Music Review :: FbcFabric & Reindeer — It’s not who you know, it’s WHOM you know

Yes, I am doing a music review anyway. Why? Because I’m listening to this album for the first time in a while and I cannot fathom NOT knowing this album. Plus, I am remembering just how important some of the lyrics are in regards to capitalism and consumerism.

This is my perfect hip-hop album. The tracks are all minimalist beat tracks. It adds to the lasefare tone of the vocalist in ways that I cannot articulate. His lyrics are cutting, sharp, and almost vindictive. There is no swearing, which adds weight behind his message.

I saw Reindeer by accident in Guelph with my friend Joel. We went to a hip hop show, to which I have only been to one. Independent hip hop is actually more intimate than any independent metal or punk show that I have been to. There was an admittedly small crowd of only 25 or so people, and the stage was just an idea mic’d up at one end of a bar (cafe?).

The performers were all over the map. There was one gentleman who was clearly just apart of the scene because of the poetry of the lyrics, there was a duo who loved the idea of mainstream hip hop, then there was Reindeer. He stumbled his way on stage, in a way that I cannot discern if it was showmanship or if he was strung out on something or REALLY drunk.

Regardless of what he was, the show he put on was magical. He didn’t miss a beat. I couldn’t imagine being the only one on stage. Even if the crowd was small, to recall lyrics with meaning, even if the meaning is explicitly personal, is unfathomable to me.

It was more than a show, and more than a concert. It was a performance.

I remember not having money for any merchandise, so I borrowed Joel’s CD for probably way too long. Think Massive Attack mixed with Gorillaz, and that an okay comparison. I have not found something so original or pure my entire life.

The Social Experiment

As some people saw, I released a poll asking what the content of the next update should contain. It was a success in some ways, and a miserable failure in others.

So, why am I calling it a failure if I got some input? I only had 13 votes, and that kind of hurts. It kind of tells me that there is a very small portion of people who read this, and possibly even less that actually care. I DIGRESS! To those 13, thank you. I really do appreciate it!

The winner was the topic “something else”. I have had a recommendation by the amazing Katie Maz (that should be your superhero name) asking me to do a book review. I think that’s a neat idea! There is a catch, however: I haven’t read a book since I ended up in a wheelchair. I would love to, but the damage to my oculare nerve makes it hard to focus on reading. Even typing this, I barely look at the screen, and proofread at the end. Red squiggly lines make that part easy. I will try, regardless. I mean, I will do my favourite book. I remember most of that one pretty well.

Can you guess what my favourite book is? You would be forgiven if you guessed 1984, especially because I yammer on and on about how amazing that book is. No, my top spot is filled by Rant by Chuck Palahniuk. The best part is, even if I read it today, I would still only be able to talk about half of it because it’s so full of twists and false-flags.

The word of the book takes place in a dichotomy of two existences. You have the people of the day: very similar to what we have now, and there are the people of the night: think midnight shift somewhat permanently. The two planes of existence rarely intermingle. Not by any expressed issue that may incur, but by just happenstance. It feels more natural than a government force imposing some sort of anti-mingle rule.

The story follows around the character of the title (Rant) as he experiences the world around him. He is accompanied by a collection of misfits and weirdos that he calls friends. They enjoy destroying things, and lead a very normal (or, “normal”) life.

The book becomes surreal when time travel comes into play. I am NOT going to go any further into the plot because it will ruin parts, but my GOD the path is worth it. To give an example of how convoluted (in the best way ever) this book is, it is NOT a massive spoiler to say that he is his own grandfather.

That’s right: him being his own grandfather is NOT a massive spoiler. More of “well” as opposed to a “NO WAY” when you read it.

The writing style is what you can expect from Chuck Palahniuk. Grotesque, unnecessary, overly descriptive, and completely perfect. One thing that I have championed for a very long time is that he is my favourite author. To call him unique is underselling his works, and also short-changing his very stark look on society.

Like Fight Club before it, this book has a way of looking at society. It is not bluntly chastising, nor does it feel like he is going out of his way to attack. It simply feels like he is focusing on aspects as literary expression as opposed to critical commentary. It’s more of a “this is how things are” as opposed to “look how things are.” The difference is how he doesn’t explain things: doesn’t try to fix them.

I will be keeping the poll open for the next little bit. Vote on it, and if I notice much of an interest, I will adapt.

