The infrequently-updated site blog, featuring a range of content including show reviews, musical musings and off-color ramblings on other varied topics.
Art is Masturbation.
It’s a sensational, attention-grabbing statement for sure and one that presents an idea that many artists and people who create have probably toyed with at one point or another - is the creative process purely a self-serving, self-satisfying one? Without doubt, creation allows the person doing the creating to express something that might not otherwise have been expressible, and it’s also true that art is most - if not completely - understood only by the person who creates it. Art can hold value to others though and has a remarkable capacity to impact and inspire people long after its creation, yet many artists create despite the lack of any sort of monetary reward being attached to their work. Do these people experience an overwhelming desire to make something, or are they simply addicted to the power trip that creation provides them with?
Calling a collection of poetry Art is Masturbation opens a whole can of philosophical quandaries, leading to a perplexing situation for the reader: is one supposed to accept this as pretentious “fluff” scribbled down by an author whose main goal is to stroke his own ego, or is there some more significant meaning and purpose to the work? In the case of Oregon-based writer Joseph Chiccarelli’s 15-page chapbook (i.e. a small collection of poetry), both questions are relevant to some degree. This is a rather personal work, containing 21 poems that mention specific details of the author’s life and establish him as a bit of a lost soul in a world he feels at least partially detached from. Most of the poems seem to reflect the results of late-night thinking sessions that find the author examining various situations encountered in life and trying to make sense of and come to terms with them. As might be expected then, the work is full of notions of quiet despair, loneliness, and regret, perfectly capturing the ennui and confusion of a post-teenage person.
An insight into the human condition such as the one provided by this book is perhaps the main thing that art proposes to offer the person who observes or experiences it, yet this insight is also potentially the thing that can turn someone off from the creation: an observer simply might not like the message or statement that the creator is trying to get across. That scenario is certainly a possibility with regard to Art is Masturbation, a work that seems all but tailor-made for depressive readers and might not hold much appeal for those with more optimistic sensibilities. Despite – or perhaps because of – the by and large somber quality of the work and presence of so many intimate, personal details, I found myself very much being able to relate to various things Chiccarelli has to say and to the overall tone of the work. Like Chiccarelli, I’ve been stuck in mind-numbing employment, finding solace only during cigarette breaks and after-hours trips to the bar. When the author discusses the strange process of falling asleep sober after too many drunken lapses into unconsciousness during the piece entitled “Welcome to the Woods, I’m a Fucking Freak,” I knew exactly what he was talking about.
Considering the far-reaching (some might say rambling) scope of this work, it might go without say that not every poem here is entirely outstanding. Several passive-aggressive passages alone may make the work alarming for some readers, but a few poems go the opposite route, coming across in much the same manner of a Jack Handey “Deep Thought.” The brief “Love Songs Were Written for Us to Hate Ourselves” and the more lengthy “Untitled 2,” for instance, seem trite and comparatively meager in terms of what they provide for the reader. These generally shallow pieces do have some nice imagery and prove the author can change up his routine but clearly, Chiccarelli’s true talent lies elsewhere. Finally, much as I think the content here is rewarding overall, the author sometimes seems to go overboard in an attempt to “hook” a reader with a frankly outrageous and somewhat deceptive, more or less random title. “I’m Listening to Third Eye Blind and Yelling GO FUCK YOURSELF At Happy Couples” conjures up images for me of a toddler eliciting an irritating shriek as it heaves its own shit against a wall in the midst of a temper tantrum. The level of hostility and aggression in the name has precisely nothing to do with the accompanying poem and seems to be an attempt to snatch a reader’s possibly wavering attention. Honestly, this may not be so bad an idea in an age when many people have absolutely no interest in reading anything that’s not on a computer or phone screen.
I debated for a while whether or not I believe the author was throwing in seemingly-convenient loaded references and situations just to make the whole of Art is Masturbation more dark and brooding, as if he needed to establish some sort of “cred” before he unloaded emotional baggage on the reader. Dying friends in the hospital, suicidal breakdowns, and deteriorating mental health are the building blocks that tales of angsty young people are built on (how many “moody” songs deal with these sorts of topics?), but I didn’t detect an air of fabrication or exaggeration in the way these subjects are handled in this text. Chiccarelli seems simply to be discussing authentic situations that he feels strongly about, and I generally found both his choice of language and the structure of his poems to be appropriate. This collection was very easy to read, having a sense of flow that occasionally added thought-provoking emphasis to specific passages. Though the lengthy final poem “A Fear of the Open Water,” a stream of consciousness reflection on the influence of the author’s stepfather, for me had some similarities to older, more classical sorts of poetry due to its repetition and more concrete structuring, the majority of these pieces had a more modern sensibility to them not entirely disconnected from what one would find in contemporary song lyrics.
