February Postcards Are Ready!

The February Postcards are ready, and will go out in the mail tomorrow. Anyone currently on the mailing list will receive one. If you would like to get on the mailing list, then just send an e-mail to austinrich@gmail.com. Make sure to mention you want to join the postcard mailing list, as the bots are only so good at all of this.  And, if you are feeling so inclined, please make a donation, to keep the postage flowing.

This month’s postcard includes a pair of demos from the new batch of songs that the Master Control Unit has been outputting, for the second album by Shot Reverse Shot. These demos will not be available anywhere else, any will only be heard in this format on this postcard. (They might not make the final cut for the album; you never know.) If you want to hear these, you should get on the mailing list, NOW.

And, if you want to get the album or the 7″ by Shot Reverse Shot, why not check out the Bandcamp page, for all your merch needs.

It’s a little musical concert… sent straight to your mailbox!

Enjoy!

Buy Two CDs, Save Money On Your Purchase!

$18. Both the new Mini-Mutations and Shot Reverse Shot albums in one set. 

Save four dollars when you buy both the new Mini-Mutations and the new Shot Reverse Shot albums together, at once! These both came out in January or 2021, and offer two different takes on the kinds of music that we like to make.

 

Reading Nancy Comics And Listening To Irv Teibel (Experimental). 

The new album by Mini-Mutations! Professionally duplicated CDs provided by kunaki.com, these discs contain new music and live performances not available elsewhere, and now you can get it on this continuous audio presentation that deals with some of the thorniest issues in our world. Home-made packaging contains your own mutated money, a chance to join Professor Schwartzwelder’s “Mini-Mutations Civil Disobedience 101” Club, and a card that proves your disc was inspected by #34, the most well-regarded inspector money can buy. Limited quantities, not available digitally. Get yours today!

 

Dimension X… Minus One! by Shot Reverse Shot (Not Experimental) 

The debut album by Shot Reverse Shot! Professionally duplicated CDs provided by kunaki.com, these discs contain new music by the interstellar collection of cyborgs, clones and androids, who perform new tunes written by the Master Control Unit, and produced by Austin Rich! Old Time Radio On Your 21st Century Stereo! This music is not available digitally, so if you want to hear these songs, you’ll have to get the disc! Limited quantities, so you should get yours today!

I’m quite proud of these releases, and I can’t wait for you to hear them. Hopefully you enjoy these as much as we do.

How Cool Is That?

Sometimes, we lead lives that are more charmed than we remember, or even realize at the time. Little experiences can change everything around us in big ways, and the smallest things said at a point in the deep past can echo forward in strange, and unpredictable ways.

For example: I had become good friends with a gentleman who used to be known on the Inter-Web-A-Tron as kungfuramone. They had always been a cool dude, and was involved in at least a few bands that had made albums and played out. One had even toured.

Anyway, when kungfuramone moved to Portland, he happened to land a room at Jesse Sutherland’s house, during the transition period between The Automatics and The Epoxies starting to take off. (I remember being at their house during an early “Adhesives” practice session.) Knowing kungfuramone allowed me to attend a number of cool parties and gatherings; one of my birthdays was spent at an Epoxies show, which was incredibly memorable.

During one of the many parties I attended at their house, which was a wonderful pad that was a lot of fun to hang at back in the day, I remember getting into one of those kitchen conversations that you have with a group of your friends when you are several drinks into the evening, and almost anything else could happen. A few of us were talking about the next projects that they were going to work on, and most of it revolved around, “I wanna write a song about this,” or, “my next album will be like that.” It was actually quite lovely, listening to all these friends of mine plan the next step in their creative lives.

I was involved in radio at the time, and I had been in a couple bands before that. But nothing to write home about, and certainly nothing that recorded very diligently, or seriously. So as a way of contributing to that conversation, I threw out the following sentence:

“Someday, I’d like to just record a full album of songs that I wrote. Nothing fancy, just something that I came up with.”

I remember Jesse nodding, and saying, “That’s not too hard. You should do it.”

I am recalling this scene, this experience, this moment more and more, and now that I have professionally duplicated copies of my new album in my hands, it is pretty impressive to have finally done, even if it was almost 15 years later.

It took me the longest time to realize that if I wanted to make art, that I had to do it myself. I had to start the band, I had to design the image, I had to record the song myself. And then, it took a while to discover that I could even teach myself how to do things I didn’t know how to do, if it was important to me, and contributed to the work I was doing. I was not young when it occurred to me that I should probably try and write ‘zines and join a band. I was in my 20s before I even stumbled into radio. But to call myself an artist took until I was well after 40, and realizing that I could make music – any kind of music that I wanted to – was probably only obvious to me last year.

I’m not sure I learned much more than is the obvious lesson in nearly every self help book and confidence boosting guide that I  have ever been exposed to. I had to undo, and work through, so much built-in confusion and self-doubt that I couldn’t, and shouldn’t, make art that was important to me. I still run into that problem. What business, what right do I have as a white, middle aged guy, to think that my art needs to be presented to the world. Especially the esoteric crap that I make.

Anyway, this album was a strange thing to dream up, a weird thing to make, and a bizarre thing to see completed. And now, for some reason, a 50 minute album of space grunge is now available to be listened to by anyone who likes to the idea of a sci-fi electronic rock album.

Thanks Jesse Sutherland, for inspiring this one. Thanks Jesse Ransom, for being a part of that original conversation.

Thanks everyone else, for making it possible for me to make stuff like this.

 

Promotional Radio Copies Are Now Available For Radio DJs & Staff!

If You Host A Radio Show, WTBC Has Got You Covered.

Promotional copies of our newest releases are available now for radio personnel and podcasters to obtain, for use on your programs.

As a current DJ, and someone who has built their show largely on the kindness of other artists, I have often depended on promotional materials to help flesh out the program. Knowing that DJs can often have a deficit of money to spend on producing their shows, WTBC is offering their newest releases, or any old releases, to DJs and radio staff.

