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Jul 2, 2018

As I sit here and listen to the brotherhood of saturn by Black Lung & Spiderface I’m reminded of an old interview with Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry where the former describes music as:

a package for sentiment… a form of communication

And more directly by the latter:

(music) moves us to think and feel

Thinking about my own relationship to music, I can’t help but identify with the idea of music as a package for sentiment. Indeed, my earliest musical loves (e.g. Minor Threat, Dead Kennedys) were raw sentiment. As I get older1 I realize that my tolerance for raw musical sentiment has lessened and instead I’m drawn more and more to context-free musical experiences. I suspect the reason for this is that I spend a lot of my time designing and building software systems. These creative processes demand a large portion of my attention and frankly there are few cycles available to process the messages in the music, so context-free music has thrust itself to the front of my play queue. By “context-free” I don’t necessarily mean music as stark as say, furniture music2. Instead, I mean music that, as far as I can tell, has no discernible message. In this genre I’d place bands like Oneohtrix Point Never, Pantha du Prince, Montauk, Andrew Thomas, and of course Gas. These bands create musical environments. These bands create head-spaces. These bands create near perfect (IMO of course) music to program by.

The Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald is the closest thing to ambient in print that I’ve ever read.

I’ve been debating what to do with Read/Eval/Print/Love and while nothing has stuck, the possibilities include: continuing as a periodic self-published PDF or burning it all to the ground. There is no in-between.3

I’ve thrown around 25,000 pitches this year alone and my arm feels like a ineffective strip of throbbing bacon.

To me, the years 1982 to 1985 were the best years in the history of comic books. 1982 was the year that both Marvel and DC instituted creator-controled projects which fostered a larger focus on non-regurgitated super-hero-pablum. While one of my favorite series ever Ghosts! was cancelled that year, another of my favorites Marvelman by Alan Moore hit the scenes, completely changing the super-hero story forever. I was a young kid at the time that this book came out, so I didn’t read it at the time.4 That said, I can still remember seeing the iconic cover of Daredevil 181 on the shelves at High’s and being infinitely fascinated by it. 1983 saw the publication of Frank Miller’s Ronin by DC no less. Once again, another of my favorite titles was cancelled — this time House of Mystery. Little did I know,5 but Britain was innovating the landscape mainly via the anthology series Warrior which hosted the publication of Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta. A book that I’ve still never read, but was influential to creators who came later was American Flagg by Howard Chaykin. In 1984 a bunch of independent publishers sprung up and stories of all sorts started hitting the scene, but it was a DC comic that truly made waves. With issue #20, Alan Moore was brought on as the script writer for Swamp Thing and he demolished the then hokey storylines and created a truly masterful horror comic book.6 Finally, McCarthy and Milligan published their surreal 3-issue Strange Days which many edgy comic creators credit as ground-breaking. 1985 was a bit of a whimper compared to the incredibly fertile 3-years that came before, but independent companies continued to spring up and the ground was further cultivated for an explosion of incredibly influential comic stories to come in the subsequent years, including, but not limited to: Watchmen, The Puma Blues, The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One, and Maus.7

  1. I hesitate to say wiser. 

  2. Though I find myself listening to a fair share. 

  3. I have some ideas for a mini-prolog and mini-datalog that are itching to get get out. 

  4. In all likelihood I was reading Vision and the Scarlet Witch back then as I loved the look of Vision as a kid. 

  5. I was in love with the then new Alpha Flight, so I missed most of what was happening in the comics industry at the time. 

  6. Despite my disappointment in the cancellation of my favorite horror comics, I did not pick up Swamp Thing at the time. Instead, I was drawn in by the incredible inanity of Secret Wars like every other kid my age. 

  7. 1986 is really the year that mind-blowing comics started to catch my attention. Between “The Mutant Massacre” in X-Men and “Born Again” in Daredevil, my ideas about what I wanted in my comic books started to irrevocably change. 

4 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. bromeo

    have you ever heard the music for programming mixes compiled by datassette?

  2. I have not. Source/Link?

  3. You obviously have to make the choice that is right for you, but I look forward to any future editions of Read/Eval/Print/Love. :)

    (Also thank you to bromeo for reminding me of Music for Programming.)

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