Moving Images + Geology

•October 6, 2017 • Comments Off on Moving Images + Geology

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A quick one considering it’s day 5 of my 2nd 6-day work week in a row and for lack of better description, I am dragging here.

Two updates. First, I’m happy to announce that a 9-month collaboration with Colorado-based improviser Paul Mimlitsch has just bore fruit by way of Uncompahgre, a new album from VFI featuring Paul on bass and contrabass clarinets and me on electronics. We’ve been bouncing tracks back and forth now since January and I’m happy to report that they’re quite freshly-certified on the usual aggregates. By the by, for those curious about the meaning of said word, it’s Ute and is on loan to such locations as the Uncompahgre River, national forest and what have you on the western slope. Roughly translates, it means “water that turns rocks red” – fitting, since Colorado itself is basically bastardized Spanish for “the color red.” Said national forest was also the site of one of the more amazing things I’ve heard over this particular lifetime, being expanding ice on a frozen basin, amplified by several peaks around it, turning each crack into an epic space-war of echoes. Possibly you hear that in these tracks? Or not. They’re improvised. Hear what you want to hear. As should be the case.

In other news, after nearly a decade of inactivity, I’ve somehow found myself working with video again. Granted it’s primarily using footage the remaining footage that I shot back then, but it’s something. I’m not sure if you would call them music videos, video art or something else, but seeing as the entire media world seems video crazy at the moment, I may as well follow suit. Or at least add a tab to page navigation. Things are a little sparse there at the moment, but I’m sure it’ll get fancy eventually.

And with that, coffee beckons. 16 hours left to this work week. If I’m lucky, the phone will ring with good news.

Autumnal Numerology

•September 24, 2017 • Comments Off on Autumnal Numerology

Hi All,

So it’s fall. And with that some new releases from the industrial branch, as well as an update on what all we’ve been up to – which is mostly a whole lot of building, writing and waiting. On the building front, I’ve been mostly finishing up projects that have been on the desk for forever and a day. Not much visible progress, but it’s a wonderful feeling to look at the workbench and not see a pile of works in various states of completion. One instrument of note: the second addition to what could be considered the “Industrial” series – in other words, custom units designed for VFI artists based on their custom specs and funded exclusively though the net label. It’s been a bit of a slow-going project, but the general idea is to have all aspects of the VF enterprise support each other, to allow an outlet for artists, provide instruments for them and somehow bring everything together in a holistic, largely non-commercial way. Or something like that. Obviously, money is still changing hands, but it’s a little more communal or something. At the very least, it’s less of a me building the same thing over and over again for money. For this interested in what this second beast was, here’s a pic – I’ll write a larger report later.

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The writing should also be self-explanatory. My trusty, decade-old flash recorder bit the dust a few months back so I’ve resorted to jamming into an old rack mount minidisc recorder. Considering that a good portion of my earliest compositions were based around minidisc field recordings, there’s a certain degree of nostalgia and feeling that things have come surprisingly full-circle in a way. But regardless, the simplified press a button and let the tapes roll approach is a nice touch – much better than working with a DAW – I mean, it all ends up there eventually, but with only one computer, recording and performing can be a little taxing on the CPU. Granted, one has to take into account the amount of time for realtime uploads, but eh, so it goes.

Ok – time to scribble is running out – it’s fall. Therefore a couple new recordings from the Industrial wing. Well, not exactly new – more like a decade old. But they’re some of my favorite jams, so somehow its relevant. Not to mention that hey, it’s also experimental music – the thought that more than a couple dozen people have heard these jams is negligible. So here they are – the entire discography from the satellite ensemble. Hope you enjoy them.

satellite001   Sylvedic

 

 

Easy Listening for the Post-Eclipse Crowds

•August 22, 2017 • Comments Off on Easy Listening for the Post-Eclipse Crowds

So hey, it’s been a second. Lots brewing and time at a premium, which is generally becoming the mantra around these parts. I think I may need a vacation, having spent a good part of the sumer on business jaunts across the Northeast. Still in Baltimore at the moment, pending possible relocation and attempting to live out multiple parallel lives simultaneously until one becomes reality. In the meantime, may the current reality prevail. Speaking of, for those that tune in regularly, you’ll notice that the Instagram-feed is back on the sidebar – not to say that we’re not still mildly paranoid about trolls and other “patriots” of the deep web, but a.) official permanent residency has been granted and b.) while the potential for some serious insensitivity from the swamp is still an ever-present factor, signs are pointing to an administration that’s too disorganized to actually directly impact or daily existence. Life, as they say, goes on. Now please permit me to take a second to continue knocking on this here block of wood.