Here’s how it works: send an email to austinrich@gmail.com with information about your show or podcast. WTBC has a secret stash of promotional materials that we can e-mail or send to you, physically, so you can play them on your shows. It’s pretty simple, really, and hopefully it will help get the word out about our new endeavors.

Radio and Podcasts are the cornerstone of how we spend our time in the 21st Century, and it is important to know that our DJs and podcasters have the best possible tools to present the bests possible shows to their listeners. Just know that, in this effort, WTBC has your back.

The New Mini-Mutations Record Is Now Available For You To Enjoy!

You Can Meme Like This. Or You Can Meme Like That.

$10 From WTBC Records. Not Available Digitally! Limited Quantities On Physical Media Items! Act Fast! 

There is so much in this world this is constantly vying for our attention. New TV shows. Social Media. That person in the street yelling about the Venusians who are about to invade our planet. And let’s not forget that string of local pets and animals that all want you to rescue some kid who is stuck in a rusting tractor out in Old Man Thornton’s corn field. Are you really the only one home at this hour of the day? Isn’t there a volunteer fireman nearby, somewhere?

With all of that going on, sometimes you just want to get away from it all. Maybe, for example, you want to disappear with that book of Nancy comics that you enjoy so much, and sit in a graveyard for while to read it, without the prying eyes of your neighbors trying to figure our which of the two of you prints their own money. But even in the most remote graveyards, with the world sufficiently blotted out by the sounds of nature, it would be wonderful if someone made the perfect soundtrack that you could listen to. Not too loud, of course. But just loud enough to really make the cops wonder what you’re up to.

Now, of course, there are many albums that would be perfect for this kind of listening experience, and Columbia House now has a section for this genre in their 12-CDs-For-A-Penny club this year. But, while it might not be a new, or even unique, idea to make an album meant for just such listening condition, Mini-Mutations might as well throw their hat into the ring, with their newest musical offering on CD, and not available in other formats! (Yet!)

 

“Reading Nancy Comics & Listening To Irv Teibel” is the CD you need To Guide You On The Best Possible Path During Your Journey Into the 21st Century.

While some albums offer only one use in your daily life, this collection of live performances and unique-to-this-disc recordings will actually serve many functions for you, and is the perfect multi-tool for these troubled times. The circular nature of the disc allows for replacement in any circumstance where a coaster, frisbee or improvised wheel is needed. In conjunction with the cover, it can also act as a windshield scraper, or as a visor in particularly sunny conditions. There are ample blank white spaces on the cover and interior, which enables you to use those surfaces for taking quick notes if you write very, very small. Fortunately, the cover is recyclable, too.

The entertainment within, however, can be used in a multitude of ways, too. Either as a guided meditation, or turn by turn instructions for that trip to visit your relatives, this disc can fulfill the essential functions of any listened audio that you might find you need to hear out in the built world. Weather it is the audio descriptions of the art at a local museum, the commentary track by a director that you know and love, or even as a new soundtrack to accompany a viewing of The Wizard of Oz, you will find that our new album can meet almost any need that you might have in this modern, bustling world.

Certainly, we also recommend that you consume the media in a traditional manner at some point, too, but when it comes to the value proposition of this material item, it is important to note that we have designed it with flexibility in mind, even if the disc itself is not actually so.

 

Critics Might, Someday, Consider Raving About Some Project Tangental To This One, So You Get In On The Ground Floor, While You Still Can.

Your average album might come with some digital files that are easily lost or misplaced in the flotsam and jetsam that is the average computer interface. And, knowing you, you have a very particular way you like your meta-data to be encoded, anyway. This is why this album is not available digitally, to prevent this kind of problem. When you rip this disc in the comfort of your own home, you will know that we had nothing to do with the way you choose to misplace your files afterwards. And that’s a promise you can count on!

Instead of those hopelessly old-fashioned files, as if you are an .mp3 hoarder from the late 20th century, your purchase includes the following 21st Century items that you can keep as long as you remember that they are important in this fast-paced world of one century later:

YOUR PURCHASE INCLUDES:

An audio Compact Disc, which contains the audio of the brand new album by Mini-Mutations, for you to play at your neighbors when they are fighting or making love!

One New Composition, Unique To This Disc, Never Before Heard by Mortal Humans! Plus four live performances, not available to enjoy elsewhere anymore! This music is not for download. To get it, you need to own this disc!

One Black And White Cover, containing images and information that DIRECTLY RELATE to the audio on the disc!*

An information card that you can fill out, so you can join Professor Schwartzwelder’s “Mini-Mutations Civil Disobedience 101” Club!

One piece of Mutated Money, which is not legal or valid tender in the United States, but apes some of the elements thereof, including unique serial numbers so I can track your international movements at airport checkpoints!

Each album is numbered, and was Inspected by #34, the most trustworthy inspector that money can buy, ensuring the the product you have just purchased is of the highest possible quality, when it comes to experimental music from Salem, Oregon.

 

* We actually coordinated those elements together, in some fashion, if you can believe it.

 

Supplies Are Limited! Offer Void In Wisconsin & South Carolina!

On average, Mini-Mutations puts out no less than 12 releases a year, which makes the first one of 2021 to be an absolutely essential part of any respectable person’s record collection, if they like being respectable, that is. So why not avoid the rush after everyone has read about this on vice.com, and order your copy of this album today, before the sands of time disappear like the days of our lives…

Reading Nancy Comics & Listening To Irv Teibel.

Can you think of a better way to spend the afternoon?

Introducing… Shot Reverse Shot!

Available Now: The Debut Split 7″, and The Debut CD, from the New Space Grunge combo, Shot Reverse Shot!

Blasting out of the garage in a space-faring vehicle knocked up over the weekend by some old friends, the Space Grunge sounds of Shot Reverse Shot are now ready for you to enjoy! This is not experimental music, nor is it loud ‘n’ fast punk rock, avant jazz, or, really, like anything else WTBC Records has released. This collection of electronic rock music, programmed by the Master Control Unit and performed by a loose collection of clones, cyborgs and androids, offers a unique look at the musical story of the future we have often been denied. Now, you can pick up these new sounds from deep, deep space.

