Music Quest

139_discoveryFor a long while I’ve been seeking an experience of The Diamond Island. That is, a mountain peak that exists within my inner world. Now I see that I’m already on the mountain. The things I was looking at were reflections of what was already there.

The black hole through space is a journey through the maelstrom of destruction, where what is true comes out the other side to a new existence. In the process many things are redeemed and made clear.

I’ve been fighting my ass off, struggling with opponents much stronger than I think I am. Both personal and collective engagements with the realities of my life, with different obstacle courses and challenges to pass through and overcome.

There are mysterious sources of power within myself I don’t fully understand. Yet somehow they come through for me, get me to the next pit stop and show me ways to push the limits of my being when I feel I haven’t any more to put into the work.

I’m listening to the personalities that help me run this psychic mechanism I use to get myself through the world. I have a lot of work to do there—people are unhappy with some of the stances I’ve taken and the way I go about things.

I don’t know where the UFO will land, other than home. Part of the stress I feel is in not knowing how things will end up, as the process is very much a push and pull in multiple directions at once. It will lead things to the right path, but it’s just one of those things you can’t predict until it happens.

Going over how to make things that are important to me now that I’m ready. Lucerna’s Mother-Mary-Personal-Helper training has given me something to focus on. Music helps me understand, but the practice is going to be a long one.

Out of the sea comes a nourishing goblet. Learning to drink from this source of refreshment, cultivate myself before I can encourage others.

I see that I do have an effect on the world around me. The places I find are brought out of myself. The things that move or are demolished are of a mind from me. Maybe they were messed up? Maybe things that reappear are okay now? The things I find will not be wrong.

The humming of bees, the helping of bees, the signs that bees are coming to the forefront of consciousness. This is important stuff.

The realization that the land inside me needs a brute conqueror king to bring the bounty out. My self image doesn’t like this figure, yet I manifest him anyway regardless of my hang-ups. To resist is only to become dishonest and incompetent.

A revelation of my personal destiny comes into view, right in front of me all this time. The signposts and helpers were there in abundance showing me the way: Imagination, family, and masculinity are the core of my being.

Movement and non-movement are also a part of this. I need to become more physical in my activity so that I can be at rest more wholly. A king needs a traveling the realm meditation to do his work properly. I must have been blind not to see this, yet again it happened with or without my knowledge. Better for me to see it now and make it a part of my conscious life.

I’m saying yes to many many things. I’m also learning to say fuck off to a lot of things I don’t need anymore.

136_ShivamessagebraceletI finished the Shiva message bracelet and rang that sucker in the sacred woods. The crown-grove with all the humongous trees that go all the way up.

It’s taken a long time for me to settle in to the fact that I’m whole, that I’m myself again. I really never expected this. I was resigned to doing the best I had with what I had left, because somehow I had found a trail within myself.

I think about my past self, and if he could only know what I’m feeling now. What I’m seeing. All I can do is send him encouragement and dreams to strengthen his being. I bless him with all my heart and soul, his desperate muddled seeking to understand and find himself whole.

What’s the blood of the dragon taste like? It’s like a heavy metal concert where you’re both audience and performer at the same time. You taste your own shadow and realize you’re only deceiving yourself if you think that by chasing an image of yourself that you can escape what you are. This is, in a strange way, a relief.

I’d thought the Shiva message bracelet was something you rang when you were done and then you got a message, but now it occurs to me that it’s more about sending a message—that I’m done with the quest. I’m letting good ol’ Shiva know that I’ve completed the assignment.

Now I’m sitting here, letting the change sink in.

135_unicornbloodmobileEverybody involved in the industrial production of mediopoly goods (movies, music, books, news) has been wondering what the new model will be for transactions in the age of the Internet.

There isn’t one. There isn’t going to be one.

There has to be one, right? How else will people get paid? Silly Rabbit, the ownership doesn’t care about that. The people who do the work—authors, rock stars, journalists, cameramen—they can all eat cake.

What about the executives and the shareholders and…and…you know, the patricians who have a little bit of ownership?

Nope, sorry ol’ chap. Not just professionals, freelancers, and working stiffs.

Yes, even the companies themselves are going to lose capacity. The movie industry, the publishing industry, the newspapers, all of it is going to shrivel up and break into little cubes. Taking any patricians invested in them down into the black gulf of unprofitability and layoffs with dramatic gnashing of teeth for the commentators.