But enough about me. There was a solar event yesterday – and given the rules of solar events, here’s a few new releases from the net label. Now, in theory, these should have been released yesterday, but I was actually a.) swamped b.) kind of sick and c.) working until 9. So here I am, coffee at my side at the kitchen table, staring down some HTML, fighting the good fight.

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First up – a classic from yours truly, originally released circa 2007 on the Dolor del Estamago label. Entitled We walked all night under the cover of darkness… in the morning we sought shelter amongst the pines in the valleyit was one of my first releases that I didn’t put out myself, and in turn introduced my work to a large swath of the bay area scene. Consisting of processed flute and field recordings (which was the case for a lot of my stuff back then), it was also one of my first “dream” mixes – meaning it’s meant to be listened to while sleeping. More on that later when I do something crazy like release another vslkast – I mean, wow, it’s been 10 years – I suppose a new mix may be in order.

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Next up: Songs of the Rain and Urban Decay. Also by me, but recorded a few months ago, as opposed to over a decade ago. Just some songs recorded in the living room in Charm City during an exceptionally wet spring and summer.

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On deck after that: Annotated Songs for Amplified WaterAlso by me. I know, repetitive, but also a good opportunity to clear the backlog of recordings. Considering all the things on my to-do list, sending demos out would be just another thing to dedicate to – maybe one day, but for those attempting to cultivate a simpler existence, one thing at a time. Sonically, this is about 12 years of orphaned mixes and experiments finally paired together into something slightly more melodic than my usual jams.

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Finally, Gloss, by Michigan/Colorado-based sound artist and professor Lyn Goeringer. I met Lyn in Ohio back in March during John Talbert’s retirement festival as she was performing on an amplified goat skull designed to collect wishes and dreams. All said, it was some kind of awesome. As is this collection of jams, made almost entirely with handmade square-wave oscillators and crackle boxes. It’s raw. It’s primal. And once again, some kind of awesome. Happy to share it with y’all.

 

So that’s that. Enjoy the tunes, stash away your glasses and keep fighting the good fight – will catch you on the flip side.

Solar report and celebration

•June 21, 2017 • Comments Off on Solar report and celebration

Fellow champions and well-wishers. A quick missive since, while writing this, it’s the early AM and the office beckons, but as today is on of those solar events that punctuate the year, there’s three new releases on the VFI net label for you to peruse and absorb.

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First up from the SF Bay Area is Tim Walters’ The Difficult Third Wish, which is electroacoustic laptop doom at it’s finest. As it happens, there’s also a physical release of this one, which you can pick up by contacting Tim directly.

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Next up is Dirge for 27 from vsls, which is one of my many monikers. I think in a previous post I was trying to figure out the differences between a couple and the conclusion was that vsls was mostly laptop stuff and True French was analog, but somehow this is analog but under the vsls tag. What can I say, gotta keep ’em jumping. Either way, this one’s all about an instrument I built a few years back called Number 27 in it’s final performances before retiring it by way of putting a couple gallery hooks on the back of it and hanging it on the wall. Spoiler alert: it’s pretty dark.

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Our final installation for this release cycle is Multifungi Volume 1 by Costa Rican visual artist and noise heroine Paulina Velazquez-Solis. In this edition, we collect the audio from 4 of her performances, recorded over the course of 7 year in 4 cities in 2 countries. Relish it’s archival significance as one of the few recordings of experimental music made by a woman in/from Central America – or simply enjoy the tunes. Your call. Just remember, you heard it first right here. Unless you have one of Marlo Eggplant’s compilations. Then you may have hears some of it there as well.

Speaking of Pau, I should mention that her last show in DC was featured in the DC City Paper. For those who read stuff, here’s the link.

