Cosma-Mutations Halloween CD is Now Available

SKULL / May The Circle Be Unbroken Split Release by Michael A. Cosma & Mini-Mutations

Michael A. Cosma

EC Split 04 Digital Release by Hal McGee.

WTBC 0025. CD Release, limited to 50, numbered copies, hand made/cut/folded and duplicated in The Lava Lamp Lounge.

Experimental Horror, and a Halloween Novelty Treat, all available from the wonderful minds encased within the skulls of Michael A. Cosma & Austin Rich, both members of the notorious Electronic Cottage, run by Hal McGee. Hal devised an incredible series of Split Digital Releases, where he paired artists to create a sixty minute audio release. In installment four, things get spooky.

Perfect for putting on the porch as Fall Sets In and The Ghouls are roaming about, or for quiet contemplation with you and a select friend you wish to frighten to death. This disc is constructed to work well using the repeat feature, where you could play the entire thing, end of end, over and over, to evoke the perfect atmosphere for waking the dead.

Michael A. Cosma pulls us through his vision of a dark portion of the skeleton, with songs that demand attention while offering moments of exquisite terror. Then, join Mini-Mutations for a suite of new compositions, all a soundtrack to a story eerily familiar, and yet, wholly unique, too.

Each CD comes with two BONUS download codes, offering listeners a chance to enjoy our previous Halloween releases, too:

The Ways of Ghosts: A Halloween spoken word album by Austin Rich that is currently out of print on CD! Featured are Ghost Stories written by Ambrose Bierce, with a few other stories that also evoke a certain mood perfect for the holiday season.

Hallowtide Harmonies: A collection of live performances by Mini-Mutations, all designed to fit the mood and atmosphere of this time of year. All of these were recorded during the 2018 west coast tour with Mark Hosler, and haven’t been performed again since.

Also included is a digital ‘Zine, collecting a variety of Halloween essays written by Austin Rich.

The songs on this disc are only available digitally over at the Electronic Cottage, but if you want this limited CD, it can be yours for the low-low cost of $5.00, which includes shipping.

Prepare for the holiday season, the only way you know how: with new, Experimental Horror by Michael A. Cosma & Mini-Mutations!

Order WTBC 0025.

Exploring The Future

As I consider places where the stuff I make will live in the future, and as I negotiate over 20 years of internet traffic and websites, there are some problems that you just can’t overcome. Lost domains that have been taken over by someone else, multiple places to find various works, and as everything becomes further spread out, some services have died, other’s have changed, and some URLs are embarrassing to forward to folks, when you’re trying to look “professional.”

So, we’ll give this a shot. There’s a menu above; you should be able to find the various places I hang out up there. This will be where the old “ACRONYM” site used to be; not only did that idea become unwieldy, but the site has been plundered. We’ll see how the import goes.

More importantly, we’re going to try and move on. There’s stuff to do, and we don’t have time to fuck about. So this will be where you can find the things I do, easily, in one location. And I’m gonna do my best to keep it simple. Too many choices is etc. cliché and so on.

This will absolutely change over time. Hopefully we can both be cool with that.

I love you. I miss you. Let’s hang out in the comments, and on a call, sometime soon.

New Studio

Here’s what I did today: tore down my office tables and gear entirely, and built a little home studio.

I’ve certainly worked in / broadcast from worse locations, so meet the new Lava Lamp Lounge – Studio A. Since I’m not doing any live shows for a while, and since my own “home studio” is essentially any flat surface I set up on to record, I decided to use those turntables that kiisu gave me, and make this my home for the foreseeable future. (And: beyond?)

The iPad can be traded out for any other 1/8” jack device. I can also have a cord to swap out devices that need RCA and 1/4” jacks, too. I have a mic-stand / microphone that I can fly in, to use for situations like that. Tapes, CDs, records and digital… right now, I can play almost anything, and I even have that 16 Speed turntable and a reel to reel player I can hook up, if need be. (As I’ve said before: I dare someone to record a song on a format I can’t play.) It’s not ideal, certainly, and I don’t have real monitors or a real studio mixer. But it works, and I can swivel my chair around, stand up, and it’s there, ready to go. 

This will be where all future radio and podcasts are created and recorded, and it is also the same setup I use to perform live, with extra gear I usually can’t bring to shows. (Two turntables is just too much for the stage, given the space it all takes up.) So I can probably stream live, too. 

I haven’t figured out how to get the streaming sound quality to be as good as the recordings, and I think I might need some more sophisticated cameras / mixers / etc to really pull that off. (Possibly a second computer to manage taking the signal from the mix and putting it through to the streaming camera.) I’m pretty sure I can take calls and / or Skype too, but its not as easy as, “I hear the phone ring and I push a button and the caller is on the air.” I would probably have to hot-swap a couple of items to make it work, and I’m not sure I could mix music behind the call very easily, like I can do at a pro studio. I will be able to add delay or reverb, which will be fun.

It’s a start. I may try some broadcasting later, just to see how it works in practice. For now, you will have to settle for “room sound” on the stream when I do, until I can figure out how the pros do it.