The reason is simple: The world is going broke and nobody has as much money as they used to.

Rich people too—they’re holding onto their profits for dear life, not giving an inch—but the other 99% of the world didn’t have much to begin with and that’s all been tapped out.

All that’s left to take the hit are standards of living.

As they begin to drop all around the more developed countries, the industries that depended on income from the surplus of leisure spending workers had, well they shrink too. The CEOs of these industries are surprised because they thought they were part of the club. But hey guv’nor, it’s just business. Sorry to hear your son won’t be going to a top school anymore.

All the models that have been proposed so far—paywalls, pay as you go, subscription, kickstarters—they’re all dead ends. People got no money, dude! At best all you’re doing is finding efficiency techniques to redistribute whats left of a declining wage class with fewer dollars to spare.

The Internet is built around a distribution model, not an exchange model. Transactions that slow down the flow lose energy and crash out of the psychological lane of traffic.

Into this setup comes cheap entertainment from the Internet—and it’s all going to be free, all of it—mass produced and easy to make in more variations than you can consume. All you pay is your monthly Internet fee and that’s it.

Oh wait, that’s already here.

Pirates are just a bogeyman, something propped up there for people to blame like communism. The stockholders have to be told something, right?

The mediopoly companies will shift the rising cost of copyright enforcement and surveillance on the providers through the government. Mainly because they’re losing money and can’t afford to keep suing everyone. Yes, even they’re crowdsourcing the old fashioned way—on the public’s bruised back.

How long can they keep that up before they can’t afford the political favors anymore? How much can the government enforce when there’s less tax base to support the enforcement? It’s a turtle race to the bottom.

The providers can raise the prices, but again people are getting poorer and the variety of content naturally overwhelms big business content. If I can’t afford the latest HBO special I’ll just buy the craphound version off Netflix.

That’s another thing. There is no quality and there never was. There’s only your crap and my quality. You can argue that 3D Casablanca is better than Lord of the G Strings, but at the end of the day people will consume what they can afford. Fidelity loses to convenience when you can’t buy a Betamax.

People don’t want a good story. They want a story they believe is good.

That makes connection the only game to play in this environment. Some folks sense this and focus their attention on “reaching the fans” as if this was the new model itself.

Services like Pandora come close to databasing connectivity, but we’re still a long way off from any kind of prototype with which to make a media database standard. A Manhattan style Wikipedia project is probably what’s required.

Until that happens we’re stuck with “the hunt”. Friends as clue finders. I don’t care if I can get it all, I care about if I can get what’s mine.

That’s why services like Spotify don’t work as well as YouTube or Amazon’s recommendations. Tell me what part of the forest to look and I’ll get it myself. If the interface isn’t brute simple you have slowdown and again, you drop out of the psychological lane of traffic.

Even if connection is achieved though, it’ll end up being an efficiency advance. Something to mask the declining revenue pool a little longer.

The industrial age has reached its peak and is starting to decline. This confuses people because they’re used to things trending up, not down.

The owners of the world are extracting more from a smaller and smaller money pool through efficiency and productivity gains. Getting the gold is the goal, even if the river is drying up. The winners just make less.

It’s like that old Lexx episode, “Feeding Pattern.” The house still always wins, but full winnings are now half winnings and half winnings are now quarter winnings. Only in this case there’s no spaceship to take the owners to a new planet to start again.

What industry servants and their patrician managers refuse to accept is that the cost has been shifted. The slush pile has been moved to the public and crowdsourced.

Less pay doesn’t mean the death of publishing, it means more craphounds.

The craphounds see the gates to the river are now open to the public and think their chance to strike it rich has finally come. Then they see what’s left of the river.

The owners are abandoning the mediopoly factories and manipulating the remaining consumers into covering the upfront costs. Rust of media factories and their personnel is the natural outcome. Why invest in new infrastructure when the returns are going down?

Some industry folks think the problem is too many craphounds. No, that was always the cost of doing business.

The problem is that profits are shrinking. There need to be more craphounds to increase the declining pool of wizards that may still exist to be exploited before the enterprise enters the steep end of the decline curve.

You find your biggest wizards in the beginning. Then you plateau. Then you enter decline. This is how life works, folks.

So what’s going to happen?

Well the whole thing looks like a craphound mega-farm to me. This long tail mega-farm is too big for fiefdoms to control and still make a profit. What you need is probably something along the lines of Borg control nodes. That means a larger number of smaller, mid-list way-stations to provide structure and channel libido projections.