At the end of the day, this isn’t a must-read by any stretch and may in fact be a masturbatory exercise for its writer, yet it’s hard for me, as someone who has striven to create art in many forms, to argue against any person having a go at making something that’s meaningful to them, regardless of how other people would view it. Any person has their own life experience which makes any statement they care to make a valid one - even if its not necessarily convenient, agreeable, or politically-correct. The fact that Art is Masturbation was published in the first place is a pretty remarkable achievement for the author, but I appreciated what Joseph Chiccarelli had to say in the work as well. This collection of poems won’t be for everyone and is somewhat rough around the edges, but may just be the unexpected diversion that someone out there has been looking for.
Rating = 7/10
Publisher = GloryKid LTD
Release = April 6, 2015
Length = 15 pages, with illustrations by Andrew Gomez IV
On the Web = http://glorykid.com/shop/GKP001/
May 7, 2015
It’s about 6 years ago and I am sitting on the balcony of a stilted house right by Cambodia’s Tonlé Sap, an enormous river / lake system, whose flow changes direction twice a year. Heavily affected by Golden Muscle Liquor, which was shared the night before with locals at a Cold Noodle restaurant, a welcome breeze drifts up from the river, barely disturbing the heat that has encased me. Not even the monsoonal summer rains – gathering already, though it is not yet May – will be enough to dilute this swelter. The days before were spent glaming it up at Le Royal Phnom Penh and trekking through the serene, lichen-covered temples of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap and the Russian markets.
An emotional detour led me to the Genocide Museum housed in the old S-21 jail in Phnom Penh, where I had to opportunity to have lunch with a survivor (we had chicken amok curry and rice ball dessert), who was presenting his autobiography and witnessed the collective trauma that gripped the country from 1975-79.
What does that all of that have to do with Bam Margera’s incarnation as “Fuckface Unstoppable”? Nada!
FFU is Bam’s rock’n roll vehicle, comprised of members of Guttermouth, CKY, and Antti Hulkko (aka Andy McCoy), who inspired the start of the Hollywood glam-rock scene with the Fennoscandian Hanoi Rocks. These days Andy’s on-stage demeanor is reminiscent of Germany’s comedian and jazz musician Helge Schneider.
FFU’s show consists mainly of shenanigans and cover versions, ranging from Bloodhound Gang via Turbonegro to Rolling Stones.
FFU is a party band with no further ambitions and a party was had by the young, sparse audience. Mission achieved.
Big Top Luna Park
March 28, 2015
The red volcanic soil in the surrounding region of the city of Tequila is particularly well suited to the growing of the blue agave – and the juice of the algave was what heralded a balmy Saturday evening. While life is certainly to be taken with a pinch of salt, piece of lime optional, I prefer to sip my tequila.
Kah Reposado set the tone with its seriously chic ceramic skull-shaped “dia de muertos” shaped bottle, which holds a powerful 110-proof mixture that is surprisingly drinkable. Aged for 10 months in French oak barrels, it reveals subtle flavours of vanilla and cinnamon once you get past the heavily obscuring alcohol aroma. A heavy-hitter that lends itself surprisingly well to sipping.
Next up was the ol’ faithful Patron - much lighter, slightly oily and more citrusy with hints of peppery spices and an interesting metallic finish.
Germany’s market leader in the Tequila sector, Sierra Tequila Reposado, completed the trio: distilled twice in copper pot stills, with its characteristic almost artificially golden colour and the tacky plastic sombrero gracing the bottle top, it’s the least sippable of the trio and the “lick, sip, suck” ritual sandwiching the shot between salt and lemon may be the most appropriate way to enjoy it.
Literally in good spirits, one was ready to face Luna Park’s 9-metre-wide polyurethane smiling face, which is based on Arthur Barton’s 1950 “Old King Cole” version.
Luna Park is situated at the foot of Sydney’s iconic Harbour Bridge. The Big Top, where Mastodon was to hold court, is built on the site of the Ghost Train: a ride that was destroyed in a tragic fire of unknown cause in 1979, which killed six children and one adult. The fire exerted a profound effect on the spiritual outlook on the psychedelic Australian artist Martin Sharp, whose works bear a resemblance with the artworks used for Mastodon’s concept albums.
Mastodon is one of the more democratic bands these days, as all four members are front men in their own right and share vocal duties (including their drummer, which put them in a league with Eagles and Genesis), creating a unique blend and broad stylistic palette of singing / howling styles.
