Wednesday, December 31, 2008

An Expansive feeling.

I've been feeling expansive today. The music I've played and the things I've thought have felt like a new branch of an old tree.
I've finally decided to say fuck it to the idea of music which requires others. There's a whole bunch of stuff that interests me in that sector, but I need to put my focuses elsewhere, because my will to work is usually far greater than everyone elses. That's not a fault in others, it's more a fault of mine. I have a voracious appetite for creation. My fingers hurt right now because of all of the guitar playing I've been doing. I've stretched my voice tonight, while it's still healing from a week or two of abuse. All of this and I have no audience. I don't have anyone to appreciate it, because all of this transpired in my room, alone.

I don't create because I want to be famous, I don't create because I want to get laid, I don't even create because I enjoy it. I create because I have too. There is something in me which must get out, and music seems to do that. It's the only thing that seems to do that. When My fingers the strings the fretboard and my brain are all the same thing, are all simply pallets for whatever force I'm channelling, all is right with the world, no matter what.

I can play music, about anything, at any time, and there is no doubt that what I feel will be better. If I feel sadness it will be cathartic sadness, if I feel happiness it will turn into joy, that much greater because of pain I have felt. Music channels something out of me, that if left un siphoned would build up and pressure my mind to explode.

SO now I listen to other people's music, hearing some of me in it, and hearing some of them in me. There is a tie, and it feels good to know that maybe you have something to offer the world.

I ramble because that is what I must do. the words have to leave my head or a decompressing explosion is inevitable. Everything I say, and think and talk and fuck up, all of that needs to go out on a page, or in a song, and when my fingers are typing without me being aware of what they're typing, or how, that is when the page is just an extension of my mind, a place where the thoughts I can't hold on to are saved for later viewing. That you may end up reading it has no tie to the purpose. The view into a brain not fully functioning, or perhaps functioning at too high a level, is something of use, but is secondary to the real purpose. I just have to. I must write, and that's all there is too it. It could be shit, or it could be deleted in the near futures, but as long as it's out the space in my head feels more open, and the thoughts that run together and run a part so quickly no longer threaten to destroy the delicate pieces of myself that float in the streams of idea and speech that slide through my brain circuits.

Monday, December 29, 2008

going into a hypomania?

I feel a lot like writing tonight. The music I'm listening to, the way my head feels, all of that is giving me reason to write. I have all of these things I want to say, and It just seems like the right time to get them out.

I'm not sure if that's a sign of anything. I do feel tired, and I'm pretty sure I could sleep if I chose to leave the keyboard, so I don't think I'm in a hypomania. That's the damn problem. Whenever I feel god I have to worry. Whenever the world seems to agree with me, I have to wonder if it's just my chemistry.

Being manic or hypomanic feels fucking great. I love the feeling, but I hate what always comes after. Always afterward there is debt, and recrimination, and STD screening. Always afterward I feel like my liver is that much closer to cirrhosis. I feel that my world is that much closer to being toppled over the edge.

So I want to write everything now, and that worries me. I feel awake and well, and that worries me. My impulsive urges don't seem to be kicking in, and of that I'm glad. I know things aren't wrong, but the things I know aren't always so true.

When I'm manic I want to go out and Buy everything, Drink everything, and Fuck Everyone. I'm not like that now. I just want to write. I just want to ramble on with nearly no goal. That whole thing where my thoughts are only loosely connected is one of the other symptoms. Maybe I'm on a build up to mania, or to hypomania. It is a gradual process, so maybe I'm just now beginning to notice it.

If that's the case, then I've improved. Noticing that something is wrong is half the struggle. Knowing that I should leave my credit cards at home, and hide the alcohol is a great help. Knowing that things might get a little crazy is helpful.

Writing about it is helpful too.

All this week I've been desperately wanting sex. That's probably a sign too. I'm glad I'm noticing these things, now I just need to figure out if it's for real.

The good thing about all of this is that if I'm just feeling good because the world isn't out to get me, and because there isn't anything seriously wrong with my life, I can go on with my life without trouble. If I prepare for the worst, I can just continue on. It's good knowing all of this. Finally knowing why I fluctuate from the darkest of darks to the brightest moods possible.

I don't know if just knowing my cycle is enough to keep myself from seriously fucking things up, but it sure helps. Knowing how long it takes to go from feeling that the best solution to the problem of a meaningless existence is to quit, to feeling like the Gods themselves have imbued you with their power, makes everything a bit more real, and a bit more manageable.

Knowing that maybe someone will read this and figure it out themselves is nice too. Maybe my self serving rants will serve someone else for a change too.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

an Un-ironic yearning for Emo.