There will probably be one or two corporate overlords that remain, only in diminished form; everything else gets divided up into drones and drone units (seven of nine). The overlords will vacu-jack up the most popular and monetizable eruptions of public interest, extract the Gelfling essence. But these will become quarterly or yearly events.

Much as going to the movie theater is now.

The Internet cooperative has formed itself into a way to farm out labor most efficiently to the public leisure spending that still exists. It’s a development that serves the reactive ownership in masking something more significant.

What does crowdsourcing the gatekeepers mean for servants in the mediopoly industry?

I predict extended periods of pressure to work twice as hard with half as much. Professionals will find themselves separated from their skills and positions as an identity. They’ll be expected to adopt a jack-of-all-trades model of independent contracting so they can fit into whatever flavor of the month project their patrician managers want them in.

As individual value is minimized, prestige and bargaining power will be reduced. Wages will shrink. In short, you’ll be a crew chief at Winky Dinky Dog, but it’ll be for less pay!

The patricians themselves will be forced increasingly into a hatchet man role as the owners come down on them hard to “cut costs” and “do things differently”. That’s Secret Langauge Noble for getting rid of servants and turning the treadmill dial up on those who still have jobs.

All standard plays from the ownership dream manual. The usual efforts to summon the psycho goals of free labor, automation of specialists, and value decoded by algorithm.

In short, the ideal vampire world. Fully socialized blood for the members of the Dracula Club! Anything less than 100% domination is a humiliating failure, so if the blood pool shrinks then the difference comes out of your neck first.

Meanwhile, the craphound mega-farm grows a freelance economy of atomization, domination, and zero dignity all hand delivered like a pizza. It’s diabolically brilliant.

There is no next incarnation of distribution that enforces paid transaction. This is it folks. Hold your arm out and let Renfield insert the vacu-jack.

Not just movies, books, comics, newspapers, music and magazines, but even sports will be affected. This is the decline of the second capitol, of the conglomeration of culture. It’s simple economics.

Just wait until prices start to rise on computers again. That’s when things get really interesting.

126_jessicaFor a long time I’ve had a roster of crewmembers who populate the internal main bridge of my psyche. You might say that the Star Trek organizational scheme provides a ready archetype for my thoughts and feelings to constellate around.

Handling the communications console is a personality named Jessica. I’m pretty sure she was meant to be the female companion who accompanies Logan in the 1976 film Logan’s Run. I had a childhood crush on the actress Jenny Aguetter who played Jessica in the movie.

At that age I thought Jessica the character was the real person and Jenny was just her name in our reality. So creating a character based on her in my own mind to accompany me on my journey of imagination, or just general life influenced by a personal inner world, seemed like a good idea.

The crew of the Starship Snipe still carries the internal psychic organizations I’ve given them to this day. However, I’ve never explored them in detail—they all embody personal connections with characters from books, movies and TV that I enjoyed growing up with.

With the UFO becoming the central organizing principle in my psychic voyage, it may be time to reexamine my crew and the starship model. Ultimately, Star Trek and the characters I’ve borrowed are someone else’s experience that has become collectivized.

Such communal models are easy to access and use. They have value to our survival. However, they can only be launch pads for our personal explorations. The human dimension of wholeness requires that we make a personal journey to inner space to align ourselves with the actual organic connectivity of people.

I need to strike out on my own and identify the processes and elements behind my image. What if I’m oppressing or harming some aspect of myself by relating to it through a simplified model of consciousness?

So here we go. Using my power of imagination to inquire about Jessica as an internal personality and psychological adaptation.

The name Jessica comes up in my dictionary as having a Hebrew origin—Yiskah and Iscah which means “shut up” or “confined”. There’s a Greek and a Latin version, Ieskha and Jesca respectively. Unfortunately there’s no cultural context to go on, I’ll have to beam in the Internet connection.

Which, as it so happens, is Jessica’s job on the starship. She’s helping me along with this, naturally. Maybe this is a search for identity episode, a character building moment where I finally gain enough understanding to grasp a concept of her personality.

I think of the Teen Titans comic issue #38—”Who Is Donna Troy?”—where a detective investigation leads to the truth of Wonder Girl’s parents.

A strange smell of sanctity runs past my nose. That Holy Ghost effect that I know Lucerna would find compelling evidence I am on the correct trail.

