shyghostsT.K. Bollinger is a very productive man. "Shy Ghosts" was released in January 2016. It totally knocked me off my feet. The album was ranked as number two on my prestigious list 10 gloomiest album ever (opens in a new window), which is an achievement considering the fierce competition. Today he releasd a new album with the long title "What’s Left Now You Are Dead to Me". At the moment the album is only available in digital format. T.K. Bollinger has initiated a fund raising campaign for a physical release, read more on his website (see bottom). T.K. Bollinger has been around in different musical projects since Jesus wore shorts. In my opinion, he goes from strength to strength. The new album contains 16 songs. It's nearly 70 minutes long. The new album in his own words: "This 16 song collection continues to explore t.k. bollinger’s usual dark terrain, though with a little more lushness than 2016’s Shy Ghosts. The stripped back minimalism is still there...the atmosphere has thickened and accordingly the sonic texture has become much richer." Very well formulated. "What’s Left Now You Are Dead to Me" has a slightly warmer tone and and a more full-bodied soundscape. Phrases like a "slightly warmer tone" and a "more full-bodied soundscape" are dependent on the context. In the world of T.K. Bollinger "slightly warmer tone" means that the music and lyrics are still dark, but not as pitch-black as "Shy Ghost" and a "more full-bodied soundscape" doesn't mean that the album is over-produced. It just means that it's not as stripped-down, sparsely instrumented and simply arranged as the former album. Let's go over and dissect the album.


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The first song is "A Life of Fear". It's a grand album opener. T.K. Bollinger sings in a slow and almost excessive dark way, with a strong emphasis on the lyrics. The distinct articulation seems to be meant to leave a lasting imprint on the listener's cerebral cortex. "I’ve worn this millstone / as a milestone / Courted the lie / that’s in belief / I came to see / But seeing / knocked the sight from me / And lost the will / to simply be / Now fear rule me". The opening song has all the desirable attributes of the modern T.K. Bollinger. A very promising beginning, indeed. The second song is "Hope Like Time Flies". The song is utterly beautiful. It's centered around restrained vocals and unfolds in a delicate way. The song ends: "It’s sad but it’s true / You decided to stay still knowing / things might never change / Sing to me in th e dark of sorrow / so I might find hope again." Not the most gothic of songs, but I like it. The third song "It's Just Changed" begins ambigiously with the lines "Don’t shoot the messenger / You may have heard me wrong". A mourning guitar lingers in the background and then fades away followed by vocals. The song structure is repeated. "All you lack is the will, to face another day." This is quality. The artist is no stranger to drown-out tones, feedback and reverb. In the fourth song "Shovelling/Struggling" T.K. Bollinger explores the boundaries. The first four songs constitutes a splendid beginning of the album. However, the fifth ("Offside Landing") and sixth songs ("The Mess I've Made") are surprisingly weak. The order is restored in the seventh song "The More I See The Less I Want”. The title alone makes the song great. The song is perfectly calibrated. Elaborated arrangements, fine tuned vocals and, last but not least, well-written lyrics: "The more I see, the less I want / The less it bothers me I always have enough / I’ve had enough". The eight song ”Enough Rope” is one of the best songs on the album. A hymnal melody structure and pounding drums. The lyrics are brilliant "We always thought we played for time / Not really knowing it was playing us / One day we’ll figure it out / If we’re given enough rope." 