I would have been perfect as the vocalist for an Emo band. We're past the time when that is the sort of music I can play un-ironically. I love that frank, heart on the sleeve feeling. The Get Up Kids, and Saves the Day. The Rites of Spring, and Hot Water Music. I was cut out for bands like that. I have a voice that's pretty but just expressive enough to sound hurt. I have enough strife to write about. I feel things strongly enough to respond with the sort of softly voiced anger that suits Emo so well.

I even know the musical structure well enough that I could write Emo songs in my sleep. I'm so well versed in the intricacies of selling out and the value of poor recordings that I could argue purity with those guys who only listen to music on seven inch vinyl.

I was built for harmony and painful realisations regarding a lack of self worth. I was built to write songs that show how much I rely on other people for approval. I could have put all of this effort into great music rather than personal growth.

What brings all this to the fore is the music I want to listen to while up in my hometown. I want to listen to this music that whines, because I feel justified in a place like this. I have small town anger that I could have let out in the powerchords of my songs.

I was in a screamo band in highschool. This was before the tight pants and eyeliner was a must for any show goer. I was into screamo (still am) at a time when the only similarity in dress was based on practicality. I had my band shirt, hoodie and jeans, mostly because that's all I had. I was into it before it was cool. And the fact that I make that statement un-ironically is a sign of how hip I felt I was.

I'm cut out for that posturing, and for the life of sleeping on peoples couches, eating ramen noodles from a styrofoam cup, and drinking too much. I am made for a world in which my music is the only thing that gives me purpose. But it's too late now.

If I were to play something easy, that I could just fall into without challenging myself, that would still be it, Emo, with it's strong chords, and it's tendency towards self confession. Emo is simple, and to me marks a time when the troubles we were facing really didn't have much to do with the rest of the world. Emo reminds me of a time when what I did was my business, and the hole I was in wasn't one everyone else could share. It was a time where suburban middle class white males could whine about how bad their lives were, and still feel justified. It was a time when being aware of the strife of the world was all well and good, but worrying about yourself wasn't narcissism, it was just natural.

I could have done that. Dropped everything for a tour of couches and houses, and small clubs. I could have done that, having rabid fans, but not very many of them. It isn't possible now, and won't likely be ever again, but I still feel that those young men singing about girls who scorned them have something in common with me. I still love emo even though it isn't cool anymore. I still love the way it sounds, and the cheesy things about it. I un-ironically feel nostalgic for a scene I never was able to fully immerse myself in.

That simpler time is gone, and my ranting about it doesn't change that, but maybe it will remove some of the shit people give emo. Just because someone decides that their problems are important enough to sing about, doesn't make their music in valid. The sooner people realise the actual worth of good emo music, of what emo was before this popular shit took over, the better off musical history will be.

moving towards reconciliation

Tomorrow I'm leaving the mountains again. I've felt less animosity towards this place while here than I had expected to. If that sounds like an odd statement to be making, I suppose some background would be helpful. I hated this place. I haven't thought of it as home since 2006. Now that I have a place of my own, tenuous though my ability to pay for it is, I don't have to hold on to this place.

I grew up here in the mountains, a smart inquisitive kid in a place where that sort of thing was discouraged. There were things about Westwood that aren't true of other places, but for the most part it was a logging town still separated from the mixing seen in most of the northwest.

I know more about guns and cars than I would ever care to, simply for conversational purposes. When I was small and my parents took me to San Francisco I was fascinated with black people because we didn't have any. I didn't realise that nigger jokes were offensive until junior highschool. The only AP courses offered at my highschool were done on the internet through third parties, and in my junior year I had to offer the principal an ultimatum to take more than one.

Essentially everything about this place stifled my mind. Everything about these mountains except for the ability to just leave into the woods held back my potential. Naturally I grew to resent it. I was the definition of misanthropic, and I still don't think that was an unreasonable response to the world.

I ran into people I went to highschool with while up here on holiday, and one of them said something rather telling, "I don't think I've seen you since you graduated" That's three years for anyone who's counting. There was a reason for that. Coming back up here still makes me want to listen to angry music about lost love and unfulfilled potential. Coming back up here still fills me with the desire to Fuck Shit Up.

So that I felt less animosity towards this place than I expected is a huge sign of growth on my part. The place hasn't changed, it is still enthralled by drugs poverty and redneck politics. The people are still petty, and exclusionary, with the exception of those who came here for solitude. People still know who I am, and I still know who nearly everyone is, and I still have a past here. People are still getting married or pregnant far too young, and are still joining the military because there's nothing else left for them. The place is the same place, and that will be true further in the future than I have plans.