The first recorded use of Jessica comes from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, and refers to the daughter of Shylock, who is of Hebrew origin in the story. I also dig up numerous baby name sites that give variations of the meaning as having to do with either God seeing, watching and beholding, or referring to gifts and wealth.

I let this trail of synchro-mysticism go off into the woods for now. Next up is the position itself.

The communications officer in Star Trek has often been criticized as being little more than a switchboard operator, with Lieutenant Uhura’s role minimized many times to the point of uselessness. I agree with this assessment, mainly because the position is actually critical to the operation of the ship. It requires someone who operates at a high degree of ability to perform properly.

Think about it. The communications officer has to direct the flow of information all over the ship. Repair crews, medical teams, and security details all rely on this officer’s leadership to act efficiently. If a crewmember notices something amiss the communications officer will likely be the first to hear of it and be able to warn the captain or relevant department head.

Depending on how you interpret the technology and schematics of a starship, the communications officer also needs a high degree of technical knowledge to operate the subspace radio and long range sensors that go along with that. I could see skills in computer programming and electronics as being necessary.

Maintaining a selection of diplomatic strategies and tactics is a huge order. Languages, linguistics and translation all need a lot of theoretical as well as practical knowledge. The person in the position has to be adaptive, flexible, and open-minded as well as intelligent and highly trained.

There’s an element of espionage implied in this function too—ciphers, jamming enemy transmissions and releasing ship wide alerts. I can see why the Next Generation Star Trek world merged communications with security.

Needless to say, you see some hints of these roles with Uhura in the TV show, but it almost entirely disappears by the time of the movies. Space battles don’t require anything other than making sure the shields and weapons work. If they don’t speak English then shoot to kill. It’s profoundly anti-specialist, anti-technology, and anti-science.

Need to transmit or receive data or messages? Maintain channels of information in-ship? Jessica has done all this and more. I only vaguely comprehended it—mainly I fell into the trap of casting the girl on my ship into the role of social interaction mediator. See how powerfully influential role models can be?

The point of communication is to share, divide out, impart, inform, join, unite, and participate in. In other words, “to make common.” Such an important task! And yet, Star Trek has subsumed this role into something else after decades of making it a minor position.

No! Boo!

Well I’m bringing chat back, yo. Or at least recognizing what has always been there all along: Communications leader Jessica doing an incredibly difficult, complex, important job without recognition or respect from me. The collective reckoning needs to evolve; it’s way behind the times and has been fifty years ago.

At this point I have to start questioning my own assumptions. Is Jessica even her name? Is it a nickname based on a projection? Is Jessica really female, as a kid would grok it, or a human being from earth? I might be overreacting; it might just be the dialogue has been so limited as to include only basic details.

I’m usually not so good with practical questions. The time has come to face the difficulty and start asking, to open up a hailing frequency with my own communications officer.

Jessica, I’m listening!

I heard tell that without gospel there would be no rock and roll. I believe it’s true.

At some point, all great bands do an album of covers and jamming experiments. It’s inevitable; you need to return to your influences and work out their place in your musical development.

The acoustic elf-metal band CRIME and the Forces of Evil released an album of their turn at this kind of exploration and I’m warmly surprised. Usually this sort of thing is just not interesting to me at all, yet here I am energized by the exposure.

Total respect to them for having a lighthearted romp through their roots because this is important work. It’s an affirmation and a blessing to work through what has gone before and make it your own. The expressions of music belong to all of us, but if they aren’t renewed they fade from our spirit.

I loved their previous album, so I was expecting this to be a waypoint—a kind of rest stop to catch their breath and power up for the next round of discovery. Covers of standard issue favorites ho-hum, whatever. Boy was I completely wrong!

First off, these musicians have clearly improved since last time. How is that even possible when the last album was so good? There’s confidence in this collection, and that means this time they just sit back and have a riot of fun. Humor, camaraderie, loving life—the songs are well established but CRIME makes these songs pay.

They’ve been playing live long enough now that they are getting some serious chops. Some of the songs are live and sound fantastic. They bring in guest stars, another sign of leveling up, and while “Red is the Rose” is my least favorite song I still must say Leannan Sidhe sounds every bit as good as a mainstream act like Loreena McKinnitt.

