Europe Endless Part 2

Wednesday 19th.

The instructions were to meet somebody holding an Unsound sign on the platform of Krakow train station. No such sign appeared as I gently floated downstairs in the sea of commuters, exchanging my Euro for Zloty with half an idea of getting a cab to any place which had a horizontal surface of any description. At which point Alice, volunteer wrangler of wandering Australians, caught me, and guided me to my apartment over in the Old Jewish quarter. She told me many things and I nodded at the right places to appear awake.

This fine apartment had several horizontal surfaces which I began to inspect in great detail for an extended period of time. Now, next door to the hotel there began a night of celebration which I can best describe as if Laibach were performing an extended set of Vengaboy covers, mixed with a shock documentary about domestic violence and the truck that picks up all the empty bottles at the pub, except louder. Which I figure is your standard Polish night on the town. This managed to pierce my oblivion about every 4 hours, but defeated each time by sheer exhaustion.

Thursday 20th.

Eggs. This day was for the Artist talk, but time first to visit the Old Town.

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I was most impressed that Krakow has a Starbucks dating back to 14th century.

The Artist Talk was led by a fellow from The Quietus who seemed to treat the experience like an exam nightmare without pants. Then the fine moment where I was introduced and the audience had no idea who the fuck I was or why they should listen. Like most Australian artists I’m pretty expert in being obscure and winning people over with colonial charm, and by the end they had all laughed and seen the game in action so win.

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Alice wanted me to see some of the other acts. I wanted to make a closer examination of the horizontal surface. We compromised on a visit to the nearby Bunkier Cafe, which celebrates the Central European art of chain smoking cigarettes to the point where every surface is covered in soot. We had a long talk about female mystics and Australia and relationships and aging that went on as we walked back through the rain to the apartment, because what better way to follow smoke than with rain if you want to keep your singing voice?

No party that night. Oblivion enveloped.

Friday 21st.

Eggs. Time speeds up. A jackhammer started somewhere above the apartment. Stewart was in the air to Warsaw from New York via Dublin. He was on the train. Alice was somehow to get him from the train station to the hotel and to sound check in half an hour. The Friday traffic was foul and seemed to be as much on the pavements as the street. Somehow we arrived on time at Hotel Forum, built by the communist government just before the collapse of the USSR.

Down in the hall the PA was of a such size that every time Stewart played a bass note he got a foot massage. Apparently it sounded fine out front. To my ears it sounded like a jet aircraft taking off complete with smoke effects. Who were the people there? We will never know as time was already running out…

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Saturday 22nd.

Halfway through the set it became Saturday, and a mad rush to get back to the apartment, wash, pack and leave for Amsterdam at 4am. As we were in the air, bands were still performing at the Forum. But this is a tale for the next installment.

Australian and Alice

Lost Australian, and the ever patient Alice about 1AM at Forum.

Europe Endless Part 1.

Prologue.

Each time I confessed to a promoter that we’d last played their city a neat 30 years ago, you could see their eyes do a little dance, like – had I been sent away for murder? Did I go on a secret mars mission? What in god’s name puts a band back on stage 30 years later? Not a bug, but a feature of contemporary music – the complete collapse of new talent – perhaps faith in new talent, I am no judge. We were not nearly the only bunch of elderly crisscrossing Europe.

It must be said that our last extensive tour of Europe was a debacle. No fault of our own – the fates attacked on every level – sickness, equipment failure, thievery – the toll was awful and I recall trying to entertain 800 people in Zurich alone with TV set for visuals – would you book that twice? No, you would bury that as long as it took to forget.

Only BodyBeats in Antwerp risked the airfares on exclusive appearances, much to our mutual benefit in 2005 and 2011. This time it was Unsound in Krakow that wanted the exclusive, but a change of government funding in Poland meant that we had to find other income. Our recent collaboration with Dark Entries records provided a network of DJ entrepreneurs that were able to take the risk.

The shows grew organically, a bit haphazardly, with no one person in charge of it. From Krakow, we added Amsterdam. Glasgow was keen. Berlin also. Slowly a network of dates came together covering two weekends, with London suddenly wanting a third and Paris very late to the party. At no stage did we have a master plan or even a sense of profit versus loss. It was enough that a second chance had come and surely – surely it couldn’t be anywhere as awful as the first.

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En Route.