(Also: anyone sitting on any old radio / studio gear that they need to part with? I could certainly use an actual studio board, or something a little beefier than my tiny six channel Behringer. Anyone wanna donate anything to the new studio?)

Hopefully this will help me get through feeling crazy for… however long this winds up being. 

Broadcasting

Artists and friends: Where are we with streaming services and delivering your work to fans? I have only ever used FB streaming, but it is decidedly “one-way,” and they get cranky about copyright. (Ditto for IG, but at least there you can have two-way interaction fairly easily. Can you add more than one person on IG, I wonder?)

I use Skype for straight conversations, and I have only ever used it for recording / playback, never for a live show. It seems like it might work, but I’m not sure Skype is ideal for a streaming / broadcasting service.

Marla used Zoom the other day, but it sounds like someone needs to either pay for the service, or have credits of some kind, to use it. But that allows any number of users to all interact, and I imagine there are other’s that don’t cost.

What I’m looking for: a free two-way (at least) service that I can use to send video / audio to any number of people easily (and publicly). I would also like to be able to “add” callers / viewers to the stream, and receive / capture the incoming audio so I can mix it into the show.

Preferably, I’m looking for a software / computer solution, and not a phone app, but I’ll be curious what anyone uses, and for what, regardless of the tech.

I’m almost to the point where my office is clean / re-designed, and I want to start broadcasting as soon as I am able. I have turntables, tape decks, and CD players (in addition to a number of digital options), so I feel like this would be a good time to get into regular broadcasts again. What are people using?

Unreasonable Opinions. 

I have a lot of unreasonable musical opinions. “I can’t stand arias. All country music after 1975 is crap. Shellac is good.” We’re all guilty of it, and we all say the most extreme inane untrue bullshit, partially informed by taste, and largely informed by how we FEEL at the moment.

What kind of unreasonable music opinions do you have? 

 


“Miller: A lot of people don’t realize what’s really going on. They view life as a bunch of unconnected incidences and things. They don’t realize that there’s this, like, lattice of coincidence that lays on top of everything. Give you an example, show you what I mean. Suppose you thinking about a plate of shrimp. Suddenly, somebody says, like, plate, or shrimp, or plate of shrimp. Out of the blue, no explanation. No point looking for one, either. It’s all part of the cosmic unconsciousness.

Otto: You eat a lot of acid, Miller? Back in the hippie days?

Miller: I’ll give you another example. You know the way everybody’s into weirdness right now. Books in the supermarkets about Bermuda triangles, UFOs, how the Mayans invented television. That sort of thing.

Otto: I don’t read them books.

Miller: Well, the way I see it, it’s exactly the same. There ain’t no difference between a flying saucer and a time machine. People get so hung up on specifics. They miss out on seeing the whole thing. Take South America, for example. In South America, thousands of people go missing every year. Nobody knows where they go. They just, like, disappear. But if you think about it for a minute, you realize something. There had to be a time when there were no people. Right?

Otto: Yeah. I guess.

Miller: Well where did all these people come from? Huh? I’ll tell you where. The future. Where did all these people disappear to? Huh?

Otto: The past?

Miller: That’s right! And how’d they get there?

Otto: The fuck do I know?

Miller: Flying. Saucers. Which are really? Yeah you got it: Time machines. I think a lot about this kind of stuff. I do my best thinking on the bus. That’s how come I don’t drive, see.

Otto: You don’t even know how to drive.

Miller: I don’t want to know, I don’t want to learn. See? The more you drive, the less intelligent you are.”

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!

Lessons From D&D

This common bit of wisdom from my early days as a young gammer has been on my mind a lot lately – “Health Is A Team Resource” – and I’m surprised that someone else hasn’t already made a meme.

This was, of course, advanced thinking to a lot of gamers. So many are focused on just themselves, and so they don’t consider the health of others. Often, these kinds of characters don’t last long. They don’t know how to act as a group, and so they often die under embarrassing circumstances. Largely because they didn’t put the group over their own desires.

Here’s my take on a meme for our time.  I have a feeling someone else could probably do something a little more concise, but at least the sentiment is there.

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.

Mail Call

I’m assembling packages / mail to go out. If you ordered a t-shirt, a zine, or are in any of the music exchange groups, and you are expecting something, it should be in the mail by the end of the day.

Did I overlook you? Do you want some mail art? Or, even, just a letter in the mail? I’m not sure if we should worry about costs at this time. Let’s just make sure the people who want something in the mail are getting it.

I’m happy to send you something. No one needs to suffer from the “no mail” blues.

It’s funny how slow social media is when social distancing was enforced. 

untitled by Austin Rich
untitled by Austin Rich

A lot has changed in a few days.

I hope I can change enough myself to keep up.

I’m considering hosting some organized streaming events, to give us something to do with this technology we all have in our pockets.

It would probably have a host who organizes the event and manages a calendar of who is doing what when. The host would DJ and introduce the performers, tell people where the next stream is and how to find the music to purchase, etc. And then you could have performers log on throughout the show, and do their thing.

If nothing else, it would incentivize a lot of us to clean our offices or practice spaces.