Writer’s Block is Weird

I find myself at a bit of a stop in my next book. I am proud of what I have so far. It comes out just over 20 pages. Strangely, I am able to think of a blog post to write, but not a continuation on my writing.

Why does the brain do this? Yes, blogs are a little more auto-biographical usually. That, or they are explaining from a very biased (in my case) source. My stories are usually birthed from reality. They are all situations that I have either lived through, or exaggerations on events. No, I have never been part of a terrorist organization, nor have I taken a bullet for my cause. I have been publicly ridiculed and emasculated for my beliefs. No, the comparison is not one for one. It could be argued that being publically hung to dry is worse than being killed. At least, when you’re killed, you don’t have to keep surviving in the hellscape that comes after.

On that note, at least if you don’t die, you can patch and fix your image. It may take a long time, but it’s doable.

On a very unrelated note: I got a new chair! I’m not using it! Thanks!

Okay, details: I have been using the same chair for 6 years at this point. I have learned many things about what I want from a wheelchair since I put together my initial order, and grew out of certain things that were put in place all that time ago.

Unfortunately, the chair I received until they have constructed mine has a misplaced centre of gravity. Small imperfections in my movement would result in me suddenly tipping backwards. Luckily, wheelchairs have anti-tip bars in the back. They saved my life on multiple occasions, but I hate having to rely on them. Due to this, I moved back to my old chair with a new seat cushion: at least for now. I hope that all is sorted before August.

ask for help

It sounds stupid, but asking for help is fantastic. I have been stuck with an ill-fitting chair and next-to no money for years, and one phone call to the local LHIN fixed everything. Either they are working with me hands on to make sure a goal or three can be met, or they have talked to me on the phone to try to give me some direction.

Now I have a new chair on order, which is fantastic and much needed. I have a Physiotherapist coming (as I write this) to give me exercises in order for me to hit milestones in regards to walking and being in good health.

The most interesting, and helpful, has been the Social Worker. I have never met her, and I probably never will, but she is helping me in ways that I was unaware there were answers to questions that I had.

For example, she has gotten me in touch with the correct branch of ODSP, which sounds minor but I was stuck. She is looking over her papers to try to get me into some sort of group as an advocate, which is my goal. She has been helping me look into government housing.
ALL WITHOUT MEETING HER.
She doesn’t know me from Adam, and she is willing to put in all of this work: I cannot fathom just how fantastic she must be in person.

In conversations with this woman, I was informed that there is no support group for people in wheelchairs without having some degenerative disease or truly tragic (but “common”) issue. I posed to my FaceBook an idea of people in wheelchairs meeting up once a month, and immediately it was taken as I was lonely and needed to talk to someone. It was dismissed straight out.

I do take on fault: I worded the idea poorly. I should have made it more clear that I was shocked at the lack of community surrounding people in wheelchairs. I was not stating that I wanted friends (though, who doesn’t, right?!).

It was just an idea. I don’t want to be co-ordinator, or even have magnanimus control of a group like that. I just want to put into motion the idea. Maybe I’m selfish, but I don’t like the idea of something like that not even pretending to exist. I want the option to not show up to something like that.

New Book

As some people have heard, I am working on a new book! I started only recently, so timeline is a bit ragged at the moment. I have an idea of where I want to go, as well as at least two characters flushed out.

SURPRISE! It will not be a happy read. For the people who have read, what I dubbed a, WIP: I have scrapped about half of it in favour of continuing this new direction that I pieced together in my head.

The one of two things I am keeping from my initial 20-or-so pages is the theme of survivors guilt. I have a character that is dealing with the death of her children by blaming herself for their death on a legal level. I am not spoiling much, as even I don’t quite know where her story will end up.

My goal is to have the book be about 200 pages long. I am not going to put more restraints on myself, for fear of not measuring up to my own goals.

Do you want to be in the Thank You list? Check out my Patreon. Anyone who donates even $1 a month will get their name immortalized at the end of the book!

Check out my already released book here! If you do not feel like giving monthly, buying a copy of You’re Not Dead helps out a tonne.

Your Caring is Showing

I have been keeping quiet with all of the political turmoil going on. Not because I disagree with it, or am worried that someone will not like my point of view, but because I am woefully uninformed and do not wish to spread false information. Some of my friend would say that saying nothing is as bad as being on the wrong side, but I disagree.