The first time a record label brought us to London they used the cheapest fare possible – a Garuda bus that bumped up and down for 36 hours at every plausible refueling point. These days you have a lot more choice and the metric is one of:

Potential of catastrophic death vs. Price vs. Misery.

  • Potential of catastrophic death: Garuda not an option, Aeroflot not really big on my wish list either. You want QANTAS, it doesn’t fall out of the air much. Nor does it fly into war zones like Malaysian.
  • Price: under a grand. Can be done but requires attention to the other metrics.
  • Misery: To get to Europe from Australia you need to hop somewhere near the equator. More hops, more pain. Too fast, miss the plane. Too slow… read below.

I can remember as a small child arriving at Dubai and not being hit by a missile, and found an Emirates/QANTAS flight through Dubai to Warsaw under a grand. That seemed a great idea with only one teeny weeny problem – the connecting flight left 7 hours later.

Seven Hours at Dubai Airport.

The flight from Sydney was in fact the venerable QANTAS QF1 flight to London that has operated as long as I’ve been alive. Probably since Captain Cook. Stuff of legends – so many Australians have hopped on QF1 hoping to make their fortune in the mother country. Not so many in 2016 as I had three seats to myself. Felt smug until I saw the lady next to me had five of them.

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Dubai is alleged to be the busiest international airport in the world, spanning three main centers linked by train, each with four terminals. After 14 hours I arrived at A, not knowing where I would depart. I walked in circles endlessly, a kind of Arabic Ballardian miasma. No place was better than any other – it could be here – it could a kilometer away.

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It turned out to be the gate next to the one by which I arrived. Or an identical gate reached by traversing the infinite bounded space of Dubai airport.

Warsaw.

The 7 hour flight to Warsaw was by Emirates proper, and the announcements made in Arabic. The staff were dressed in the mock Arabic costume you would expect, but spoke excellent Polish – as after all they were all Poles. (This weird costuming reached a pinnacle in Glasgow where a large Scottish lady of advanced years sat behind the counter dressed as if an extra in Aladdin, but I’m ahead of myself here).

At Warsaw a firm lady in military uniform asked me where I was going and seemed to find that amusing, stamp stamp.

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Built wide for ease of access by Soviet tanks.

The young man that guided me to the train station spoke impeccable English with an accent that would have suited a Gentleman’s Outfitter of 1800 and something. That is, it was all rather smashing and I do say old chap. Seems that if you learn English at a university level in Poland you end up with sounding like Lord Haw Haw. He wanted to show me Warsaw. I was extremely grateful but the further we got away from the train station the more visions I had of running frantically down the platform after the departing carriages.

A gift from Stalin. Better like it.

A gift from Stalin. Better like it.

But once prompted he delivered me back to the station on time and pointed at the right platform. ‘Make sure you don’t get on the train to Unpronounceable Destination’ he warned me. The train pulled in. It went to Unpronounceable Destination. But the station sign said Krakow. I asked the guard. He pointed to a carriage. I climbed in. The train departed. I was either going to wake up in Dubai airport or the train was going to end up in Krakow and by this stage, either seemed just as good as the other.

Treasure Map is out.

That’s all for now, I’m tired.

Baggage and Luggage.

Baggage. Luggage. The shit you cart around with you – stuffed in your wallet, falling out of your backpack, shoved into drawers and cupboards. That’s bad – but I’m not talking about that now.

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There’s the stupid thing you once said to somebody you cared about 10 years ago, that pops into your mind at 2AM and sets you upright, thinking how different things would be if you hadn’t fucked up … bad too, I’m not talking about that either.

There’s also the baggage that we’re blithely collecting right here, right now, weighing down you and me. The encrustion of online life. Photographs and texts and fuck knows what else the machines have pieced together about you. If you were born since the Internet then there’s probably not much hope for you, you’re in your own little Truman Show and everybody is getting a good look. You might even think that’s normal, bless you, hope that job interview goes well a few years from now.

Somehow there is a rule that goes like this: the worse the photo, the more likely it will show up in online searches. It’s true isn’t it? I spend months getting fitter and happier and yet will be forever a photo The Guardian once took of me flopped and miserable, sweating with a bad flu. You might think that’s a small thing, but consider the impact on resolution, on positive feedback – do what you want, try harder, it’s not going to change a goddamn thing in “society”.

Oh and of course I can make new hi resolution videos, put heart and soul into them… but then somebody will post an old VHS on YouTube and erase everything I’ve worked on. Improvement – personal or professional – is negated by some goddamn algorithm.

