloused, and Frances to a lesser extent. I'd love to hear this live though, I imagine it'd be more satisfying for Cedric fans as the effects and production wouldn't be so dominant, and he'd have a larger percentage of the overall impact, if properly miced.

Classic Mars Volta at 7:12, sounds like it could have come from the Deloused sessions. More off kilter harmony ala Tetragrammaton. Outrageous guitar solo over psychotic shots. Sounds like hellacious fun to play. No one is spared the mephistophelean reverie. This is why I love The Mars Volta. Exorbitant anarchic means to controlled chaotic ends. Now a manic drum break. “Baphomets” showcases the whole band. Fuck, this album rocks. It's like they took my Mars Volta wishlist and put every item on here. Oh God, but I’m gonna miss Jon.

“Put a muzzle on the lamb”. Already high vocals are harmonized with a double tuned up an octave. Ikey’s organ is the perfect contrasting timber to the guitar.

“El ciervo vulnerado”

An abrupt transition to a track that mirrors the opener. Both recall Omar’s solo album, “A Manual Dexterity”. The piano is back, this time with massive echo. Bass slinks along, surefooted in the absence of percussion. A ghostly mood, a voice from the grave, like Ambuletz, and the ambient parts of Miranda. Soundwaves swirl in dark mists. I get pulses of imagery from this when I close my eyes, feels like someone is blowing dimethyltryptamine smoke into my face every few seconds.

This track is pure hallucination. Organ grinds in at 5:20 and fades quickly. Brief sitar drones. More psychedelic than Sgt. Pepper. Dissonant horns. Convulsing guitar, sounds like it's fucking the sax. Fantastic stuff, I feel sorry for people who can't get into this. It’s the tryppiest album they’ve put out yet. Ideas overflow, outpace technique, push the specs to the bleeding edge and beyond. The Mars Volta are back! Hell yeah!

Like Deloused in the Comatorium and Frances the Mute, Amputechture reminds me there is plenty of great, innovative music yet to be written, and inspires me to get back to work on my own stuff. I’m pre-ordering the CD right now.

1 Sep 2006

The Rolley Coaster Continues...

Just got back from a funeral. Very Christian, but that was okay with me. Not oppressively so, but rather a warm, touching tribute to a Christian woman who died of cancer. Made me wonder about faith, what it is, what it could be. Made me realize how utterly divorced I've become from religion, even spirituality, whatever that means.

I stood up with the funeral people and hummed hymns. Painted a grand sepia-toned caricature of the group in my head. Good people, I decided. Like Robin. Good decent humble folks, retaining those colorful cracks of cynicism, the grime of modern life. But this funeral shows them at their good-hearted best. I've got no wisecracks for this funeral, except I wish someone would go up and do a eulogy based on the Monty Python dead parrot skit: "Margaret Johnson is dead. She's kicked the bucket. She's a stiff. Bereft of life. She rests in peace. She's shuffled off her mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!" Etcetera. Now that would be funny.

The guy who gave the eulogy was the son of the deceased. He was a little choked up throughout, but held it together for the most part. It was intense for me. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for the family. I absorbed the atmosphere. The church. Layer upon interlocking layer of tradition. Quaint quilts of comfort. Said goodbye to Robin, dressed in his “Sunday Best”, as they say.

Walked back home. Blue sky, so big, so clear. Warm air. Everything looked crisp, new, internally luminescent. I felt, and still feel, a substance to all of perception that seemed missing for so long. I almost felt like a child again. Okay, I'm probably overhyping this. But I felt good, that much I'm sure of. I walked up the tree-shrouded Mill Street sidewalk, enmeshed in childhood memories. Singing Amazing Grace.

"I once was lost, but now am found... All thanks to 5H...TP."

It's almost scary how well that stuff is working. I feel guilty and nervous. I think I'm going to go off it, because I feel too good, for no reason at all. And I'm worried I might get to like the supplement too much, and it might just turn into a slow-burn version of the sickening ecstasy ride, with its devilishly forked road offering me the choice of addiction, or CRASH. It seems to be a very effective, and natural (sort of) anti-depressant, but I shouldn't need something so drastic right now. I never wanted to be a prozac popper, and though I'm thinking this is way better than prozac, or paxil or what have you... it still disturbs me that it might be sort of the same thing.

I still get episodes of depression and anger and bitterness, mostly related to having recently emerged from the ruins of a relationship (not smoking ruins), and not knowing how to proceed, as a single guy, insecure, yearning for much much more of that sexual possibility I tasted at Shambhala. But since the pills kicked in for me, the funks have been fleeting. Instead of sulking, or feeling sorry for myself, in short order, I'm generally able to buck up and brush the negativity aside.

Okay, I'm probably REALLY overhyping this. Maybe I’m just creating a positive feedback loop for myself (which would be a nice fucking break from all the negative feedback loops I get into), where a nice idea breeds a generation of yet nicer ones, which build upon themselves, until I’ve convinced myself I’ve gotten a chemically-assisted new lease on life – a second childhood! Innocence regained! Well if so, what’s wrong with that? Nothing, except I’ve surrounded myself with too many cynics and read too much dystopian sci-fi to feel comfortable with happiness.

But yeah, I’m overhyping this because I got into a good mood, and I’m inclined to extrapolate that as far and wide as I can. I might be disgusted with myself for writing this later on, when I really am sad, and wanting people to feel sorry for me, and knowing that I undermined my chances of that by writing such a sappy go lucky post the day before. Tomorrow I could be in a real olde timey black mood like Leningrad under grainy siege, pills or no pills. Still, at this point, I'm pretty much positive the pills are more than placebo. And it is a drug. Whether it feels like one or not.

Oh for Christ's sake - I always ruin everything with over-analysis. The unexamined life isn't worth living, Socrates said. But the unexamined drug trip? That would be just fine with me, I think. Too bad it's not in the cards. Oh well.