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The ninth song "The Way It's Always Been" doesn't have the usual characteristics of the artist. No doom or gloom. Instead the song has a kind of british pop influence and a warmer tone. You immediately want to sing along in the song, but the lyrics aren't that cheerful. The tenth song "May Death Come Welcome" is a highlight and one of best songs on the album. The song has all the trademarks of T.K. Bollinger: bold idea, fearless approach and solid implementation. "Death, she’ll come to me like a lover / Not as a stranger or some terror to be feared." Sensitive and hard at the same time. The eleventh song "Dark As Night, Sweet As Sin" begins dreamy and becomes almost esoteric. The song is languorous and never really lifts off. The twelfth song is "Stranger's Shout". The song begins pompously. On the whole, it's a beautiful song with great lyrics. No lack of honesty or self disclosure. The song ends with the repeating chorus "I lost the best of me". The album "What’s Left Now You Are Dead to Me" reaches its climax in the thirteenth song, "Bonded by Blood. In this song T.K. Bollinger pull out all the stops. The song unfolds slowly but surely. The lyrics are impeccable: "And take up our legacy / passed to daughter and son: / A loving kiss; an unruly fist; / This crude heart, bonded by blood. / So take up your legacy / All you daughters and sons: / A carefree kiss; an unruly fist; / Indelible, bonded by blood. / This crude heart, bonded by blood." The fourteenth song is "Where We Walked Today". Similar to "The Way It's Always Been" it doesn't have the usual T.K Bollinger characteristics, which doesn't mean that it's bad. On the contrary, it's a very good song. The lyrics are above than average self-reflecting and sentimental. The song ends with: "And while you can’t go and I can’t stay / We can still cherish where we walked today. / Here ends my road, we must part ways / And you must cherish where we walked today." An rather odd song, more like a closing song in a movie. Here is where you think the album has come to an end. But there are actually two more songs on the album. The last song on an album is very important. It concludes what the artist want to say with the album and should also have a close connection to the themes and a scent of the atmospere on the album. I'm a bit puzzled over the ending of the album. The last two songs "The Same Tears" and "Can't Promise You Anything" are, compared with the other songs on the album, a bit insipid and their placement makes the album fade out anonymously and almost unnoticeable. I'm calling for a more pronounced ending, not necessarily like the ending in Tchaikovsky's 1812 overture with full cannons, but a slightly more pronounced ending.  

And finally, the overall assessment. This a another great album from T.K. Bollinger. It's not as dark and gloomy as "Shy Ghosts", but contains more than enough of darkness and gloominess to outperform most other artists and bands in the genre. The album is filled with moments of great songwriting, thoughtful arrangements and skillful production. On the downside, it's not as coherent as its predecessor, "Shy Ghosts". Maybe, the album would have benefitted from skipping a couple of songs. But what do I know. I'm only a swedish civil servant with an internet connection. Faithful followers of this blog knows that I'm pessimistic regarding the future of the gothic country genre. If there be light, then there is darkness. It seems like the light in the dark comes from Melbourne, Australia.      


If you click on the icons below they will open in a new window, from left to right: Lyrics for "What’s Left Now You Are Dead to Me", T.K. Bollinger's Facebook page, T.K. Bollinger's Homepage and Press kit for "What’s Left Now You Are Dead to Me".

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facebook-icon Slackeye Slim 3 home logo3
Press Kit



CSNWell, it seems like all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds. How else could you explain the event Southern Gothic Campout - a music festival dedicated to dark roots music? To my knowledge there's never been a festival dedicated to dark roots music. I didn't see it coming. It's quite unlikely. After all, the gothic country genre peaked artistically and in terms of (small but dedicated) audience already in 2007, read more here (opens in a new window). But people will play and people will come to Adams, TN in November. However, I will not be attending. I have not much to say in my defense. Now is the time when I should go on my long awaited Grand Tour to the US. The purpose of the visit would be to explore the darkest corners of the US including illegal snake handling while listening to gothic country music. Instead of going, I blame a strained work situation and I hide myself behind phrases like “at the appropriate juncture, in due course, in the fullness of time”. It's a lame excuse.  Who knows, maybe I will go to an all-inclusive resort in Florida instead. A resort for old people.   


CSNThe choice of location is very intriguing. Adams, TN is located in the middle of nowhere. Located off of I-24, just 30 minutes from Nashville. The population is 633 people (2010). The "venue" is Red River Valley Canoe Rentals, a family-owned business that has been providing exciting river rides to novice and experienced paddlers for over 30 years, read more here (opens in a new window). The venue may be located in the middle of nowhere, but the place is very famous in Southern folklore. It's the home of the Bell Witch, read more here (opens in a new window). Executive summary: The Bell family resided along the Red River in northwest Robertson County in an area currently within the town of Adams. According to the legend, from 1817-1821, the Bell family came under attack by an invisible entity subsequently described as a witch. It is said that she murdered the farmer John Bell. It is the only recorded murder by a ghost in US history. The entity was able to speak, affect the physical environment and shift forms. According to some sources the entity had the capability to be in more than one place at a time, cross distances with rapid speed and the power of prophecy. Furthermore, you can take a challenging float past the famous Bell Witch Cave, read more here (opens in a new window). 


