Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Asbjorn Updates... Ongoing and Evolving Projects..

Since my last post (part 1 of 2 in the "reluctant beat-freak" series) has yet to incite the sort of argument or "lively debate" that I was hoping and assuming that it would, I think I'm going to put off the second installment a bit further, hoping that some of you speak up in the meantime. For now, I'll give you guitar-music/ rock'n'roll aficionados all the benefit of the doubt that you're waiting to see how I defend my stance before throttling me for it.

Plus, I'm a bit overdue for posting my quasi-monthly updates about what's new from the various and scattered members of the Asbjorn Arts Collective. So this would probably be as good of a time to do that as any.

I wish that I have more to report this time around... but as I don't, this will be a relatively short entry. If you're an artist even loosely associated with Asbjorn (if you don't know what that means, email me and I'll let you know whether you are or not, and what it would entail) with new work that I left out of this update, or if you want to be sure that your project gets included the next time around, by all means, let me know.

Dandy Apparel is releasing a limited-edition first run of its 2008 t-shirt line this week, and they've already begun to take orders for the eight initial designs in the catalog (follow the link above).

I recently added a new track to my acoustic profile on myspace. It's called "Strange Sutures," and the recording that's up right now is a REALLY rough demo that I recorded the night (or morning, more literally) that I wrote it. I hope to have a better recording of the more refined version of the song that it's now evolved into up soon.

In other Asbjorn music... I've been working with a couple other Asbjorn wackos/ conceptualists on a new indie-dance-rock project called "The Immaculate Conceptions." We're in the song-writing stages as of now, getting a solid set together and preparing a demo EP called "Tipsy Cougar." Keep your eyes and ears open; I PROMISE that we'll be in-your-face about it, forcing you to notice, soon enough.

On that note... I was prompted recently to contemplate the perpetually problematic "separation" and subsequent confusion of "artist" and "character" from whose perspective he speaks when someone brought it to my attention that, if casually reading the lyrics to the new project, without the context of the music and the show, scribbled and tacked to the walls in the room where we write our songs, I sound like an arrogant creep. Really, I swear, songs like "The Thrill of the Chase" make sense within the context of the project. But with the written words alone, understanding the nature of the character that I'm presenting in the overall art-statement of The Immaculate Conceptions is impossible. So, if you happen to stop by the downtown pad where guitarist Mac Ming and I live and make our art, take the scribbles around the room with a grain of salt. You'll eventually understand why the cockiness of the words is relevant.

As for the progress of on-going projects, Miss Chloe Claustrophobia (the ever-evolving concept-art project referred to and explained in quite a few past entries, most recently here) has taken another unexpected turn, which is once again perversely appropriate to the concept that she is intended to address. The mannequin, in its physical form, is now across the country from me, may very well never be modified in the ways that I had intended, has no new image-renderings available to me, and is apparently (to my great aesthetic displeasure) dressed as a belly-dancer. This is all so very far from the future that I had envisioned for her (that's always the way, isn't it?), but that fact in itself is almost sickeningly and ironically appropriate to her intended concept. Expect to find "her" popping up as the female subject of several songs by The Immaculate Conceptions in the very near future. See the reference already? "The Thrill of the Chase"? Eh?

In a past entry, I mused about my inability to finish a certain painting after putting it down to work on another that was very different in style, mood, and inspiration. I recently realized that, although I finished the work a couple of months ago (and presented it to my mother for Christmas, at least a year after I had intended to do so initially) I had never posted an update on what became of that work. Basically, I ended up having to reinvent it, and the meaning and purpose of the painting became very different than I had initially set out to create with it.


...became this.

"Ill Seen Ill Said In Time, Words, and Decay."

If you can tell me what the new title of the work is a reference to, I'll give you a cookie. If you can venture any sort of theories about the relevance of the reference, I'll give you a whole lot of cookies, or something far better.

In another prior entry, I had mentioned my search for a certain set of books. Thanks to Jenn, who read my post and tracked a first-edition set down to a book-dealer in Texas via the internet (which she is apparently far more savvy with than I am), I was finally able to procure copies of the out-of-print texts. Come to find out, however, the preface of the work, which is the element that my use of the text most directly pivots around, wasn't added until the second(?) edition of the work's publication. So, now I have a couple beautiful copies of limited first edition books, but I'm still searching for what I needed from the perspective of scholarship.

I think that's all for now...So much for this entry being short.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Confessions of a formerly reluctant, overly critical beat-freak, part 1.

I have to admit, what is now my rather long-term love-affair with electronic music has been heretofore rather tepid and reluctant. Up until recently, there was part of me that was still trying to resist admitting to it.

I assume that this was the part of me that started playing guitar at age eleven. The part of me that was foaming at the mouth with a childhood fervor to throw myself headlong into a life where chord-charts and equipment and pentatonics and techniques and woodshedding were important things for reasons that didn’t need to be explained, merely because their importance was just part of “who I was.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not claiming that these formative tools and obsessions haven’t served me well. Being “a musician” is still an integral facet of my identity, as anyone who knows me, however casually, or regularly reads this blog, can attest. Without the musical hang-ups of my youth, my current way of identifying myself would not have been able to evolve as it was. However, I’m well aware that, to people who think “as musicians” in the sense that I did when I was younger, some passing mentions of my current musical preferences and critical opinions can verge on downright sacrilege. It might, therefore, be time to venture an explanation, with a mind to a broader sense of “cultural criticism” to tie it all together.

I have to admit it now. Even though I am primarily (loosely) “a guitarist,” the music that, to my critic’s ear, gets me the most excited for future artistic/ cultural progress with music as the medium rarely (if ever) features a guitar as the dominant instrument. Hell, I’ll go even further than that. Even from a non-critical, more personal and taste-based perspective, the music that tends to get me excited, the music that I enjoy that makes me feel comfortable, is nearly always, at this point, driven primarily by well-programmed, atmospheric/ textural electronic beats. I’m well aware that, to most of my brethren of the fret-board, this is something that no self-respecting guitar-player should ever say.

To be continued…

…but in the meantime, I’ll end this installment by continuing my series of “marginalia as visual art, art as criticism, marginalia as criticism, criticism as art itself…” I forgot to bring a notebook with me to work the other day, yet started brainstorming the ideas for this entry while on break… leaving me no place to write down my ideas besides on full-page advertisements in the current issue of “Poets & Writers” magazine that I happened to be reading… producing this mess.