Welcome To Apocalypse

When I discovered punk rock in the early ’90’s, one of the things we talked about was how we were living in the apocalypse already, and the rest of the world hasn’t yet caught up. (Cathead even had a song about it, of which this is the best recording.) Most subculture seems to have been “hip” to the notion that all of THIS <waves hands around our civilization> could just <snaps fingers>, and then we would have to live with what it’s like when people stop being nice and start being… well, untethered to cultural references, anyway.

So, there is a tiny part of me — a very, very small part, I should underline — that feels like I’ve seen this coming for 20 years, at least. The writing was on the wall when The Ramen City Kid and I realized that Eugene was no longer viable, and as we looked around, all of our options were… bad. The punk in me always knew that all of this was temporary, even the rock and roll paradise that Portland seemed to be when I got there.

Anyway, in light of this crisis — this very real, very bad, and very-likely-to-have-LONG-TERM-consequences-that-we-have-not-really-fully-thought-through crisis — there is a part of me that keeps thinking, “Well, how is this different from how punks and weirdos have always seen the world?” We’ve been catastrophizing everything for decades, screaming at walls and coloring our hair as brightly as possible, to try and wake all of you up into looking past what you expect to see.

It’s like, the rest of the world needed this many catastrophes and crises to happen before they finally see the world the way punks do.

Welcome To Apocalypse

Deliberation

[untitled] by Austin Rich
A more or less full day ahead of me. Olsen Twins Ghostlight Ensemble rehearsal early, and closing Salem Cinema tonight. Current virus and panic concerns sort of throw a little wrench into things. Who knows what today will hold? Perhaps there will be a live stream?

Sometimes, I want to put everything on hold and just do nothing for a few days. But the moment I sit down to take a break, I just start working instead.

If only I knew how to relax.

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.

 

T-Shirts Are Now Available For A Limited Time Only!

T-Shirts Are Now Available For A Limited Time Only!

Mini-Mutations Shirts

(Limited Quantities! S, M, L, XL or 3XL Still Available!)

The Olsen Twins Ghostlight Ensemble Shirts

(Limited Quantities! S, M, L, XL, 2XL or 3XL Still Available!)

100% Cotton. $20 Each. Until they are gone.

* * * * * *

In the 27 Years that I’ve been making ’zines and playing in bands, there have been painfully few t-shirts that were ever available to the public. So, it is with no small amount of fanfare that we are offering, for a limited time, a selection of copy- and trademark infringing shirts by Mini-Mutations and The Olsen Twins Ghostlight Ensemble, for the low-low price of $20 apiece. ($25 shipped.)


When these are sold out, there won’t be anymore. If we make more shirts in the future, they will not look like this. And who knows if that will happen again, to be honest? I’ve never sold shirts, so this is a bit of a gamble. And, there’s a limited quantity, too, to add another wrinkle to this puzzle.

These shirts are screen printed by hand, by our lovely friend Sarah Kindl, on 100% Cotton black shirts, in a fetching monochromatic arrangement that looks good on anyone, and shows your support for the kind of music you would like to discuss at parties. (And, in the case of the Twins shirts, will ensure a long conversation about the reference that will be lost on many in this day and age; the perfect gift for the aging hipster with a strange sense of humor!)

These will be available to buy at the end of February / Beginning of March. HOWEVER, for fans who cannot live without, you can pre-order these NOW, to ensure that you will have the shirt you want. 

I’ll be straight up: these shirts look great, I think you are gonna like them too, but there aren’t that many. If this is a success, then there might be more in the future… but not like these. Right now, this is a test. I believe in these. I think they are in the spirit of both projects, and I want these to get into the hands of people who like that stuff I do, like these designs, and: like t-shirts. 

Considering all of those factors, I am recommending you should reserve your shirt today. It’ll secure your shirt when they arrive, and it’ll help me weigh the possibilities of doing this again at some point in the future.

To make a reservation: e-mail austinrich@gmail.com with the subject line, “RESERVE MY T-SHIRT.” In the body of your e-mail, please specify the shirt you want; which project, and which size.

ACRONYM, Inc. T-Shirts, Now Available. 

Until They Are Gone.

Programming And Listening Changes For Our Radio Show.

(You can always get the current listening information for our programs on their respective websites: Mid-Valley Mutations and WTBC Radio In Beautiful Anywhere, Anywhen!)

******

1. That Was Then.

When I first started in radio in 1998, there were often scheduling changes that you just couldn’t announce to anyone short of calling them directly, or through putting up a flier. I used to advertise scheduling changes in my zine back then, and often, listeners didn’t really notice the change. The way radio works — both then and now — is that the LISTENER is choosing to turn on the radio when THEY want to listen. If I happen to be on the air, then that’s a lucky break for me. I’ll have to let the listener decide how they feel about the matter on their own. 

I relentlessly taped my show, on cassettes, and I offered edited copies of the show in my zine. I never sold one. When I got the technology to transfer tapes to CD, I digitized my shows, and offered them on CD. Again, never sold one. It wasn’t until the technology existed to post full radio recordings online — certainly a 2004 and later innovation for me — that there was any demand for my show in a form other than the original broadcast, and while I’m glad I recorded my shows for the sake of keeping an archive, in a lot of ways, those recordings are for me alone. 

