Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thru the Looking Glass

Hello all. Sorry i've been away, working like a demon; and with no internet connection in the homestead, i've got to camp out at the Folsom St. Oasis to do all my internetting. Which means y'all get the short end of the stick, but hey i'm just getting used to this whole 'time management' thing!

What i've been doing, while i've been away (apart from cleaning and laundry and making my apt. inhabitable again), is obsessively diving the murky depths of the cassette scuzz culture, which i was introduced to by my friend Jed.

All over the world, and possibly right beneath yr feet, there are people making esoteric, abstract, possibly brilliant recordings, in their own living rooms, with little thought if anyone will ever hear them, and the idea of making money at it is laughable. These freaks are doing it for the sheer adrenaline love of Music; of communication; of culture and community. Dredging through the muck, i have found surprising amounts of inspiration and innovation, not to mention mountains of surreality! This shit is far-out man, and prolonged exposure can do a real number on the ol' frontal lobe.

I have been a long-time and passionate fan of avant-garde, experimental, and just plain strange music. I look for portals that transport me to mystical deserts, imaginary loft-parties, juke-joints in the middle of the jungle. Parrots speaking in french, a scuba-diver storming the barricades, its all to the good. Often times, the weirder the better, and i must admit: i just hit pay-dirt.

I've been paying attention to noise music for quite a while; psych- and psych- folk; experimental industrial and recently musique concrete. I began to recognize names from this obscure sub-strata, usually via Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace label, and 'zines like the Ptolemaic Terrascope. Bizarre, beautiful names like: Sunburned Hand of the Man, Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood, Six Organs of Admittance, Vibracathedral Orchestra. Being of a somewhat esoteric persuasion, how could i not be intrigued and hooked? And what i found made me an instant devotee... magickal otherworldly sounds, otherworldly and beautiful and PURE. I needed more!!! MOREMOREMORE!!! I had to get to the bottom of this. Except there is no bottom.

2008 was a good year for the cassette-tape year (or a bad year, if you want yr favorite artists to stay obscure). Bands like Gang Gang Dance, Blank Dogs, the Vivian Girls, and other hip faves from Brooklyn were all over blogs and the radio. People like Crystal Stilts and Aeriel Pink were making hissy, archaic recordings seem accessible and calling on an inherent nostalgia in such troubled times. To me, the biggest hook was a lot of the avant-pop accessibility, like someone like The Vivian Girls, with their Garage Punk sensibilities, buried under a soothing drone of white noise and a sort of vintage, faded quality that i really liked, calling to mind old Stax or Motown singles, also which i've been digging lately. For someone who has spent so many years subterranean, listening to monochromatic power noise and oppressive doom metal, this colorful and surreal world was very refreshing, and also seemed to coincide with my falling in love and in general feeling more optimistic and youthful.

Enter Jed: One of those rare and beautiful creatures who is just as obsessed with music as i am, possibly more so. He is astute beyond his years, and strange sounds seem mudane to his ears. He is conversationally familiar with the breadth of the underground, and under his tutelage a whole new era of listening habits was born unto me. He turned me onto stuff like James Ferraro and the Lamboghini Crystals, Jessica Rylan, Marcia Bassette and Hotogisu. Some of the stuff i had lurking around my hard-drive, pillaged at random, unknown and unexplored by myself. He provided me with the compass and sextant, the key and the rosetta stone.

So i have to wrap this up, have an actual life (not on the internet) to attend to. Some links for you to consider, while i'm away, to get ya started!

Ducktails - Acres of Shade . Lamborghini Crystals - Cool Runnings 1992 . Sun Araw - Beach Head lp . Changeling - Beyond the Edge of Dreams

An introduction. Thanks to Moral Adventure, id Reverberation, and the fabulous Cassette Tape Superstar for the hook-up, and czech 'em out for further goodies!

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Stranglers

Cuz the Stranglers are the Shit!!! Sue believes that in a perfect world, every day would begin with the song Golden Brown, from 1981's La Folie. Having experienced the magnificence a couple of times, languid strains of baroque harpsichord carressing my eyes open, earthy scent of coffee hanging in the air, i must admit, its pretty great. This link is 4 albums; The Raven, Themeninblack, Feline, La Folie, in one spot, link borrowed from the Fat City Cigar Lounge. So check it out and enjoy!

