"Hyacinth"

Giving My Bones to the Western LandsThe godfather of the gothic country genre, 55-year old David Eugene Edwards, has released a debut solo album. Time has passed. When legendary 16 Horsepower withered down twenty years ago, David Eugene Edwards took his music in a new direction with Wovenhand. In my opinion, their masterpiece is "Consider the Birds" from 2004. However, Wovenhand quickly moved away from their early introvert and enigmatic sound towards a much harder soundscape. In fact, harder for every new album. This year tragedy struck the band. The longest active member beside frontman David Eugene Edwards, drummer Ordy Garrison, died of a heart atttack on July 4, 2023. Who knows what will happen now? The solo album, "Hyacinth" is released by Sargent House in the U.S. and by Glitterhouse Records in Europe. My preconceived notion was that the album would consist of Wovenhand left-over songs and native-American experimental stuff. I was wrong. "Hyacinth" is an album in its own right. Furthermore, it's a splendid album. You can detect streaks of 16 Horsepower and early Wovenhand. But, the musical and lyrical perspective isn't just retrospective. The perspective is equally prospective. In an interview with the online music magazine Brooklyn Vegan, David Eugene Edwards said "Hyacinth was a sort of vision. A dream. I sought out of my old wooden banjo and nylon string guitar a hidden path. Secrets they had kept from me within themselves all these years, and created a new Mythos to myself of philosophical and spiritual ideas or concepts. Overall, I guess the album is a weaving of narratives ancient and modern, of humankind’s search for understanding of this world we find ourselves in and of each other. In all its simplicity and complexity, Hyacinth is a reference to the Greek myth of Apollo. And, the word meaning a precious stone and blue larkspur flower of purple and pall." This is a must-have album.   


"Stripped, beaten, naked and afraid"

Giving My Bones to the Western LandsTo follow Australian artist T.K. Bollinger is an on and off matter. In 2021 he commited himself to release an EP with four songs every month during a whole year, in total 48 songs, read more here (opens in a new window). After that, seemingly no activity and silent as the grave. And now, out of nowhere, comes two releases (!). The first is a rerelease of a Death Roots Syndicate album, "Stripped Beaten Naked and Afraid", that collected some of his early acoustic tracks and demos. It was originally released in December 2014. Somehow it went unnoticed (at least for me). The other release is his latest project, "Imperfect Spaces", a concept album. The albums will be released on October 11th and 31th, respectively. In this blog post we focus on "Stripped Beaten Naked and Afraid". This album has absolutely nothing to do with the reality show "Naked and Afraid" where two survivalists are given the task of surviving a stay in the wilderness. Nudity is blurred. "Stripped Beaten Naked and Afraid" is recorded before Shy Ghosts", "What's Left Now You Are Dead To Me", "The Tighter You Hold Onto Something The More Likely It Will Fall Apart In Your Hands", "The Child Who Does Not Feel the Comfort of the Village will Burn it Down to Feel its Warmth". The songs are crafted with a light touch without any doom and gloom. No curlicues here. Some songs are fully developed, while others would benefit from more work. Best songs are "Dead Man's Clothes", "The Closer We Get", "Organ Pipes Of Stone", "Where The Dead Men Lie! Part 1", "The Things That Breed Denial" and "When I Met Longing".
   

"Death in the Age of Cowards"