Voices on top a melange of an array of heavy rock genres – from sludge via stoner to progressive rock and everything in between: Mastodon’s timeless riffage radiates a sincere appreciation for all styles of heavy music with a virtuosic, technical prowess: complex breaks, catchy hooks and sudden, effortless prog-rock tempo changes. Mastodon in a live scenario is quintessentially an accomplished heavy rock band.
This was the band’s first headline tour of Down Under, supporting their album Once More Around the Sun, a substantial portion of which was played and the artwork of which adorned a huge psychedelic backdrop as lasers pointed out from above and behind the stage. Martin Sharp would have enjoyed it.
Photos by T.
Steel Panther, Slash (feat. Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators)
February 24, 2015
Satire is a lesson, parody is a game: Steel Panther are seasoned performers who parlayed Spinal Tap-ness into a full-time career. Their show celebrates everything that is both praiseworthy and ridiculous about rock music. Charisma by the bucket load, dirty jokes, histrionics, classic rock showmanship--and accomplished musicianship. An enjoyable show regardless of whether the recipient knows the source material. It works on its own merit as the protagonists are smarter than the people they are parodying, which is again a sure sign that less smart people are taking it for face value--which is when the gross yet admittedly funny jokery gets slightly uncomfortable. At least in theory. With Steel Panther even the ones on the receiving end of their over the top misogynist banter seem to be amused, which gives substance to the notion that the more unapologetically sexist characters are, the more women are attracted to them in person.
The Panthers' set list included songs from their entire three studio albums, the first of which was on constant rotation in your humble narrator's household after its release, laced with every bit of the rock theatre you missed out on in the 1980s.
After both the male voyeurs and females exhibitionists of all shapes and forms had ample opportunity to sate their appetites during the Steel Panther set, the appearance of the mere silhouette of the Sunset Strip survivor with the top hat and Les Paul sent the audience into a frenzy. Teaming up with Myles Kennedy, Slash backed by the Conspirators delivers a two-hour "best of set" with songs spanning his whole career, including the occasional round from the Velvet Revolver, a bite from the Snakepit and Gunner thrown in for good measure. Myles Kennedy was refreshingly humble for a lead singer and pulled off the old GNR classics convincingly without changing the style or trajectory of the originals. A solid Sidewave show.
Words: T, "era vulgaris"
Photo: Gothic Mario
Now that was a band that I did not really think I would hear from again. Named after the description of the Elder God, Azathoth, in H.P. Lovecraft’s cosmos, this experimental act had a huge impact. The three Blind Idiot God releases revealed some of the most intriguing work of the experimental music scene in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Still, it has not been since 1992 that we heard new material from the act. So not only they come up with a new album, but it also seems that it is their most ambitious in a long time. The band has stated that the songs of their newest albums do not follow conventional structures (not that this band ever did to be honest) and that there has been more emphasis on improvisation.
Blind Idiot God has been one of the most exciting acts of the ‘80s. The way in which the band merged punk, rock, noise, dub and funk was definitely ahead of its time. They initially formed in St. Louis by Andy Hawkins, Gabe Katz and Ted Epstein, who have been the core of the act since 1996. Soon enough they moved to New York in order to work with Martin Bisi, a producer that had worked with other amazing acts like Sonic Youth, Swans and John Zorn.
The result of this process was their self-titled album, released in 1987. To showcase their unique identity and outlook the instrumental trio actually kicks off the album with one of Stravinsky’s compositions. That alone grips you by the neck. From that point on the band goes on an insane display of post-hardcore sovereignty led by Hawkins distinctive guitar sound. Mathcore blends into funk and everything just fits together perfectly.
Sonic tidal waves come from the guitar amps when “Shifting Sand” is brought forth, and more dissonant offerings are conveyed in the form of “Wide Open Spaces” and “Subterranean Flight.” And there lies the true ingenuity of Blind Idiot God unravels. Suddenly the music takes the form of a desert rock anthem in “More Time.” Such a shift must seem quite surprising, but it is nothing compared to the dub trilogy of “Wise Man Dub,” “Stealth Dub” and “Raining Dub.” Suddenly, a band that has been named after one of the Elder Gods of Lovecraft’s world turns the table on us and starts to play, what practically is, reggae. It is not a surprise that the album got the attention of some serious names such as John Zorn and Henry Rollins.