He moves in mysterious ways

For the last little while, i have had a roommate (we will call Mr. D), whom i have had many problems with. I met him originally last year, when i first arrived in Boulder, at a meeting. He talked a lot of pseudo-mysticism, was separated from his wife and family, and frankly reminded me of my old friend Micah, who took his life a while back. I still carry a lot of residual guilt, although i helped Micah in every way imaginable, it just sucks when our efforts aren't enough, when we can't spare someone their fate, or make decisions for them. One of the most hardcore lessons of my 20s has been that you can't save anybody. I myself couldn't be saved, although a buoy or three presented themselves, when i decided i was ready to be helped. Anyway, D. had a history of mental illness, a spiritual malaise, and he believed he was being thrust into spiritual purgatory realms, The Bardos he called them. I myself have a leaning towards that philosophy, so i sympathize and can relate, also having lost my mind at one point (a harrowing tale i long to tell one day.) The timing coincided with my quitting my job at Safeway, and i was more or less homeless, or living very close to the streets, anyway. Broke and hungry, we were in a position to help one another. So i offered to let him stay with me for a while, paying a percentage of the rent, and living on my sofa. Fast forward 5 months...
Everything was cool for quite a while, we were scrabbling together work and food, staying up late, talking about black magick, the mayans, the Chicago metal/industrial scene, war stories, girls. We laughed, we cried, we were brothers. Then something happened. Around the holiday season, he went home to visit family, and started the battle to quit cigarettes, and all the pressures combined with an unknown catalyst, triggered his mental illness. I think he quit taking his meds, too. For the last two, two-and-a-half months i have been watching the brother lose his grip on reality, descending into madness. Paranoia, terror, aimless drifting thoughts; there just didn't seem to be a solution for the guy, and i didn't have the right answers. For all my experience with addiction and mental illness, i have not really been face-to-face with someone out-and-out schizo-effective crazy. I just avoided my apartment, and when i got my job i gave him a notice, be out by the first of March.
It was getting worse and worse. Sue, god bless her, let me stay at her place a bunch, would give me a place to de-compress, unwind, stop worrying. I don't know what the fuck i would do without that girl. When i would go home, i lived behind a plastic tower, untouched and untouchable. It was very hard, to watch someone suffer so much, and know that i could do nothing for them. I have a long history with vampiric, co-dependent relations, with people who don't know how to access the sunlight of the spirit, themselves, and aren't willing to do the work. They treat me like an Energizer; and when i would start off healthy and happy, i would try and spread light and hope to diseased people, i would end up empty and drained, and i would drink again. These days, that would be a major catastrophe (i'm talking Vesuvius erupting, folks), so i am incredibly guarded against this cycle, but i still have those ingrained habits. So i have been playing a waiting game, living in resentment and going crazy myself. I got less and less involved every time i saw him.
Last night, i came home to him screaming at me in night terrors. I told him he should get help, maybe go to a hospital, and that i basically didn't want to be around him, and had no help to give him. Pretty harsh, to a drowning person, but i am not a life preserver. As wise Ben puts it, 'Their disease is stronger than our cure.' This morning i was awakened after 6 hours of sleep to him demanding money and generally freaking out. I haven't been that close to violence in a long time, and i calmly told him to go fuck himself. Now, those of you who know me, know that it takes a lot to get to that point, and can imagine what lies on the other side of said breaking point. And do not ever EVER wake me up like that. Let sleeping leopards lie.
I was awakened again at 11:40 a, to find my next-door neighbor at my door, telling me that he had to go, otherwise the police would be contacted, and i would be evicted. We're not allowed to have people stay with us at Thistle, and he had managed to piss off everybody he came into contact with. I told her i'd deal with it, (he was sitting right there), shut the door and said, 'you heard the lady'. God bless you, Anne, you are an Archangel and my deliverer from evil. Its interesting, as i got less and less involved with another person's fate, it would allow room for grace to shine in my life. I said 'enough' last night, and that was it. Lets hope the transition is smooth and does not end up with me having a broken fist.
So i came over here to Folsom St. coffee shop, the neighborhood cafe where i do all my computing, affectionately referred to as The Office, scrounged up some music online, and sat down to write this. I've been listening to Chris Brokaw's Canaris and Jane's Paradise. Chris Brokaw was the guitar player for Codeine, and this album was him doing his best John Fahey/Loren Connors meets Harvestman/Steve von Till power-drone tastiness. Jane is a project with Panda Bear from Animal Collective doing some experimental electro-beats, bedroom house tape experiments, tight solid beats with otherworld sound effects. Kind of lo-fi, pretty innocuos for the most part, doesn't bleed into the foreground all that often, but as i stop to pay attention, its actually pretty beautiful. This is the first time i've heard either. I've been getting into a new habit of coming over here and writing and jamming some headphones for an hour or two. I really like it, its soothing and nice. Today i start my official schedule at work, which will be around 4 til midnight or so, which means it should be pretty mellow, i'll be able to do my own thing more (listen to CDs and do my work), and that i will be able to make it to work on time. This job is one of the major blessings that has come my way, and was one of the first results in my washing my hands of D's fate. I really feel amazingly blessed in so many ways, and would like to shout-out to all my people (my extended spiritual family) for all you've done for me, and how amazing you are. You know who you are.