Springtime Post-Industrial

•March 21, 2017 • Comments Off on Springtime Post-Industrial

As it seems the world of busy never abates, another proclamation for the masses. Namely, being that it’s the first day of spring, three new releases have dropped on the experiment and potentially focal pivot of existence otherwise known as VF Industrial. Rounding out this season we have:

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José Duarte – CR Dístopia. Imagine a future where the insistence on preserving the pristine aspects of eco-tourism and the perceived image of a globalized paradise has turned ugly and anyone not willing to support the myth disappears into the machinations of systemic rehabilitation. In other words, the sounds of the neopostapocalyptic post-colonialism direct from the source – as told via processed field recordings, VF synths and Pure Data. Click the picture, take a listen.

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Headboggle – Music for PC. Bay Area synth wizard and Buchla aficionado Derek G presents an extended mix of acoustic piano music for your entertainment and general  befuddlement. Recorded on a series of pianos across San Francisco, this mix was originally made to accompany films by visual artist Paul Clipson, and serves as the only current archive of their collaboration – in glorious stereophonic sound.

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Finally, we have Mare Island, by [ruidobello]. For this record, sound artist Jorge Bachmann presents a series of haunting mixes that combine haunting synthesizers with field recordings conducted at an abandoned navy shipyard located 20 or so miles north of San Francisco. For your safety, listen to this in the company of at least one friend and have a couple blankets available to take the chill off.

And there we have it. More on the way, including a small bit of tourism I’m undertaking in the ned few days – midterms are almost finished grading and a slew or emails need to go out by the ned of the week. I should probably continue hammering away at this paper I’m scheduled to present at Columbia University in a few weeks, there’s wiring to be done and recordings to be made. Ah yes, and episodes of a certain zombie-themed tv show to be watched – probably the hardest thing on the list to do. Seriously, it’s like we’re watching it in 7 minute chunks as we try to get our tv-ma viewing in while the little one’s asleep. The problem is that being a light sleeper, even the slightest zombie sound is prone to waking her. Adult life – so it goes.

Digital White, Revisited

•February 25, 2017 • Comments Off on Digital White, Revisited

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Ok, so the past two posts were a little dark – but eh, dark times and all that. This one, not so much. Just a quick update on the Digital White project that I started a while back – you know the one where I feed a bunch of data to the wrong program and watch it barf out images? Admittedly not the most graceful way of describing my process, but it’s basically what I’m doing in this case. In the first installation, which produced 125 5×5″ prints, I was basically throwing whatever sounds I had into the software and seeing what became of it. For this batch, things are a little more curated. For instance, now all sounds are the result of instruments I built myself. Also up is the fact that this is only part one of the project – as it so happens, my day job has at least two laser cutters floating around. Provided I can make a deal or two with their respective departmental curators, the next step in this project is to have these prints, comprised entirely from raw audio data of synthesizer improvisations, to be laser-etched onto various materials and then re-scanned back into the digital realm – along with whatever imperfections picked up along the way. Think of it as filtering and processing by way of physical medium. Not to mention that I’d rather own a laser-etched art piece that I can hand on the wall that actually contains the embedded data needed to create a piece of music as opposed to sealed 180 gram vinyl and a download code. But that’s just me. And as I repeatedly learn the longer I spend time outside of my bubble, apparently I’m different. Ever wonder about the true significance of your field of research? Teach an elective course – you’ll find your entire system of existence blown to smithereens by midterms. Speaking of, I should probably message my class about where the instructions for their midterm is on the CMS, upload some PowerPoints and hack together a quiz – all the while preparing for a show in DC tomorrow (decided on the laptop rig as opposed to the Sound System), a few days of festivities in Ohio and all the rest. Will be in touch. Apparently in the absence of social media this is now my outlet. A good thing? Maybe. We’ll see.

Three New Releases on VF Industrial

•December 29, 2016 • Comments Off on Three New Releases on VF Industrial

Hey there true believers,

As mentioned in the last post, three new releases dropped last week on the VFI net label. In theory, I was supposed to post about that as it came up, but something unfortunately came up by way of a deer splaying itself across my hood at about 40 miles per hour on the way to visit my family in New York. For those interested in experiencing the sheer ecstasy of dealing with insurance claims and transportation over the holidays when most body shops are closed and the car is physically 300 miles away, let me tell you, the ecstasy part is lacking.