The place hasn't grown, but I have. I feel good about that. I still feel like I could have done so much more (and could do so much more now) raised just about anywhere else in the US, but I don't feel as resentful about that now. I have come to except the good and bad that has come my way because of my upbringing. I have forgiven this place for it's shortcomings and am willing to live without bothering it, if it doesn't bother me.

I've gone from a point of view of mutually assured destruction to one of live and let live. That's all I'm willing to concede to as of yet.

I'm now willing to admit that maybe the confining character of this place has given me inspiration, and drive that I may not have had otherwise, and that perhaps growing up with a certain degree of adversity has helped me to deal with the adversity I'm likely to face in the future.

Being from here isn't something I fight or deny anymore. I still can't tell people here that I like girls and boys, and I still don't have peers who understand me here, but I am willing to live with that, and that's a big step.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I had a firm intention when I sat down to write this post. I wanted to say something about the place I am in the world, and about how I feel about the world, but I don't have any serious desire to do that anymore. I don't feel like writing down a record of what my state is would help anything.

The dilemma with which I'm faced is really one about whether keeping track of my life is worth the effort. I know that sometimes I just have to let out all of my thoughts in writing or my head feels overfull. I don't know if that gives me the right to put all of that on public display though. Ultimately if I decided to write a book (or finish any of those I've been working on) Then it would be the same sort of situation. Why are the products of my mind, imaginatory and not, important enough to be shown to everyone who cares to see them? I doubt that I'll stop writing, and doing so in a public way, but I also doubt it will cease to bother me to a certain extent.

The cult of micro-celebrity isn't something I aspire to. It bothers me that people could know where I am and what I'm doing nigh all the time. That doesn't mean I stop posting facebook statuses, nor does it mean I stop posting thoughts on this blog. I wonder what that says about me. As much as I find people airing their dirty laundry for the attention of it a little disgusting, to a certain extent I am one of those people.

I suppose the real idea here is that I'm recognising my own contradictions. There are things about me which don't mesh with each other. I don't feel bad about this, but it's simply something I feel I need to be aware of. People like characters with internal contradictions, we like our holy gangsters, and our ethically questionable heroes. These inner contradictions engender interest. I guess people realise that they are not just one person. The duality of mans being is vital to our concept of self. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, "The Dark Knight", any number of other characters give clear view of this. I'm just not sure I want to be part of this self contradicting thing we call humanity. I can't really do anything about it, but I do wonder how necessary our duality of being is, how necessary that which is evil about us is.

Friday, December 26, 2008

my hollidays, and me

I spent Christmas at my brothers, hanging out with my little niece and nephew (damn the English language for not having a cognate for Sobrinos) and playing Poker with my parents and my brothers friends. It was a good day and I'm glad I went up to see everyone. That's sort of become our holiday tradition. My brother's house is where we have thanksgiving and where we have christmas. Everything else is up in the air, but those two are pretty solid.

The tradition of having thanksgiving at Craig's is a relatively new one. While I was growing up (or for most of that time) we would have thanksgiving up in Oregon with my brother Chucks family. That only lasted one more year after he died in 2002. It sort of became too much. That whole thing was sort of too much. The way my family interacts isn't very different because of it, but certain things were thrown into relief.

It's a topic I'd need more time to delve into. I don't mean that I can't talk about it or anything, I simply would need more time to really know how I feel about things. The way that my family is confuses everyone but those members of my family. Everyone thinks they have a crazy family, but for mine it's true.

My siblings are all about 18 years older than me. My sister is technically my half sister and my brothers were adopted. All of them were here long before I was, and all are my siblings in the truest sense of the word. Everything else about my family is complex in different ways.

My father has the similar mental illness to mine, or perhaps I should put it the other way around. That's made a lot of my life interesting, and has made all of his interesting. We lived in Japan, and we lived in the mountains. I grew up with these two polar opposites, so as much as I am a boy from the mountains I am not like everyone else from the mountains. I was raised by teachers in a community that didn't value education. I grew up with rednecks, and still became a far left winger. I am filled with contradictions. That's partly because of my family.

There's more to me, but that's what this blog is for, to really figure it out. Maybe someone will be interested in who I am, and maybe they won't, but either way I'll figure out what all these intertwining influences mean.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

back home with mixed feelings.

I'm back in the mountains tonight. It's an odd feeling. The place is still intertwined with the good and bad that came from spending most of my childhood here. Coming back up here has also reminded me of how horrible it feels to be stagnating. Even when on vacation the fact of stagnation eats at my being. I'm not particularly pleased with doing nothing. That's not to say I don't still play my guitar and read and write while I'm here. I just don't feel like those things lead anywhere.