When I hear “Old Black Rum” I find myself drawn in by the sheer fun of it all. It might be the best song about drinking I’ve heard yet. The elf spirit kindles a human passion for hanging out with your friends and singing along, or if you drink alone the recursive pleasure of roaming the hallways of your inner self in warm joy.

The first song, “Song for a Blockade Runner/High Barbaree” is the highlight and easily the strongest song—such great lines and pirate attitude—but don’t overlook “Hove in Long Beach”. A great beat and good fun music to feed the soul. Howl it!

“Paddy Murphy” rules. Best rhymes ever, with such a playfulness I can’t imagine a better funeral romp. Then there’s “I’m A Rover,” which is so singable it gets stuck in your head for days. “Columbia” is objectively the weakest song, but it is still wistful, beautiful and real.

The last official track, “Dalek Boy” is an outtake of sorts, with the musicians all speaking in mechanical voices as they try to cooperate long enough to do a rendition of “Danny Boy.” The absurdity of the track distinctly establishes this album as belonging to the irreverent humor that the group is developing a persona around.

There’s an element of public disobedience inherent in the songs, of being a lowdown outsider who is unapproved of by the rulers. In a way this is just what a gathering of super-villains actually is: ordinary people with extraordinary viewpoints hearing the call to gather into an assembly and defy authority that serves only a few superheroes and their estates. Hanging out in the pub singing songs might be the most dangerous place on earth for the League of Justice for the Fortunate Few.

This is how a band builds a catalog of items worth owning. Holy cow, can that be true? Keep your eyes on these folks.

5 out of 5 Stars of the Magi.

It’s been many years since DEVO released an album. Hek, nowadays albums are being questioned as a form of experience delivery. Ever since their magnificent masterpiece Oh No It’s DEVO!, the record induhstry has slowly managed to disrupt their energies and subsume their influence into the blood pool of sacrifice to the ownership.

Not that they were wholly defeated, mind you. They survived as best they could, finding ways to continue to be creative and get their work out in some form to people in need of it. Their concerts especially allowed them to continue to perform and keep the baseline light glowing.

Watching them sing a sad version of “Jocko Homo” in concert, I was struck by how they recognized their shadow—that their best years were behind them and they had served their purpose. That’s a hard truth to allow into your depths, to affect you. It changes you and your work, oftentimes beyond recovery.

So out comes their latest effort, Something For Everybody. I want to be wowed and thrilled by this development. Their concerts are great and their connectedness is cool. I’m digging that they have survived and have not given up that last inch.

But after their last album, and the intervening years, are they still able to reach me? I’m not the same as I was when I grew up with them, their every word humming in tune with how I felt and how I saw the world.

Having listened to the songs for a while and listened to what the spud adventurers have mixed up for us, I can only say the result is mixed. Is it possible to both get it and not get it? At times songs like “What We Do” and “Watch Us” are such devastatingly spot-on pieces of mutato beauty it brings a moisture to my eye.

Other songs such as “March On” and “Human Rocket” just don’t connect with me at all. They resemble a strip-mined DEVO that has played out.

There’s the sorrowful “No Place Like Home”, full of fatalistic remorse at the end. It makes “Beautiful World” from New Traditionalists seem hopeful by comparison.

The humorous “Don’t Shoot I’m A Man” cribs on previous insights, yet still manages to be good. It’s hard not to like the current DEVO bridging the past and present with skill.

Straight up pop songs like “Fresh” dance along a similar knowing playfulness and innuendo. Not my cup of tea, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that they are having fun and showing us a secret passage in the heart of darkness.

One thing that strikes me is DEVO’s utter mastery of electronic music making. They demonstrate fluency and command of just about every techno trick in today’s music. That’s the benefit of being a pioneer in the field who has stayed dialed in, practicing every day with devotion.

In a way they are showing off and in another way they are showing how out of tricks today’s popular music is. It isn’t even shallow any more; it’s got nothing at all. Is it any wonder today’s music business is fading away? It’s all been done and there’s nothing new left to explore. And copyright forbids us from remaking the older stuff into something new.

I’m left considering how this album leaves me mostly in the middle. Is it that I only like their unabashed forays into utter creativity and this tempered metal is somehow less palatable? I suppose so. I do come away with some gold, so can I really complain?

There’s a song called “Step Up”, which in my mind stands up as a hidden alloy of metals surprise. Insightful, hopeful, but also realistic of what needs to be done. Wasn’t it always up to the listener to hear the message anyway? DEVO have done their time, dug up their gold, and shared some with us. Do we want to become dependent on them for what we ourselves need to do work on?

