Monday, May 18, 2009

'...pain and suffering rarely sound more authentic.'


navicon torture technologies
the gospels of the gash
malignant records

Going out in style, that's what NTT's Leech is doing here: a double, over-sized CD set, exploring themes of obsession and desire with Leech baring old scars and exposing mental wounds throughout an epic journey. His trademark so-frank-its-raw-and-suppurating emotion drips from the set's 20 tracks like blood from a razor blade. Power romance is his term – but there's nothing particularly 'romantic' sounding here. More gut-wrenchingly honest, particularly on the tracks when his voice comes to the fore – similar, in that regard, to Prurient, although NTT's death industrial / power electronics frequently brings to mind aspects of and Steel Hook Prostheses, both of whom have been involved in this album's production. The Gospels Of The Gash affords a pleasingly fluid listening experience – harsh, pounding electronics willingly giving way to gentler, more ambient passages – but throughout there remains a dark, disturbing undercurrent of a mind on the edge. Whether this genuinely reflects Leech's state of mind, or is more a case of him being in 'character' doesn't really matter – pain and suffering rarely sound more authentic.

calum harvie 4.5

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Discourse on the side

Andy Grant at 7:47am May 1
i like where he mentioned that downloading the album will cause people to buy future releases.... it goes nicely with this, posted on a sidebar in his blog:

"I won't tell you to support music by buying it, honestly, do what the fuck you want to do."

jackoff.... Read More

what's your deal with, by the way?
Tim Spann
Tim Spann at 8:37am May 1
i commented on his blog
Lee M. Bartow
Lee M. Bartow at 11:36am May 1
here's the newest comment, a reply to tim:

Mr. Energy,
'Industrial musician', whining about high costs of equipment is just about as fucking lame and ridiculous as a teen bimbo whining about high costs of designer clothing after she maxed out her daddy's credit card on Prada and Versace. If you feel like spending thousands on modular synths and ... Read Morefancy high end plugins, or whatever it is you use, that's your choice and your problem. There is ALWAYS a less expensive solution out there. Instead of bitching about how you are about to go broke if 5 people god forbid download your shit for free, (while promoting yourself in an unrelated post), use what you can afford and make the most of it. Nobody owes you anything.
Stephen James Knight
Stephen James Knight at 12:14pm May 1
Thanks Lee, I enjoyed your blog post. I know exactly where you're coming from, practically every album I've released has been on torrent sites before I could even finish my promotion for it. Once I lived a relatively shitty (but musically productive) life in order to focus solely on music, struggled every day to pay my rent and eat, but produced ... Read Morehours upon hours of music... being that it wasn't financially viable - I took a day job, and where I once had more music than I knew what to do with - now I struggle trying to find the time to write. This is why I haven't released a new album album in 2 years. If it were financially viable for me to live off my music, I'd spend every waking moment writing and playing - instead of sitting in an office wishing I was.
Lee M. Bartow
Lee M. Bartow at 12:37pm May 1
tim, why'd you remove your comment?
Tim Spann
Tim Spann at 12:43pm May 1
i don't want to get involved in an internet flame war over download sites. Stephen said what I was thinking.
Rachel Maloney
Rachel Maloney at 12:52pm May 1
kudos lee, though these obviously logical points just don't ever seem to sink in...
Rachel Maloney
Rachel Maloney at 12:53pm May 1
"If you feel like spending thousands on modular synths and ... Read Morefancy high end plugins, or whatever it is you use, that's your choice and your problem."

by this logic, only wealthy people should be making "industrial" music.

I would like to know what this "less expensive" solution is.
Lee M. Bartow
Lee M. Bartow at 12:55pm May 1
human bones and contact mics
Tim Spann
Tim Spann at 12:56pm May 1
I've always been the power tools and sledge hammers guy. Though it would be nice to have a somewhat cleaner sound when recording.
Tim Spann
Tim Spann at 12:57pm May 1
There are a few open source and free music programs out there. Some for windows, some for Linux, not sure about Mac but there's probably a few. Most people have hammers and pieces of metal.
Lee M. Bartow
Lee M. Bartow at 1:03pm May 1
the argument that dude makes is unsound at its base. it's 'our problem' that we want to receive some sort of financial restitution for the time, effort and money we put into what we do, rather than seeing complete strangers giving it away for free.
Lee M. Bartow
Lee M. Bartow at 1:04pm May 1
steve albini makes an interesting point on the prosound forum:
"My point remains that people buy things even when they are available elsewhere for free. Pretending that something can't be sold because there is a free version of it out there is flying in the face of the obvious.