To spread propaganda or hate based on ignorance is unacceptable. I have been making efforts to learn as much as I can over the last few weeks simply so I don’t spread false claims and sweeping allegations. Unfortunately, there have been so many reports of events as of late, the knowledge I gain is outdated before I finish learning it.

It got me thinking about sympathy v. empathy. Sympathy is feeling a way about someones situation. Emphathy is more understanding the feelings. So, in the case of the #blacklivesmatter movement, I sympathise greatly. As a disabled adult, I kind of empathise, but I will not pretend that is entirely true. To truly empathise, I would need to go through all the things that are being protested about for a similar, if not the same, length of time.

I have not been able to make it to a rally, though I would love to. I hate that I have seen this bubbling for the last two decades, but the police (especially in some cities in America) have clearly been over-funded. That is a selfish Canadian boy looking through his computer screen making that observation. We are talking about a country that monetized and glorified it’s police tactics by making a reality TV show based on exploits taken.

Personal confounded moment: why are there still so many racists? On that topic, if you’re going to say or do something racist, why not own it? We all see, we all hear, we all feel. There is a difference between accidental racism (saying something out of honest ignorance while having the best of intentions) and just being completely in the wrong. Have you learned NOTHING from WWII?

I get why they say there is no point in fighting irrational hate. I have sat with my keyboard in my lap trying to come up with a second paragraph on my previous point. I have thought about the scientific discoveries and debunking of the past 50 years, I have started mapping out charts and graphs showing how ‘X’ does NOT equal ‘Y’ in this instance. I gave up when I realized that this information is VERY available and far from news. It literally takes IGNORING facts to carry down that road.

Know what? I find it sad that it took the destruction of the world to realize just how wrong we have been about everything for everything to be considered being fixed.

 

Music Review :: Amitié / Karloff

As I mentioned recently, I have been asked by .no funeral records. to look at a few of their releases. To start the collection of notes, I have chosen to focus on a split by Amitié and Karloff.

Full discretion: I am friends with two members of Karloff. I feel like pointing that out is important, though I promise you that it has not tainted my opinions at all.

Music is music. To say “you love it or you don’t” feels antiquated. I rather go with the idea of someone either understands and relates to what you are trying to say, or they don’t. In the case of these two bands (they each do a song on this EP), they define that idea. This sound is incredibly off-putting if you are not quite sure where to place your attention.

I know, I fucking know, that grindcore (and all its many facets) are not everyones bag. When it comes to the -core’s, even I become quite discerning. I tend to lean heavier on the mathcore side of things, because I’m an arrogant fuck. This does NOT mean that I cannot appreciate incredible skills when I hear them.

Amitié starts off the two track journey with a slow, low toned dream scape. That dreamscape, however, turns into a nightmare quickly. The track is only 1:18 long, and transforms into a high-end massacre of all that you expect. The drums use a much higher ratio of cymbal/snare, where as the intro was almost exclusively toms.

Karloff opens their track with a simple hold of anticipation before the hammer falls. They take a more jazz chord structure, and delve further into a feeling of anguish before just leaving the song where it began. At 1:03, this song packs in everything you could want from metal track minus the annoying 80’s guitar solo.

I would say Karloff reminds me mildly of Buried Inside (in regards to crushing oppressive tones mixed with blistering fast metre), where as Amité elicits feelings closer to Fuck the Facts. Amité has a more polished sound, but the Karloff doesn’t sound out of place: just the mids seem a bit wonky.

Overall, if you like heavy music, I very much recommend this split. It is everything one needs in less than 4 minutes.

Arbeitary number rank: 30912385 out of a possible 2.865

Bandcamp || Cassette

Why I write about music.

I am very certain I have written about this topic before, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to search through hundreds of self-indulgent words mixed in with only a small amount of importance.

First and foremost; I think music is THE most important thing in life. I realize that you cannot consume it for nutrients, therefore it can be argued that food is the most important. This is MY blog and I will make my sweeping statements that cannot be backed up in anyway!

AHEM: I make that claim trying to keep my past out of the equation. It’s not a secret that I spent more than a decade working very closely with the music industry. Hell, I worked at a record store for seven years. I was playing on albums and playing shows since 2005. I produced a few albums and EP’s. I have almost 40 days worth of music sitting on my hard drive. I ran a record label. I review albums because it’s fun and I think I don’t suck at it…

So, why put music above everything?

It’s the one medium that collaborates every aspect of the arts while being recognized by every single culture.

