Posts tagged [product]
A Darker Figure Newsletter #66: Shows, Review of "Shelter in Place," and Being Someone's Something

Hello and welcome to the A Darker Figure Newsletter. Did you know that I have a website where all of my different projects get posted with fun little blurbs and listenable links? Talking to Ghosts episodes, new music releases, upcoming projects, shows I am playing or producing, everything. 

We played a show last night with LA band HAEX and it was awesome. They don't have an album out yet, but it is closed, so keep an ear out for it! If you are in Everett, WA or Vancouver, BC you can go see them this weekend! Everett I believe is tonight at Obscurus. 

Review of Alexander Maksik's Shelter in Place 
(if you are going to read this already, skip this review and save yourself because it is a great book) 

This week I finished Shelter in Place by Alexander Maksik. This was an extremely enjoyable read on a morose topic. I saw a review of one of his earlier books that said that his writing was almost philosophical and I believe that this applies to Shelter in Place as well. The book is centered around the question of "is violence the answer to violence?" There is much, much more than that in the book, but I believe that it all boils down to this in the end. From the very beginning of the book we are confronted with murder. It is not a crime thriller or a detective story, it is just there as fact. Here are the opening chapter of the novel: 

     In the summer of 1991 my mother beat a man to death with a twenty-two ounce Estwing framing hammer and I fell in love with Tess Wolff. 
    Now, many years later, they have both disappeared and I am alone here on this pretty clearing in the woods. 
    Alone, save for the tar and the bird and the other things, for which I have no name. 

The entire novel is constructed in short chapters. Sometimes this is a device used to connect a series of short stories into one larger picture, but for Shelter in Place it is more a construction of memory. The timeline jumps, but it is intimately connected as if someone where just free-writing the story from a memory they were recalling to someone. This, to me, is interesting because this 2011 article from Jezebel found that Maksik's debut novel, You Deserve Nothing, was based on the real story of how he was quietly let go from a school in Paris after an affair with a student. The student has come out to say that that is literally her story written down in places and that some of the things that are included in the book were told in confidence. Some things were made up to fill the story in and make it more readable, but a lot of the students have said that it is pretty much exactly their experience with Maksik. This makes me wonder if some of the scenes in Shelter in Place are real experiences because they feel honest and heartbreaking in places. There is a through line of depression that takes form as bi-polar disorder - the tar and the bird from the first chapter above - that is real. It is crippling and it is a void that anyone with a tendency for depressive states will recognize. 

All in all, it has been my favorite book this year. It was compelling and really well written. The short chapters make it a thrill to read because you know that you could probably fit in a few more pages every time you go to stop reading. 

photo by: lain

photo by: lain

Our Everett show last weekend was great! It is always fun to play some of those [product] songs, especially the older ones because they are full of energy. The Blood of Others is an emotional experience to play live and I love the feeling of it because it communicates the way that I feel a lot of the time and the things that I want to say. But [product] is just plain fun. The message is brutal and immature compared to The Blood of Others, but jumping around and screaming is a nice release sometimes.
There was a younger person at the show, who is also in a band that is very good called Chrome Corpes, that told me that my demo ...and the connection fails was a really important album to him. And that is crazy. I know exactly what he means because I have a few albums that came into my life at the right time and changed some things around for me. It is hard to hear this sort of thing about something that you have created though because it brings out the imposter syndrome. I wrote that demo before I was 21. Before I was straight edge or vegan or even being honest with myself. So it feels to me now like a frustrated younger self trying to say the things that I believe now, but not quite knowing what was going on. He asked me what the album was about and I wish that I had given him a better answer. I was flustered by the statement and the question, and his own nervous energy, and said that it was about nolongerhuman and the breakup that Clint and I had, which were the first stepping stones of me being straight edge. Which is true, mostly, but it is more about me being confused about what I wanted and trying to find it. Either way it was very strange for me and I really appreciated it. 

Last week was kind of a long one so I will leave this here for you. 

The next The Blood of Others show that I have coming up isn't until 7/7/17 in Seattle, but if you are into electronic music and want to come out to a show that I am producing here in Portland, please come see Technophobia, Pleasure Curses, and Neybuu at The Lovecraft on 6/11. I am also doing a Sky Symbol Rituals set at Volt Divers on 6/10. 