We need the prophets to reflect back to us how we have gone astray. But if we do not heed them and find our own way what good have they done? The call of the divine could saturate us with every kind of delightful revelation and treasure of form to reassure us. Yet if we do not live it, respond, are we alive? Are we DEVO?

In a previous post, I discovered instructions from UFO Girl contained within my past self-explorations.  Decoding the instructions has required I “sit on it” for a while and let the recognition sink in fully. Now there is a growing thought in my brain that I’m ready to examine what’s available for consideration.

A being transport of pure sound, conveying mobility through space and time, enabling us to experience new ways of playing. The time has come for me to hypnotize myself into understanding the plans and going about the ceremony of putting together what has been uncovered.

I imagine a number of qualities such a vehicle of the mind might require for it to be a useful conveyance for me.

  • Imminence, or a sense of the ability to move one location or state of mind to another.
  • Intuition, that ability to understand and reason by mysterious and irrational means.
  • Integrity, which is to say both completeness and honesty as a way to “hold it together”.
  • Consonance, or the ability to maintain harmony and accord.
  • Epistle, that is, messages and transcripts across gaps of perception.
  • Precursor, or the ability to project one’s intentions and ideas through crossings in affect.
  • Organism, which simply means the awareness and maintenance of life consciousness.
  • Psyence, because one always needs a new word and which represents healthy models of system.
  • Constellation, that process by which disparate parts and wholes organically relate.

There was this article in a science fiction magazine I read a while back. I still have the magazine somewhere in one of my transport boxes.  The article was about this guy building his own cylon robot out of available materials.

At the time I took it literally and seriously. Could you really make a cybernetic brain using sauerkraut as a baseline ingredient? If only I could save the shef boi-ahr-dee cans and use them to build my cyclon’s armored covering!

However, there is an important lesson here in building anything out of ideas and into substance. The stimulation of the imagination and the working out in one’s own psychic make-up how such models might work is an important step.

Is the plan we have built a put-on? Might it not also be a signpost, saying “look here, in this box for the diagram of your dream.”  Sauerkraut and tin cans indeed!

Watching the glowing light in my brain, I find myself getting wide-awake-sleepy, tick-tock.


A while back, I reviewed a small release of music from a band led by an elf gal who goes by the alias of Solarbird.  Well the crafty and inventive songster is back with her elf posse, CRIME and the Forces of Evil, along with a full-fledged album of new improved songs to whup our behinds with a belt!

Solarbird put forward a raffle to divvy out a series of advance copies in exchange for a review. As per my usual truculent self I said, “Funk Dat” and bought the album off the Bandcamp space. I told her to keep me out of the raffle and I was going to do a review anyway, because of course—I had already made up my mind to do so!

Last time, I was curdled and mixed about the music the band put forward.  I knew I was going to give the full album a fair shot once it came out, though quite frankly I thought it would be a chore.  Save for one track, the style of that first release let my expectations down and the sound grated on me.

Okay enough yapping already! What the Hek do we have here anyway?

I was impressed and surprised.  Consider me totally floored.

First off, the title is awesome.  I’ve stated my superhero stance before, so the title of the album, Dick Tracy Must Die, is a stance I immediately understand and sympathize with.  I’m on board at the conceptual level.

I’m impressed with the Bandcamp interface—I’m all about low barriers. I got myself a high quality download and cover jpg with no-fuss and no-muss.  This really is a step forward in the ability for artists to control the horizontal and vertical.

I know the site takes its cut, but right now this format kicks the music industry in their undead nutsac.  I know that I’m giving most of my Ducats to the people I choose to support.

Musically, the tracks are outstanding.  The audio has been cleaned up.  There are lots of extras in the background for punctuation.  There’s variety in the subject matter and sound while still remaining distinctive as a style.  Having listened intently for a week now, I can’t think of any song that sounds unfinished—these birds are grown up and fly on their own.

Having let go of previous expectations, I can at least make that kind of objective statement about the material.  It holds up as good music that has been pushed through the dip to fruition.

What I wasn’t expecting was that I would actually like the stuff.

Maybe I ought not to be surprised, since what we have here is different, interesting, and independent at its core.  All stuff I really dig.  It’s hard to remain unmoved by the biting insight and subtle wit of “When You Leave”, or the sincere and reasoned tenderness of “Let Me Help.”