Anymore, what people seem to want from my show are two separate and different things by two different groups of people:

The first group, they want a live, real-time radio-listening experience, that they can either tune in for or stream as it is happening. And this group of people is usually different than the group that wants a timely podcast episode to appear in a dependable (and regular) podcast feed. This change was almost immediate; I began to hear from two different kinds of listeners after I launched the podcast feed for my show in 2004, thanks to KPSU having adopted the technology for all their programs back then. And, for the most part, the live show and the podcast are the same; the latter is a recording of the former. I’m really just producing one show, and it’s being distributed in two different ways. It’s sort of like old school syndication, but I don’t have to deal with mailing CDs out to anyone. They can just subscribe digitally and enjoy.

All of that is a long way of saying that, since 1998, the distribution model for my radio show has changed so many times that I can’t even keep track of everything, save for the spare announcements I make about it on old episodes of my program. So announcing changes are nothing new, and, in fact, can help bring the show to new people at a time new listeners would appreciate jumping on. 

With all of that in mind, let me introduce you to the NEW broadcasting schedule that we will be working with, for the foreseeable future, and give you a small glimpse into what the next for radio broadcasts will contain.

2. This Is Now

Here’s when you can hear the show, now, primarily:

We are happy to return to the airwaves of KLFM.org in beautiful Split, Croatia! We have been syndicated on KLFM before, and we love working with them. So, beginning TOMORROW, you can hear our show on their station again. 

WEDNESDAYS: 3 PM – 5 PM PST (12 AM – 3 AM CET): You can listen to our show live!

This is an interesting time of day, as it is the end of the work day for people who work in offices on the West Coast, it is an early evening listen on the US East Coast, and is late night fare in Europe. (It’s EARLY morning fair for half of Asia, and wake-up / breakfast listening for the rest.) So, hopefully, people who enjoy experimental radio in those parts of the world will enjoy this program, humbly coming to you from Salem Oregon, by way of Croatia. 

As to not spoil those who want to tune in live and hear something new, the podcast will not drop until 3 PM PST. So, if you are the kind of person who listens to podcasts as they are released, you’ll hear it in tandem with the Live Listeners on KLFM. Or, you can enjoy it at your leisure, whenever. 

There is, however, a need for me to set aside a time to produce the show. And, as some people have become interested in this element of the show, there will be a special time, set aside, for true believers to enjoy the program before anyone else does, via a live streams on social media. We’re still in the beginning phases of testing this, and making sure that we can do this in a sustainable and manageable way. But I will be recording the shows at a scheduled time anyway, so I might as well right? Join me at:

SUNDAY MORNING, 8 AM to 10 AM PST on Social Media for a live streaming version of the show.

Since these streams are not for everyone, and require a certain amount of dedication to enjoy, they will be for those who want to really be a part of the show. I’m hoping to get interactive phone and Skype boxes added to the studio, so that people can get in on the old “Audience Participation” element of how I used to do radio. (Seldom used, but often mentioned when I was live.) However, that will require getting some new gear, which may take a while, so don’t be surprised if the show sounds a little “canned” for a while. Until we can get the new gear, we’ll do our best to deliver a low-tech version of the show that you can interact with in real-time, and someday, we’ll try to deliver a higher quality version.

Another point of order on scheduling: We will be producing a radio show every week, but if you tune in every week, you will hear two different programs: “Mid-Valley Mutations” on one week, and “WTBC Radio” on the other week. Both shows will be heard on KLFM.org during the aforementioned time-slot, but will be available in their own podcast feeds.

This gets at a problem that I’ve mentioned before: I love doing more than one radio show, and I have many ideas for many kinds of radio shows I want to do. But doing two weekly shows is a bit much for one person to handle, especially for someone who doesn’t get paid to do any of this. So, by changing the release schedule, and doing the “every other week” dance like this, I’m able to produce both shows, at a rate I can manage, and keep the quality at the same level it’s been at previously, which is important to me. So hopefully you don’t notice the shows dropping in quality, only in how often they come out. 

One final concern: KMUZ. I started “Mid-Valley Mutations” on KMUZ, in spite of the program having roots that go back to 1998. The new direction and name for my 20 year old show was a sort of a re-christening, as I attempted to pursue a vision that felt important to me. Out of the show that I grew at KMUZ, I developed Mini-Mutations, my musical act that has become another creative outlet that I value, and KMZU became a place where I could try and find my voice in a radio world that has many who say very little. KMUZ never censored the program, and never told me to change anything. They encouraged me to make the show I wanted. KMUZ made “Mid-Valley Mutations” possible, and as “Mid-Valley Mutations” moves on to continue finding itself, this is not because of any problem or issue with the place that helped grow us. In fact, I am developing a new program with them right now, which should be announced very soon. But recently I realized that “Mid-Valley Mutations” needed to grow a little more in order to become what it has always wanted to be, and that might need a place where I can go long or short if I need to , a place where the language restrictions might not be as tight, and a place where I can REALLY get experimental without fear of alienating the listener base that KMUZ has so carefully grown. So, this isn’t a parting of ways with animosity, or any negativity at all. I’m excited to find out how my new KMUZ show goes over. But “Mid-Valley Mutations” has gotten some wanderlust, and it needs to roam free in a way that KLFM is only happy to allow. I think, if I was to try and pursue these changes at KMUZ, it would really ruin the mood for everyone.

