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Clunk

Stop, stop. There’s something I want to tell you. I’m going to stop what it was I was telling you before, at least for now, about Adri and Katy and Nasreen, and I’ll tell you this instead:

My little brother has released a music album.

Way, way back in the Nineties, which was very long ago, my little brother sat in his room and he played with my guitar. The guitar was blue and white, a Fender Stratocaster, which I still have in the other room, here at the townhouse, meaning I should say, probably, “is” not “was”, though it’s been ages since ever it’s left its big black box.

Back there in the Nineties, while I was far away, paying to be brainwashed about history, and then about law, and then about theology, my little brother was back home and playing my guitar. But he didn’t play guitar like you would play it, or like I would play it, no. No strumming or chords or choruses or verses for him. He played it like this instead: He played little sped-up tape loops, echoing like shimmers for a while or like oil on water, which would soon fade away to make room for more shimmers, and more, and away down they’d go. Slowly. And so on.

I’m not sure quite how it worked, to be honest. You’ll have to hear it for yourself.

After my little brother recorded his tape loops, more or less he forgot about them. They remained in boxes, in his closet, or else scattered across the floor, or else piled on top of Dr. Seuss books, lost in our parents’ storage space, much like all those novels I’ve written over the years.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Far be it from me to ever say there’s something wrong with that. It does not diminish one’s creation to create a thing and then to leave it be. Fernando Pessoa, who is a famous dead writer from Portugal, well, he hardly published a word in his lifetime. And when he died, people entered into his apartment and they found his now-most beloved writings within a big trunk at the foot of his bed. And Kurt Vonnegut had Kilgore Trout, his alter ego for nearly half a century in his books, write short story fictions only to burn them. Upon completion, having completed them, Kilgore Trout would burn them. So it goes.

There’s nothing wrong with that, like I said.

But the story of my little brother’s tape loops didn’t end there. His shimmerings of old have been released, by some London-based avant-garde record label, both for download, which is something we didn’t know about yet in the Nineties, and on cassette tape, which I had almost forgotten about.

Isn’t that cool? Here, have a listen:



I’m very proud of my little brother, even if this doesn’t mean fame or fortune or influence or laudations. He has cassette tapes now which he can take and he can show you and say, “Hey, look what I made.”

And now that my little brother has achieved the status of a recording artist, I feel as though the time is ripe for me to grab hold of his coattails. I feel as though I should remind him, first chance I get, of the one-off, one-take collaboration between me and him back in 2012. He played guitar while I was reading a story of mine. This was pleasing because, for those very many people with whom Jeff’s shimmerings just can’t connect, they can listen to my story instead:



O, I’m not saying all the time. Not on every track. He could just drop them in a little, here and there, like Eno did with “Another Green World,” for landmarks and for variation. Words give a listener something to grab onto, amidst all the shimmering and whatnot.

And if its words he’s looking for, then, as a great man once said, “I know words. I have the best words.” 

Like this: “Apatheist.” And like this: “Clunk.”

Congratulations, Jeff. You are amazing.

Comments

  1. kinda cool! :) Hope you are enjoying the weekend!

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    1. Thanks, Bella. Not a bad weekend. Cold and rainy, so spent more of it sleeping than I'd expected, but that always helps out once the new week starts.

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  2. “Apatheist” just gets better and better the more I think about it.

    I have a cassette tape, a high-bias TDK 90, if I remember correctly, inside of a Naugahyde briefcase looking thing that is made to hold cassette tapes, that is labeled "Recording History", and that's just what it is. Now that I think of it, I have another one also, labeled "Recording History II" that Briana calls "the blackmail tape" because it has recordings of her singing on it. What I don't have is a cassette deck to play them on, or I would have digitized the good parts years ago. I might still do that some day, if those tapes still play after all of these years. And the recording I have of the Peter Gabriel concert at the Greek Theater in Berkeley from 1983. I will digitize that also.
    Anyway, that tape has stuff starting with 1977 when I first got an electric guitar and amplifier, through my bounced-between-two-cassette-decks attempts at overdubbing, and a couple of music projects I participated in with musicians who were much better than I was playing things that I wrote alongside things that they wrote. And other stuff. My friend Raven, the DJ, says he'll help me with the digitizing if he can find a tape deck, but so far he hasn't.

    Blah, blah, blah, etc.