The nature of this place is isolation. If I produce something of worth here, it is of no worth to the rest of the world, mostly because it doesn't ever get to the rest of the world. Basically I am reminded of the futility I felt while growing up. Many of the things I'm feeling now about this place are no longer true. I no longer have any responsibilities in this place, and no longer do I have to wait to get out. If I so chose I could leave tomorrow. That is a liberating thing to know. But just because I can leave doesn't make the memory of being stuck any more pleasant.

Ultimately that is what this place reminds me of, ambition caged by circumstance. I hadn't returned here for the longest time for just that reason. All I was reminded of was the sick feeling that I was capable of more than I was allowed to do.

Being back isn't as bad as I had anticipated, and I am willing to put up with my feelings of stagnation and confinement for a while. I don't so mind the situation when untethered, but I doubt I'll ever remove the feelings that made me hate this place. I doubt the things that I never got because I grew up here rather than somewhere more open will stop haunting me. I doubt that I'll ever grow to love this place. Maybe I'll grow to feel indifferent, maybe I'll be able to see this place objectively sometime, but that time hasn't come. For now I just marvel at the natural beauty and the way that so many of these people surrounded by it are utterly ugly in comparison.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


To further expand on my previous post, this post will deal with what I am beginning to think of as Post-Chordalism. Or Post-Chordal music. It's all based in how you think of it.
The key basis to the idea is the removal of a structure mediated by chord progression. This is something played around with in free jazz. I don't feel it's been played around with, (at least not enough) In music where guitars are the primary focus.

I admit that the guitar is so wonderfully suited to chords that not taking advantage of that would have been obtuse. Of course that was going to be a focus of the way guitar is played. I'm only sad that has been the only focus. The riff based construction sometimes used in maths rock is a nice step in the correct direction. Using the guitar in a similar way as an instrument which can only play a singular note at a time, though restricting in certain ways, opens up so many possibilities. It is interesting even as a simple exercise. It's like trying to play without a high E string. The sound is different, but it challenges you to play within a truncated range. This challenge changes your music, often for the better.

I don't suggest that Post-chordal music would have no chords, I simply suggest that the usage of chords would be less frequent, and at the whim of the guitarist. In the early stages I imagine this would sound like free jazz played on the guitar, but whence the techniques prominent in maths rock, such as finger tapping, enter the arena, something entirely different will emerge.

The Point here is that the Post isn't a complete leaving behind of, but a de-emphasising of. In many a song the chord progression is the key sign of structure other than "verse chorus bridge" Though I'm not yet sure about which vestiges of structure to keep and which to get rid of, I do think that chord progressions are on their way out.

I would most like an ensemble sized group, with a bandleader within. The bandleader would give signal, be it musical (some riff perhaps) or other wise which tells the rest of the band to switch their tone completely. whatever had been worked on is left behind and something new is created. The only structure is the way in which the bandleader decides to line up the changes. Some riff can be the focus of a block of the song, but everyone does as they will in that space, playing off of each other, until signalled into another switch.

That's the basic Idea. The amount of music that could come of it is magnificent. There is a nigh infinite realm of possibility in just that idea. If someone manages to start such a Post-Chordal, or Free-rock Or whatever the hell else you want to call it, band, ensemble or so on, I'd be thrilled.

In fact that would make things easier for me. It's never the first guy who does it who makes the biggest waves. Take Ornnette Coleman's adoption of Free Jazz and then John Coltrane's (Coltrane was second, and far bigger)/

So please borrow my idea. Perhaps better musicians than me can take it and do something with it.

So this idea is yours to anyone who finds it. Credit me or don't, but make great music either way.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

maths rock/free jazz = The future of music.