What about the deaf?
They can feel beats and rhythm, and can even tap out an approximate flow if they can focus on the direction of the metre. As far as writing guitar or piano, if they know their music theory, they can easily do that. Not to mention that, if they went deaf later in life, they can probably remember things that sound good together.

Now, to elaborate on my claim about combining every art. To combine poetry and music seems like a simple task, but after watching others do it for years, I now can confirm that it is not as easy as one might think initially. You need to keep flow and metre in mind, as well as emotional weight and emphasis. That’s two of the arts down.

Let’s keep going.

Album art takes care of the visual arts, on the surface and immediate level, anyway. Again, I ran (a very bad and unprofessional) record label for years. Visual representation does generate sales, as shallow as that sounds.. If the album cover is appealing, people are more likely to pick it up. I am under the impression that is why vinyl came back in a large way: the larger cover plus the appeal of having something tangible.

(That’s what drew me in, anyway.)

Let us not forget music and lyric videos. Though music videos have kind of shrank in importance, the few that come out can greatly add OR detract from the appeal of the music. Lyric videos are huge.

Stage performance is a kind of acting. Even the “roots” acts one may see have cultivated that image, whether it be intentional or not. I have played with many acts who (consciously or subconsciously) do a full change when they go on stage. As a musician, you learn to play off the crowd expectation. That could be reactions to a previous move you make, or observations on how the other acts that evening maintain the attention of the masses.

So, after explaining all of this: let’s get back to the initial question of why I write about music so often!

  1. I love everything about music. The concept, the sound, the feel… Every part of music makes everything in my life have context, and it’s very hard for me to go a day without thinking critically about it in some way.
  2. I think that it is important. Whether it is in regards to mental or physical healing, the effects that it has on a being cannot be ignored. I cannot be bothered to source all the facts I know, so I’ll just bring up the emotional well-being it brings myself. I know that music makes me happier, and therefore I try to do things in life. Without music, I would have little context for waking up in the morning.
  3. I’m good at it. Well, I think I’m good at it. I at least find it fun to do, and if you don’t like it, stop reading my blog.

With all of this said, if there is a topic that you would like me to explore in further depth, please get hold of me somehow. I have been contacted by .no funeral. records to examine a few of their releases, and I am excited to roll those out over the next bit.

The Trolly Problem is Broken

I love “The Trolly Problem” and have for a very long time. I will stick with the version I know best, but Saania proposed a fantastic version involving a mad man and some theatrics that is very much worth your time.

The concept is simple: you are the conductor of a trolly. Driving your route, you notice that the breaks are out. Ahead, there are three people working on the tracks. Their equipment makes them completely unaware of your impending vehicle, and, the way they are situated, you will surly kill them all.

You then notice that there is a fork in the track that you are able to activate and take advantage of. Unfortunately, there is a solitary person sitting, enjoying the view away from you, clearly unaware of the impending doom. Of course, if you switch the track, he will surely be killed by the metric tonne of steel you drive.

The question that is supposed to sit at the end of this situation is “What do you do?”

Do you kill three to save one? Or do you go the path of sacrifice one for the many?

I have noticed that in every version I have seen of this conundrum, you are always given a situation that is out of your control. It has been my experience that people will rationalize and find ways to avoid blame.

It’s the mechanics fault. He should have checked the breaks better.
It’s the cities fault. They shouldn’t have workers on an active track without notifying the right people.
The solitary man should know better than to be near the tracks at that time.

This brings you to now, where I am trying to solve this issue with a situation that can not be thwarted.

The exercise is supposed to be about where the value in a human life sits. Is it actually better to kill three? Or is it better to destroy one life?

I really enjoy how The Good Place illustrated it.

The episode kept swapping out the solitary man or the workers for people the protagonist knew. One time, it was his mother or three important people from history. One time it was a mother with a stroller vs. a collection of nuns. It quickly became greater than one life vs. many and became more a question of morality.

Does one appearance matter more than another?

Again, my frustration with the question is that it is in a bubble. There is no credence placed on the guilt that forms after the event. No ramifications of resulting law suits or familial issues arise.

To be fair; the problem was devised to see what people would do in one situation and there was never supposed to be emphasis placed on any long term issues that arise. MIT released a version looking more in depth, but it still avoided “the next day” in every version that it brought up.

None of the issues detract from how much “fun” the thought experiment is, though!