    So would that "people are made of food" reference be from "The Story of B" by Daniel Quinn?

    I'm relegated to 2G data speeds just now, and while Dead Meat played just fine, I may have to wait until the 29th to listen to your brother's recordings, as they are refusing to load at all.

    -Doug in Oakland

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    1. OK, I got it to play, and I'm impressed. Please don't take this the wrong way but track #4 sounds like it should have a Robert Fripp guitar solo in the middle of it.

      -Doug in Oakland

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    2. "People are made out of food" is a Daniel Quinn reference, yeah. I try to keep references to a bare minimum, but they seem to keep popping up lately.

      When I talk to Jeff about his old recordings, Eno and Fripp's "No Pussyfooting" comes up a lot. I read a book where Eno describes how they did it, and it's my only point of understanding about tape loops.

      The only comparison he tends to get irritated with is Terry Riley, and he likes Terry Riley, so I'm not sure why.

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  3. I enjoyed both of the recordings...something fresh and mood setting.

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    1. Thanks, Mistress. Jeff's never heard the results of our "Dead Meat" experiment, and I'm not sure how he'd feel about it. "Fresh and mood setting" seems to be a decent effect, though!

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  4. Soothing, somehow, for me. Usually I can't read and listen to music at the same time(walk and chew gum, etc.) but I can listening to Jeff's recordings. AND ... my dog roogr likes it too. Bought the digital d/l at Bandcamp. You and Jeff should collaborate more. Thanks for the tip. You BOTH should be proud of each other!
    beej in TN

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    1. Cool. Roogr has good taste!

      I just now texted Jeff about "Dead Meat" and he didn't even remember recording it. I'm going to link him to it to see what he thinks.

      I remember it, but I didn't remember flubbing three different lines in it. But it was one take.

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    1. Thanks, Tom. I think I'm more excited about this than he is. In fact, I know I am.

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  6. Something different for sure. I listened to your dead meat story.

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    1. Cool. Jeff's stuff isn't likely to make him the next Ariana Grande, but hey, there's an audience. maybe.

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  7. Fantastic, in an enthralling sort of way (which I appreciate), both the music and your words.

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    1. Thanks. I listened to my words and thought, "Wow. I don't know whether I could write that today." I hope I could. Maybe it's just that, once I'm cut off from whatever led me to write it, it seems like something I couldn't do now.

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  8. Taking a break from taking a break to tell you the story and the 'shimmerings' went together so beautifully and held my attention word for word. You know, I think I like listening to your stories even better than I like reading them....and that's a lot.

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    1. Nice to see you around! It sounds like I was on a Kurt Vonnegut kick at the time. Maybe a dark Kurt Vonnegut kick, but just the same... I remember I was going to try and do some other bits with music, too, but that was right when my breakup happened and everything changed.

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  9. This is so cool! Congrats to your little brother! I enjoyed the tracks! Thanks for sharing
    Harry!

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    1. Thanks, Stacy. I try to vary things up a bit from time to time, and this is definitely different, I hope.

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  10. Congratulations to your little brother. I enjoyed the music. And I can't remember the last time I have seen a cassette tape. Have a good one, Harry, and enjoy the Thanksgiving.

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    1. Happy Thanksgiving!

      Apparently, cassettes staging quite the comeback in the underground music community.

      Which is cool, because that the music medium on which I got addicted to music, back in the eighties. Unfortunately, I have nothing to play one on.

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  11. Leave it to a wordsmith to want to put words in that. I love that kind of music as background while I'm writing.

    You have indeed missed a few of my posts, but I've been very quiet this month. Online anyway. It's National Novel Writing Month.

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    1. That makes sense. I have been thinking about diving into the writing of a novel in the new year. I'll be gone a LOT more if I do. It takes me way more than a month to write a novel.

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    1. Thanks. He's probably better off without adding words, but I'm always looking for new ways to get my stories out into the world.

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  13. This is all so fascinating. It drives me crazy that I never get updates about your blog, but then I get to come and spend wonderful time getting caught up. I hope you DO write a novel--put me down for a pre-order!

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    1. It's sort of my goal for next year. I believe I'm ready!

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  14. OK, I'm now following you on Twitter so I get to see posts right away!

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    1. Outside of the updates, I have a very exciting twitter feed. I average zero likes per tweet. You're in for a real treat.

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