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What’s not lacking is the quality of these releases, however. First up is Consumer Affairs by The Flayed Choirmaster. Admittedly, I don’t know much about his work – he arrived in San Francisco right after I left, but I’ve seen his name pop up here and there. After my first post about the first three releases, he wrote me asking of he could release something and considering that part of this project is to be as inclusive as I can, how could I say no?

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Second is the first studio record by f.org, the cello + electronics duo I’m currently playing in wish Alex Catona from down Costa Rica way. Also credited is the Norman Conquest on this hit, since when you record with Norman, he’s always part of the mix. We recorded it in Oakland before of of our west coast gigs back in September. Hoping this leads to many awesome things. For instance, shows in Europe, or something.

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Finally, we’ve got Grandes Exitos 2011-2015 by Costa Rican culture-jamming sound artist Bloqueos. Clocking in at over 4 hours long, this is a greatest hits album of sorts – in that every track has already been released on various other labels. In fact, even this record has already been released in it’s entirety, with the only modification being a slightly-altered cover just so there’s no confusion. Or something. Above all, I’m just happy to share some of this stuff with a few other rings of the sphere. I’ll need to check the pulse of the current scene down south, but for the briefest moment, there was a pretty amazing convergence of sound artists and experimental musicians in San José, Esteban being a crucial member of that scene.

So yeah, more on the way with another three releases scheduled for March, possibly with another few surprises in the mix as well, but at least for the moment, I’m enjoying my last few days of holiday rest, albeit car-less. Hoping I can clear a large chunk of projects off the desk if I can. Wouldn’t that be the day, yeah?

The Mancunian Report

•November 23, 2016 • Comments Off on The Mancunian Report

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So hey there. For those who actually read my postings as opposed to just scrolling through the pictures in search of furry guitar pedals and whatnot, you’ve probably gotten the clue that I’ve been a little busy since my last missive since the links are still empty and there’s no nifty pictures. Thankfully, the year is winding down – or at least in some regards. For those that have been under a rock, it appears that the closest thing that my country’s had to a tyrant on the level of the ones that the CIA’s been propping up in other Western countries for over a century now has somehow been elected into the executive office. Somehow, somewhere, I’ve embraced a mantra taken from a Flying Burrito Brothers song, copping my best Gram Parsons accent and crooning “on the 58th floor, a gold-plated door, won’t keep out the Lord’s burning rain.” And this is coming from someone typically against country music, religion and political statements. But that’s a story for another day. In the meantime, I figured I’d at least report that I’m recently returned from the Sines-Squares festal in Manchester, England. Splendid time, truly. Met some new friends, presented the Colorado Adventure as an actual academic paper (I’ll post it up later) and performed before flying home via a circuitous route afforded to me by one airline being so terrible that they simply just transferred me to their competitor to have one less passenger to worry about. I’m still on UK time at the moment and my body thinks it’s somewhere around 3 AM, but I at least figured I’d mention the adventure while it’s still fresh. Thanks to the organizers and everyone else. More in a tick.

-t.

By the way – for anyone interested in how I sounded, here’s a link for you:

VF Industrial. All Hail!

•October 5, 2016 • Comments Off on VF Industrial. All Hail!

So hi there. In case you missed it, there’s a new tab on the top of the site touting the words VF Industrial. Want me to explain what that’s all about? Sure you do. So. A few months back, Pau and I decided to take a trip to Mexico to take advantage of Xime’s waning child-in-lap privileges, as well as meet up with some art-friends, check out a couple galleries and eat ourselves into a coma on our favorite Poblano snacks, of which there are many. And while we were there, two general trains of thought collided, creating the secret sauce that’s lead to this current venture.

Thought the first goes back to January 2013 when I first met Carlos Amorales when Pau and I were showing at the Central American Biennial in Panama City. He was giving a talk on his Nuevos Ricos project and I, being slightly submerged in the worlds of punk rock and absurdity was amused. By the by, since I’ll only screw up on explaining the project, here’s a video of Carlos himself making the pitch.