3. And What About Then?

With all of that said, here’s a tentative calendar of upcoming shows, for the listener who might want to get the feel for the every-other-week low-down, and who might be curious about the next couple of guests on WTBC. It’s exciting to not only have a schedule, but to have carved out blocks of time where I can get my radio done, and not feel like it’s always a rush.

Questions? Suggestions? You know who to call…

05 February: MVM #180
12 February: WTBC: Scot Jenerik
19 February: MVM #181
26 February: WTBC: Jeremy Hight
04 March: MVM #182
11 March: WTBC
18 March: MVM #183
25 March: WTBC

And so on…

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.

The memories feature here has achieved an interesting effect when considered over time: I’ve been reliving a barrage of my own political posts from a wide range of time periods on a near daily basis, and I’ve been noticing this fairly acutely, in the last calendar year.
I don’t think I disagree with anything I’ve written on here in the past. Most of my points seem like they reflect how I feel to some degree.
But…
Why did I post it at all?
In general, I think the best thing I can do now is lend my voice to the right causes when others feel marginalized. And I’ve found a creative outlet for my personal point of view, and I think both my radio show and my music are more interesting than my tirades ever could be.
Sometimes I feel motivated to act, and writing online is immediate.
But why do I need to share all this stuff at all?
If I’m expressing myself politically in a satisfying creative way, and if I’m the first to lend my voice to good causes when I can do so helpfully…
then… 
what function does saying something online like that serve? Just because I feel it to be true, it should be online? Isn’t this like a character in a movie directly stating their motivation in dialogue?
Isn’t it… uncouth?
I’m starting to link that, perhaps, I am of the wrong age to express myself like that. I have art and radio, and I will champion good causes however they arise.
But my, these, “these things I believe…” posts are getting a little tired.
To these eyes, anyway.

Tonight, at the Graveyard Bar: two excellent acts are coming through, and a new act that I’m playing in is opening up the show. Black Noise Orchestra is brand new, so be gentle. Sweeping dark guitars & ambient drones fir heavy dark vibes. You should check it out. A little something different, and I think you’ll dig it.

I had a dream where I was trying to explain myself to other people, and no one knew who I was. I tried to say to anyone who would listen, “C’mon! I love The Halo Benders! Everyone knows me!”
Not sure how that exactly identifies me, but sure. Why not? I do love The Halo Benders. But is that my only defining trait in my own dream logic?
Apparently?

I’ve been experimenting with my “reactions” here on FB, hoping to add a little more ooomph to my interactions. Mostly, this has taken the form of using the “Love” reaction more than just the “Like.”

I’m not sure why; it just started to happen, and as it was happening, I was thinking, “yes, a like is not enough for some of these, and I do mean it more emphatically than a simple thumbs up, so…” But I’m not entirely sure what motivated it. I just started feeling like the people I interact with needed more, and that I want to be a source of not just liking cool things, but loving them.

I’m not sure if it’s working, or if it has any impact. But with hindsight, it feels important. Perhaps I just want you all to know that my bitter facade is full of an aching heart who wants to know I’m thinking of you.

Maybe I should just come over and say it in person?

The Mr. Rogers of Driving

Yesterday I got into a car and drove, by myself, for the first time in my life. After years of being scared of driving, I’m now a licensed driver.

I’m not sure the full impact has hit me. I didn’t drive anywhere particularly strange, and I’m not good at it yet. But I can do it, no one honks at me, and I get there eventually. So, that’s the important part, right?

There’s a part of me that wishes I was having some sort of Springsteen-esque epiphany about how my loins and my wanderlust were somehow hopelessly entwined and I needed a hemi in New Jersey to sort that out. But it is hard to muster that feeling when you’re looking for parking and missing your turns constantly.

Errands hardly capture the teenage ego-unleashed-in-four-wheeled-fury! There is certainly more Mr. Roger’s in my driving style than there is Blues Brothers, and while I appreciate the incredible opportunities driving will now afford me, another part of me sees that 99 times out of 100 I’ll be making emergency runs to the store for coffee than I will be exploring my freedom as I search to, “ride eternal, shiny and chrome.”

And this is part of the problem: I’m not a car guy. I never was. My entire relationship with cars is from popular culture, and as I drive I can’t help but feel like Xander in, “The Zeppo,” where, in a desperate search for identity, he posits the notion that, well, maybe he’s a car guy? (Later, of course, he is not really seen driving again in the show.)

Not that I need to be a car guy to drive. But I can already predict the dollar signs in the eyes of any mechanic I visit, as they can tell within moments that I spent my time troubleshooting radio gear and arguing about Slint records rather than learning about car engines.

Nevertheless, I did get a twinge of excitement the moment I decided to add an unscheduled stop to my errands. The idea of being alone, without anyone knowing where I was, to go about my day and to see where I wind up and to be able to just go without any holdups. That does sound a little appealing.

