"Existence is random. Has no pattern save what we imagine after staring at it for too long. No meaning save what we choose to impose. This rudderless world is not shaped by vague metaphysical forces. It is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs. It's us. Only us. Streets stank of fire. The void breathed hard on my heart, turning its illusions to ice, shattering them."
- Rorschach, from WATCHMEN by Alan Moore
As I lay in bed on this grey Sunday afternoon, recovering from the indulgences of my weekend and waiting for this snow storm everyone is talking about, I thought I'd share some of these experiences with those of you who may care.
In anticipation of the WATCHMEN movie being released this Friday, I will attempt to emulate Rorschach's journal entries in my descriptions. i will warn you in advance, this isn't going to be a short read.
February 27, 2009
Woke at 5am. Anxiety and depression. Dreams of Her still plaguing me. Cried myself to sleep two nights in a row. Attempted to prepare myself mentally for being back in social arenas after weeks of self-imposed isolation. Back to sleep.
Woke again at 9am. Stayed in bed until 10, disassembled recording setup and packed it for travel. Broke leg off the table where my vocal setup sits while trying to pry microphone cord free. Annoying.
Showered and got dressed. First time wearing clean clothes in two days. Packed car with gear and merch. Drove to Lenny's house in Jersey. The winds buffeted traffic like a series of small tornadoes. Grey skies and warm air. Thought about how much I miss Her. Cried more.
Arrived at Lenny's around 12:45, a dull nagging hunger in my gut.
Put new discs into sleeves for the ORIGINS UNFOLD release while Lenny packed his gear and merch in the basement. Lenny eventually came upstairs and helped with the process. Discussed plans for eating. I cooked ravioli and made a cheese sandwich. Lenny and Heather have a lot of food in their house. I'm not used to seeing a fully stocked refrigerator.
Heather came home, vacillating about whether she was too tired to come to Philadelphia. She finally decided that she would. We waited for CENOTYPE member Clive Reinhold to arrive, Heather's friends Nicole and Kim as well.
Packed Lenny's truck. Lenny, Clive and myself driving independently from the women.
Some small amount of traffic on the NJ Turnpike. Lenny can be very highly strung at times, I feel a profound connection to him in spite of the ten year difference in our ages. He's a good friend. I am glad I know him.
Felt sad that She was not participating in this experience, pangs of loneliness always just beneath the surface of every moment. Concerned that this would affect the rest of the night. Tried not to think about it.
Made good time on trip to Philadelphia. Arrived at Digital Ferret with good amount of time prior to start of event. Found parking across the street from the venue. Loaded in without incident. Haven't seen Joe or Greg in several years. Good guys, nice to see familiar faces. Put me at ease. Had good conversation with Dean, organiser of the event. Common ground. I sometimes forget how important it is to make positive connections with people. Set up went quickly, soundcheck took some time but ultimately, things worked out as perfectly as they could have.
Jason texted that he and Butchie would be late. Flat tire on highway. I assured him that soundcheck was taking some time, so no worries. Later, Jason and Butchie walked in, Jason smiling when he saw me. I said he looked evil, a black goatee across his face like a mirror universe version of him. He said that was the point. Boxes of THE GOSPELS OF THE GASH under their arms. Broke open boxes, my hands were covered in pizza grease, but was anxious to hold one. Opened it with Butchie's help. A black bible containing the most painful moments of the last 4 years of my life distilled into sound. A crowning achievement, the final release by NTT.
Butchie gave me a copy of the new ADERLATING disc on his label SHADOWGRAPH. Side project of GNAW THEIR TONGUES. Looking forward to hearing it. Favourite track title: CUT OFF MY PENIS IN PRAISE OF BLACK SATAN.
Started playing around 8:30pm. First performance under THEOLOGIAN name. Sound was good and loud. Nervous about singing in front of people again after almost a year since last live appearance. Hands shaking. Knees buckling. Problem in vocal effects chain toward the end of set. Irritating. Disappointed by technical issues. Response from those in attendance was positive. Was repeatedly told problems went unnoticed. Jonathan Canady's girlfriend Suzie was first to approach me after I was finished. She said "Good set." Didn't recognise her at first, preoccupied with breaking gear down and still a bit annoyed by problem with effects. Snapped out of it quickly. Glad to see Jonathan and Suzie.