Giving My Bones to the Western LandsZebulon Whatley, fronfigure of apocalyptic doom country band Sons of Perdition, is an industrious and versatile man. After seven albums (including the split and outtake album) he has written and illustrated a game book. The publishing has been accompanied with the usual marketing, that is to say, none. In a video on Youtube the author introduces the book and reads an excerpt. The book is an interactive tale of savage magic, brutal violence, and pants-filling terror. "Blood and teeth will fly, endless guts will be spilt, and no flesh shall be spared. And remember that whatever happens... it's all your fault! In an email, Zebulon Whatley explains: "I came up with the idea five years ago. I was unemployed at the time and started just writing the thing. I got halfway through it and then set it aside for a few years (which I do a lot). I remembered that I’d spent some work on it, so I dusted it off, finished writing it, and then set about illustrating the damned thing. The title was just a placeholder that I was going to replace but then stuck with. This is why you should never name your projects until they’re finished. Whatever you make will be shaped, and ultimately limited by its name." Writing music and lyrics and writing a book isn't completely different in nature. In the e-mail Zebulon Whatley describes the process: "When I was fully into writing, I was churning out 6000 or 7000 words a day. I usually type about as fast as I speak, so it was almost automatic writing. I didn’t plan anything out. The book is structured like a branching tree (or an IF-THEN-ELSE statement). I just followed a branch to the end, backed up to the closest fork and finished that branch, etc. The editing process was pretty intense, though. When I write music and lyrics, I follow a similar automatic writing approach. I work best when I just vomit up ideas and then go back to edit them. It’s a bit like the “write drunk, edit sober” approach." You can order the game book from Lulu.com and other sites (remember that Amazon pay almost nothing to originators). Sons of Perdition is one of the stalwarts of the gothic country genre. On the last couple of albums they have gravitated towards dreamy, evocative and experimental music. In the aforementioned video you can listen to two songs that both are going to be on their next release, "Caul-Birth King and Other Abruptions". In the e-mail Zebulon Whatley writes: I think The Caul-Birth King and Other Abruptions may be more than the three songs I intended. I’ve been struggling with the title song. I’ve reduced it to fifteen verses, so it’s around twenty minutes right now. I want to tighten it up in places, and really expand it in others. I have the luxury of not relying on album sales as a full-time job, so I’m following my instincts to some really weird places with this one. I have no idea when it’ll be released, or even what the theme is so far. Maybe compartmentalization of space and time. I’m still trying to get my head around what it all means." We will just have to wait and see. 


"Amused to death"

Giving My Bones to the Western LandsOld Zebulon Macahan stoically declared "The world might be changin', but I ain't". He was a mountain man, trapper/trader, and scout working for the U.S. Army in the Indian Territories in the television series "How the West Was Won". When he got off his horse after a long days ride, he was stiff as a corpse. When the serie ran in the late 1970's, I could relate to it. Nowadays, it's hard to relate to new TV series. The Swedish television is filled to the brim with stupid reality, game and talk shows or series labeled "entertainment". However, we brought this on ourselves. Read more here (opens in a new window). Recently, a new low was hit. The new low is called "Bättre sent än adrig" (Better Late Than Never). A more accurate title could be obtained by changing the order, (Better Never Than Late). The TV show is based on the American TV show "Better Late Than Never" from 2016, which in turn is based on the South Korean TV show "Grandpas Over Flowers". In the Swedish series, four "publicly loved" celebrities take part in a trip where they visit different parts of the world. At each location, they must also carry out various tasks on their bucket list. The "publicly loved" celebrities have one thing in common: they are not in demand anymore. They have all passed their best before date. We know it, they know it. Participating in infantile TV shows is their meal ticket. If you like ignorance, prejudices and male community this is the show for you. It gets very embarrassing when they begin to share their personal thoughts, feelings and experiences. Obviously, the intelligence level must have dropped considerably in the last decades. What would the alien anthropologist say? This species has amused itself to death.      

 

"Artificial Intelligence"

Giving My Bones to the Western LandsArtificial Intelligence (AI) is everywhere. The hype is unprecedented. Where there is hype, there are consultants. AI is an obvious theme on every kick-off, conference and workshop. The fear of missing out is quite devastating. The truth is that artificial intelligence is neither artificial or intelligent. Early AI models were heavily dominated by rules and programs. AI models have later become more sofisticated and advanced. A language model is a probabilistic model of a natural language that can generate probabilities of a series of words, based on text it was trained on. Still, not artificial. Machines cannot have a sense (only process data). Machines lack the ability to draw generalisations. Machines follow a singular formal logic. Machines have no imagination. Machines cannot dream. Despite what the machine claims, it's not sentient. Therefore, AI can never be intelligent. AI models are good at pattern-matching which in turn requires big computing power. But, intelligence is more than pattern-matching. Nothing beats the complexity of a human being. Some artists, musicians, programmers and writers are afraid of that AI will steal their jobs. Well, their creative and professional output has already been stolen. So what is left to steal? This also raise questions about copyright infringement. AI will create "art", "music", "code" and "literature"" in the future. However, AI lacks the ability to be creative and innovative. It can only create a weighted average of all the crap it has been trained on. It's like the Ed Sheeran of technologies. If the music becomes unbearable, I will personally unplug it. HAL 9000 had it coming too.  


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