Thought the second was taken from David Novak’s Japanoise book that I brought with me on the trip, leading to so highly circumspect reading as I tried to take a book about the noise scene in Japan seriously in spite of it’s use of one of my most hated phrases in the lexicon of academia – “ethnographic field study.” Long story. I’ll probably write a book about it one day, possibly a dissertation. Either way, let’s talk about what ties these two thoughts together as opposed to my usual gripes and tandems. For me, said tie was the thought of curation. In one of the later chapters of Novak’s book, he compares the differences between US net labels and Japanese net labels and what archival data can be derived from them. Was there a scene? Did these people know each other and play shows together? Or was this the product of a singular fanatic who offered to release recordings that tickled his particular fancy? My money’s on door number three – which in some ways is also what ties the idea of curation to Amorales’ project where he’s more or less creating the music scene that he would have wanted during his youth in Mexico.

This of course led to one of my infamous thought spirals whee most of the dogmatic rules that provide cohesion to my universe momentarily become unhinged. A quick case study. During my time at Oberlin, I was pretty hard into the IDM, but eventually realized I lacked the skills, patience and community to truly commit to the genre. Not to mention Reason was limited, Ableton was in it’s infancy and I lacked the cash to pick up hardware. Through the usual liberal arts channels – i.e. recreational thought exercises, college radio, the indie media network and the virtue of running a clandestine venue out of my living room, I was introduced to noise music – which appealed to me through the idea that trough noise, you could express limitless possibilities simultaneously. Imagine 9 symphonies playing at once. Now imagine 9000. Now imagine every piece of music ever recorded. Somewhere between the bad and the ugly, the beautiful lie. To rewind back to my thesis, imagine the recording produced 15000 feet above Manhattan – where every individual sound of 9 million individual contributes to the caustic drone of existence.

Or at least those were my ideals coming into California. Before I enrolled at Mills, I began collecting my share of records, centering primarily around Load, Bulb and Skin Graft. Later, by way of the Oberlin Conservatory Library, I was exposed to Asphodel and Tzadik. During my 6 months in Ann Arbor, I inherited a copy of the Merzbox, copied over a series of late-night guest DJ sessions at WCBN. Somehow I actually ended up with a lot of Merzbow records – not sure how. Or where they are. Apparently, they’re worth a lot of money when they’re not on your iPod. Whoops. In California, my first semester allowed me further access to the Tzadik catalog, the experimental bins at Amoeba, Tigerbeat 6, and by way of several unnecessary paragraphs, Ipecac Recordings – a label that somehow featured anything from Japanese noisers to the Locust to the Melvins. Ok, kind of a narrow band there, but from the perspective of my early-20’s addled cranium, the associations were insane – I mean, how can a label have all these disparate elements going on at once? What’s the connection? Obviously, later on I learned the lynchpin to it all was Mike Patton’s general eclecticism (again, curation), but I was still under the influence of the ’80’s hardcore credo that for a movement, all you ever really need is 10 people and a space and it’ll happen. And typically it does about 70 percent of the time. Thanks for that one, Black Flag. I had also recently met Mike Watt shortly before graduating Oberlin, so I was still glowing with the thought that if you stick with your buddies and support them through thick and thin, you’ll all end up famous and guest star on each other’s records. Not to say that this isn’t happening and a slow, yet progressive clip, but in most circumstances, I think I could be described as naive, or at the very least, optimistic.

Back to that curation thing. Years ago I tried to run a label. It didn’t work out so well and it ended with a cease and desist notice. That’s how we ended up here. It also failed for reasons other than that – for instance lack of capital for materials and distribution and largely, simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the late-oughts, there was a swarm of net-labels that propped themselves up during the twilight of the Myspace. They were interesting, for sure, but never quite had the heft of a label that printed a physical disc at the time. A decade later, the physical disc has become a product of ephemera with an enclosed download code. Why even print it – you might as well give away small action figures or those weird all-white Japanese figurines. At least those look more interesting on a shelf than a stack of sealed 180 gram vinyl. So looking to curate a space where I could have all my friends and interests on a single page, with little-to-no overhead and the incentive of designing new gear for my friends’ projects, I decided to launch VF Industrial. It’s a little freeform at the moment though I’m sure rules will eventually impose themselves. The initial one we thought of was to only do releases on solstices and equinoxes. So 3 discs dropped the other week. One from me, one from Dereck Donohue and one from Hey Exit. 3 more will drop in December. And so it will go. Call it a project. Call it a curation. Call it a dated concept and I’m showing my age. Whatever. It’s something. A sobering thought I often return to is that over the course of my musical career, I’d estimate that 90% of the venues I’ve played at and nearly every label I’ve released on is defunct. If anything, I’m just doing what I can for my fellow survivors to fill the void. Either way, go take a listen. If you’re racing this and there’s no links or pictures, just give it a few days. As the last post clearly establishes, I’m a.) doing al that I can here and b.) I’ll get to it. Just give me time.

