keep-calm-it-will-go-viral SOPToday is a time of real enjoyment for the website. Why? The Sons of Perdition artist page reached 5 000 visitors. Not much by viral standards in most sectors. But in the small gothic country community 5 000 visitors is equivalent to the impact of “Gangnam Style” (Korean rapper Psy’s video hit). The time factor for something viral in the gothic country community is, of course, different. The zero to 5000 leap required exactly 909 days. Sons of Perdition artist page is, by far, the most visited artist page on the site. Many people are drawn to the works of Zebulon Whatley and Sons of Perdition. This website plays a marginal role in exploring and promoting the band, but maybe a few scattered visitors have found their way to them after reading articles, lists and blog entries. Enough of false modesty. What is my claim to fame? Of course, the aforementioned (viral) artist page. This page is mostly visited through organic searches. Read more here (opens in a new window). However, the big picture is made up of details. Below is an enumeration of the tiny bits which have driven web traffic to the artist page. First, Sons of Perdition appears on many lists. You can browse through the lists here (opens in a new window). Second, Sons of Perdition is shrouded in fog. However, there are puzzle pieces here and there. The pseudonym Zebulon Whatley is open to interpretation. Read more here (opens in a new window). Third, the music of Sons of Perdition is dark and powerful. Some of the songs are quite morbid and disturbing, like Psalm of Slumber where the last words from Reverend Jim Jones (infamous for the Jonestown mass-suicide in 1978) can be heard. Read more here (opens in a new window). Fourth, there are two reviews. I’m not a professional reviewer. In fact, I’m not even a mediocre amateur reviewer. This hasn’t stopped me from writing reviews. I have written a review of “The Dissolution Orphans” (despite the fact that it isn’t an album in its own right). Read more here (opens in a new window). I have also written a review of “Fossils”, a collaborative split album by Sons of Perdition and Jaran Hereid (from Norwegian band Yuma Sun). Read more here (opens in a new window). A new album "Gathered Blood" is scheduled to be released 16 September 2016. Fifth, the magnus opus and an important part in the understanding of the artist: the in-depth article about the Trinity album. Read more here (opens in a new window). In this article I unabashedly explore and exploit the darkest corners of Trinity using Zebulon Whatley's archives. A main theme in Trinity is cyclicality. This website started with Sons of Perdition. Zebulon Whatley was the first to notice this website. For this watchfulness the Embassy issued a letter of credence. Read more here (opens in a new window). It's the only letter that has been issued. A letter of credence isn't given to just anyone. On the contrary, it's reserved for the primus inter pares.

 

 

blog hbdywi alt2What are you willing to do to expand your cd collection? Are you ready to go through hell and high waters searching for a missing album, are you ready to engage yourself in activities which could be considered as stalking and, last but not least, are you ready to pay top dollar when it ultimately comes your way? I tick in the first two boxes. To become a successful collector you need a combination of basic social skills and a typical monomaniac disposition. I will come back to the psychology of collecting (the motivating factors for persons who have devoted great amounts of time, money, and energy making and maintaining collections) in a forthcoming blog entry. You need time, space and money to collect cds. A legitimate question arises: do you collect music or objects? For me, the music always comes first. But a cd is an integrated part of the music. Second, the condition of the cd should be as good as possible (at least VG+), but most important of all is the completeness. I'm very reluctant to pay top dollar for a cd (especially when you consider the absurd asymmetric shipping cost of $15 from US to Sweden – read more here - opens in a new window). However, I recently paid $75 for “Songs from a Ghost Town” by Trampled by Turtles. The album isn't their best album and TBT isn't really my favorite band. Actually, not even gothic country music, but perhaps bluegrass. But now I have all their full-length albums. It wasn’t an easy decision to pay $75. This is, by far, the most expensive cd I ever bought. In my defence, their long out-of-print debut album has eluded me for several years. The album is for sale, but ridiculously expensive. I have found it for sale twice at Amazon for $18.99, but “domestic shipping” excluded me from buying it. It took just a couple of minutes before they were sold to some lucky domestic bastard. For a long time I seemed to accept that my TBT collection was going to be incomplete. Or did I? Maybe I just suppressed it. The price level made it easy to suppress. The prices for this particular cd album are, by any standards, quite sick. The lowest price at Discogs is currently $200, at Amazon $196.18 and at Amazon UK £308.37. Who, in their right mind, presses the "buy button" with these prices? The thing that made me pay $75 was the fact that I realized how many albums I have bought dirt-cheap. Many of them are rarities and hard-to-find. In fact, I bought the second album “Blue Sky and the Devil” by Trampled by Turtles for $10.99. It was last sold at Discogs in December 2015 for $100. Eureka, a new rule of conduct for collecting cds: bargains subsidizes over priced items. With this weird logic there's no limit for the expansion of your cd collection. But what did I do when the rare cd finally arrived. Did I gently take it out and hold it in my delicate hands and cherished it? No, I simly put the cd in my record shelves and continued my search for completeness. Maybe cd is just an object after all.