sgc bandThe event is hosted by Muddy Rooots Music Events. The bands that will be performing are no less than Those Poor Bastards, Sons of Perdition, Viva Le Vox, Reverend Red, Noah Tyson (ex-Highlonesome) and Freight Train Rabbit Killer (never heard of them, but they are probably good). More bands are to be announced. If Slackeye Slim and The Dad Horse Experience were added to the list I would reconsider my decision not to attend. This would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see them live and maybe The Highwaymen of Gothic Country, read more here (opens in a new window). As I mentioned, more bands are to be announced. The event is only a month away. This is the Dark roots Southern Gothic campout first edition with a very renowned lineup, to say the least. The event has received a very positive response. At the moment, there are 154 people going and 749 people interested in the event according to the Southern Gothic Campout Facebook-page. There's a small but dedicated crowd out there. Faiftful followers of this website knows that I'm pessimistic about the future for the genre. The gothic country genre is endangered and at risk of extinction. The regrowth is close to zero. The field lies open for tiresome epigones and they are really on the move. However, there's a time and context for everything. I suspect that the best years have come and gone for the genre. But this event reverses the theory and the empirical evidence. Maybe there's still some hope for the genre. Southern Gothic Campout may in fact be a sign of strength. And maybe the Bell Witch will return. After all, it takes place at the Bell Witch homeground. Let’s hope for the best, prepare for the worst and plan to be surprised. I will follow this extraordinary event from a safe distance, namely 7 382 km (4 587 miles). We swedes are strangers to camping in November. I already know that I will regret my decision intensly and bitterly. Well, you have to live with the choices you make in life.   


CSNI've been too nice, too long. It's time for Spotify-bashing again. My penchant for occasionally bashing can be explained here and here (opens in new windows). In this blog entry I will focus on hard economic facts, inflated expectations and historical evidence. First some facts. Spotify claims that they in July 2017 had about 60 million paying customers (of a total of 140 million users), which makes just over 40 percent. The share of paying customers has increased. In 2014 and 2015 the share of paying customers was 25 percent. Most users, however, are not premium (paying) customers and have no plans of start paying. Not even the most degrading, infantile and intrusive advertisment seems to be able to push them over to premium. One would expect that a increasing share of paying customers would lead to a better economic result. On the contrary. The economic result is a pure disaster. Revenues are rising, but so are also costs. Here is some key economic figures.

Minus 412 million dollar in 2016, minus 278 million dollar (2015), minus 182 million dollar (2014) and minus 100 million dollar (2013). Spotify isn't profitable, has never been profitable and most likely is never going to be profitable. The turnover increased to 3 460 million dollars in 2016, 2 280 million dollars (2015), 1 213 million dollars (2014) and 824 million dollars (2013). In any other industry this would mean cut-down or shut-down. Higher deficit and increasing turnover would normally give an accountant with average intelligence gastric catarrh and sleepless nights. But not a Spotify-employed accountant. This is Wonderland. Traditional economic theory isn't applicable. A swedish media and communication researcher made an attempt to explain webeconomics. In this new world profits are not important, it's only about the value of the service itself and what investors think they could get if the service were to be sold. Yeh, right. The swedish researcher should take an interdisciplinary course in economic history. Tulipmania is generally considered to be the first recorded economic bubble and was as a period in the Dutch Golden Age during which contract prices for bulbs of the recently introduced tulip reached extraordinarily high levels and then dramatically collapsed in February 1637. We certainly live in the Golden age of Spotifymania. An IPO (initial public offering) is waiting around the corner. Spotify has a very strong incitament to shift the focus from their huge economic deficits to postive trends like paying customers. They don't have to fool anyone. People will fool themselves. "The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived."