 

Half Eye Limited Edition Split 7″ From WTBC Records and Gorbie Lathe Cuts!

Hand-made, lathe cut 7″ record by Gorbie Lathe Cuts, available in stunning white, offering the first music on 7″ by either Half Eye or Shot Reverse Shot! Covers printed by Salem Printing & Blueprint company. This package was hand-cut, folded, glued and assembled in Salem, OR, and contains an assortment of wonderful goodies, including: a download code for the B-Side to the Half Eye tune, a thrilling number called “Sex Bender”; a limited-edition mini-zine only available here, titled “Mirrors,” created by Matt Orefice & Austin Rich; and, the “Seven Bound Beacon EP,” a short digital release by Shot Reverse Shot that can only be accessed through this record. There’s only a handful of these that were made, so get yours today!

$12, Shipping Included in the USNot available digitally! Limited quantity! Order today!

 

Dimension X… Minus One! The Debut Album from Shot Reverse Shot.

Are you ready to bring Old Time Radio to your 21st Century Stereo? This album contains 15 tunes by the newly assembled rock ensemble, Shot Reverse Shot! Futuristic Electronic Space Grunge for you to enjoy, today! But this isn’t just a simple musical album that you put on to enjoy while washing the dishes in your native pod or craft. This professionally duplicated disc is a 50 minute journey with the crew of the Starship Hyperion, as they travel beyond The Furthest Stars, into emotions and places that people have never had to visit before!

Produced by Austin Rich in Quarantine, this album is not available digitally! If you want to hear these songs, they are only available on these CDs, provided by kunaki.com, and in limited quantities, too! Packaged with the album is a code for access to the, “Don’t Count The Suns EP,” exclusively available with this release.

$12, Shipping Included in the USDon’t miss out on this unique musical release! Not available digitally!

 

Limited Edition CD / 7″ Set!

While preparing the 7″ and CD releases for Shot Reverse Shot, we discovered that our supply chain could offer unique items from other timelines. While we could only get a few, we managed to procure a very small number of the 7″ on clear lathes, with different labels! This 7″ comes with a re-packaged version of the debut CD, professionally duplicated, and is the perfect starter pack for the person who is interested in booking first-class tickets with Shot Reverse Shot. These are very handsome looking records and discs, so they will go fast.

$20, Shipping Included in the USSupplies are Limited!

 

SHOT REVERSE SHOT, from WTBC Records.

WE NOW LIVE IN THE FUTURE!

It’s Time To Celebrate With Holiday Memories

Holiday Memories and Mid-Valley Mutations

For many years I tended to ignore the simple pleasures of the holidays, and as my radio show became more singular, I resisted the holiday season, often openly mocking it (with shows like, “Christmas Music For People Who Don’t Like Christmas Music,” etc.).

But even someone like me, who has come to enjoy radio at it’s most unusual or atypical, there is a certain appeal to finding the place between “typical holiday music” and “what I usually do on this program.” And with Old Time Radio, punk rock holiday albums, experimental live radio and performances, and everything in-between, I have been fortunate enough over the years to avoid, “Here’s some Christmas Carols for you to enjoy this year.” The closest I come to that is putting on detective radio shows for the holidays.

Regardless, there are over 20 years of Holiday Programs in our “Holiday Memories” Podcast feed, waiting for you to enjoy. This includes broadcasts on a number of stations, in a number of forms, with a wide range of holiday offerings for you to put on and digest. Over 100 hours of programing, with over 80 different shows to choose from. This year, we’re adding some new items to the feed, including some holiday episodes of Somewhere In-Between: A Radio ‘Zine that are new this year, and a handful of new Mid-Valley Mutations, where we feature a Hal McGee holiday album, cut up some amazing Old Time Radio stories, offer some futuristic Christmas Carols, and a full episode-long holiday deconstruction by Mini-Mutations. We’re pulling out all the stops this year, and we would love to have you come and join us, too.

The easiest way to get it is to subscribe with our App-Agnostic-Feed, where you can get all the goodies. But you can also find it in iTunes. (I’ve heard it is in other services too, but I haven’t put that to the test.) Just search for “Holiday Memories Austin Rich,” and it usually comes up pretty quickly.

The Holiday Feed contains everything from all the end-of-year holidays from November through January, so if you want individual episodes for separate holidays, here are all the Christmas Shows, and here are all the New Year’s shows.

If you would prefer a little music that has a seasonal flavor to it, then you might want to look into our “Seasons Greetings” digital album, perfect for the kind of person who enjoys the holiday season, but wants their music very, very weird. Almost 2 1/2 hours of Mini-Mutations not available elsewhere, with over an hour of bonus instrumental tracks. This includes live radio jams, live performances in front of audiences, spoken word with sound FX, everything in-between. This one is only available digitally, so head to our Wanting To Be Cool online store via bandcamp, and enjoy some new tunes that speak to this time of year.

And, if that’s not enough, we have, hew this year, the Mini-Mutations Musical Holiday Card, with an EP of new Holiday Carols that you can only get via the mail. This is part of a monthly Postcard Project that I’m working on in 2021, and if you want to start getting these, then you’ll want to contact me with your address. There will be one-of-a-kind music offerings through these postcards, that only come via the mail. Support the US Postal Service, and small experimental artists, and get something cool in the mail.

While this year has been a bummer, and it is hard to get into the holidays, maybe our atypical traditions will be the perfect antidote to the holiday malaise.

 

More Details for The Santa Ana Noise Fest on December 26th.

The Santa Ana Noise fest is just around the corner, and as usual, everything is different this year. This includes being entirely online, which means that we all had to make videos, and that some of the “live” elements of our performances are “taped” so we can actually pull this off.

