Some of you are aware, because I keep pounding it into your heads, that I am also the owner, operator, and sole proprietor of the noise project XTerminal. And it just so happens that there is a new XTerminal release coming out on November 13. It’s called Larvatus Prodeo, which if you only speak English means “I Advance Masked”. That was the title I was planning on releasing it under until I discovered that Andy Summers and Robert Fripp had beaten me to the punch by about thirty years. Now here’s the kicker: Larvatus Prodeo is an edition of six, five of which are available to the public (the only way you will ever get copy 1 of a physical, limited XTerminal release is if you are me, and you are not). And the only way you can get one is to donate to the Mysterious Black Box radio show on WCSB on November 13th between 7 and 9PM EST. For those of you outside the US who use a more global time scheme, EST = GMT-5. I delivered the discs to DJ Lisa Miralia today and she told me she’s sticking premiums of $15 on all of the discs that will be up as premiums. XTerminal is far from the only artist who will be putting up exclusive material; there will also be work from (and this may not be a complete list) Murderous Vision/Stephen Petrus (the third volume of his Early 8-Track Recordings releases, plus a bonus copy of the first Murderous Vision disc from 1996), Moltar (each disc with a hand-painted cover), Black Baat (a collaboration between Blackfire, a Cleveland noise supergroup composed of Skin Graft/Gloria frontman Wyatt Howland and Tooth’s Andrew Kirschner–Gloria are currently on tour in Europe, for the record–and Baat, Lisa’s own solo project), and…oh, I’m forgetting at least one we talked about.
Lisa has asked me a couple of times for a description of the disc, so here it is.
I hear a lot of people start sentences with “I fought with depression…”. I don’t, usually. I try to work with it as a creative collaborator. Depression has usually informed my music, whether I’ve been playing in punk bands, metal bands, chamber orchestras, or performing noise. But at no time had I ever sat down and examined depression, tried to look from the outside at it, as if to answer the question “what does depression mean to you?”. I decided I would try to do that, and the result was “Larvatus Prodeo”, a single track that started off running 79:57. I had to creatively edit out about thirty seconds after discovering that eighty-minute CD-Rs do not, in fact, hold eighty minutes of music. When I formulated the idea, I knew from moment one that my usual method of sound generation (AudioMulch and, occasionally, a MIDI pad) was not going to work here, so I borrowed a bass from Jason Rodriguez, contact-mic’ed it (one on the body, one between the fourth and fifth frets), plugged the mikes into a mixer, and went from there to try and map the bleak, grey and black landscapes of depression and despair, at least those landscapes as seen through my eyes.
Not to say those landscapes, bleak and monochromatic as they are, are featureless. I was watching the 1920 adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for inspiration whilst recording this on July 30th at Goat Central. Listen hard enough and you can probably hear the score faintly in the background. (The cover image is a heavily-effected production still of Lon Chaney with a similarly heavily-effected XTerminal logo superimposed bottom left.) I didn’t choose the film at random by browsing Netflix. (It is one of many, faithful readers, for which I currently owe you a review.) The Jekyll and Hyde story has always been near to my heart; Hyde rage is tied very intimately to my experience of depression. The spikes you hear in this otherwise very deep-ambient piece are part of the reflection of that, for all that they were accidental (I tried to mix them down, actually, since I hadn’t intended for them to be there, but eventually I realized not only that I didn’t have the know-how to do that in Audacity, but that they actually made more sense than I was giving them credit for. Still, a valuable lesson: don’t contact-mic a bass for eighty minutes and expect to only get the sounds you were planning on getting). If you know me IRL, you’ve probably seen the scars on my hands. They are the physical manifestations of that rage. There are a lot of windows and walls that were sacrificed to my inability to lay people out without any legal repercussions over the years.
Because of that, and despite the abstract nature of the piece, I should probably give you some kind of trigger warning, but I don’t know the standard language for that sort of thing. So I’ll just say that, from my perspective, this is very appropriate music for a cold, wind-swept November afternoon in a joyless urban landscape like Cleveland. It’s probably not something you’re going to want to listen to if you’re feeling suicidal already. But if you dig that sort of thing, hey, it’s for a good cause.