We can sell records and downloads, of course, and make money doing it. We can't control the free exchange that goes along with it, so we shouldn't worry about it. That isn't our audience and it isn't our market.
... Read More
More importantly, there is a cultural good provided by the free exchange of music that extends the influence of the bands and the music, enlarging their natural audiences and opening them up as resources.

If it really bothers you that someone might listen to your music and not pay you for it, then don't release it out into the world. Play it for people on a per-listen basis from a lemonade stand in front of your house or something."
Lee M. Bartow
Lee M. Bartow at 1:07pm May 1
BUT, this is coming from someone who has worked on records that have sold millions of copies, and surprisingly (or not), he doesn't take time to consider the stance of someone working from within a truly underground scene, where even the smallest number of free downloads from blogs or paid torrents from those russian sites have the potential to eventually put an artist out of business
Stephen James Knight
Stephen James Knight at 1:08pm May 1
I think it comes down to the simple fact that it should be the musicians discretion/decision whether or not to release music for free; not anyone else, regardless if their intention is good (in the sense of "helping" the artist with promotion) or not (seeking profit through torrent site or blog advertising revenue).
Tim Spann
Tim Spann at 1:12pm May 1
If people don't want to pay and just want the music you can't stop them. Since they could do what they do with DVD pirating and have someone buy one copy and then put it online. So you'll get only 1 sale instead of 100-500.
Lee M. Bartow
Lee M. Bartow at 1:13pm May 1
exactly. and to tangentially answer andy's question about why i hate, this is precisely the issue i have with that site. ostensibly, i am the moderator of the ntt profile there, yet i have no control over the user-generated content that gets posted there. i took over the management of the profile because someone had posted a bunch of ... Read Morepersonal images that i had previously removed from myspace, none of which should be associated with ntt outside of my own control. if it happens again, i have to jump through the administrative hoops of, and have to justify to them my reasons for wanting a particular item removed. this falls in a similar context to this issue of unauthorised downloads. the artist should be the one to dictate what gets seen and what gets heard, not some random teenager with no clue.
Lee M. Bartow
Lee M. Bartow at 1:17pm May 1
this guy is fucking clueless:

Imho, the perfect example misplaced sense of entitlement that you speak of is the guy arguing against free music sharing because he has to spend 4 grand on gear in order to be able to make industrial music, and expressing desire for gear to be donated to him for free. "Nobody owes you anything" was addressed to someone who feels entitled to expect music fans to pay for his gear whoredom, which by no means equals creative process, and who would also like to receive free stuff, while denying others their right to want free stuff in form of online music sharing.
Artist compensation and running a label is a whole different story...... Read More
Rachel Maloney
Rachel Maloney at 1:18pm May 1
FIE ON YOUR FANCY EXPENSIVE CONTACT MICS! it should ONLY be about bongos. in a cave. forget progressiveness and experimentation with new and ever changing technology to create and test the limits of sound and music
Stephen James Knight
Stephen James Knight at 1:21pm May 1
It's really disheartening when I'm contacted to perform a show or asked to book a small tour and I have to decline simply because I can't leave my day job (I'm reminded of the old addage that 'what you own, eventually owns you' (and it's nice to have a place to plug in my gear, and pay my electric bill)). It just isn't financially viable to be a ... Read Moreperforming musician (and I don't blame this solely on unauthorised downloading of my music, however, if I made even half as many sales as I have downloads, I could probably make a meager life for myself solely as a musician). So, does it KILL the scene? No, but it definately damages the potential.
Lee M. Bartow
Lee M. Bartow at 1:30pm May 1
yeah, and that's my point really. i can't say that i am wholeheartedly AGAINST the idea of filesharing, and in fact a large part of my loathing for metallica came from the napster debacle, and we as 'futuristic,' technology-driven artists obviously need to keep our eyes forward and try to adapt to our environment, but our musical 'careers,' such as... Read More they are, could potentially be severely damaged or hindered if we lost the capacity to recoup anything from our efforts and expenses toward continuing forward. that is what these people fail to realise. someone i don't know posted a pretty good comment on my original blog:
Kevin D. Reilly
Kevin D. Reilly at 2:05pm May 1
a thought:
Brilliance of the blog-o-sphere : promotion fro artistic commerce.