The long and the short of it is: this will be one of the last shows that Mini-Mutations will be playing this year, and I’m excited about the line-up, the show, and everything about it. And: it will be the perfect way to celebrate that lethargic feeling that sets in after Christmas and until after New Year’s.

Show starts at 7 PM, and will be live streaming from This FB Event Page. Sets are short, so if you are late, you might miss a few acts. I’ll be in the chat all night, so drop in, and check it out.

Here’s a little promo for the event. On the event page, it says I’m in the second set, so that probably means I’ll be on before nine, PST. For this set, I’ve revived my “Cooking w/ Mini-Mutations” television program, where I offer some instructions on how to make Perfect Mini-Mutations for then Holidays. This should be a lot of fun, and I hope you get a chance to drop in for the live show.

An Interview With LEZET mentions… Mini-Mutations?

This is something very pleasant, and unexpected, that I only just heard about, and that I find very exciting.

I was recently name checked in an interview by Cian Orbe Netlabel (a Netlabel from Rancagua, Chile), with Serbian experimental artist LEZET. What a wonderfully strange, international confluence of events. And, fortunately, you can read the entire interview, in English, here: Interview with LEZET (6 December 2020).

So, dig this big crux: one of the strange up-shots of the pandemic has been the simultaneous isolation of a number of artists, all over the world. So through mutual friends we each have in Hal McGee (and his “Electronic Cottage” group online), we were both recruited to work on a compilation produced by {AN} EeL, which featured a wide range of artists being paired off to create work together. The results are “Two Halves Vol. 7,” which features 18 tracks by 36 different artists, all producing collaborative tracks. For this project, {AN} EeL paired myself and LEZET, who I was unfamiliar with at the time. But, in working on this track, and then through being more aware of their work through {AN} EeL and Hal, I’ve become quite fond of LEZET’s work.

The track we produced together is called, “Riverside Hop Scotch Game,” and you can hear it here:

It was incredibly easy working with LEZET. They mailed me some recordings, without much conversation about what to do with them, or how we wanted to work. We had initially discussed the possibility of LEZET following the muse, and having me coming in to flesh out the track afterwards, but it’s hard to recall that conversation exactly. What I do remember is that when I received the tracks, I immediately heard where my accompaniment would fit in, and very quickly we had a finished tune.

We submitted the track, and I didn’t think much more about that specific song until the comp came out. And it was very cool, not only to find that our track was very early in the running order, but that the entire collection was very, very cool. (I’ve included the entire thing below.

I would have thought that would be the end of it. We both had other projects, and while I was following LEZET’s work with interest, I didn’t imagine I’d get mentioned in an interview like this.

In the question, “Which are your favorite music projects who inspire your work?” Mini-Mutations gets a mention, along with a whole mess of other great artists, too. I feel like I’m in very good company on that list, and I’m sort of nervous about having to live up to the quality of the other artists on this list.

I did a lot of collaborations this year, and in a way, the album I did sort of got lots in the shuffle, as it was packaged with a zine. Between that and other non-musical projects, this has been a very a-typical year for both myself and Mini-Mutations. But it is very inspiring to know that people like LEZET are enjoying the journey, as we both feel out what to do in the coming year.

2020 has been wild, yo.

One of The Last Mini-Mutations Performances for 2020!

I’ve been curious about the Santa Ana Noise Fest for quite some time, but the timing has always been bad for me to attend. This has been the annual problem with attending the Olympia Experimental Music Fest, in that the timing of the show is nearly always around my anniversary, which makes it very difficult to attend. NorCal NoiseFest is probably the one that is perfectly timed for my natural travel rhythms every year, though I had intended to make more trips in 2020, before Covid, that is.

Anyway: this year, they have gone entirely digital, and that has not only made it possible for me to attend, but has really opened the roster up in a way that has allowed 17 acts spread out over five countries to perform, all in one evening. In fact, speaking of the line-up: damn! An impressive run of folks from a number of flavors of experimental music, and considering the date, I have revived one of the more well-loved things I have done for live shows: Cooking with Mini-Mutations. I think you will enjoy what I have etc’d for you this time. (Content note: this is a pre-recorded video, unlike my other recent live streaming things, which have been live. I will be in the chat live, but the video is not exactly live. You’ll see what I mean on the 26th.)

I’m really looking forward to this. There’s a number of acts I am completely unfamiliar with, and a number that I really enjoy, and it should prove to be a fun way to spend the night. This will be the first thing on Twitch that I have been involved with, so that will be fun, too. I hope to see you in the chat! It’s nice to have music things to look forward to.

Review of EC Split 23: Ben Presto and Jeremiah Paddock

The seed of the idea behind any release is often worth getting into, and when it comes to the Electronic Cottage Split series (organized by Hal McGee), the seed is deceptively simple: two artists, selected by Hal himself, go off to produce 30 minutes of material together, developing the release as a partnership. There are 29 installments in this series, which has yielded some surprising and incredible results as these have been coming out. The strength of the series not only relied on the artists involved, but their efforts to work together. If it had been approached randomly, or even with a little less thought, and if even a few of the artists had only phoned it in, then this could have seemed like a shoddy series at best.  

But Hal has sort of buried the lead when it comes to this series, and how these splits have been organized. Because, while they might seem to be odd pairing in a couple cases, what he has done upon closer evaluation is concoct some clever and wonderful pairings with the artists he has selected. This shouldn’t be surprising, as many of the projects that Hal involves himself in are very well thought out, and offer unique music listening opportunities that you just don’t find elsewhere.

On installment #23, of this series, the matching of Ben Presto with Jeremiah Paddock seems to be particularly inspired, and the proof is in the musical pudding we all get to enjoy during this holiday season. While I knew a little about Jeremiah’s music before this release, I was completely new to Ben’s work, an Italian artist who has been working for well over 10 years. Another bonus to this series is that Hal really introduces you to incredible artists from all over the world, and this series seems to really highlight the world-wide flavor of this project. I’m always learning about new avenues to explore in music, and Hal inevitably leads me to places I’m very happy to have visited. 