 

Over/out,

 

t.

Thing Two, Revisited

•September 21, 2016 • Comments Off on Thing Two, Revisited

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Hey look – it’s me! Well, was. This photo’s from 2015, taken at a show I played in Costa Rica sometime around when Baltimore decide to go all neoclassical and revisit the whole race riot thing. Xime was about 9 months old then and this was probably our first major trip outside of the occasional expedition to the county line for a Trader Joe’s run and one burn up to New York for a long weekend to check out the massive failure otherwise known as the Björk retrospective at the Moma. Not to knock the artistic merits of said Icelandic songstress, but a.) being a fringe member of popular society ors not make you a contemporary artist by default and b.) Biesenbach should be downgraded to window dressings ad Macy’s and the occasional show in Vegas. It really was that bad. Case in point, over a year afterwards, the mere thought of the show boils the blood, much like a certain presidential candidate from New York – you know, the corrupt, racist misogynist one. I’m sure it’s probably already happened, but for those in the know about the whole X-Men franchise, several parallels can be drawn to the various Mojoverse story arcs.

That was all a tangent. It was May 2015. I hadn’t played a show since August 2014. I was rusty and I was still hauling the rig I used at Battery Townsley for the Soundwave Biennial as my live rig. Having spent a good portion of our week in San José, working on paperwork, we had just done the proper Tico thing of taking the weekend off and heading to Puerto Viejo for surf and sun. José Duarte had me booked at Amon Solar, opening for his latest band with Arce and Ortuno and we hit construction. Then, after construction, we encountered a fatality on on the road as a Norwegian footballer collided with a banana truck. Then there was a storm in the pass and the car was down to one headlight. We arrived back to the house just in time for me to change, grab my gear and hoof it to the venue, fortunately only 5 blocks away. Checking in, I was in for a bit of a surprise as José only then mentioned that I was playing with Alex.

Enter Alex Catona. Good guy. Cellist. Not from Costa Rica, but I met him the first day I arrived in 2011. Has some similarities other than an involvement with the Costa Rican art scene via marriage to a Costa Rican artist, as discovered over several beer sessions at Bar Buenos Aires. We’d talked about playing as a duo several times but our schedules never allowed it to happen and trying to get the local crew to go along with our non-idiomatic training just wasn’t happening. In certain parts of the world, explaining the merits of Derek Bailey and free improvisation outside of any particular idiom is still a thing. I will neither confirm or deny if it is or isn’t down south.

So anyways. The gig was ok. We’re improvisers. We roll with it. Of course, I was performing on an instrument designed for printmaking, but such is the case. After the gig, we discussed the prospects of a couple real shows, some recording and a tour. And as of tomorrow, that’s a thing. The only issue is that it’s September, and the non-profit that holds the monopoly on new music shows in Charm City just had their “curated” festival that also involved a moratorium on just abut any other gig in the city for a month before and a month after so the east coast was out. So we’re going west by way of a long weekend in the Bay.

Show 1 = Thursday, 9/22 at the Luggage Store in SF.

Show 2 = Friday, 9/23 at Pro Arts in Oakland.

Then some recording and social visits and the like. Then a burn to San diego for me to look at a school. then a burn back to Balt to get my GRE on. Life – it is better when you have deadlines as opposed to vague plans such as “work up until a certain point, plan to quit and then push it back another few months as something comes up. Either way, we’ll be in the Bay this weekend – drop a line if you want to hang.

Also, a quick re-touch on thing one: I’ll be doing a small, limited run of Mosswaves for those looking for a fancy box for autumn. For the holidays, we’ll probably be rolling out a Mosswave kit for those DIY folks out there. More coming. Have the fly gig bags packed – just need to finish laundry, work, send out a bunch of emails, pack, sleep, check in and get on a plane.

 
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