bITS 'N CHUNKS
I discovered Woven In thanks to some publicity on Fuck Yeah Black Goths. Just to prove the scene is not dead (undead, undead) I try to stay on the lookout for new dark music. I didn't really know what to think when I saw the initial incarnation of the band marked as dark surf. Like…was that some kind of ironic category that I'm too old to get?
This was only the second time I'd seen that tag and I thought maybe it's a thing people were trying to get started on the 'net. Lo and behold, beach goth/dark surf/surf goth is a real thing...kind of? I've heard surf punk but to be honest that's not really my thing. I can see this happening more organically, though. It makes a lot of sense, surf music & goth have a lot in common, namely the high guitars and thumping bass lines. In surfer music, they sound like feet pounding on wood piers to jump into the water. In goth, they sound like anxious doom. Totally the same.
I gave Woven In a few listens and I really liked their warm, ominous, melancholic version of ennui. To me they successfully made the easy-breezy sunny sounds associated with California into something painfully tense, a little distrustful, and startling. I tried to keep up with their career over the years. On their Facebook page, they announced a change in direction to something veering a little closer to goth and here we have Bossa Blanca. Please listen.
As I listened, I thought to myself this is a mature effort from an artist that is very confident and ready to go get some new legs. It's getting there, it feels transitional. It's definitely heavier on the goth overtones but it still has that beach kick. Despite moving on, Woven In's sound is so unique and such a firm blend of elements that it's pretty much emulsified. It reminds me of when auteur directors get out of their usual genre or every time Stephen King writes a non-scary book: you're still expecting some of their old ticks to crop back in, maybe because they can't help themselves.
But if this is where the group is going I'd really like to follow their dark journey along, whether it's on a dark moonlight beach or back on land.
This is another one of those times where it pays to know people. Please check out Jowin's Bandcamp.
When the visuals for Kids Food started hitting the YouTubes I was really interested in the project. I ended up buying it on iTunes so I could listen to it on my own time. The videos were cool and well done and the whole thing had a neat concept behind it -- it mimics the structure of an anime or, to me, specifically an OVA. OVAs are usually short (although there are OVAs that are basically complete anime series), experimental, and have a definite beginning and definite end. Now whether you agree with that ending is another matter…
Anyway, I remember OVAs (along with fansubs and v-kei) being a big part of my Otaku childhood. OVAs were like the director's cut of your favorite animation or bonus features and often the only way to see things truly uncensored and Straight From Japan. They were also rare and kind of costly, and there's nothing us oldtaku love more than something hard to get and costs a bleepton of money.
Me and Jowin are around the same age-ish so I don't feel like that speculation is too out there. Now, I wouldn’t pigeonhole Jowin as a geek rapper. Yeah, he references games & the '90s and he has that nerd aesthetic but I feel like those are more attributes more than his defining characteristics. It's like a heads up to say "this dude is one of us".
That being said, back to OVA structure and why this EP is pretty much perfect and inspiring. The structure of it is so solid and neat -- the opening track, "Cross 1Ne", sounds exactly like an anime OP (opening theme) and lays out pretty much what this is going to be about. The two middle songs, "There4U" and "Time (Jeff's Dilemma)" function as plot and give us more information about the character (either Jowin himself or a representation of himself, think it's up for interpretation), his fears, insecurities, his lifestyle and changes his making to better himself; it hits an emotional climax and ends on a note of hope and optimism. Then the final track, "Can We", is the ED or ending theme. Ending themes in anime can be cryptic sometimes but they basically wrap up the plot of that episode and sometimes foreshadow the series conclusion. In this case, "Can We" pretty much sums up the plot and carries out that note of optimism while alluding back to "Cross 1Ne" lyrically and melodically.
I have been thinking about this a lot as I look over some of my older narratives. I realized I've been dissatisfied with my own structure and the editing process has been frustrating for a while. I started favoring more "experimental" story telling styles a few years ago because that's what I was reading and listening to. I felt like I had to and so I gave myself permission to do it. But to be honest with you I don't know if it's been that good to me. I think that's one of those things you either just do naturally or later in life when you don't give a damn. I love reading an unconventional narrative with an ending, beginning, and a middle but I'm still at that point where nothing is more satisfying to me than a definite beginning, maybe a hazy middle, and an end. I remembered that was the fiction I enjoyed writing. If Jowin presents what is a perfectly structured narrative for me then I've been on some …And Justice for All isht, where I have a general theme but told through unconnected episodes. That's fine too but it just doesn’t work all the time. Seriously, this is ridiculous for an EP that is like…less than 15 minutes. I've spent my whole life trying to achieve that kind of structure in my fiction. Are you kidding me?
In the fall of 2015 (I'm convinced this was the last true Autumn that Nashville has had), I went to The End for a show. I like The End, it has that air of mystery, grime, and mild danger that I like on the weekends. I like small shows, I like small bands, I like local groups. Sadly, I don't really like taking photos. That night, I was there to see Coliseum with Child Bite and I believe Sheep Shifter? And the tickets were a little higher than The End's normal fair so I felt like this was pretty big.