We open this album with Ben’s homage to film soundtracks, a breathtaking voyage through some of the musical ideas of cinema, while taking them into places that belong, very much, to Presto and their delightful bass playing. There is, in a way, a bit of a story that is developed throughout Ben’s songs. We open with our protagonist having gone through a particularly harrowing psychedelic experience, where they have wound up dead in the end. Not only must they escape the actual life they once led in the mortal world (first by physically leaving, then by spiritually saying goodbye), our protagonist must then bid farewell to the material world entirely, and thus embrace the emptiness of what lies beyond… whatever that might be. Fortunately for us, the metaphor maps nicely over the struggles that we all have in any new beginning, or rebirth, that we might have to go through. I’m also reminded of the “Black Blotter” episode of Fringe, for some reason: that same kind of psychedelic experience we are prone to having if we start having a “bad trip.”

“Farewell” stands out among these tunes, as it not only breaks the format of the rest, but does not lean on Ben’s bass playing and synth lines to create the brooding, atmospheric pallets that would make Mr. Carpenter proud, for sure. These songs all feel of a piece after you’ve been through them once, and I can’t imagine how you could listen to them separately, now. Presto’s performances and playing on these songs is superb, and while these are not discordant or even that “noisy” compared to some releases in this series, these songs are certainly only skirting the edges of popular music. And yet, they could very much live near the world of popular music fairly comfortably, on a movie soundtrack, for example. Overall, if I had to pick, I would say my faves are “Escape From New York,” and, “Nothing Out There,” just for the gloominess that they both evoke.

While some trips can be ominous, there is something a little wistful about the way that Jeremiah gets into a car with his guitar, and goes on a somewhat pleasant drive. Certainly, like on drives 5, 12, 14 and 15 in this collection, we hear some of the sense of foreboding and anxiety that this regular, routine trip can cause our protagonist, but while we are still on a journey into something that might be scary if we dwell too much on what’s going on in the world outside of the car, inside the car we get to hear Jeremiah’s dedication to trying to find the ways that we can endure this particular trip, through offering us some of the lighter thoughts that we can entertain through a guitar. 

And it is very, very fun. Jeremiah’s guitar playing takes center stage on these drives, and it is something to behold. While these are loops and other studio compositions, they highlight some of the best kinds of playing that Jeremiah has to offer, and gives a dizzying insight into they way their mind works, musically. This offers a great cross-section of Jeremiah’s style, and I find these songs endlessly listenable, and I would say that I could probably play this comfortably at a party with a bunch of squares and some would probably even start tapping their toes. It is incredibly catchy experimental music. 

I’m still working out how to interpret the final drive. It doesn’t have the same wistfulness of some songs, nor the lurking threat that other’s portray. We’ve arrived, somewhere, and it is dramatic. But how should we feel about it? How should we interpret the sense of joy and the sense of horror, both competing for attention? Perhaps we are merely meant to acknowledge it, and find a way to try and start over tomorrow, without feeling dread.

What I like about this release is that is doesn’t feel too “weird,” in spite of the deep weirdness that is at work here, too. These are very beautifully written songs, played very straightforward and with heartfelt attention to detail, then well mixed by people trying to create a total package. The performances are strong, and they don’t muck about too much with studio gloss to cover up the imperfections. This music is what it is, no frilly extras or filigree around the edges, and as a result, they work wonderfully together.

I can imagine that others who are not precisely into experimental music could find this a very good entry point into what this kind of music can do when it isn’t strictly noise. As someone who likes to find the edges of what experimental is and isn’t, this release fits into that territory perfectly. 

Day 2 Live Stream Is Up, Too!

The NorCal NoiseFest Live Stream continues to be excellent, and yesterday was no exception! Over 6 1/2 hours of experimental music and video programming, some of it streamed live from our respective studios, some of it pre-recorded, for everyone’s sanity.

There’s more to come! Today’s stream starts at 2 PM, and I have a few bits and bobs in the show that you might enjoy, including a five minute short movie that hans’t really been seen since it was shows to an audience in Corvallis earlier this year (which you can see around 5 PM.)The line-up today is silly good, so hopefully I’ll see you in the chat! Enjoy!

 

Three-Way Split!

It’s a new release for the spring, with new music from all your favorite Experimental Artists.

Three new tunes by Bast Awakening! (Ellen & Chris)

A new jam by DEATH MUTATIONS. (Chris & Myself)

…and…?

Over an hour of new music, and it can only be yours, easily, if you want it. Not available for download (yet), if you must have this, you’ll also need a CD Player.

Hand made music! Discs assembled and duplicated, with covers cut / folded / stapled by hand! Limited to 50 copies! Reversible covers allow you too present this disc in four different ways!

It’s the WTBC Three-Way Split! Get yours today!

Settle Your Debts

The Ides of March was upon us, and rather than cower in fear – which seems to have been what we should have done – The Olsen Twins Ghostlight Ensemble convened for a Sunday morning recording session that just so happened to tickle our fancy. Hopefully, you enjoy this one, too.

This arrangement includes: Scott Eave (Guitar, Woodwinds), Kevin Van Walk (Drums) & Austin Rich (Ronald’s Luggage / Electronics / Synths).

The Lava Lamp Lounge has been a nice room to host a number of folks, and this particular arrangement is very nice. It sounds good, and I think we play well in this space. And this might be the primary way you hear us from now on, so we’ll continue to iron on the way we present these to you. Maybe we can improve the camera stuff in the future? Hard to say.

Perhaps you can pick up this recording, and help keep us in new strings and cables? It’s really our primary expense, and we want to keep bringing this to you, somehow.

Mental Health Improvement Diary

I did some backing up.

And something thinking.

I watched a movie with Marla that we both knew pretty well. On the whole, it was pretty casual.