Failure of the blog-o-sphere : commerce of artistic commerce.
... Read More
Really, why blog about an artist? because you want a part in the promotion of said artist, no? you want to feel connected to the artist... i believe LLORT claims this in his/her initial response to Lee.
But then you give the product away on the blog... WTF? if consumers must feel the need of PLAY to PAY (i.e. too remedy the issue of "how many times have you bought a "shitty"album") then make a snippet of the parts you thought were outstanding to prove your point of how Amazing this album is... but don't just give it away.....

this disconnect i find stunning.
Lee M. Bartow
Lee M. Bartow at 2:08pm May 1
yeah, there's a huge difference between writing a positive review of an album and giving the album away for free because you think people should 'support the artist'
Jon Ray
Jon Ray at 2:12pm May 1
I appreciated reading this. I'm not against downloading, though in my own case it's mostly material I couldn't get via traditional means. I've had some similar issues with my tracks, including some unfinished work making it out there, which means the culprit is among a very small group of friends. I'm glad to be heard but as much for people like Tom at Spectre as for myself, I'd like people to buy the real records. If nothing else, it truly sounds better, and isn't that the point?
Lee M. Bartow
Lee M. Bartow at 2:18pm May 1
well the sound quality is another issue entirely, because the blog that started this whole thing posts FLAC audio. so, we've got people posting full quality audio files for the world to download free of charge, bypassing and even subverting the artists entirely.

on a side note, i have some degree of trouble separating this from the issue of sampling. are those of us who use samples guilty of precisely the same thing that we find so irritating about filesharing?
Kevin D. Reilly
Kevin D. Reilly at 2:24pm May 1
i don't find sampling to be a similar issue...The copyright law has provisions for Fair Use in collage works and parody, as well as manipulation of an original sample. Now that said, the sampler hasn't always come out on top via the legal system set up to deal with this copyright situation.... (i.e. Negativland, no commercial release of a truly ... Read Moresampled record ala Paul's Boutique since Paul's Boutique).
This is blatant redistribution of a commodity. Somewhat of a robin hood action, yet your not stealing the King's deer, but the porridge from your own Merry Men.
Jon Ray
Jon Ray at 2:30pm May 1
That's a good point regarding sampling, Lee. I look at it differently depending on the source material and what role it plays in the final piece. Maybe it's a bit of dialogue that drives home the emotional current implied in the drones (like the tapes used on Soundtracks For the Blind), or maybe it's a piece of existing music, but so deconstructed ... Read Morethat it ceases to be what it was and becomes part of a new context (how much beat-driven material would exist without drum samples?) . This is a whole debate unto itself, of course.

I guess we as artists are going to have to find a way to draw the audience back to having a relationship with us as creators/storytellers, rather than this current situation where the work is available free and detached in a vacuum and "nobody gets hurt."
Lee M. Bartow
Lee M. Bartow at 2:55pm May 1
right. so is filesharing a victimless crime? is sampling?
the example you use from soundtracks for the blind is an interesting one, because it's a much different matter than generic horror/sci fi samples that we're all familiar with. an artist who incorporates personal recordings of their parents (swans - 'how they suffer') in their music, or who ... Read Moreuses found tapes (skincage - 'calling home') isn't in the same legally questionable arena as your standard ebm act sampling from hellraiser or some other easily recognisable, mainstream media source.
Lee M. Bartow
Lee M. Bartow at 3:00pm May 1
after ten years of creating material that was 99 percent based around appropriated source material, i received a cease and desist order from a music publisher for a track which used a music sample from the film underworld.
at the time that i was working on that track, i was in semi-regular contact with brian lustmord, who did the sound design and ... Read Moresome music for that film. when i played the rough version of my track for him, he told me that he had originally created the loop i'd used, but the score's composer liked it so much he incorporated it as a main theme (which later appeared in the sequel as well). lustmord didn't exactly give me his blessing, but he did remark on how 'interesting' my use of the sample was. obviously, he was not in any legal position to give me express permission to use this sound, but in some small way, i did include someone closely involved with the production of the original sound in the creative process.
Lee M. Bartow
Lee M. Bartow at 3:03pm May 1
...ultimately, after i explained to the lawyer who had contacted me that i never had and never would see a dime from the release that contained the sample in question, and that it was pressed in a run of fewer than 1000 copies (i think it was 300, but i told him 500), and that i only received ten percent of that total pressing, i never heard from ... Read Morehim again.