CSNI just finished an extremely tedious and time-consuming task. I registered 2 031 cd albums on Discogs (a database for music), cd after cd. I had to do something drastic in order to keep track of the albums I own (so I don't make the mistake and buy them again). Until now, I've been faithful to the basic swedish website (opens in a new window), which has existed since 2001. The reasons for this unpatriotic act are that doesn't work properly anymore and the lack of interest for its maintenance. But what is Discogs? It's short for discographies and is a website and crowdsourced database of information about audio recordings in all genres and on all formats. At first, I thought the interface was rough-hewn with its close resemblance with early dBASE products, but after using the database a couple of times I realized how ingenious the programming behind it was. Discogs also works extremely well on smartphones. The heart of Discogs is a user-built database of music. More than 360,000 people have contributed some piece of knowledge, to build up a catalog of more than 8,700,000 recordings and 5,100,000 artists. It's a living thing. There is no cost for using Discogs. The revenues to run the website comes from albums being sold through Discogs (Marketplace). I have personally bought 53 albums there and sold a few albums too (works like clockwork). Since it's built on top of the accurate Discogs database, it is easy for sellers to list their albums and buyers are able to specify the exact version they want. The diabolic combination of "crowdsourcing" and "exact" have created a perfect breeding ground for the Jesuits of record cataloging. You can make submissions, get rank points and people can vote on how accurate your submissions are. Discogs is a self-regulating system with a clever incitament structure.

CSNI'm a novice in the world of Discogs. I have contributed with 186 submissions and received 1 004 rank points and have an average vote of 3,58 (of max 5). Since I'm not particularly keen to read instructions or manuals before I start to do things, I encountered some initial problems. In the beginning I got a lot of RTFM-messages from members (in a very friendly way since there are community guidelines for good behavior). Instead the messages began with "Please check" and a link to the database guidelines. After a while I got the hang of it by learning by doing. Maybe you think a cd can be identified by its catalogue number or UPC/EAN number or a combination of them. Well, you have to think again. We are striving for to identify the exact (and not the adjacent) copy here. For this you need some BaOI (Barcodes and Other Identifiers), which is a collective name for identifiers. The most important identifier is the Matrix/Runout which is the factory code inscribed near the hub. Other important codes are the Mastering SID code and Mould SID code. The abbreviation SID stands for Source Identification and were introduced in 1994 by "International Federation of the Phonographic Industry" (IFPI) and the compact disc manufacturing industry in an effort to combat piracy. Read more about the IFPI codes here (opens in a new window). Another identifier is Label Code (LC) which was introduced in 1977 by IFPI in order to unmistakably identify the different record labels for rights purposes. The code normally consists of 4 figures, but nowadays it has been extended to 5 figures. The two SID codes are barely readable with a normal eyesight. In fact, I had to buy a magnifying glass to be able to read them at all. Registration of albums in the gothic country genre is easy. There are not many identifiers, normally just a barcode or even nothing (if it's self-released).

CSNThe more popular an album is, the more variants of the album there are. And if your version of an album isn't already in the datababase: you have to add this variant to the database and write a submissions note. Identification, registration and completion. This is essentially what I've been doing in my spare time lately. It helps to have a monomanic disposition. You must be very thorough and careful. You don't want to get it wrong and incur displeasure. Sloppy errors will not pass undetected. The worst crime you can commit on Discogs is to add a release that is already in the database (however, there exists doublets on Discogs). The second worst crime is to forget to add a release to the master release (a display function that gathers two or more matching releases together - a folder). There are also other less offensive crimes. In the Discogs community there exists "cleaning squads" that detects and corrects errors. In most cases they just detect and alert. You have to correct the errors yourself. Some Discogs aesthetes embrace a clean BaOI. There may be nothing wrong as regards contents in a certain BaOI, but it looks better after a restructuring. This and other Discogs behavior have similarities with audiophilea and is close to the second and anal stage in Sigmund Freud's theory of psychosexual development. But when I come to think of it, we are doing the exact same thing, trying to bring some order in this unmanageable mess. And I respect them for that. In fact, I corrected a wrongly placed album and wrote a submission note and realized what I have become. The converts are always the worst fanatics.    