I spent the day making merch. It’s looking good. You want one?  Message me. There’s a limited quantity, and I want the people who will like this to get it. It’s a three-way split CD, Bast Awakening (Ellen & Chirs), DEATH MUTATIONS (Chris & Myself) and Mini-Mutations. All the primary work is done. All that was left was the printing, disc duplicating, folding, and assembling.

And, of course, thinking about how I want things to look, and where I want things to be, in the future.

 

Four Dimensional Nightmare – 4DN 2020

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Four Dimensional Nightmare – 4DN 2020 (Kill Pop Tarts)*

Reviewing the last decade of Four Dimensional Nightmare releases offers a wonderful glimpse, and incredible insight, into what they have accomplished on this most recent release, 4DN 2020. And even that narrow window into the career or this artist probably omits some of the more impressive, and compelling, work. But that does us no good if we are looking for an entry point into this album. To suggest that we should examine the scope and sweep of their career to fully understand what this album is about is akin to saying, “You need to see 23 movies before this one will make sense.” ­

Consider it this way: if you’ve been following their carrer for any length of time, then this album continues themes and tropes that you’ve been picking up on for a while, and certainly is rewarding in that respect.

But that doesn’t do a new listener much good, does it? To say that 4DN is continuing to explore places they hinted at in previous releases is not a decent map for someone about to enter into the kind of darkness predicted by track 5, a beat-driven track almost unlike anything else you’ve heard on a Nightmarish release like this. Layered over the industrial rhythms and strange dance jams are these synth explorations that beg for scrutiny and consideration, and that doesn’t even address the ebb-and-flow soundscape that eerily weaves through the various performances, almost hinting at a Haunted House. This is a dense track, not exactly a great entry point if you were hoping to be eased into this artist, but is perfect for getting to know the mind of Four Dimensional Nightmare.

“Beta Tonic” shakes with a low-end pulse that really caused my head to turn, another track I love, but I’m not sure if it is the way “into” the oeuvre of this artist. Certainly, you are better off trying to catch one of their rare performances, as that, I think, better lets you get a sense of where this stuff is coming from, and perhaps, how you can get in synch. But “Beta Tonic” builds in a way that feels like something new, and I was excited to let it have it’s way with me.

It’s with repeated listens that this album really shines. The hallmark of any Four Dimensional Nightmare album is certainly density. There are layers and layers on any given song on any given album, and there is a weight to a 4DN track that seems heavy with multiple, nuanced performances. You need to re-listen to really get a sense of what’s going on.

What feels new this time around is there is a clarity to the layering, either through careful production or higher quality facilities, that gives you a chance to focus on the different synth lines as they dance around each other. This is a great record for leaving in your car, so you have to return to it over and over again, without needing to change anything. Each time through, something else sticks out, and these bits that catch your attention give you something new to dig into.

The production seems unmistakably first class, and to my ear, this is a major evolution. It’s no wonder Four Dimensional Nightmare makes regular appearances on Mike Watt’s program, as this album illustrates the strengths and boons that are the hidden gems on every 4DN release.

Certainly, the nerdiness is worn on the sleeve of this group, and that is probably never more apparent than on the opening track, “Pi,” which contains some of the first lyrics I’ve heard on a release is years. This comes with the territory; someone playing around with this many synths for this long is bound to get wrapped up in some of the more science-informed subjects, as time goes on. But there are also moments of pure joy and frenzy, like on “Beta BonZyard,” where the ferocity of the Nightmare comes into sharp focus, only to have moments of almost beautiful sounds come forward out of the burbling chaos.

If anything, this is the work of someone who has been at it for a while, and this release not only highlights the expertise with which Four Dimensional Nightmare produces new work, but the repeated listenability of a record that is as experimental as the genre actually suggests.

* When I firsts reviewed this album, it was self-released. Now, Four Dimensional Nightmare has moved to Kill Pop Tarts.

Sunday Service: A Mutation Showcase

sundayservice00It’s Time For Something New.

Over the last year, Mid-Valley Mutations has evolved from a mere idea to a flourishing weekly radio program that features music and live performances you cannot (and will not) hear via other venues.  To that end, the program has featured a number of artists from all over Oregon, to highlight some of the incredible experimental acts that are right here in our own back yard, even if you don’t see them play very often.  Until now, that is.

To help further the cause, Mid-Valley Mutations is launching a monthly live showcase in conjunction with The Space Concert Club, to give you a chance to actually see these acts, in person.  Sunday Service will happen the last Sunday of every month, and offers a wide range of experimental artists that cover every kind of music: electronic, post-punk, noise, deconstructed folk, home-brewed and circuit-bent gear, and everything in-between.  “Experimental” can mean almost anything, and our hope is that we can offer small slices of this world, every month.

While the phrase “experimental” can conjure up wild (and often inaccessible) performances, Sunday Service will offer intimate shows with performers who are dedicated to their craft, create art that is personal and meaningful, and would like to share this work with the world around them.  While the music may be atypical, the intent is not to be obtuse or difficult.  These showcases are presented to feature the beauty and joy in creating music, and the freedom that comes with following your muse, where ever that might be. Sunday Service will not just feature music, but will offer a chance to meet these performers, and find out more about what they do in person.  These shows will be curated, organized and hosted by Mid-Valley Mutations mastermind Austin Rich

Our first gathering is March 26th, with the incomparable Guyve headlining the show, playing their first Salem gig in their 24 years as a group.  And in April, join us for a rare performance by traveler and recording artist Eric Hausmann, who has called Portland, Ipoh Malaysia and Pittsburgh his home in recent years, .  The spring and summer are full of surprises too, and we can’t wait to announce them once they are final.

Sunday Service Showcases are Free to the public, and are 21+.  The Space offers a full bar, vegan menu, and a positive, inviting atmosphere for discerning and excellent guests.

Join us for Sunday Service: A Mutation Showcase every month to hear the best in experimental artists you can’t hear anywhere else.

We’ve been waiting for you.  Join us.

 

23 Seconds

23sotv13_cover72I am thrilled and honored to have a piece I made be included on this incredible compilation, 23 Seconds ov Time – Volume 13.