I have spent my whole life as a passenger. Dependent on public transportation for commuting, and walking for everything else. Travel is hard, going out is not exactly easy, and I’m always the one who needs to spend far more time planning the trip because I need to make arrangements. My wife… has been tolerant, for someone who has done all of the driving for almost a decade. I know she is going to be excited to never need to pick me up from a show at 2 AM again as long as we are married.

Just the idea that I don’t have to ever beg for a ride home again is mentally exciting in a way that “autonomy” doesn’t fully capture. What does the future hold? Who can say?

So, I’m trying to be practical, yet positive, about what this really means.

And: I’m ready to drive!

I’m not sure I’m ready for a 12-Hour epic road trip at the end of which we all play a show and party all night.

But I am totally ready to meet up and offer you a ride, this time.

Because I probably owe you, and I really want to see where you’ll take me.

Available now (and in the Merchanbox): Pussification. Mini-Mutations has a track on this compilation of music all inspired by cats. I’m very excited to have a track on a No Part of It release, and this one has a slew of incredible artists on it. (Thanks Arvo Zylo.) Having two tracks come out on two different comps during this tour – where I self released a number of things, as well – has been incredibly rewarding. You can pick up a copy of this comp at tonight’s show!

 

Doing last minute prep for this show tonight. I’m not gonna lie; this tour has been an incredible experience, and it has all been building to this show, on such an excellent day, too! Buddy Runyan is kicking things off, then Mini-MutationsMark Hosler, and a closing set by Monster Planet. This will be THE party to attend tonight, and you will not want to miss this show. I assume I’ll see you there?

https://www.facebook.com/events/375681649627261/

Friends: I’m playing my very first United Sound Collective gig at Shotski’s Wood Fired Eats, and I really want you to come out. Katy & the Null Sets is one of my faves, and we’re both supporting Motorcoat, so it should be fun. I’d like to see more odd and fun shows like this, and if you live on this side of town and have been curious about what I do when I play, then this is the perfect compromise. Oh! And it’s free! Come on down!

Now we offer the most ubiquitous piece of music merch that every band must have: buttons! Known as both pinbacks or badges depending on your favorite regionalism, these are locally made by Button Arcade. There are five different mutations to choose from, and they look beautiful on the accessory of your choice, and not just grandpa’s jacket. At $2 these are the quintessential way to signal to the world that you have already been mutated.

Now We Are 20: Reflecting on Two Decades of Radio Life

The Beginning
(Originally broadcast on 15 April 1998 on KWVA.)

This was my first ever radio broadcast.   4 A.M. – 7 A.M. on KWVA.  What follows is a recreation, based on playlists, recordings, and memories from that evening.  This is an approximation of what it was like to listen to my show in those days.

Here’s the backstory: I have been obsessed since I was 10, when I got my own radio / cassette combo, and a box of tapes to go with it. (Plus a couple blank tapes.) Staying up, past my bedtime, listening to radio dramas (not called “Old Time Radio” among fans) and classic rock DJs as my pre-adolescent mind tried to wrap itself around all the things I was hearing. It stuck with me, as I started calling KZEL to request songs and chat with the DJ, my mom already working in that field herself. It was KZEL that broke grunge to me, my friends at school how suggested KRVM, and as alternative began to find it’s way to the sleepy town of Cottage Grove, I found myself wanting to break out of the confines, and find the world I was hearing through the radio.

Pump Up The Volume is sort of the nail in the coffin, isn’t it? Suggesting a winder world of radio and music that is not what you once thought it was. When I finally did burst out of Cottage Grove for Eugene, KWVA was the station we all huddled around, and you would hear it all over town, blasting out of coffee shops and front porch freak-outs. It was almost as instructive as the tapes Colin & kiisu would make for me, and this inevitably led to the Colin Mix tape that featured Negativland heavily. I connected with them, and copied my roommates’ albums immediately, to find that I loved this group. As I dug into them more, I had heard tale that they did a radio show, which sort of blew my mind. A band, that does a radio show? I love radio! I need to heard this!

By the time I was staying with Little Jon, I had not only come into recordings (through CDs and tapes friends would mail me), but our mutual friend Shane With No Last Name starting a morning mix show on KWVA. All of these vectors sort of coalesced, and I obsessively taped Shane’s show (and a lot of KWVA), anticipating each new entry into his “9 AM Slayer” segment, and getting to know the station in general.

I immediately filled out an application to become a DJ, and submitted it, only to wait for some time, not hearing a peep. I was a little discouraged, as it seemed like it had been so easy for Shane to get his show. I must have done something wrong. At the time I was still making ‘zines, so I focused my energy into that, until one day, several months later, when I was in the area and dropped into the station. I asked about my application, and there it was, in a pile of “to be read” applications. None of the staff had actually seen it yet. I hadn’t done anything wrong, and nothing sinister was afoot. The first rule of radio was learned: if you keep showing up, you’ll eventually get on the air.