it simply wouldn't have been worth their time or money to attempt litigation. fortunately, one of my best friends is married to a former entertainment lawyer, who has herself written plenty of cease and desist letters.
her advice proved to be perfectly effective.
Lee M. Bartow
Lee M. Bartow at 3:09pm May 1
i've received a comment posted to my blog from Llort, who runs the blog that started this whole thread. go get him guys!
Stephen James Knight
Stephen James Knight at 2:38am May 2
I still remember to this day back in 2007, I went to Germany to promote my latest album, it was not officially released yet, but there were pre-sale CD's available at the show - I only went for the weekend, played Saturday night, and was on a plane back to New York on Sunday - before I was off the plane, my release was available on the torrent ... Read Moresites. I'm fairly certain this cut into the CD sales, and in business terms that severely cuts into the ROI (and most likely makes it hard to recoup the costs of mastering, and production - this is all without any "pay" for the actual creative process). As for the publics general attitude, I don't think it's malicious; some years back at Noisefest up in Providence, I had my small merch table set up - selling CDs and shirts and whatnot (hoping to recover some of the expenses from the trip), and one guy picked up a CD, asked how much, put the CD down, and said directly to my face "hmm, I'll just download it, thanks". I actually had no response.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Ultimate Warriors Light The Night Walk

my friend and unsound co-curator justin elias morales was diagnosed with lymphoma in december 2008. he's been going through chemotherapy treatments and his friends and family are doing this crazy thing to lend their support.
since i'm a broke depressed loser, all i can do is help spread the word. maybe someone you love has struggled through lymphoma or some other form of cancer, maybe you can help out.

dear lymphoma,
go fuck yourself

see you in hell,


music tax

i can't speak for tim's opinion, though having known him for as long as i have, i can say that he's got a pretty low tech recording setup and i'd be surprised if the total cash value of his gear would amount to very much at all. i'm not sure i am reading into his posts in quite the same way that you guys are, but i never saw his comment here because he removed it in order to avoid getting into a pointless flame-war on my blog.
from what kevin and lash both said in your responses makes me think he suggested some sort of government-sponsored tax in order to help artists buy gear?
well, pretty much the rest of the western world has government financing for artists, while the usa - who tout ourselves as the wealthiest nation on earth - makes it increasingly more difficult to support oneself through producing art. kevin, you can't say it wouldn't be nice to receive some sort of stipend that provides financial aid for reptilian records or scapegoat publishing.
something that has been put forth in a variety of forums is the idea that the end user pays for music on a bandwidth usage basis, rather than for individual downloads. i'm not quite certain of how this would be implemented, i haven't read much about the subject, but it might end up being the ultimate solution for the mainstream record industry to keep itself afloat. who knows if that's a good thing or not...


hey lash, it's an interesting argument that you pose, but you're adhering to this misplaced sense of entitlement that seems to be at the core of the issue.
the administrator of this blog states in his original response to me that approximately 99 people have downloaded my album from this site.
in a pressing of 1000 copies, that represents a significant percentage of the entire run, and a substantial loss of potential income for me personally, not to mention for the guys at the label that released that album - oh, by the way, that label went defunct because they could no longer afford to pay for cd pressings. it's a simple issue of cause and effect.

your example regarding this idea of spending thousands on modular synths and fancy high-end plugins is also misplaced in this particular instance, because neither myself nor tim (mr. electric) have done anything of the sort. my 'studio' is an extremely modest collection of gear acquired over the past twelve years, and in all likelihood wouldn't garner me much more than a thousand dollars if i were to put every single thing on ebay. when i started, i was using borrowed effects units and a broken 4 track, and assorted improvised equipment, which i replaced over the course of a decade as i became more adept at the production of my material.