So i will leave you with an interesting link that i discovered this morning. Angela, if you are reading this, should take special note, i think you'd dig it
"i believe in the magic and authority of words." - Christopher Merrill
discovered from the wonderful and interesting Wood s Lot blog, that i can't wait to peruse further.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

wed. morning

Just a quick update, check it out!
SO MUCH KRAUTROCK! As an eternal devotee of the kosmische music, i thought i'd point y'all in this direction, of a mighty fine blog. I haven't started digging through this yet, and to be honest, i haven't been listening to as much german psychedelic music these days, as i no longer take bong rips, my ipod is broken, and i don't have much occasion to ride the subway or go zipping along the Autobahn. However, there are some mighty fine headtrips to be had in this era of music. I recommend Can and Neu! for starters (my favorites.)

I'm also getting into a band called Colleen that i found from my friend Serge, which is sort of ambient electro-acoustic music. I'm listening to an album called les ondes silencieuses, which is gorgeous and soothing, very contemplative start to my day. Reminds me a bit of a band called Bell Orchestre, who are also very good and worth checking out.

My other main groove of this week is a band called Electric President, listening to their self-titled album from 05(?). A very heartfelt indie-electronica that really does remind one of The Postal Service, just like everyone else says. The electronics are impressively realized, however, tight and intricate, with great bursts of emotion, lovely vocals, meaningful lyrics. Its got some neon, airbrushed looking cover, and i expected another hipster electro-trash record, and was pleasantly surprised. I've listened to it 4 times in 2 days.

You can find the colleen stuff here, at the wonderful Experimental Etc. blog:

Happy hunting!

Monday, February 9, 2009

You can't put yr arms around a memory

Some of you i haven't seen in a while, some i've never seen at all. Some might've thought they'd never seen me again. I know i've been gone a while, so i thought i'd take a moment to recap, and perhaps introduce myself to those that don't know me.
My 20s have been very hard, and there were times when i didn't think i was gonna make it, when i didn't think the darkness was ever gonna end. When i was younger, i was good at pretending that i had my shit together, things didn't bother me; projected an air of confidence. Truth of the matter is i was a ball of self-loathing that covered every uncomfortable sensation with drugs and alcohol. Never dealt with anything, and it all festered. As i got into my 20s, i felt worthless and inadequate, and basically tried to kill myself. I survived all of that, and i'm here to type all this now, sitting at my neighborhood coffee-shop. I want to tell y'all what happened, what i've learned, who i've become.
During most of my 20s i have been a fanatical music obsessive. Playing it, listening to it, i let it become my whole life. I have played music my whole life, starting with piano lessons at age 4, going through school bands and the growing pains of becoming a rock musician. I have gotten more and more fervent as time has gone by, but most of the time i felt that i was missing something. Some magic formula that would transmute me into a rock god, help me write songs like Dylan and play guitar like Hendrix. When that didn't happen, it really threw kerosene on the fire of my self-hatred, and i didn't think that i deserved to live, that i was worthy G_d's grace. The truth is: music saved my life. During long, hard nights when i was having re-occuring images of drinking a glass of bleach and washing this life goodbye, i'd think 'it's just too tragic, if i die before writing a good song.' I wanted to at least be a tragic genius. It got me through, and i'm happy to report that my various creative outlets are starting to really come together.
I lived most of my life in a blur, not paying attention, not really here, not really there, not really anywhere but in my head, which was a bad place to be. I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that in my lifetime of experiences and sucking down media like rock candy, there is so much that i just haven't really absorbed, paid attention to, been moved by. Today, it is my job to allow myself to be moved deeply by the world and the people in it. It is a constant battle, to slow the fuck down, to not define myself by the thoughts in my head, or my worth by how intelligent i am.
Today, i feel like i am surveying my life and picking up the pieces. Stepping out of the shadows, and i see a lot of friendly faces that remind me of eras of my life that have been missing. My life has been a succession of next things, one thing after another, as i'd try on different costumes and personas, to defend myself, to pretend i was invulnerable. One of the things which i have battled with through-out my 20s is the effort to appear COOL and to be respected by COOL people. Truth is, it came from a place of fear and inadequacy, over-compensating and trying to impress. I'm not trying to be cool, now, i'm trying to be real. I legitimately like myself, today, and that is a miracle.
So i'm living in Boulder, Co now, and i am sober. I am getting my life together. I have been dead fucking broke for the last 5 months, eating out of dumpsters and alleyways, but people have emerged to help me, and i have been well loved and taken care of. I'm not alone anymore. I'm playing music with a couple different people, and i feel that i am a pretty competent guitarist. I listen to and collect music obsessively, as always, but i am struggling to have a healthy relation to it, and not have it be another escape. I have a sitting practice, that i struggle to be dilligent with, but i feel better when i do it. I'm dating a girl named Sue, who i am wildly and passionately in love with. We've been together for a little while now, and it has been surprisingly healthy and sane. She totally fucking rocks!
So i want to tell some of the stories of some of these wild and drastic times, but i thought i would provide a preface, to quench the curiosity of those who're curious. I know i've been go awhile, for some, but here i am! And i am ME! Better than i have ever been! Whole and happy, and ready for the struggles are ahead, because i don't have to face them alone anymore, or try and have all the answers, or try and impress. I'm lettin' it all hang out, cuz i don't have anything to be ashamed of anymore (although my apartment is a mess, and i would hesitate before having anyone over for soup and salad.)
So this is gonna be a place where i can post some of my wild stories and be generally self-involved cuz frankly, i need to get it off my chest. I have spent a decade waiting to be William Faulkner, or Gandhi, someone totally brilliant and selfless. But i've always written in journals, even during the darkest days. That's the reality, and i'm dealing with reality these days. I will also keep y'all posted on what is going on in my life currently.
So anyway, its good to be back...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