It wasn’t long before I got a call back, and was asked to start out in the “beginner” slot. This is the dreaded 4 AM to 6 AM airtime (with a 3 AM to 3:30 AM “arrival” time). I took it, because I was 23 and full of energy and what was I gonna do with my time, anyway? This was the ’90’s, and everything was cheap. I was working part time jobs and living with roommates. Of course I’ll leave the bar, pick up some records, cruise on down to the radio station and DJ for a couple hours. What else am I going to do?

And so, on April 15th, 1998 (a Wednesday), I waltzed into the KWVA studio at 3 AM, and began a tradition that has now lasted me 20 years. Fortunately, these days, I don’t go in at 3 AM anymore.

In the time since I’ve been on at a number of stations here in Oregon, and 14 years ago we began podcasting, which has changed the game considerably. I’ve moved, changed the name, hosted up to three or four shows at once, and for years and years on end, hosted a weekly live band, too. (I’ve recorded somewhere around 300 radio performances in that time.) And if we roll the clock back to include the ‘zines and bands I’ve been in, and the live shows at venues I’ve put on too, and we’ve got 25 years of this nonsense I’ve been making, trying to carve out my own version of art in that time.

It’s a lot to process. But I’m entirely grateful for this career that I’ve managed to sort out for myself. Being on the radio for 20 years has not only given me a chance to figure out who I am and what I want, but has given me a creative outlet that really feels comfortable. When I set out to make a new radio show, it feels as exciting as it was to show up to KWVA 20 years ago, and have the station manager look me up and down, and say, “Okay, when I leave at four, you’re on. You’ve got the place to yourself. Don’t screw it up.”

Hopefully, I haven’t. Making radio has been incredibly rewarding, and I’ve met incredible people in that 20 years, who have all contributed to making this show possible, week after week. When I get discouraged, I return to radio. When I’m happy, I can say it in a show. Before I had this outlet I would make tapes, obsessively, sending them out to friends, trying to perfect the mix. While I keep redefining what that mix “is” as I get older, I have to say I’m fairly happy with the shows I’ve made over the years. It reflects who I am, and how I’ve changed. While the show that I pitched to KWVA – an Over The Edge clone – was not the show I ended up making, as the years progressed and as my tastes changed and evolved (and as I moved from station to station), the show I originally pitched became the show I do now, and you can hear that 20 year evolution if you’ve been along for the ride.

But that isn’t to say that my show wasn’t more conventional at times. I used to do an all 60’s Rock show. For a spell it was strictly punk. I went through a phase of just playing everything at once and hoping for the best, and then a full pre-planned and pre-produced phase, that sometimes felt that way, too. For years it was just live bands, and I even did a brief stint doing only progressive rock. My show is difficult to pin down because I don’t really want it to be any one thing, restricting it to a format of which I can then grow tired. But as the years wore on it was clear that I was gravitating more and more to something that was obviously influenced by Over The Edge, even though it did not start that way.

On April 15th, I was more than a little drunk, and the station manager actually left before it was officially 4 AM. (She had been called in suddenly to cover for the 2 AM – 4 AM gent, who suddenly didn’t show up.) And to make matters worse, the DJ after me didn’t show up either, so the Programming Director came in and relieved me. Most likely I was actually on from 3:45 to 6:50 (or something like that), but I didn’t keep track of thing then as precisely as I do now. (A phrase which could probably go on my tombstone.)

The show had the incredibly unwieldy name of The Church of Blasphuphmus (Not Jesus) Hour, and up until 2013, some variant of that name was the one I used, on the air, no less. I got a few complaints about the “anti-religious” sentiment, but very little, considering how long I kept the name around. Since then, the name has changed a few times, but Mid-Valley Mutations seems to suit best the nonsense I’ve created, and feels like a good roadmap, too. While the old name was informed by the religion kiisu & Colin made up (and I willingly began to join in on), I can’t help but acknowledge all that the SubGenius did for me, and for them, in giving us ideas, too.

Through the miracle of tape and digital archiving, there is actually a recording of my first broadcast. The recording that follows is a re-creation of it that I made, using the surviving tapes, playlists, and guesswork as to what was popular then, and in particular, what I remember hearing / playing on KWVA in those days. (So, the re-creation is only as good as that.) In those days, it wasn’t as practical for me to record and keep all the tapes necessary to archive my entire show, and I played a fair amount of music that I already owned in other formats. So when archiving my KWVA shows, I would cut out the songs I owned elsewhere, and just keep the other bits. I rarely saved commercials, and I regularly lost huge sections of shows. (Near the end of my KWVA run, I just stopped taping entirely, and have still not yet found the supposed recording I made of my “last” KWVA show, before I moved to Portland.)

Suffice it to say, the recording here is a pretty good reproduction of what my show was like back then, but also, is like a journal entry from that day, from that year, that I can look back on. Because I’ve recorded so many of them, and because there are plenty of specific places and dates associated with all of them, the really do act as a way I can “listen” to my own story, and get a sense of who I was and what I’ve become in 20 years. This first show is not “great,” but it is a nice slice of nostalgia, and it shows the potential of what was to come.

I’ll be including occasional other selections from the archives to bring out some of my favorite moments from my radio years. I’ve done a few shows that I think are very indicative of the fun I’ve gotten to have on the radio over the years, and I want to share those moments with you now that I’ve had a couple of decades to reflect on them.