I appear on the 16th track, and my piece is called “Rocket Summer.”  Mid-Valley Mutations fans may recognize the sample from The Martian Chronicles episode, but repurposed differently for this song.

There’s some choice experimental artists among the 53 who contributed to this collection, including friend of the show Uneasy Chairs, who kicks off this comp, and Blue Sabbath Black Cheer, who are incredible.  I’m very pleased that they used my submission and I’m very proud to be included with so many other great artists.

The album is free, and if you like experimental music, this is a must have.

And there are 12 other volumes available, too.  Collect them all.

WTBC New Releases

a1590049298_16We have been doing our best to provide as much quality entertainment as possible on the shoe-string budget that is best suited to these modern times, and with that in mind, we have completely updated our Bandcamp.com Store with new and exciting releases that are of interest to you.

In the period before I began at KMUZ, I was doing a show on an Internet station, Wanting To Be Cool In Beautiful Anywhere, Anywhen.  While they became a very comforting home to me and my work when I was not on broadcast radio, in the time since they have become dedicated to documenting the work we’re doing, and capturing some of the performances that happen on our program.

To that end, there are now downloadable versions of the live performances and interviews we have had on Mid-Valley Mutations, where you can enjoy bespoke digital albums of each act, without the clutter of the rest of the broadcast that you have come to know and love.  The albums contain full performances by the artist we’ve had on the show, and in a few cases, material you haven’t yet heard!

fiascoOur store now contains:

The collaboration between myself and devilsclub entitled “Beware of Tomorrow!

Two complete live sets by Guyve, including a lot of material that could not fit into the hour long show!

The Digital FM Split Tape!  (Featuring live performances by Entresol & Entrail, including 15 minutes of music between the two of them that did not air during the boradcast!)

msdA nearly 51 minute performance by Portland Improvisational Mavericks, Fiasco!

And a manic, Pledge Drive Performance by Manual Sex Drive.

All of these albums are free to enjoy and download, for the time being.  This is your chance to pick up a ton of excellent recordings that are unique to Mid-Valley Mutations.  However, if you are so inclined, please make a donation for all of this excellent entertainment.  Any purchases you do make will go to supporting KMUZ, and keeping that station on the air.

In addition to these, you can also pick up Interviews, which contains 13 different interviews with artists who have been on the program.  These are extended conversations with musicians about the work of creativity and music in the 21st Century, and offer a chance to get to know the people we play on the program.  You will not hear these conversations anywhere else, and it’s just another way we like to give back to the listeners at home.

There are also a number of other audio treasures over there, so poke around and see if you find something you like.  We hope that you won’t be sorry.

Copyright Begins A Slow Move In An Obvious Direction

happy-birthday-to-us-yaayAnd I Didn’t Get You Anything.
But Really: You Should Have Already.

I never thought I would live to see this day.  The insane (and, frankly, terrifying) thorny network of crufted together copyright laws that that have developed since 1909 has made all common sense go out the window when people looked at the claim made by Warner/Chappell Music Publishing when it came to this 19th Century song.

Stories of the costs people used to have to shell out to include 9 seconds of this not-very-good-song in a documentary are legendary, and the oft-litigious company was leaning heavily on a 1935 renewal of the copyright that was the lynchpin in their argument that they could continue to collect from people wanting to include the song in their art as an accurate reflection of the world around us.

But rather than let reality speak to the common sense when it came to enforcing copyright, this song has became an symbol symbol for everything possible and everything wrong with the practice of copyright enforcement in the music industry.  With the power that “Happy Birthday” wielded in the way Warner did, it sent a message to copyright holders that the songs in their rosters were “revenue streams” that should be exploited at every opportunity, rather than a way to protect the artist from outright theft when it came to song writing.  While some arcane story existed about two old ladies that owned “Happy Birthday,” the truth has been that Warner has collected that money for decades, and has forced all manner of artist to compromise on the use of something that spontaneously breaks out at parties, without forethought.

And, finally, it has been dethroned.

 

05HAPPYBIRTHDAY3-blog427Print Media (Maybe) Saves The Day

Far be it for irony to play a role in something that was already a pretty entertaining stage play acted out in the courtrooom, the key piece of evidence in this case happened to be a very old “songbook” that was published in 1935.  In this digital age of .mp3s and free WiFi everywhere, it is nice to know that a physical book was the item that helped make the case, but in a typical turn of events, Sound Opinions reported that the book in question was reviewed using .pdfs, so we’re not quite calling this one a triumph for old media, either.  Still, this tid-bit is sort of at the center of the real issue: old media law dictating the new media landscape.

The ins and outs of the trial seem a little insane, and the history of this song has been documented again and again.  In much the same way that Capone was jailed for tax evasion rather than the real crimes he was guilty of, Warner had been committing worse atrocities with the way they were renewing this copyright, allowing them to insist on millions in payments from people who wanted to use the song in their film / radio program / digital media creation / etc.  However, it was finally revealed in court that the 1935 copyright was invalid at the time it was originally filed.

“Happy Birthday” had, consequently, slipped into the public domain before 1935, and could not be renewed, legally.  This invalidated Warner’s enforcement ever since, not only putting 80 years worth of money into their bank account that they shouldn’t have had in the first place, but creating a terrible example of how a company can throw around their weight to “protect” a copyright when there may not even be one to begin with.  Publishers that get into the habit of being litigious when it comes to infringement need only look to Warner as an example of not only what, but how to enforce a copyright through a media smear campaign.  Now that “Happy Birthday” is back in the Public Domain, hopefully we can take another step toward rehabilitating the rest of the Music Industy’s relationship to copyright.

 

americangreetings_birthday_catsBut What’s The Big Deal?  “Happy Birthday” Blows.