Lenny reminded me that I was doing vocals with CENOTYPE for our collaborative track JUSTICE, the last piece of their live set. Plugged my effects chain back in, prepared mixer for him. Sat down behind table with headphones on, made adjustments in volume periodically. Closed eyes and listened. Sounded crisp and clear. Addition of Reinhold makes a difference. Wished his synth was separate in the mixer so I could ride his levels. Next time. Did JUSTICE. Screamed names of serial killers and methods of state-sanctioned execution. "kill them all." Cathartic. Learned later that Heather's friend Nicole had to go outside during this part of the set. Physical reaction to the combination of sounds and frequencies. Almost vomited. Heard Lenny say from several feet away that I would think that was great. He was not mistaken.
Sold some merch to Joe for sale in the store. Jason took copies of new THEOLOGIAN cdr and cassette, as well as other ANNIHILVS releases and all my copies of the BLACK SUN PARALYSER vinyl. Sold things to Dean as well. Facilitated a deal with Jason and lenny for ORIGINS UNFOLD. Glad to help. We mingle and try to decide what to do in the time before heading to ABOMINATION RISE, large club event where Lenny was appearing as a guest DJ. Bought something for Her, against friendly advice.
Left gear and merch in the store to be picked up later. Said our goodbyes to Jason and Butchie, as well as Heather and her friends, drove convoy-style to the next location.
After brief hassle in parking lot, walked to venue. Realised at the door I'd left my wallet in my coat in Lenny's car. He walked back with me to retrieve it. Went into club. Hot, sweaty, crowded with bodies. Glo-sticks and black fishnet everywhere. Half naked girl dancing on raised platform instantly dredges up my contempt. Winding up stairwells and dimly-lit corridors. We find the room where Lenny is spinning. Reinhold and I go to bar as Lenny speaks with acquaintances. I buy a round for us. We still haven't eaten much. Finally locate a comfortable place to sit with Joe and Greg and others who were at the store. Red velvet booth with small table. My eyes pass across those in the room. More glo-sticks, more fishnet. A lot of ugly women and girls. A lot of half-naked and attractive young ladies. None of them appeal to me. I think of Her. Three beers in, two hours later, and my mood has descended into the blackness. Tears loiter in the corners of my eyes at brief intervals. I think about texting Her, but the cliche is too ridiculous to indulge in. Swallow this pain.
The hours slide by and Lenny is behind the decks. Requested NOTHING SEEN, NOTHING DONE and CONCRETE RAGE, which Lenny faithfully plays, perfectly incorporating them within his set. I take some photographs, Siobhean's pink camera always the butt of jokes when in my hands. The dark prince holding a pink camera. Comedy.
2am finally presents itself to us. Time to get the fuck out of here. We leave en masse, returning to Digital Ferret to retrieve our gear with Dean and his girlfriend Renee, who help us load the truck. Thanks and goodbyes.Back on the road. Lenny asks us not to pass out so he can stay awake and focussed while driving. I am unable to oblige, through no fault of my own. We stop for food, WaWa is too confusing for me in my state. Lenny has to help me order. I feel disgusted by the people in this place. The proximity of this particular breed of humankind creates a terrible anxiety within me. I am so out of sorts, this food actually tastes good.
I wake up an unknown amount of time later. Parking lot at a rest stop. Lenny tells me Reinhold had to stop. Wasn't feeling well. Goes inside to check on him. I fight to keep eyes open but unconsciousness pulls at me like a rat on a garbage heap.
More time passes, I slowly grow uncomfortably cold. They finally come back. Reinhold first, then Lenny some moments later. I sleep.