A Darker Figure #65: A personal [product] music history

Welcome to A Darker Figure #65! Before I get into the personal history self-satisfaction bullshit, I have a few things going on: 

[product] and Sky Symbol Rituals in Everett, WA tomorrow! 
- Next Thursday The Blood of Others is opening for HAEX here in Portland at The Lovecraft, if you live in town please come out! They are a newer band and one that I enjoy, so I think you will too! 
- June 10th, I will be doing a Sky Symbol Rituals set for Volt Divers. I am working on some new stuff for this one that will connect to the original 30 minute set, which was released here
- I am about half way through Alexander Maksik's Shelter In Place and I highly recommend checking it out. It is written almost directly to my taste. Really well done. 

Okay! Here is a personal [product] history, from my extremely biased point of view, of the music projects that I have been in / produced solo. Why you ask? Because I was going through a lot of the tracks this week trying to find fun songs to play live in Everett tomorrow and I realized that I am still a fan of a lot of the stuff that I made! And sometimes it is good to just go back and see what happened. P.S. No one asked for this. :)

"Ensemble of Sirens" from the demo placement

Heavily influenced by bands like Tactical Sekt and Psyclon Nine I started to make aggrotech music under the name [product]. The goal was to be screamy and fast and dance-able. Some of the things that I took from the bands that I loved were the high and fast synth lines that were just layered until it became kind of a mess of melodies. The earliest demo, placement, and the first songs that I wrote solo - after spending a few years developing a band called [injekted] in high school - are some that I still go back to with fond memories. The only thing that I kind of cringe at are the lyrics, which were/are shallow and dishonest in a way that I can tell is just trying to fit the things in the places where I thought words should go. It is funny going back and reading the lyrics now because they fit pretty well in the music - cadence-wise - but the themes are all over the place. "Ensemble of Sirens," which is the first song for [product] and one that I still really enjoy playing, is some jumbled mess of a murder story? I am not sure.

"The Principal" from the demo reassignment

I was under the impression at the time, and I still am in a way, that you had to hit it hard right away. Whether you were playing live or putting out a demo, you have to go in from track 1 and put your best stuff first. "The Principal"like "Ensemble of Sirens," is the first track on the second demo. I believe at this time I was sneaking in to a club night in town called Hive, which had an outside area that I could just blow passed the bar and hang out in. I remember giving a physical copy of this demo to one of the DJs, who played "Mechanical Fear" in mono and it completely fell apart. That was way before I knew how to mix anything and I am surprised that they still sound this... together? I found a server online that had a shit ton of Twilight Zone samples for free download and would pretty much go through those for days and find super sad or weird ones. It was awesome. I still haven't seen all of the show. It was less about the moments in the show and more about the words they were saying. I think that Clint from nolongerhuman helped me with some of these tracks. Just tips and tricks talk. We used to hang out a lot and I was trying to remember when that fell apart but then saw that the next thing in line was the Drown The Horses EP, which is a song entirely about how things broke between us and has the first strands of the straight edge themes that would come later. 

"Fuck The Club" from the EP Drown The Horses

This is an interesting EP because it has one of the first tracks that reflected the first signs of oh, I hate this bar scene thing and the track "Fuck the Club," which is about just wanted to get drunk and dance to forget your problems... Which I would love to claim is a satirical look at the themes above, but they were not. I had just turned 21 and was very confused about what I wanted to do with myself. After a long time of standing outside, waiting to be 21, and smoking cigarettes with all of the adults, I was finally in! I was finally part of the scene for real. It was kind of a disappointment. I think this track both reflects the time and headspace that I was in, and sends a dumb message. It is a track that some bandmates bring up when they want to let me know that I wasn't as sound in mind/lyric when I was younger. This is also the first time Wes remixed my stuff as reakt[ion], which I think he recently started after changing from the name Necessary Noise. 