Solarbird’s voice has been blended with the music and now the cranky, irksome elf has been replaced with a softer and more even level that lets the lyrics deliver their potency without detracting from the energy and skill of the strings.  Nothing’s wasted here.

While I like some songs more than others, I can’t find a single one I dislike.  There’s the outrageous and knowing humor of “My Boyfriend”, the restrained buoyancy of return in “Stars”, and the sorrowful understanding of “Thought You Knew”—the territory covered is impressive.  I have yet to tire of it.

The group characterizes itself as acoustic elf-metal.  I would venture to say their sound is better described as acoustic elf-chrome—lustrous, hard, and pure.  This is the kind of punk music you would hear played in Rivendell when the elves had downed a few.

Or in the markets and fairs of Cascadia.  Played by those few diminished immortal elves who never went into the Undying Lands, yet have enough kindness and wisdom in their hearts still to sing songs of complexity and beauty.

The elves of Middle-Earth were known for crafting items of exceptional artistry, but that only explains half of what I’m hearing. I can’t help but feel there’s an edge to all this.  It’s music you’d hear played by the elves in the movie Wizards, where fantasy magic and archaic technology mix.

Solarbird has a machine gun now.  Die, Dick Tracy, die!

The collapse of the popular music sacrificial fire into millions of glittering coals marks the slow death of a sub-cultural era of psychic exploitation, repression, and propaganda. Beware of many last salvos as the conflagration expires, crackling and burning with a final extraction of warmth before we are free of the spectacle.

There’s been enough recycled commercialization through the grinder now to recognize the taste of the bodies being fed to us as having a same-old, lifeless lack of flavor.  To satiate our robust hunger for the flesh and bones of dreams we don’t dare for ourselves, the human fuel was piled high.  Every kind of expression, disposable and forgettable unless you happened to catch a particular body’s colorful spattering burst of color as it was consumed.

That’s just how the sausage is made, mind you. It’s true that sacrifice is what keeps us all alive.  Mindful sacrifice that is. Making an automated industry out of it—at the cost of a wasteland of the mind and the earth in its wake (never mind what those planting monoculture clones in the wake say)—hardly satisfies.  The junkfood consuming of the pRonographic never provides enough psychological nourishment.  It just gets you to the next storefront

Only the art which turns the one participating back upon themself is any damn good.  The point is to adapt us, to bring us back to ourselves with a fresh re-imagining that shakes us from our ossification of the routine. The pieces are always the same, it is in the near limitless application of those parts into a whole experience that one is reminded of their true humanity.

It’s easy to jump in the fire, throw some embers up in the air, and shout loudly.  Can you pull free the searing gemstone in the coals for us to see?  Without crying out? Look, there are glimmers in the fire.

Facing the dehumanizing trial of speaking across lines of distance has already been done, with more willingness to open the heart, more maturity about the difficulties that might arise, and more knowing when to wield the keen sword of wit when it’s time.

Untangling the hardship and confusion of speaking to someone who refuses to listen?  Been done with style, flair, and no small amount of insight.

You want ragged, road bitten humor with an edge? Quite a few gals out there know how to approach the monsters and deal blow for blow with a few human touches.

Or if its the mirror to society you want held up, then there are forces of unspeakable talent so frightening they weaken the phony system with every mere gesture.

A mountain of women have piled high whatever they could give to show us that smashing others isn’t enough, nor is it strength or smarts or even a good mock.

How many more times must one re-imagine the victim-girl as dispenser of brutality in the name of her owners before they hear the ringing of bells and understand the night has passed?

It’s time. Because we are in relation to one another.

Maria WebsterI’ve known Maria since the day she wandered into my dorm room and hung out, chatting sagely about what I could look forward to as a newbie student.  She’s still that insightful, hard-working, outspoken and charming woman from those days.  Only now she’s more powerful.

She’s had an album for a while. If you’re really lucky you have a copy of one of her bootleg cassettes from back in the day before the internets made music a telepathic experience.  Now she’s got a new song available, and I hear tell there’s more in the hopper to come.

So what is she about and what do you, her listener, do?  Maria sings about relationships using her voice and an acoustic guitar.  She explores intimate and personal experiences, confessing and declaring more to you the listener than she might be willing to admit to herself or those she knows.  You are the privileged stranger, witness to the satisfaction and frustration of her proud, vital, vulnerable self.

Next Page »