post birthday blowout!

just a quick note, to respond that i had an absolutely fabulous birthday, probably the best ever. I hope to tell a more elaborate story at some point in the future, but right now i'm scarfin' some lasagna and finding some music for A. and myself, and working on this here site. I wanted to give a hearty and heart-felt thanks to S. for spoiling me fucking rotten, which was really strange for me. She gave me Mr. Punch and silver hot pants. I just felt really loved and cherished and blessed, and i tried to spread the love and good-cheer around, to good effect, i think!

So thanks to everybody for the well-wishing, and come back soon and i will tell the tale of my birthday party ice-cream social hard-drive party, which was totally sweet. Also, if there's anybody out there, i'm looking for a couple of things:

Seeland - Tomorrow Today
Califone - Deceleration One and Two

See y'all soon!

Friday, February 6, 2009


just wanted to post a quick update of my listening habits from last night:
American Analog Set; The Promise of Love: probably the best music to chop fresh basil that you could ever hope for. It is fresh and invigorating; relaxing but stimulating; exotic but oddly comforting. I love this fucking record, takes all the best nuances of krautrock and infuses it with surprising humanity.
The Go! Team: Thunder Lightning Strike; I've been into this album for a while now, since seeing them at the pitchfork festival in Chicago, but I'm always surprised and delighted when i hear it. So incredibly upbeat! What happens when cheerleaders go indie!
V/A: Spaceships of the Imagination; Some psy-trance comp, weird. Nothing like listening to recordings of disembodied alien voices to make an impression on new co-workers.
Red Sparrowes: Every Red Heart Beats towards the sun; Most epic floor sweep ever.
Beethoven: String Quartet no. 13 in Bb; Pork chops and sweet potatoes, as i struggle for compassion. Totally beautiful in a baroque way, must say i'm not that fond of the light frilly chamber music stuff. Sorry, my cravat is at the dry-cleaners.
Landing: Passages; Sleeping. Good to drift off to. I got to meet them a while back, opening up for the exceptional Windy & Carl, at the Empty Bottle in Chicago. Talked about synths with their keyboard player. They were the house band at Windy & Carl's wedding. Y'all should check 'em out!