"Faded Youth"  from the demo ...and the connection fails

This was the first track where I was super influenced by a documentary that I saw and immediately wrote something. Like the second it was done. I was so upset and sad at the world. The documentary was about children on medication and how it was causing them to kill themselves. This hit home super hard because a lot of the people that I knew in middle school where in the first wave of the ADHD/anti-depressant drug push and it just wiped them. It completely fucked them up in really bad ways. This was also the first track that I sent to COP International Records and eventually led to releasing with them. We had a release party for this demo at The Fez ballroom, which is no longer around, and it was just... shitty. The opening band was one of my favorites at the time and he just got super drunk and fought with his girlfriend, who later turned off and then tried to take one of the power strips we were using on stage. I also had a pita pit... pita... before we went on and an energy drink and thought that I was going to die. I was so sick. 

"Lungs Full of Water (Distorted Memory Remix)" from the digital only EP I Hope You Choke (COP int.)

Distorted Memory was/is one of my favorite bands and this was really the first time that I reached out to someone who I thought was much, much better than me. I remember he wrote back and asked if it was okay that it was going to be a slow and more atmospheric remix, instead of the upbeat dance stuff he had been doing at the time. Little did I know it would be the best fucking song. This was right before the Temple of the Black Star release. So good. 

"The Last Battle" from the debut album I, Omega (COP Int.) 

Right before I was signed to COP International, I remember Clint sending me a message saying that I would never get signed and that I was a piece of shit... or something like that. So, as a little bit of spite and a little bit to prove that I could, I submitted to, and was signed to, the label that he was (and is still) on. Little did I know that it would be a kind of lacklusted experience in which I would do all of the promotion and not really understand what the responsibilities of the artist and the responsibilities of the label were. I still don't know really. It taught me a lot though. It taught me how to go out and just promote myself regardless of what someone said they were going to do. Nevertheless! It was an exciting time. I finished something. Had it mastered and released on a label. This album was mastered by Jan from X-Fusion, who I admired and would master everything from here until The Blood of Others album. 

"Awaken The Alchemist" from the self-released single Awaken The Alchemist

So many things happened right here! I discovered Witch House and my whole world changed musically. It was crazy. This is the first track that I "sang" on instead of screamed with a lot of effects. It was the first slower track that I had done. This single had remixes from two of my favorite artists. I was able to convince Vendetta Music to sign me after saying that the next album would be like this, but heavier and louder. This is the music that I really wanted to make and what would eventually become The Blood of Others. 

"So Lost" from the 2nd Full Length album Shallow Graves (Vendetta Music)

After going from Witch House to being extremely obsessed with Chrysalide, Shallow Graves came back to being super mad and heavy. The hardcore influence was never more strong. So many breakdowns and different screaming styles came out in this first track. A lot of the reviews for this album said that it sounded like Combichrist and I remember being so mad about that. I think that it was the lower scream... but still... Not good. This song is 100% a straight edge song. I was full in it at this point. "So Lost" is straight edge, "Giving Water, Taking Ash" is anti-animal testing, "Voluntary Extinction" is child free by choice... so many views. I still hold all of these views, but it is just kind of funny to hear them in these songs. We are performing a mostly Shallow Graves set when we play now. Also, the iVardensphere remix on this album is crazy good. I remember getting it back and being a little upset that it was so fucking good. There was also a W.A.S.T.E remix that was given away with the pre-order that I like a lot. 

"To The Wind" from the self-released EP Her Ghost

Back to Witch House! "To The Wind" is still the best track that I have ever produced, in my opinion. It was so much about the time and place and capturing the atmosphere that I had in my head when this EP came together. The idea materialized pretty quickly and then the whole thing was done. I was working for a little bit on the lyrics for the fist two tracks and then boom! At the time I was having this recurring dream - and I still do sometimes - that was completely out of a gothic romance that I fabricated from so, so many Cradle of Filth albums. This is what really made The Blood of Others a thing that I was set to do. I was done with the dance-heavy stuff and was pretty board with the style. I definitely needed a change in a lot of ways. We were performing this stuff as [product], which is crazy to think about now because it was so much of a departure. I would still be producing under [product] if Audiotrauma hadn't asked to change the project and separate from the previous releases. This though, marks the first time that I felt that I was making the music that I truly wanted to make. I didn't know how to do it before. Or I was scared that I wouldn't know how or something. It was weird. 

Then The Blood of Others happened. I've talked about that a lot in this newsletter. It is still happening. I am still loving it. 

Thanks for reading. It will be back to the normal thoughts and current event stuff next week. This wasn't edited or re-read because I spent too much time on it and got lost in the memories.