 

  

Spotify artlitenSpotify is that rare combination of up to something and good for nothing. Read my merciless diatribe of this despicaple streaming service here (opens in a new window). I almost exhausted myself and was pretty convinced there was nothing more to say. But no, reluctantly I have to return to this loathsome subject again. The thing that triggered me this time was an "article" in the morning paper (see excerpt to the left). Swedish journalists fall to their knees and their journalistic instincts dissipate into thin air when they come near swedish Spotify. In my opinion, the "article" is similar to paid content. I have to restrain myself not to ridicule Spotify and its employees. The overly "creative" workplace (do you really have any use for a Bobby Car in an office space), the arty-farty paintings on the walls, the dressed-like-Teletubbies employees. In the above-mentioned article a emloyee make a comparison between making Spotify playlists and creating mix tapes in the old days. This clearly shows what he knows. The Teletubbie guy doesn't know anything about the difficult process of making a mix tape (Nick Hornby's book "High Fidelity" contains a good description of its hardships). However, my main criticism is the statement in the article that the Spotify-robots know more about your music taste than you do. Spotify uses 50 000 secret users, robot reading of 30 000 sites and 2 000 000 000 playlists to make music recommendations for you. Don't blame me. I didn't ask for them. Spotify claim that their algorithms can handle anomalies in your listening for example binge listening to One Direction if your kid uses your account. Spotify also claim that machines understand music, which is a contradiction in terms since music is human by its definition (some exceptions exists). The secret users, also called "artificial hipsters", don't know they're being used in the process of making recommendations. The reason behind this is that Spotify suspect that the hipsters might change their already hypersensitive behaviour and will try to be even more hip if they know they are being used in the process. At the moment the artificial hipsters are blissfully unaware of themselves. The process of producing music recommendations is supported by advanced data analysis. The songs are cut up in thousands of little pieces and then tortured by computers back and forth. The result is astonishing. With an accuracy of 90 percent the data analysis can distinguish pop from techno. However, I can safely say that my accuracy rate is 100 percent. Back to the drawing board, Tinky, Winky and Dipsy. Man is too complex to fit in a algorithm. To be honest, it's not how recommendations are created that upsets me, it's recommendations as such. Music recommendations are not always a positive thing. In my opinion, a music recommendation that you haven't asked for is unwelcome in the same way as unwelcome sexual advances. The rule of conduct in a record shop is that the customer asks the staff for music recommendations. I got an unwelcome music recommendation once in a renowned record store in Stockholm. I felt cheap and violated.

 

 

374Without any illusions or high expectations I went through the monthly trawl of new music (in the sense new to me). For the most part there’s nothing in the trawl worth listening to. In my darkest moments I think that the best years have come and gone (which is probably very true). But then it happened. I discovered Devout Sinners from Normal, Illinois and suddenly there’s hope for humanity again. If I had discovered them earlier they would almost certain have been included on my list of "10 essential "bluegrass" albums", read more here (opens in a new window). Devout Sinners was formed in 2011 and looks like a bunch of heavily tattooed bikers disguised as bluegrass musicians, but they're probably very nice. I also managed to get a hard copy of their debut album “Rise & Roar” released in 2012. However, the running time is only 28:35 minutes. The fast pace makes it feel even shorter. Devout Sinners play "Bluegrass" in the same vein as .357 String Band, Highlonesome, Carrie Nation & the Speakeasy and similar bands. However, these "bluegrass" bands don’t deal with “condescendant corporate whore” (Rise & Roar), sexual assault (Preacher Man) or sample stereotypical female intercourse moaning to underline the message that no one will love Luci like the protagonist do (Sweet Luci). Furthermore, they sample James. G. Gerard's speech in 1917 "I know it is hard for Americans" and John F. Kennedy's speech in 1962 during the Cuba Crisis (Patriots). Obviously, someone has to be the frontwalker. Their lyrics deals with social awareness and social criticism with a distinct bite. Devout Sinners consists of Andy Blick (lead vocals, bass), Zack Blick (vocals, banjo), Ron Huffman (vocals, guitar) and Karl Borling (mandolin cello and kazoo). Trivia: the bass is built from an old gas tank almost given away for free when the scrap yard owner found out that the tank was going to be a experimental music instrument. I read on their Facebook page that they put the band on hiatus or something close to that, which is bad news. The statistical return rate from hiatus is not encouraging in the genre. But as always, let's hope for the best and plan for the worst. Whatever happens, they gave us Rise & Roar.

sadmusicplayingNothing beats scientific evidence. In a study “The Paradox of Music-Evoked Sadness: An Online Survey” Liila Taruffi and Stefan Koelsch, who study music and the brain at the Free University of Berlin presents new and interesting research findings. You can read the full article here (opens in a new window). One important conclusion from the study is that there are differences between the emotional experiences resulting from listening to sad versus happy music. Big surprise. You don’t need to be a scientist to realize this. It’s obvious. But now let us walk through the not-so-obvious findings. The starting point for the study is the assumption that sadness is undesirable and is therefore usually avoided in everyday life. Yet, the question remains: Why do people seek and appreciate sadness in music? I count myself to the appreciators. Well, I’m maybe not an appreciator of dedicated sad music, but definitely dark music. I’m proud to say that I almost never listen happy music. In my world, happy music is reserved for stupid people. The study investigates the rewarding aspects of the music, as well as the relative contribution of listener characteristics and situational factors. The study also examines the different principles through which sadness is evoked by music, and their interaction with personality traits. Results show four different types of rewards: reward of imagination, emotion regulation, empathy, and no “real-life” implications. The appreciation of sad music is greater among individuals with high empathy and low emotional stability. Nostalgia is the most frequent emotion evoked by sad music and memory was rated as the most important principle through which sadness is evoked. The trait empathy contributes to the evocation of sadness through contagion, appraisal, and by engaging social functions. The findings indicate that emotional responses to sad music are very complex, are modulated by empathy, and are linked with a multidimensional experience of pleasure. This study reveals that listening to sad music can lead to beneficial emotional effects such as regulation of negative emotion and mood as well as consolation. These effects constitute the prime motivations for engaging with sad music in everyday life. At last, now I know why sad music makes me happy.  

 

 

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