Catalyst: I recently saw this band photo again –

October 1983

October 1983

on Facebook for a gig that’s happening in 2016. Like it’s a photo from 33 fucking years ago and it’s still doing the rounds. OK, so that’s tragic, but the main thing is Simon, on the right there. He’s dead. He’s been dead for years, and there he is, still staring out of the screen, freshly dug out of the grave. For pity’s sake – isn’t it time we did better than this?

Part of the culture of indigenous Australians has to do with people who have died – it is not right to display their likeness. I feel there is some justice in that for all of us. But go further. Let all the baggage evaporate, let it fade away. Some time after the event, wipe it, wipe all of it, and if it matters so much to somebody they can place it back again.

History? History is not what happened, as it happened. History is how we falsely recall from now, refurbishing the past. History is baggage. Drop it.

Treasure Map 2

I am exhibiting a virtual world called Treasure Map 2 for Unsound Krakow. This is now in production and it’s time to go behind the scenes and see what’s coming your way late October.

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Come on in!

The first Treasure Map was part of the Rhine album – it includes 5 video ‘beacons’, a world map and a set of lyrical clues. I’m not surprised that the meanings are still hidden – life was never meant to be easy. In creating the new Treasure Map I’ve made things much more immediate – it should take you a few minutes to find your first milk bottle and start dying.

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That was some party. A real killer.

If you played HH which came with Adelaide Festival 2013, you’d recall there was an underground bunker, and a back story about a ‘princess’ trapped in there, exploited in a dream like manufacturing process. You can get the whole back story here. TM2 is a riff on this story – a side show. Let’s say much much later people started to dig up these bunkers for the explosive energy they contained. Let’s say they piped out this ‘witches milk’, put it in silos, put it in bottles to power things. And of course there’s trouble when you do that sort of thing.They desperately tried to seal it up again, left signs and barriers and scarecrows.

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A perfect place for a picnic.

But any place where there’s trouble, there’s treasure. People still come for the ‘milk bottles’, people like you who have no idea what they were once for. You can wander around the island as much as you like, see the sights. Eventually you’re going to find a milk bottle. Drink it, you may as well. Or you might find where the milk comes from. That’ll kill you too. Some things will heal you and if you’re careful you might get to drink all the milk.

It’s essentially a music album, fuelled by toxic ‘witches milk’. You drink to hear the music, then try heal yourself enough for the next batch.

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Maybe you could – but it would take you a long time to get there.

Two months out from launch the island is built, the wind blows and the water ripples. There are structures, warning signs, signs of previous visitors, who have left you some warning information. Milk vats and bottles are spread around the place, only a few have milk in them. I just scripted the effects of drinking one – impaired vision, music, a big drop in health. Once tested on a single bottle it gets copied to the rest. The healing places are not yet built. Underground corridors are in their early stages. The ‘witch house’ is made but needs much more detail, although you won’t live long enough to see much of it.

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We use only natural wind power to pump our toxic sludge.

Very likely it’ll be a version 1.0 that gets out in October, with additions later on. For one person to get this going is hard work and there’ll be bugs. But anything that gets away from playing music from 30 years ago is worth all the late nights.

Be an eBay Folk Artist for Fun and Profit.

Walking the hallowed halls of eBay you will be struck by the quantity of fine folk art on offer. Something for every taste, from UFO aliens to Ronald Reagan to What Is That Shit I Don’t Know. And the prices are pretty fine for a lazy afternoon’s work. Don’t fear your next phone bill – phone in something pricey a financial planner will cherish.

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$400.00

It may look pretty simple. It’s not. Just being incompetent will only get you halfway. An extra spark of divine madness is needed, so best to get your Oxycontin habit up and running right now. Think of it as an investment, both for you, and the local Doc-In-A-Box.

The first step is to hoard some old bits of wood. True, you can work up some pretty fine folk art just with toilet rolls and cotton balls, but wood is the royal road to success. Old planks, toilet seats, fence posts all good. A bit of glass is OK so long as it’s cobwebbed. Never ever use a surface designed for artistic production. That’s something for city folk.

Now you are probably city folk yourself. That’s fine. All you need is to take on a hobo otherkin. No longer Royce Cigarillo of suburban dolor, you are now Betty-Hank Barnhouse, one armed midget with a career in chicken hustling. A carney ID is always a good one. Maybe a clown. Have to be from the country, have a dusty cowboy hat, and half breed. If you have some trouble maintaining this identity try adding some spirits on top of the Oxycontin. Feel your otherkin taking over. Practice a few yodels.