as far as your statement, 'nobody owes you anything,' if you provide me with tangible goods or services and i refuse to pay you for them on the basis that i believe it should be free, would you call that stealing? would you take me to court, or try to have me arrested? would you tell your employer that you don't need your paychecks anymore and that you'd like to work for free, because they don't owe you anything?

if you don't get paid, you quit your job. you can't afford to work for free. if they don't pay you, you can't pay your bills, you can't eat, you can't buy gas or pay for public transportation in order to get to your job. you can't produce what your employer wants you to produce if they don't pay you. totally independent artists, and their small labels run from out of bedrooms and basements and garages can't produce what the fans want them to produce if every album they put out gets posted on blogs and torrent sites for free within weeks of their release. cause and effect.


the following is a response to the blog ''

well, it's an argument that i have a difficult time resolving, even within myself. with that said, this is something i have wanted to blog about for some time, and i'm happy to have the opportunity to at least attempt to explain why what you're doing has the potential to hurt the artists, while you and others like you may perceive that your activities are 'promoting' their works.

first off, an answer to your question regarding how many people have discovered my work via the internet:
as an artist who uses the web almost exclusively to promote my activities, i would say that the majority of my listeners/fans have discovered me online. i have always made it easy to communicate with me directly, and my online presence is spread fairly wide between various domains of my own, in addition to several myspace profiles, a yahoo group, and other profiles such as (a site which i detest from the bottom of my heart), virb, and most recently - facebook (which i am preferring at this point to keep as more of a personal space for close friends and/or people i've not seen in decades.

therefore, it is not a difficult task for someone to contact me directly in order to procure any number of my releases if they so desire.

your assertions regarding this concept that people shouldn't need money to enjoy music are a symptom of our times, and i think it's an issue that people such as yourself don't really take the time to consider in depth.
the music and recording industry has been trudging along since its inception straddling a thin line between art and commerce.
on the one side, you've got your artist who works very hard to achieve the simple act of having their work put out into the world. this can require an incredible level of personal expense.
gear costs money. internet access costs money. producing releases costs money. printing merchandise such as stickers, shirts, posters, pins, all cost money.

if my computer dies or i have a hard drive failure, that costs money to fix.
for an individual such as myself, or the many other underground artists who are my peers, a single release that costs 'X' amount to produce, will very likely never generate a profit, but i do it because i am compelled to create art. without it, my life would be devoid of meaning.
the labels i have worked with and will continue to work with are all run by people like me. people who may not ever see a profitable return on the financial investments they make in order to release the music about which they are so passionate.
for many, the best they can hope for is to break even, to allow their labels to sustain themselves without the need for additional investments from their personal funds. personally speaking, i have yet to achieve this goal after twelve years of running a label. granted, i have yet to take full advantage of what is available to me, but it takes time and energy to reach that goal, and when the circumstances of ones life tend to get in the way, it's a far more difficult journey.

your statement that 'music should not be something you have to be moderately rich to enjoy' is both right and wrong. again, it is the symptom of our times, and there seems to be an almost generational, societal concept that states that music SHOULD be free. however, the chief point that is being overlooked is that, if every single person in the world started 'illegally' (i prefer the term unauthorised) downloading and trading music and refused to pay for it - ever - then the music would cease to exist. not the music that is being traded/downloaded, but anything that had the potential to come out after that.
now, you and people like you who believe that you are doing the artists some great service by posting their work, are actually taking a risk that the people who you claim to be supporting will someday no longer be able to produce this music.

for example, my most recent release, the gospels of the gash 2cd from malignant records, has been out for roughly two months. in my regular google searches for reviews of this release, i have found an ever-increasing number of torrents and blogs offering free downloads of the album, in full quality and for free.
the people who have posted these have gone so far as to state that they are promoting the music and profess to believe that what they are doing helps the artist.
however, i personally have not sold a single copy of the album - yet - meanwhile, it is available for paid download via digstation, from which the money from every purchase will go directly to me. how does making the album available for free, preventing me from seeing any revenue in return for my hard work, help me as the artist?

so, you and others like you can feel free to make as many philosophical arguments stating that music should be free, that there is more to music than money, and that art should be considered first and foremost in deference to commerce, but these arguments fail miserably when they are taken into a larger context where producing art is the way that an artist makes their living, and by 'stealing' or 'trading' that art while removing the artist from the equation ultimately dooms them to failure.

