Young Mister Baker has outdone himself with this latest release. Circular bells spiral down down and down into a menace that tolls death (and worse) across the planet only to rise from the pits of despair with two fists—no gun, no rock, no weapon, just body and guts and brain.
I introduced drone to a mentally challenged friend of mind, @TheRealGarySand, who exists in a short-term memory loop lasting approx 30 – 90 seconds. I thought Gary would like drone. Thought he would be able to both lose himself and enjoy the hum and the pattern. I especially thought he would like this album. Hypnodrone Ensemble rises again and again from slow pools of hopelessness to spectacular heights of optimism, defiance, joy.
Two minutes into Hypnodrone Ensemble Gary said he would kill me if I didn’t shut it off.
Wait for the drums, I told him.
The drums came. Gary listened. His weak limp right wrist began rocking in time to the beat. Perfect time, too. Take that, brain damage: some parts of us are invulnerable. Gary felt the beat, the defiance. His blasted eyes were far away, the music had taken him somewhere else.
And I breathed a prayer of thanks and praise to Aidan / thisquietarmy. Also, I realized I had found the album that would define Fall 2014. Because I can’t stop listening to it.
Ha. As if. What a week it’s been. Sleepless nights, broken computer, mortgage shit, bitchfests w/ the co-parent, blah blah blah.
New computer and the requisite fucking expensive software are now up and running, more or less. Weird learning curve w/ new operating systems. We’ll get there. The only constant is change.
As we stare down the barrel of 2014 w/ only 3 months left and on this, the first full day of Fall, let’s get a head count of who’s who, what’s what, and what’s left.
I pubbed THE LAST STAR IN THE SKY as a kindle single. Oh boy, bravo!
(like, big deal. but it felt good to put something out there)
I bought a new car. A new OLD car. But it’s a Jeep, and I love it.
I completed all the mortgage shit. We are now at the mercy of the Evil Bank. [GAH! The mortgage people just called! No, really! Just now! They wanted to know how much money Simon Drax made as a fiction writer in 2014. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!]
Well, that’s my fault, isn’t it.
THE PLOT AGAINST THE GIANT
(well a little)
UNTITLED BONDAGE SF FANTASY
(well a little)
The TWIN PEAKS essays
Halfway through reviewing the first season, still only halfway through Fire Walk With Me. Seriously considering whether I should honor this commitment or just bail, you know—fuck it. I have lots of thoughts and feelings about Twin Peaks as a TV and film and story-arc and social phenomena, etc., but I’m wondering if I really have anything original or insightful to bring to the table.
[Though watching the original pilot and Fire Walk with Me back to back is an incredible experience: Lynch and Frost knew their shit, they really, REALLY knew their own myth.]
And that’s all for now. It is nice to be back in operation. I will share Moon pictures soon.
The main computer’s down for the count, again.
The King will return.
This essay originally appeared in VideoScope #19, Summer 1996. Jesus.
Yes, the ship itself was the “hero” of the series and films, but the story wouldn’t have worked without a compelling human drama. This is a beloved episode from the American iteration of YAMATO dubbed in English, Star Blazers, one of the characters’ most desperate hours from the second television series, Yamato 2.
This truly might be the most pornographic build-up to firing the Wave Gun in the entire series. Or perhaps I’m just weird.
I’d give you my detailed Freudian analysis of this sequence, the pacing, the imagery—but I don’t want to spoil it.
This assignment is optional.
The next: mandatory.
This remarkable song begins as an Islamic hymn, sidesteps into a native American rhythm coupled with vocals tinted with the lilt of a Gaelic lament, warps into pure undefinable vocal performance, then ends soaring. And it’s live. Go here.
God. Yesterday a weepy love letter to U fucking 2, today a goddamn cat video. God, Drax, look in the mirror! WHAT HAVE YOU BECOME?!
I share a lot of music on this site: weird mixes, pagan, goth, some classical, metal, ambient, MAIDEN! MAIDEN! MAIDEN! and other stuff too—whatever. But I’ve occasionally bled hints of a terrible secret.
From 1980 to 2000 I was an avowed zealot in the church of U2. I was a believer. Oh man, I believed.
Then, I didn’t. Just like everybody else.
Because U2 no longer seemed vital or alive or that horrible word, relevant. They’d become so big, so rich… so safe. The three albums they released from 2000 to 2009 — All That You Can’t Leave Behind, How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, and No Line on the Horizon — contained “good” music and compositions, but after multiple listens, I, like may long-time believers, shrugged at these albums. Where was the passion, the invention? Yeah, I’ll admit it, I still showed up on release day of all those albums to buy them, a desperate lover hoping for a shred of the frisson of a long ago ecstasy, even transfiguration, only to walk away disappointed, vowing with sour lips, never again.
Oh, I went all the way. I slammed U2 without remorse online. I included U2 in my forthcoming alternate history novel (Heavy) in which they are scheduled for public execution in a world-wide media spectacle. U2 was done.
Then, yesterday happened.
If you are even remotely media savvy you know that the mighty and evil empire known as APPLE rolled out its new fucking iPhone and the tentatively titled “iWatch” yesterday, September 9th, and yeah, Bono and the old boys ripped out onstage and played a new song, yeah, big deal—
Then they announced that their new album, Songs of Innocence, will be downloadable for free on iTunes until October 13.
Even sinister cynical Drax was mildly—mildly—taken aback by the audacity of this. Advance singles are leaked or given away for free all the time, but an entire album by a mega money-maker? Unprecedented. But then cynicism slipped its knife. It probably sucks.
Surprise, relevation, elevation.
Songs of Innocence doesn’t suck.
Songs of Innocence is easily U2’s best work in fifteen years.
I’m probably currently going through some form of male menopause. I cry all the time. No, really: I cry all the time, I cry more than John Boehner. If I feel something intensely, my eyes start to leak. It’s embarrassing. Sheesh. Whatever. But I must tell you, draxfans, all 3 point 2 of you, listening to U2’s Songs of Innocence last night, the tracks of my tears were in danger of flooding the planet.
It doesn’t suck.
I don’t care how it happened. I don’t care which producers or co-writers or musicians they brought in: The New U2 Album Does Not Suck. I do care that it’s tied into the promotion of a world-conquering corporation, yes I do. But at the end of the day, in the dark of the night, it’s only the music that matters.
When the music is good, it allows me to believe again. If only for a little while. To believe in old heroes. And fight another day.
Go to iTunes. Listen for yourself.