I've been listening to lots of maths rock (It sounds better as Math rock but mathematics is plural for god's sake) Bands like LITE, You Slut!, Maps & atlases, This town needs guns, Foals, American Football, and a few others. I love the guitar interplay. That's always been a big interest for me, interplay of multiple parts.
It brings up the fact that my musical interests and aspirations explore a few particular things. I am most interested in the interplay of multiple melodic lines, discord, passion, and innovative use of dynamic range.
It can be seen in my interest in Jazz, and maths rock, as well as my interest in screamo and post-hardcore. I am most comfortable where musician-ship meets the need to express.
I am helped by the fact that I strongly desire to express things I'm unable to put into words. There are a number of things that only music can bring out. The best example I can give of this is the way that a piece with two melodies brings out a third melody which though unplayed, is naturally there. It's like the two melodies outline the space for the third unplayed one to go. Basically one is able to hear the space inbetween.
This is partly because of the way I hear music. I hear music in terms of what can be added to it. Most songs have something missing. Almost all songs. Even great songs have things missing. There are melodic opportunities unrealised. when nothing is missing the music is just fucking amazing, but this is a pretty rare occurrence.
So I'm as likely to come up with some different tune to go along with a song as I am to sing along with the tune the song already has. It's only when people have more than one melody going, playing off of eachother, and modulating based only on patterns set out beforehand and the other players ideas. It's the logic behind great jazz, especially free jazz.
Two great musicians playing off of each other is a great example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Two great musicians playing off of each other pushes each musician in directions they wouldn't usually go.
I feel like the natural next step in music, the next progressive step is that fusion between free jazz and math rock. There is a natural junction there that I don't see being fused. I asked my friend (a wonderful jazz drummer) why no one has gotten to this point yet and he suggested it's a musicianship problem. Most jazz music with rock instrumentation becomes fusion. That's all fine and well, but it's been done. It is passée in the most literal of ways.
What I would like is a free jazz played with rock instrumentation and a certain flavour of maths rock tied in. It's a hard thing to describe, but with only one person I sure as hell can't play it.
The trick is to remove a large deal of the structure of the songs. That is where the maths rock is missing things. There is a great deal of interplay, and the way that the guitar is weilded is pretty impressive, but the removal of standard rock structure is what's missing.
That's also the problem with the fusion inclinations of electric musicians who chose to play jazz. It's like they can't get past structure. Maybe I learned differently and so ended up at a different playing point, but the rock structure, for all the good that's been done with it, needs to be put to rest.
There are advancements in rock, and they're interesting, but they all have the same structure for the most part. Subversions of this structure are welcome and usually end up being some of my favourite things, but none have been game changers as of late. The story has been the same for jazz. Jazz hasn't had a real game changer since the death of Davis. There hasn't been a Coltrane for the modern era.
Someone who throws into sharp relief the things that can be done. Someone who throws a monkey wrench into the workings of things. Basically I am calling for those people who have the inclination to make beautiful Jazz or Maths Rock, or Post Hardcore to take a good hard look at what you're changing. Say fuck it to the 90/10 rule about familiarity/innovation and throw out most of the structure that keeps you up. Be brave enough to create without a life vest.
I'm going to try to further this dream, and I continue to play guitar for hours a day to further my skills, and my goals, but if someone should step up before me, that would be welcome.

Monday, December 15, 2008

fascinating flaws.

This is a retread from some time last month, but today was indeed dreary, and I've figured out that if I want to write on this blog every day it would be best to just write things related to what I write in my notebook (or in times of little inspiration just copy my notebook). So here are a few pages from my notebook from a few weeks ago.

" It's a pretty dreary day, but that's how I like it. yesterday I stood in the rain for a while waiting for a bus. It felt good having water pour down on me. It felt nice to be out in a healthy world. I chuckled at everyone trying to keep dry, and wondered how much sense it made for something made of so much water trying to avoid just another form of water.
This is one of those ways people are so fundamentally silly. Some of our beliefs and actions can be so asinine. That's of course part of our brilliance though. The lies we construct are so masterful as to inspire awe. The idea of religion is so fantastical and yet so practical. All of our flaws, if you so wish it to call them that, are amazing.
Just as the snake with two heads thrills and excites, so do the apes with beliefs in a higher power.
We are amazing. Delinquency, cruelty, the creativity with which these things are acted out is fascinating. NO mater how much one detests the purpose of guns, the inherent beauty of the object is unavoidable. Our contradictions and the ugly little things that define us are interesting.
Much like staying dry when it is so unnecessary, our quirks show a huge creativity in the interactions we make with the world around us. "

so that was written in a surprisingly post like format, for being a direct quote from my notebook. Luck I suppose.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

If ever there is a quote regarding how many blogs in the world there are, blogs like this one are accounted for in that number. That sort of draws into question the logic of those numbers. That' my blog exists and is written in doesn't make it important. If people read it, then it might gain some amount of importance, but as far as I can tell it isn't. There must be millions of blogs that work this way. There is someone who writes on it frequently (probably more frequently than I do) but very few people read it, few enough to draw into question it's validity, and importance.
So when I see newsmedia talking about blogs and how many there are, I'm sceptical. Many of these blogs are just like this one, Of little importance, and of little interest to most people. that's what is great about blogs, they're very individual. That's got to be remembered.