February 28, 2009
We arrived at Lenny's house some time between 4-6am. The air was freezing, and my teeth chattered as we unloaded the truck, throwing my gear and merch into the back of my car with numb hands. Teeth chattering, I parked in front of Lenny's house and ran inside. Lenny gave me a sleeping bag, a blanket and a pillow. I made myself comfortable on the couch. Cartoon Network.
One of Heather's two black cats, Ezekiel or Elijah, came to me purring. Crawling into the sleeping bag, he stopped at my knees and turned around, making himself comfortable in my crotch.
Reminded me of Her cat, who sometimes crawled under the covers as we lay together. Tears. Sleep.
Woke up and checked email using Heather's laptop. Messages from Jason, too tired to reply. Slowly crawled out of neurological haze. Heather came into the room, needing her laptop for schoolwork. She gave me Lenny's laptop. Too lazy/tired/confused to get my own from my bag. We chatted as she studied, Lenny eventually got up and went to get us all some bagels. Sat up and ate breakfast. After many hours, was finally able to stand up. Lenny and I went to Cafe Soundz and sold some merch to Bobby. Showed us photos and video of his new property in Costa Rica. Took Lenny home and drove back to Nyack.
Stopped at grocery store, bought snacks for friends coming over to watch movies.
Cleaned up and prepared house for guests. Marija showed up and I took shower. More friends came, more food. Beer. Dogs. Enjoyed myself in spite of overwhelming inner sense of loneliness. Some drama, people experiencing struggles far more difficult than mine. Feel lucky to have the friends I do. Don't deserve them.
March 1, 2009
Wake up alone again. Hung over and feeling sick from two days of social activity after such a long period of introversion and sloth. Coming to terms with the idea that She doesn't love me. What I feel for Her will never cease. She brought out the best in me. Now She's gone.
1. THEOLOGIAN. PERSONA/INJURY CDR
The first 'official' release by this new post-NTT industrial project contains two long tracks of dark, melancholy drones and malevolent rhythms, intermingling in an atmosphere of lonely bitterness. Released on ANNIHILVS, unveiled at the premiere performance by THEOLOGIAN at DIGITAL FERRET in Philadelphia on February 27, and now available exclusively via MALIGNANT RECORDS.
MALIGNANT catalogue description:
The formal debut of the new project from Lee Bartow (Navicon Torture Technologies). More straightforward than NTT, but immensely powerful. Two long tracks, the first offering sheets of cold, penetrating drones that are singular in nature, but still carry a ton of weight and intensity to them, with vocals that come slicing through the buzz. The second is the more melodic of the two, with Lee's soaring vocals floating over a percolating synth bed and glitchy noises.
2. THEOLOGIAN. A LIFE OF CONSTANT STRUGGLE C20
Echoing from the deepest shafts within a doomed soul comes A LIFE OF CONSTANT STRUGGLE, the new cassette release from THEOLOGIAN on DANVERS STATE RECORDINGS – four tracks of insolently simplistic industrial agony from the lightless world beyond the schism.
The 20-minute cassette comes with a 6x6 inch professionally-printed cardstock insert, packaged in a resealable, medical-grade black vinyl bag. Includes black latex gloves and a THEOLOGIAN sticker. Limited to 50 copies.
Officially available February 27 at the debut performance by THEOLOGIAN at DIGITAL FERRET in Philadelphia. Contact the label for ordering info.
3. NTT. THE GOSPELS OF THE GASH 2XCD
The final and definitive double CD release from NTT, THE GOSPELS OF THE GASH chronicles one man's journey into a world devoid of light or hope. This is a place where the air is alive with the stink of pain and the beating of great black wings. The two discs compile material from a slew of limited releases from 2005-2007, as well as newer tracks recorded specifically for this release. THE GOSPELS OF THE GASH includes collaborations with various stalwart members of the NTT priesthood and more recent recruits, from AUTOCLAV 1.1 to CENOTYPE, COVET, FRAGMENT KING, and M SLAGLE.
Packaged in a two-tray DVDigipak with layout and artwork by Leech and Jorden Haley (www.karbine.com), this release is a fitting funerary rite for NTT.