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$2,500.00

Get some house paint and ready to go. Slap it on. We’re going to struggle through the haze of booze and drugs to approach something vaguely resembling one of:

  • A desert scene.
  • Clowns having a laff.
  • A right wing politician.
  • Our savior Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins.
  • Self portrait of Betty Hank.
  • Aliens.
  • All and none of the above.

Do not worry if it seems to be going horribly wrong. You’re on track. Feel the divine guide you. You are the outsider. Say it. “I am the outsider”. Keep going until there’s no room left.

The paint fumes will have brought you to a place where others fear to tread (if not try huffing the fumes from a bag). You see further, higher than the rest of humanity. You also need to vomit. Quick, before the spirits leave you – take your pen and write whatever words come to mind, in round childish capital letters. Do not pause to think, or form coherent sentences or even words that other people can recognize. Just write. Throw down the pen. Vomit. You are done.

Don’t forget to date it at least 30 years ago. Put it up on eBay and wait for the acclaim that only a half-breed one armed midget clown could expect.

!B+qgLggCWk~$(KGrHqV,!gsEzr1oUH+OBN!Vv222ng~~_12

$3,000.00

Things I will miss from giving up media teaching.

maxresdefaultTim Burton.

“My character idea is called Frank Skelly. He’s kind of like a character from a Tim Burton movie. So he lives in this graveyard and it’s spooky but at the same time kind of fun, because everything is cartoonish like a Tim Burton movie. So anyway he’s going to get married to girl but she’s a ghoul like in that Tim Burton movie and … hey wait, I’m only on slide one…”

Grandmothers.

“I’m really upset at the moment, my grandmother died, I just can’t get the essay finished. No, last year was my mother’s mother, before that was my dad’s mother, this is my second stepdad’s mother. No, the one in 2015 was my adopted mother’s ex husband’s mother. Well I don’t know why they all died in exam week you are being really insensitive.”

Mothers.

“Jimmy tells me he doesn’t like what he’s studying here. He says it doesn’t fit with his aspirations. Jimmy is a very bright child, aren’t you darling, yes. He was top of his school. He needs his ideas to be accepted and positive feedback. How do you expect he will thrive if you keep being negative? He is very sensitive. I’m sure he doesn’t need to come to classes when he’s already so clever at all of this. No, Jimmy let me finish. Furthermore…”

Lectures.

“You explained it in the lecture? How were we supposed to know that? I don’t have time on that day. If only it was recorded, oh it is? How were we supposed to know that?”

Cameras.

“What sort of camera should I buy? I was thinking of a really expensive one. Yeah but I like the look of the expensive one. Yeah but Tim Burton uses the really expensive one. I’m sure I’d do more work if I had the expensive one. Why don’t we have the most expensive one in the resource center? No, that’s last year’s.”

Context.

“Why do we have to learn about the history, ideas and culture of the practice in which we hope to build our future career? Can’t we just do more Photoshop? The other degree just has Photoshop. I’m going to transfer there.”

Music.

“I got the music off a website. I got the sounds off a website. I got the dialogue off a website. I got the idea off a website. I got my entire mental process off a website”.

A series of photographs.

“I know I said I was going to stage an opera with a holographic stage setting and data collection of the audience’s hopes, dreams and wishes in real time – but I’ve decided to just do a series of photographs. How many do I have to do to pass?”

Game Culture.

“I am really into game culture, and my friends are all into game culture and I hope to have a career in games. This Level 6 Dwarf is a really important part of a cut scene in the game I’ve being playing 12 hours every day I and I don’t see why it’s ‘an insufficient major project idea’.”

Fine Art.

“The red stripe means the courage I had in high school which is opposed by the little blue squares, there’s 5 of those because I had like 5 boy friends that didn’t understand my feelings which you can see here is a bird in flight, no, not that, that’s a mountain. Well the mountain is the weight that held down my personal freedom and it’s also breast shaped you see that’s my change of sexuality that comes from when the bird comes up from this brown area here. The brown is my last break up. I’m really expressing my feelings about the whole planet here. That? That’s a cow. I like cows.”

Dear diary.

Dear diary I know I haven’t written anything here for a while but there’s been a lot going on in what we call the ‘real world’. And I should mention Facebook because I never realised how, for many people, it is the real world.