CSNI recently lost $50 in a retail scam. I will survive the economic loss. However, I feel a little embarrassed over this mishap. I have an excellent track record when it comes to buying cds on internet. Until now, that is. This is what happened. I was doing my daily trawling in search of rare and hard-to-find albums. This time I was looking for a rare trashgrass album. Usually not many search results come up, but this particular day I found a new acquaintance in the search results. A website with the trustworthy name "Interstock" allegedly had a copy of the album, find them here (opens in a new window). The price of the item was $15.95 and the shipping cost 19.95 (damn US international shipping rates). I was so exited and eager to get the album, I didn't even ask myself the basic question: how come this general website which sells virtually everything with discount have this very rare cd? It seemed like a legitimate business. You could pay with Paypal, bitcoins or a gift card. However, the Paypal method wasn't working at the time and I was left to choose between bitcoins or gift cards. I bought a gift card on Amazon and paid $50. There was a text field for Paypal refund ($14.10) which I filled in. I got an order confirmation and a tracking number. So far, so good. Standard procedure. The shipping courier, USP Service  also seemed trustworthy with their close resemblance to UPS and their DHL-inspired graphic colour profile, find them here (opens in a new window). However, USP doesn't exist (but I didn't not that then). There were more strange details. The item was shipped from Poland, which isn't exactly a centre for rare and hard-to-find cds. The shipping cost from Poland to Sweden is moreover defintely lower than $20. However, I really wanted to believe that the cd would arrive any day soon. Now a tracking inferno started with updates (see table below). The cd travelled back and forth in Poland and after nearly a month later it "arrived" in Sweden. By then, I had accepted the brutal fact that I had been fooled. My Amazon gift card had instantly been cashed in. Of course, there was no refund of $14.10 either. Some things you have to learn the hard way. If I only had googled the website I had found out that the website was located in US, but the real location was hidden, which means high risk and 0% safety according to this anti-scam website, read more here (opens in a new window). Furthermore, there was no way to check up the shipping courier before the order was placed. USP Service are listed on this website, read more here (opens in a new window). The unneccesary traffic inferno (the scam has already taken place) seems only to be intended to delay the realization of this fact.         


 Status Location   Date
Accepted at USP Origin Facility Szczecin, PL May 31, 2017, 04:21 pm
Processed at USP Origin Sort Facility  Szczecin, PL June 1, 2017, 04:58 pm
Electronic Shipping Info Received Szczecin, PL June 3, 2017, 06:59 pm 
Departed USP Sort Facility  Szczecin, PL June 4, 2017, 11:45 am 
Arrived at USP Sort Facility Wolomin, PL June 7, 2017, 03:55 pm
Processed at USP Sort Facility Wolomin, PL June 8, 2017, 10:28 pm
Departed USP Sort Facility Wolomin, PL June 9, 2017, 07:22 pm
Arrived at USP International Service Center Warsaw, PL June 11, 2017, 07:50 pm
Processed at USP International Service Center Warsaw, PL June 12, 2017, 06:33 pm
Departed USP International Service Center Warsaw, PL June 13, 2017, 04:30 pm
Processed Through Sort Facility Stockholm, SE June 21, 2017, 12:04 am
Arrival at Pick-Up Point Stockholm, SE June 23, 2017, 01:54 am 
Customs Clearance Stockholm, SE June 24, 2017, 04:29 pm 
Arrival at Post Office  Stockholm, SE June 25, 2017, 02:31 pm


Reluctantly I admire the brute force of the scam. But it has some flaws. I like to end this depressing blog entry with some constructive criticism that could help to improve the scam. First of all, the Polish Postal Service is slow, but not so slow. Second, anyone with the slightest insights in postal handling realizes that the cd is destined to go directly from Szczecin Sort Facility to the International Service Center. There's really no need to send it to Wolomin Sort Facility first. Third, if an item is subject to custom rules it goes first to Custom Clearance, not to a Pick-Up Point. Fourth, Sweden and Poland are members of EU since 1995 and 2004, respectively. All imports are free of duty. Read and learn more here (opens in a new window). And last but not least. There are no Post Offices in Sweden. They were discontinued already in 2001/2002 and were replaced by a plethora of postal agents (i.e. convenience stores, tobacco stores, food chains and others). Live and learn. I know I will.



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