Event Horizons

If you follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ you know we are very busy. Anxious Machine's second season has started and our remix for ARRVLS is in the airwaves. We also had a big hand in the recent episode of SisterStory Presents: with Jo Piazza. A lot of music and producing went into making that happen. 

There is also a lot coming down the road including a new music video for Scott Wooldridge as well as some others. The White Whale is kicking strong and growing a larger fan base everyday - but that is closer to its season end rather than beginning. We are going to fill that space with some different one- off radio docs as we prepare the second season. That is going to be a pretty different narrative, but built upon similar foundations. 

This post specifically though is about a new mixtape American Residue Records is dropping tomorrow. Called Event Horizons, if you have heard any of the recent podcast episodes we have been a part of then you have heard some pieces.  These have quickly gained some listeners so time to release.

follow our channels for all the updates and look for the new record tomorrow! 

Études

We have a new album coming out tomorrow - solo release by Garrett called Études.

According to Wikipedia,

An étude (/ ˈeɪtjuːd/; French pronunciation:  [eˈtyd], a French word meaning study) is an instrumental musical composition, usually short, of considerable difficulty, and designed to provide practice material for perfecting a particular musical skill. The tradition of writing études emerged in the early 19th century with the rapidly growing popularity of the piano. Of the vast number of études from that era some are still used as teaching material (particularly pieces by Carl Czerny and Muzio Clementi), and a few, by major composers such as Frédéric ChopinFranz Liszt and Claude Debussy, achieved a place in today's concert repertory. Études written in the 20th century include those related to traditional ones (György Ligeti), those that require wholly unorthodox technique (John Cage), and ones that are unusually easy to play.

Our version of this idea is a first release of some of the original music you have been hearing on The White Whale as well as podcast episodes produced for the oral history project SisterStory. Engineered by John R. Barner, these are not as you heard them in the podcast, but developed variants that allow new life and new ideas.

We just released our newest episode of The White Whale and are hard at work on Sunday's release as we prepare for the MEGAPOLIS Audio Festival (http://megapolisfestival.org). We will also be releasing a new Mixtape shortly called Event Horizons. Lots of great material! Keep checking Twitter, Facebook, and subscribe to the podcast!

 

Hikikomori - A Reflection

by John R. Barner

My second story idea revolved around the amount of what I call spiritual investment in our online presence. I use the word “spiritual” in a very general sense, and not indicative of faith traditions as such but rather those emotions that seem to define who we are as people: our personalities, hopes, dreams, needs for attention or consolation, our ups and downs, what we value and what we hope is valued in us by others. Hence, the great amount of time spent on “investment” in tools like computers and social media, which, if all is well, we get a “return” on, be in the form of “likes” or “retweets” or “friends.” But often we seek that kind of return, that “connection” and sense of community at the expense of real human interaction. What if that was all that was left? Only those digital traces cast adrift in the void of cyberspace—incorporeal and disembodied—that are today’s technological ghosts in the machines that connect our world.

I remembered immediately the Kate Bush song, “Deeper Understanding” from her amazing 1989 album The Sensual World (and later revisited on 2011’s Director’s Cut). The song was so eerily prescient about today’s technologically-informed social life and laid the foundation, in many ways, to the story I wanted to tell.

Another burst of information and inspiration came again from Rutledge’s Kūhaku. The hikikomori are the socially isolated youth of Japan. Government figures from 2010 suggest there are more than 700,000 individuals, most under the age of thirty, who live completely isolated lives, rarely, if ever, venturing out in the world and completely cut off from many forms of social life like family, friends, school or work. Many hikikomori get family support or are able to earn a living or have a solitary social outlet through computers, be it gaming, e-commerce, or virtual living spaces such as Second Life, but their lives are often filled with debilitating depression and psychic pain and the phenomenon can last for years, decades, or potentially the rest of their lives. I felt a tremendous resonance between what I was developing as a story idea and the tales I heard of the hikikomori. I was particularly impacted by a story I heard from a young woman who was the older sister of a hikikomori. In an interview, she stated that she empathized with her brother, and even respected his isolation, even if it meant he would not attend the funeral of their grandmother, but admitted that she herself suffered from an acute anxiety that the world itself might go out of existence and her brother would never know. It was as if, she said, he was already gone, already a ghost.


LINKS:

BBC News: “Hikikomori in Japan”: https://youtu.be/dr5y1iP9TfU

Kate Bush, “Deeper Understanding” (1989): https://youtu.be/q2HsN9WLQhI

Kate Bush, “Deeper Understanding” (2011), Official Music Video: https://youtu.be/nzqF_gBpS84

The Yokai Trilogy - A Reflection

by John R. Barner

Yōkai, in Japanese, means “ghost” or “apparition” and the distinction holds a particular pride of place in Japanese folklore and literary culture. The earliest beginnings of this project had to do with ghost stories, or telling stories with ghostly or supernatural elements in them. So the name fits, I suppose, but it is stripped of almost all the rich cultural history and color, reduced to its most literal sense. When I first started this project, I did not even know it would involve music but I remained committed to the idea of conceiving of one or more stories (written, recited, or performed) that had ghosts in them. And not just any ghosts, but particular ghosts that haunt us now. Before even starting, I had thought that the very idea of the ghost story was a tired one, lacking in color, creativity or anything I felt was unique or engaging. Everything seemed to have been done. For five months I mostly railed against what I saw represented in mainstream American and European popular culture around the idea of the ghost or ghost story. I re-read Poe, Hawthorne, James, Blackwood, Machen, Collins, Lovecraft, Doyle, Dickens, Shakespeare, and many other literary and dramatic representations. I watched films like Paranormal Activity and television series like Ghost Hunters—and still nothing felt right. Most often, I was left with versions of the same questions. Why was it, even in today’s modern conception of the ghost story, that the spirit in question either an unseen force of some kind, or some representative of a bygone era—the Victorian “woman in black” or avenging Civil War-era soldier? What would a ghost be like who had just become a ghost yesterday? Someone who surfed the Net, listened to Top 40 radio, and watched YouTube videos. I frequently asked myself if such questions were themselves silly and I more than once felt like The Maitlands, the young couple played by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis in the 1988 film, Beetlejuice who are repeatedly chagrined to find their quotidian afterlife is never interesting or scary enough, in the traditional sense. Played for laughs in the film, I think it really says something about the Western conception of death and what lies beyond death that we, as a society, don’t really want to explore on some level, but are drawn to just the same. We want to be scared (and entertained by our fear, as it were) but we certainly don’t want to confront death on any level, therefore relegating the more frightening aspects always at some remove. For the Maitlands, it’s found in the more traditionally ghoulish and grotesque title character—for us it’s the invisible monsters, or the vestiges of the ancient, historical or unknown. It’s never us we should be afraid of.  I think it was these persistent questions that finally led me to try to tell a series of ghost stories using only contemporary, mostly electronic, music and sounds. I reasoned this would, at least, be an attempt to answer the question. At the end of five months of research, I had three ideas, roughly sketched, and I started to work. 

Yes or no?

Should we do a blog? CyNar and American Residue are starting to gain a little ground. Maybe it's time we speak here on the site. Offer a little insight; content behind the daily grind.

There are a lot of blogs out there though. What can we say that will get your attention?

We have a new music video in the works with a new band from MN. Not sure if we can say who yet, but the idea is fantastic and right up our alley. It's going to be weird and beautiful.

Should be in production soon. Maybe we'll even write about it or post some photos. 

Should we?