In staying away from Facebook, I’d imagined it to be like the many other social networks I have made or joined since the beginning of the internet. I felt I could judge it by technical aspects, but the difference between a small town and New York is not in the shape of buildings. If you have enough people and you influence the mob subtly, everything changes. The machinery itself stays distant, watching and silently moving the streets around to guide the parades. I have learned much about breakfasts, worldwide.

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The first distressing thing I noticed is a clock that says when people last visited. A simple thing and yet it says you just missed somebody, or they are ‘here’ and ignoring you, or that you yourself are desperately avoiding real work and were ‘here’ only a hour ago. It’s a banal evil. Twitter is much better at letting you dip in and out of the water without splashing others.

Seems the other billion users are fine with being confronted by people about whom they have old mixed feelings. I’ve not had that many relationships (I tend to the long term) so I guess it wasn’t such a feat for FB to have them all lined up in my “friends” apart from the one who died and another that it suggested I might go ahead and add to the list OUCH are you kidding me? Was I so sensitive that I found this utterly horrible, and have become so insensitive now that it doesn’t phase me to see them all there in neat order? Plus they all got fat. They think that too when looking at me.

It’s been instructive to watch Bradbury raging at the machine, trying to be as vile and angry as he could manage at the population of Pleasantville, who just smiled and waved at him as they hosed their lush social lawns. He reached maximum vomit and finally disappeared in a puff of smoke, defeated. This instruction led me to try a different kind of rebellion, a surreal mockery of their breakfasts, but that was just as useless, and so I just write whatever gibberish I feel like writing. Besides I am there to test my 360 degree videos and sell some music and that’s working.

Extruding into the real world, a message on Facebook from somebody I last met more than a decade ago. We met again, we have been meeting, and this has become that purgatory of hope and despair we all know as dating. I haven’t dated since my early 20’s and it makes me feel both young and as confused as I was back then. As there are two people involved I can’t be quite as talkative about this as my bereavement, but can I just say that I look forward to the day when I’m not driving through an endless line of emotional crash barriers.

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Let’s see, we’ve done death of parents, major financial problem, death of spouse, loss of job, new relationship… hmm, I see Christmas is on the list, let’s do that one for some more points.

Make that sound!

I’m increasingly required to reproduce music I made a long time ago. There’s a lineage of sounds based around particular equipment sets, which I can quickly summarize starting a few years in:

  • Slab Horror – MS20’s, tape.
  • Big Bigot – DX7, SH101 and AKAI Sampler
  • Bad Mood Guy – Mirage and DX7
  • Rotund – ESQ, TX81z
  • Cuisine – SY77 and S10 Sampler
  • Gigapus – MKS80, EPS-16 Sampler, Oberheim Xpander. <– expensive!

You can see why I have re-collected some antique gear: the AKAI sampler is required for Big Bigot for example, where Rotund For Success will need a TX81z. You can get away with similar gear for standard patches, the DX7 is well emulated. In some cases the sound is especially troublesome – and worst of all is that MKS80. Back then they were cheap, damn they are expensive now. Oi.

Here’s a sound I am keen to make – the first part of “Tiny Wounded Bird”.

That there is pure damn MKS80. Or is it? Surely there is something you could use to get just that, but it’s not easy. Let’s look at some of the parameters.

  • Really sharp attack – much sharper than most DCO machines.
  • Cross modulation – the metallic sheen.
  • Two layers. One of them has a pitch envelope.
  • Detuned oscillators – the MKS80 has a monophonic mode that allows it.
  • Bass boost – one of Roland’s cheat machines with EQ built in.

And being an early Roland machine it’s around the time that you could put the VCA too high. The Jupiter 8 can have this fault, but in the Jupiter 6 it’s fixed (unless like Graham Revell told me way back in the 80’s, you get it modded to be controllable.) It sounds to me like it’s too high here.

So then, which cheaper alternative would you use?

  • JX anything – envelopes too slow.
  • JP8080 – it does a really good attempt, after all, it’s a Jupiter. Turn up the bass and treble, make the two layers. Just not quite the analogue overload of the original. V-Synth is similar but still trying.
  • System 1 – it does the analogue no problem and can do most of the MKS80 bass. It’s not able to be two layers though.
  • Boutique JP08 – well actually, close. But it’s being a Jupiter 8, and so not quite the same heft.

I’m going to try the Blofeld next. But somehow that’s just… Not Roland.

Damn this nostalgic madness.