This isn’t just good for people who want to feel better about singing the song without compensating the copyright holder, or for a group of cats in birthday hats.  It’s a good move for art and creativity on the whole.  “Copyright” is a complicated legal world unto itself, and while there are absolutely good uses for it, on the whole copyright is used to collect money when another artist wants to use a work that is copywritten as part of another creative work.

(For example: My movie wants to use a song in it, and the song is copywritten.  I pay the copywrite holder, and I can now use the song in my film, as I have compensated the artist.  This scales down to sampling in music, and up to, “let’s show part of this other movie in this movie.”)

But the amounts charged for “cleared” copywritten material has alway been nebulous, and there are no real enforced rules or guidelines, except those established by the copywrite holder.  How much a work can cost for use can fluctuate dramatically from work to work, and artist to artist.  No one has ever paid to use a song I wrote in a film, for example, but “Happy Birthday” could run up to $5,000 per use, if not more.

Beyonce, most likely, is somewhere in the middle.

 

USA Constitution Parchment
USA Constitution Parchment

Let’s Talk About Old And Irrelevant Paper Documents, While We’re Discussing Shitty Songbooks, Too

The larger issue of copyright has to do with the law itself.  US Copyright law is complicated enough, but the core idea has not changed much, even since colonial times:

“To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”  (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of The United States Constitution.)

However, our current copyright law was drafted in 1976, with revisions in the years since through to 2014.  The 1976 law itself a law that was revising – and not by much – the law that had been in effect since 1909.  Consider the cultural changes that have occurred since then, with a law we keep amending each time something comes up.  These were written before The Internet, before Compact Discs, before digital file storage systems or Open Architecture.  In someways it was written before mix tapes and podcasts, let along all the forms of media that are currently popular in our culture.  They are certainly pre-blog and Facebook.  The sharing culture of the Internet – something considered de facto and a part of the world as we know it – is something that is antithetical to the idea of copyright law.

Consider the copyright lawsuits that have cropped up in the last couple decades.  In the ’90’s, there seemed to be any number of cases regarding the way Hip Hop artists were being sued over and over again for using sampling, something that has slowed down tremendously in the modern world.  More samples overall are cleared, these days many samples are used for free because it means free advertising for the original work, and culturally everyone agrees that sampling is not the problem it was seen in the year 2000.  It should be noted that litigators are now looking toward Robin Thicke / Marvin Gaye style rip-offs, or in other cases, the Spirit / Led Zeppelin controversy.  But sampling lawsuits are a much rarer breed these days, with the last big one in 2008.

If copyright law was written now, it would include sampling as a part of songwriting, something that is not currently a part of the 1976 Copyright law.  (Updates to it account for sampling as something that can be cleared with the copyright holder, but rather than using the common sense approach that is is a part of the form of composition, the law has it written in as an exception that needs to be handled case by case.)  This is just one example of the ways that copyright law doesn’t even aknowledge the digital world we live in, or the reality of people wanting to wish each other a “Happy Birthday” in the form of a convenient (and culturally well-known) song.

Even if the song is awful.

 

post-28947-let-me-explain-no-there-is-too-gxhB“Lemme ‘splain.  No, There is too much.  Lemme sum up.”

In meme terms, there isn’t a cute sentence I can slap on a .gif that can really get to the heart of the issue – for any side of it – that we can use to propagate a sensible copyright strategy that could stand up to scrutiny and 4Chan. But as things stand now, writing and art seem somewhat stymied by copyright, especially in a post-modern, digitally literate culture that are used to bite-sized YouTube snippets, paragraphs copies out of eBooks, and the creative re-arrangement of images and texts – of Star Wars & Dr. Who – that even Disney & Marvel are struggling with ideas of ownership when it just makes sense that Spiderman would show up in a goddamn Avengers movie, RIGHT?  The idea that culture has costs is occasionally negotiated in stores and at the cinema, but at home entertainment is consumed in parallel, for free, and re-contextualized for discussion on Tumblr & Twitter later on.

The culture attitudes toward copywritten material has already dictated that they want it to be free.  But negotiating the way this plays out in law would be like trying to, for example, legalize a drug due to public opinion.

In a world where entertainment and art are largely free in this sense, the only time money should come into play is if a copyright violation has actually occurred in a way that upsets the value of the work as a monetize-able entity produced by the original artist, but as sharing and reuse become creative works in and of themselves, where to draw that line becomes harder to define, and copyright law that doesn’t understand the nuance of a digital art work is not going to understand the difference between one .tiff and another.

An outmoded vision of copyright – like the vision Warner had for “Happy Birthday” – does not reflect the way art and writing occur in a creatively fertile world.  No, this does not mean that I am going to take a recording of Frank Sinatra and try to sell it as my own because there is no law and I am an anarchist, though there are shades of that project that could be decontextualized as an art piece that may look suspiciously like me trying to sell Frank Sinatra’s music as my own.  But that question should be one in the audiences mind, to consider the work and its attempt to make a statement that is unique and important.  In the end, shouldn’t the art have to defend itself, rather than a legal bully coming in to say that something y is too close to something x, and therefore shouldn’t have financial merit?

To “sum up” Crosley Bendix, a protection that I would like to make sure the copyright holder continues to enforce is the outright theft of a recording, to be sold as something purporting to be owned by another artist.  But if I want to make a Girl Talk style mash-up of a Sinatra and Crosby song, with some programmed drum parts, and then use it in a YouTube video that I share with my readers, then there needs to be some wiggle room in the copyright law to see that as a unique work that does not infringe, but creates, and expands the world of art.  Let my ability as a mash-up artist be what is on trial, and not some archaic law.

 

And, And…

And, while I’m at it: really, “Happy Birthday” is an abomination.  The tune sucks, the lyrics are dumb, and the rote reccitation of the song in groups is not only eerie, but depressing.

Please, take a page from me, and ask your friends to sing “Sailor Man” by Turbonegro to you instead.  It is not only a far superior song, but try explaining to someone why a group of people just sang a very strange homoerotic punk song to a bewildered friend of yours in public.

It will make a good story, and everyone wins.