to answer your question about whether or not i personally have downloaded music, i can say that i have never torrented anything. i have gotten copies of leaked releases from friends, and on those few occasions, i have always done so with the knowledge that i'd be purchasing the album upon its release.
but, here's what has happened after i got those leaked albums:
i bought the domestic release, the japanese import, the double vinyl, the tshirt, and then went to see the live performance, where in all likelihood i purchased items at the merch table.
i have supported the artists i love because i want them to be able to keep doing what they do, so i can continue to enjoy their work.

it's true that underground music was less accessible on the same scale that it is now prior to the internet, but a perfect example of the fact that this potentially makes very little difference in this argument is metallica. they started out in a very small local underground scene and rose to this hideously grotesque, monolithic corporate monstrosity, who ultimately led the mainstream record industry's witchhunt against file sharing. they achieved this success primarily without the use of the internet, before the internet even existed in the form we know today.
how much of their rise to fame lent itself to underground tape trading? to endless touring, to self-promotion, to the trappings of the traditional music industry?
all of it.

word of mouth is a tool, the value of which is impossible to properly assess, and small obscure scenes like the 'noise' scene would not be what they are today were it not for connections having been made across long distances via the internet. i'm not sure if that's necessarily a benefit. even a band like swans, as influential and seminal as they have been to so many artists, never came close to achieving mainstream success - certainly nothing even resembling what metallica have seen - and michael gira and jarboe continue to work in relative obscurity in spite of their artistic statures.

for people such as myself, whose work is even less accessible or palatable for the greater masses, the most that can be hoped for is the ability to make my art support itself without going broke in the process. nearly everyone i know who does this stuff has a day job; i personally have been unemployed for two years now and when my benefits run out, the only income i'll be able to count on, if i continue to be unable to find a job, will be piecemeal monies that come in from cd sales.

in 2007, i had an exchange via ichat with a 19 year old fan who told me that he 'might actually buy' the ntt album that was forthcoming at that time. when i asked where he'd gotten my other releases (he'd previously said he owned all of my albums), he told me flatly and seemingly with no sense of shame, that he'd gotten them from soulseek.
i was shocked more by his unflinching sense that he'd done nothing wrong by admitting this to me. as we conversed more, i was able to explain to him something which, by conventional thinking should be a forgone conclusion - that by downloading my albums from third parties who have no relationship to me whatsoever, he was essentially pulling money out of my pockets, which potentially could lead to an end to my activities altogether. subsequent to this discussion, he purchased a few limited cdrs from me.

so, it's a difficult topic that doesn't have any easy answers for any of us. i can tell you first and foremost that i'm not some corporate entity with a legal department that can aggressively go after the hundreds of sites where unauthorised - paid and free - downloads of my albums can be found. i don't get paid royalties on a regular basis, i don't receive payments for publishing, my work is not being considered for use in car commercials or films or television series. i don't sell millions of copies of my records, the largest pressing i can hope for is 1000 copies worldwide, and the chances that i will see more than a few hundred dollars in the time before any one of these releases goes out of print are very slim.
i am just one guy, whose only sense of purpose comes from creating art, struggling to live my life and failing miserably at doing so.

what if i'd been planning to re-press dripping with the power of her flesh? what if i went through the effort and expense of doing so and didn't sell a single copy, not because nobody wanted the album, but because they'd already downloaded it from your blog? should i not hold you, or others like you, personally responsible?

i have no quarrel with you personally, i appreciate the support of those who follow my work and i rely on that support in many ways, but i think that you and others like you fail to realise that posting free downloads of entire albums by underground artists potentially does more harm than good. your argument that if people were not downloading from you they could do it elsewhere is simply not good enough to justify the practise.

i'm not going to tell you to remove the download if you feel you're doing me a service, but i do ask that you think about what i've said and consider whether you are legitimately doing a service to the artists you claim to be supporting. ask yourself if you are not instead causing them serious harm by contributing to a larger machine that will eventually ruin them. ask yourself, how exactly are you and others like you helping these artists by giving something away for free that they have put their blood and sweat into, that may or may not have been the result of a tremendous sacrifice on the part of everyone involved?