Most importantly, thank you. Without an audience, there is no art. And without you, the listener, there is no show.

Be seeing you.

* * * * * *

KWVA Studio

The Beginning

HOUR 1

01.) Strychnine * Strychnine * Born to Loose * Industrial Strength Records
02.) Millionaire * ?? * ?? * ??
03.) Teenagers From Mars * Misfits * Collection * Caroline Records
04.) Christine * The Con Men * Live In-Studio * KWVA Radio
05.) Dicks Hate The Police * The Dicks * 1980-1986 * Alternative Tentacles Records
06.) Stereo Phasing Test / Television * Man… Or Astro-Man? * Experiment Zero * Touch & Go Records
07.) Cramp Stomp * The Cramps * Big Beat from Badsville * Epitaph Records
08.) Selector Pt. 2 * Dub Narcotic Sound System
09.) Buenos Tardes Amigos * Ween
10.) Fade In / Fade Out * Red Aunts

11.) Forest Fire * Dead Kennedys * Plastic Surgery Disasters * Alternative Tentacles Records
12.) BluBlud * KARP
13.) KWVA In-Studio Performance * The Outclass
14.) My Novel * Oswald 5-0
15.) Let’s Go Away * The Wipers
16.) Neat Neat Neat * The Damned * Damned Damned Damned * Stiff Records
17.) Justification * Against All Authority
18.) Streamline Yr Skull * New Bomb Turks

HOUR 2

19.) Embryodead (Aghast View Remix) * :wampscut:
20.) Shaved Women * Crass
21.) Praying Hands * Devo
22.) Caught In My Eye * Germs
23.) Smokin’ Banana Peels * Dead Milkmen
24.) Hexenzsene * Unwound
25.) Metanoia * King Missile
26.) The Way Of The World * Flipper

27.) Happy Hero * Negativland * Dispepsi * Seeland Records

28.) Kill All The White Man (Live) * NOFX * I Heard They Suck Live!! * Fat Wreck Chords
29.) Germfree Adolescents * X-Ray Spex
30.) Universal Corner * X
31.) Hustler * Blatz
32.) Gargoyle Waiting * …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead
33.) Persistent Vision * Rites of Spring
34.) Whirling Hall Of Knives * Butthole Surfers
35.) Treat Me Right * The Con Men * Live In-Studio * KWVA Radio

HOUR 3

36.) Titanium Expose * Sonic Youth * Goo * DGC Records
37.) Birthday Sandwhich * godheadSilo
38.) Theme * Los Mex Pistols * Unreleased Radio Promo Tape

39.) Runnin’ Through My Bones * Tight Bros. From Way Back When
40.) Ain’t No Woman Gonna Make A George Jones Outta Me * Daniel Johnston *
41.) This Is Radio Clash * The Clash * The Story of The Clash, Volume I * Epic Records
42.) Egg Raid On Mojo * Beastie Boys

43.) Excuse Me, But Pardon My French * Unwound * The Future of What * Kill Rock Stars Records
44.) Balalaika Gap * Camper Van Beethoven
45.) Born To Do Dishes * The Queers
46.) Sidewalk Warrior * Screeching Weasle
45.) Jello Biafra * Wesley Willis
46.) Hangin’ Tough * New Kids On The Block * Hangin’ Tough * Columbia Records

47.) False Start * Bikini Kill
48.) In My Mind * Crimpshrine
49.) Kasimir S. Pulaski Day * Big Black

04.) Tennessee Stud * Jimmie Driftwood * The Wilderness Road * RCA / Victor Records

To complement our show Friday, which was heavy with my interview with Wobbly. We didn’t get time to play selections of his music, strangely. So, this mini-mutation features music from Wobbly’s career, focusing on stuff we mentioned during the interview. And: stay tuned to the very end, for a short sample of his as-yet-unreleased new record, Monitress. Happy Sunday.

Raw Wobbly (#79a)

When the crypt goes creak,
And the tombstones quake.
Spooks come out for a swinging wake.
Happy haunts materialize,
And begin to vocalize.
Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize.
Now don’t close your eyes,
And don’t try to hide.
Or a silly spook may sit by your side.
Shrouded in a daft disguise,
They pretend to terrorize.
Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize.
As the moon climbs high o’er the dead oak tree,
Spooks arrive for the midnight spree.
Creepy creeps with eerie eyes,
Start to shriek and harmonize.
Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize.
When you hear the knell of a requiem bell,
Weird glows gleam where spirits dwell.
Restless bones etherialize,
Rise as spooks of every size.
If you would like to join our jamboree,
There’s a simple rule that’s compulsory. Mortals pay a token fee.
Rest in peace, the haunting’s free.
So hurry back, we would like your company.

In my mind, this was a lot further away… but it’s this weekend! Noise Therapy, with Justin Smith, Herd William, devils/club, Talc & Rock Forming Minerals. I’ll be doing a shortened, live version of my radio show, Mid-Valley Mutations, with a crew of great experimental artists. And we’re playing at an art gallery, too. Come on down. You won’t be sorry.