Friday, January 2, 2009


Somewhere into my third decade, I realized I had stopped listening to music. Having always been an enthusiastic listener, buying records since I was first given a weekly allowance, it was my sudden and sad realization that I no longer possessed any interest. If I had so much as an old Pink Floyd cassette laying around somewhere, that was all I had. I had a huge collection of albums and tapes that somehow got thrown aside on the path to mature adulthood. Where is it written that when you reach a certain age, you toss your rock and roll records out the door, and set NPR on the radio dial. Jesus, I was becoming my parents.

So I set out to purchase every record I had ever owned. In a few years time, I had collected hundreds of vinyl and CD records of favorites, and as many new records and CDs. I had accumulated so much music, my small apartment was beginning to look like a used music store. And there was no way I was going to find the time to listen to everything I had brought home. So I alphabatized everything and decided to listen to at least three albums a week. I would attempt to listen to them in alphabetical order. I first had to force myself to find the time, put on a record or CD, and listen to the sweet music. Lights out, candle up, clear your mind, and infest it with melody and noise. The herb cupboard wasn't always empty. It was rather daunting when the next alphabatized album was, say, Frampton Comes Alive, when I least wanted to hear it. But do or die, I'd listen. And that's a damn good album.

And I've been doing just that for years. Now, of course, I have as much music downloaded, and like scouring a record store, (Record Theatre is a beautiful place), I now scour the internet looking for new and exciting music. With the New Year I find myself on the S's, and New Year's Eve brought me the Canadian band "Skinny Puppy"'s "The Process", and on New Year's morning, I listened to Skinny Puppy's "Too Dark Park". I don't know how Skinny Puppy came into my life. I think I heard them on the radio, and had to hear more. This is disturbing and dark experimental pop music. Big and highstrung crunchy metal with a lot of lifted verbal samples, and a wash of synthesized noise. Nine Inch Nails, for instance were influenced by Skinny Puppy. 1996's The Process is unusual in that it contains actual remnants of melodic song structure, most unlikely for a Skinny Puppy album, and opens with the soft and pretty repetition of a piano chord. Soon though the darkness sets in on a world where, "my brain is hurting", and "the mother toe is sad and she'll end when the world ends.". The cover artwork of "The Process" looks like downtown's Lafayette Hotel, where I once unfortunately lived. Haven't we all at one time or another? 1990's "Too Dark Park" is pure Skinny Puppy, opening with the statement, "he's fearing monsters, he's losing his mind and he's feeling it going.". It's a nightmare album of insanity, violence, and rotting meat in a science lab. Alleged to be anti-animal experimentism, it seems to be anti-everything. The listener may find himself, as stated in the closing of opening track, Convulsions, "extremely, intensely, terribly uncomfortable".

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