To be fair, I was largely there to see Child Bite as they were on my radar for being brash and in your face, harsh, metal-punk-yikes. I did a little research on Coliseum as the headliners and figured I'd like them
So, we're here today because I left that fog- and crystal-lodged show a swift fan of Coliseum and in dire need of a copy of Anxiety's Kiss.
As I pined away in Tennessee for another chance to see Coliseum's heady, imposing, pink-shifted black magic stage show so I can appreciate it better, as my luck would have it I found out through pure fluke that not too long after the tour for Anxiety's Kiss, Coliseum had very quietly broken up.
Well, goddamnit! But all was not lost as singer/guitarist Ryan Patterson (for this project,
now R/Pattern) had quickly gotten another project started, Fotocrime.
Quick disclaimer but I know Paul Ravenwood, I'm lucky to know him, and I get all the deets and inside information to -- no I don't, I'm just a fan and I follow all his Facebooks. Please check out his Bandcamp.
That being said, listening to the latest TF release The Year the Stars Fell made me think of a few things. It made me think of active writing versus passive writing, but not in the sense that you learn in school.
(Active writing being the active voice i.e. the subject is performing the action and passive being the passive voice, in which the subject is having something done to it.)
No, I thought about setting up atmosphere. I thought about where my focus lies and when I change attentions. I thought about what inspires me directly versus just music in the background.
In my quest to talk more often about music, I made myself think about my intentions with music…when I choose to listen to it and when I choose not to. Occasionally, depression deprives me of the ability to handle external sensory information so I shut down. Like smelling salts I have to lure myself out with little drops of mindless pop. Sometimes I crank up the tunes to drown out unwanted conversation or hide the sound of my own typing.
But sometimes I listen for story. I'm a prog fanatic and with that comes the territory of the concept album, the task of creating an elaborate story through song. You are probably most familiar with In the Court of the Crimson King or 2112 or even Operation: Mindcrime, or you probably hear any of those and think "ohhh, that thing." Year the Stars Fell is more conceptual than concept in that it is emotive and tells a story about those emotions and events through a variety of techniques. In this case, it required active listening on my part to learn.
TF often meditates on personal issues no matter how dark and the often complicated, sometimes political identity of Appalachia. Across albums, EPs, and splits I appreciate how TF has set up a consistent atmosphere and identity and often I wish to do the same. I realized I was taking direct inspiration from the way the music moved me and made me felt, envision things, rather than just listening to the noisiest noise I possibly could under the threat (to myself) of writing and churning something out real quick for its own sake. It, or I myself, gave me pause and I wondered what exactly I was doing. What am I telling or showing, and what is the information that is left behind?
This is especially relevant to my preferred genres of writing, when I attempt to go for anything suspenseful or a thriller, or horror (more on that later) where interaction with the setting is pretty much 90% for the experience. I can tell you we're in a field but what kind? A field of guttural screams and tortured, conflicted emotions. Where men and women handle rattlesnakes with no fear and you drop your preconceived notions by the crackling fireside because you are here to learn. Using a variety of techniques like a good author for the intended effect whether it be to invite, to disarm, or to mourn, like a quilt, like a palimpsest.
The first time I heard Necronomidol I think they had just gone on hiatus for a bit. I assumed the novelty of a black metal inspired idol unit just kind of wore off in the face of BABY METAL and such derivative acts. But the videos were cool and slick and purposefully mimicking giallo style with the music to fit, and I really dug their sinister image.
But at some point, the stars aligned and Necroma rose up once again from the depths with a few new members, another member change, and then finally what is (I hope) a permanent line up. Check out the video for "Ithaqua".
Necronomidol is a great example of the whole "do it your damn self" attitude which is strange in the idol world (but not really in underground idol acts, please check out Homicidols). Their relentless attitudes and the ceaseless determination of their manager Rick have landed them at least a small European tour and some good buzz. But that's not what actually makes them stand out, it's the members themselves and the fact that they're young girls singing about Cthulhu. That's it. I love aidoru and I love Cthulhu, so I'm in.
Okay, Necroma's songs are very good and refreshingly hardcore and TRVE. Their Bandcamp provides some English translations of their songs and they're very literary. I love that they interact with some of the lesser known critters and aspects of Lovecraftian mythos. Doing that sometimes runs the risk of making you look a little too hardcore or not palatable because you're just appealing to the geek squad at this point but Necroma somehow does it with some pretty serious pop ambitions. But…down-tuned guitars…
What sets Necroma apart from the BABY METAL clones to me (aside from their complete, utter darkness and end of the world prophesying) is that at least so far they haven't gone for the death/nu metal guttural growls and prefer very clean, idol vocal melodies so they're very easy to churn out fiction to. I like their weird yet very successful iconoclasm. It's beyond creepy cute aesthetic, it's the merging of old school metal ideology, occult image, and bouncy j-pop. It's not superficial but doesn't take itself exceptionally seriously. Oh my gosh, it's me as a group. It me! If someone is working on a manga or some unofficial doujinshi for them, can I write it? Please?
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...