Today is my birthday, and i'll post a more elaborate message later.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

relax, turn off yr mind and float downstream

so it is unseasonably warm here in the Front Range today, and i am in an unseasonably good mood. Positively glowing, in fact. Woke up on time and ran some errands, in the morning; talked to several friends; and just generally feeling blessed and positive, spreading the cheer. Tomorrow is my birthday, which i normally loathe and despise, but i have so many wonderful people in my life, who are so loving and kind, and i actually feel kind of SPECIAL this year, (not in the short bus way). So it looks like there may be some fun things going on this weekend, i'll get to see my nearest and dearest, and i'm probably gonna get The Fall's discography, for all yr spiky post-punk needs.
  I got a package in the mail yesterday, from my mom, which contained some things i left at her place in Indiana. I got an old notebook, that i was writing in over the summer and had a lot of cool shit, including some drawings from my trip to Louisville, Ky that i'm rather fond of. Also contained in that package were pictures of my Dad, which i had asked her for, cuz i don't have any, and it was a total surprise blessing. My dad has been a major guiding light and guardian angel in my life, even posthumously, and doubly so since i got sober. He was a drunk as well, and he pretty much gave it up for me, when i was born. Now, having been a 'problem drinker', i can really respect how difficult that must've been. I could never do it, on my own. When i was born, he quit his wicked ways and i never saw any of that shit. Pretty much had an idyllic childhood, until the trauma started anyway. So, i'm feeling inspired and motivated, and i'm getting shit done, which is difficult for me. Showing up for work on time and doing a good job, paying the rent on time, having challenging conversations with people, making time for people that i love, and finding time to have a spiritual and artistic practice. Now, i don't do all of those things, it is definitely a work in progress, and i'm still getting used to working a lot, and having limited free-time. I've been under-employed for the last 5 months, with nothing but time to fuck around and pad my external hard drive. 
  So my job is cool, thus far. It is stressful, at times, and it blows my mind that i somehow managed to walk into a management position. I am truly blessed, and i feel up to the challenge, in this and all other aspects of my life. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


hey, this is gonna be the personal blog for one j. simpson. Those of you who know me may find yr way here, those of you who find yr way here may get to know me. Basically, i need a chalkboard where i can scratch  my nails and capture my fleeting inspiration, possibly while working. 
So anyway, it's Wed. and i'm halfway done with my workweek, at my new job, working at the CU food court. So far, so good.
I wanted to post my playlist for this evening, and some quick thoughts: 
Broadcast: the Noise Made by People: which is mighty fucking excellent, but was partially obscured by the Noise made by refrigerators.
Ratatat: Classics; which completely kicks fucking ass, and is great to work to, to boot. Its got a great boot, and its funky, but its kind of peaceful as well. Good to chop tomatoes to.
The Ex and Tom Cora: and the Weathermen shrugged their shoulders; Its just ridiculously awesome that i can listen to the ex while i'm working. Tom Cora is an experimental cello player, and i really like the work he has done with the ex (two albums i believe, see also scrabbling at the lock, which is one of my favorite albums in the universe.) I was mainly enthralled by the novelty of listening to this, and was very good when they're rockin', but some parts get very quiet, and were lost to the din. I love it when Andy Ex goes into his chucka-chucka precision post-punk thing. These guys are gods. The only other downside about listening to this while at work, is its hard to pay attention to the lyrics, which are always so fucking magnificent and intelligent with the ex. But they're good to shake yr ass and thrash yr head to, as well.
Guided by Voices: Isolation Drills; Haven't listened to GBV in ages, was thoroughly enjoying their timeless beauty, but then the CD fucked up. The song, Glad Girls, was one of my favorite live musical memories, i'll try and tell that story some other time. and finally,
Matthew Shipp: Pastoral Composure; Free skronk jazz meets beautiful baroque classical music. Don't know much about this guy, but like what i've heard, plan on learning more. Anybody, care to share yr experience, strength, and hope re: Matthew Shipp, feel free to comment. Pretty good to mop the floor to.

So i have noticed that different music is good for different things, and what may be good to fix yr car to may not be appropriate to make love to yr old lady by. So as i'm spewing my thoughts on my listening habits, which is one of the main points of starting this thing and after all, music is my life, i will try and include what music would be best suited for. 

I'm discovering, in a fast paced kitchen environment, that sing-along music is good; otherwise something with a good-beat, instrumental wise. Abstract, experimental music; not so much. Jazz music is pretty good, listened to Mingus' Oh Yeah a couple of days ago. Discovered Mu-Ziq, which had always struck me as rather mellow and soothing, is actually kind of jagged and abrasive, and makes people think of psycho/slasher flicks!!! Huh, see what happens when you drag things under the fluorescent lights of examination.

So this is just a quick post, by way of introduction. This is something i've been meaning to get around to for a long time, so there ya have it. 

More later.