The band would continue to work with Martin Bisi for the recording of their next two albums but that is also where Bill Laswell comes in. Laswell is a pioneering figure in the experimental music scene and has his fingers in many pies. He was the founder of Axiom a record label that started as a subdivision of Island Records and has been involved with other great acts such as Praxis, The Golden Palominos, Massacre, Material, Painkiller (with John Zorn) and Table Beat Science. He also recently launched M.O.D. Technologies. To this day, Leswell has been involved in the production stage of every Blind Idiot God album since their sophomore release, Undertow.
Undertow saw the band continue to move in the path they set with their debut album. “Clockwork Dub” and “Major Key Dub” reveal their dub tendencies in all their glory. Obviously the blend of post-hardcore, mathcore and free rock keeps on strong in this release. The two most interesting moments though have to be the appearance of John Zorn in the final track of the album, “Purged Specimen,” with a sick saxophone part, and the unbelievable Funkadelic cover “Alice In My Fantasies.”
Hawkins had already started to find different areas in which his musical endeavors could expand. With Azonic, Hawkins released two albums, based solely on guitar sound and sonic experimentation. The debut album of the project found Hawkins working again with Laswell on the production of the album, using experimental rock motifs and drones in order to push the boundaries. The second release of Azonic was in the form of a split album with Justin Broadrick of Godflesh, another great instance of experimental music. Unfortunately after the release of Cyclotron, original drummer Ted Epstein left the band, and Blind Idiot God went in hiatus.
As time passed Blind Idiot God remained in a state of slumber, but there was still some progression. The addition of Tim Wyskida (also of Khanate) in the line-up seemed to signal the return of Blind Idiot God after ten years of inactivity. The band was said to be working on new material, giving more room to improvisation and their free rock identity. Around 2006 they started performing live around New York. Before Ever After, the much awaited follow-up to Cyclotron, contains material that the band has been working on since their reunion back in 2001. Unfortunately the original bassist of the band, Gabe Katz had to also leave the band in 2012, with Will Dahl being announced as the newest addition to the band.
The hope is that Wiskyda and Dahl will bring an air of rejuvenation to Blind Idiot God and that Hawkins will keep pushing the boundaries of experimental music. Before Ever After might be the album that fans have been waiting for decades from Blind Idiot God. Hopefully it will not be the last we hear from them.
Bombay Sweets, Pink Mink, Swami John & The Blind Shake Turf Club St. Paul, MN February 19, 2015 No review, see photo gallery below. read more
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I was yelled at again for writing this, and since I am applying for a job at a local newspaper, I don't really want this hanging over my head. Sorry ... read more
Last night my band played with Souvenir's Young America, City of Ships, and Monolith at Siren Records in Doylestown, PA; it was a fun time all the bands played real ... read more
If you didn't hear the news, Roy Scheider died this week at the age of 75. Jaws is one of my all-time favorite films. I am extremely sad. I fully ... read more
They could make me look not so good to certain people. Nobody read them anyways. read more
So, back when Cave In's Until Your Heart Stops dropped on the hardcore masses several years back, I had the chance of catching the band at Middlesex County Community College. ... read more
I broke out my CD for the Gehenna- The War of the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness and saw something that always made me smile. Allow me ... read more
Hello. Some of you might remember (or have participated in) my experiment over the summer collecting people's wishes on this page. I got over 160 entries and published them all ... read more
Imagine being in this kid's place... Interview w/ Henry Rollins read more
Even though it is just a joke, I'd still vote for Stephen Colbert for president before I'd vote for anyone else for running, outside of the longshots that have no ... read more
Dear Atreyu, Please stop. No seriously, please stop...now. - File has been removed. It was up for a month. It was the band's cover of Faith No More's "Epic." - ... read more
I woke up today at 5:30am to get my ass to the store to open it for what I figured would be another boring Sunday at work. Work has been ... read more
So the man that founded Factory Records and helped Joy Division become as huge as they did through hype died today. Not alot of people repect what Wilson did for ... read more
Yesterday during rush hour traffic on 35W the bridge than spans the mighty Mississippi fell. There was no earthquake. There was no terrorist attack. The bridge just buckled and toppled ... read more
Part 1: Mission Statement, Introduction, and first terribly nostalgic musing A number of years ago, a few friends of mine, myself, and people who would quickly become my friends used ... read more
Shook Ones, for the uninitiated, are a melodic hardcore band from Seattle, Washington. Their debut LP, Sixteen, had some serious Kid Dynamite aping going on, without a doubt, but it ... read more
Remember when the idea of Friday the 13th used to be scary? Maybe its because I am a grown adult, but there just does not seem to be any horror ... read more
You have no idea how wonderful it is to be finally typing these words. Not that my work is done: a SPB staffer's work is never done! But seriously: typing ... read more
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