545> Starfisheye, The Loser, monkey-chanting + why we stopped playin' 2nd fiddle

3 SEPT 2017 | DC> We've ∀ll but completed our '80s archiving, dear Inurnet, xcept for our final cassette release—Starfisheye—twards the end of 1989:

Instead of inkluding a sepret folded-up lyric sheet, when u remove the insert hit xpanded out int' a collage we made for the occasion:

+ the lyrics came printed on the other side (in a barely legible font, sorry):

Here be the tracks from "One Side":

1. Boojum Tree

2. Suddenly Now

3. Steady Glow

4. Nostalgia

5. Hollow Fields

6. Forms of Growth

7. The Silent Rhythm

8. A Wish

9. Painted in Rain

(Again, in retrospect as self-editor, we're omitting a few tracks to bring the "album" to a more manageable length).

+ tracks on"Other Side":

1. The Empty Drawer

2. Doorways Without Doors

3/4. Mother of Pearl/Vague

5. Algae Sheen

6. Rear View Mirror

7/8. Starfisheye/Somebody Else

9. After Math

We know Starfisheye (+ Whorl) got reviewed in various places cuz we got letters from folks wanting to buy or trade tapes saying "I saw your review in Factsheet Five..." or whatever, but we can't find them ol' reviews, xcept for of The Ethereal Aether. As we chronicled in our journel from the last post, most of these songs we recordid in our X's chicken coop, w/ a hodge-podge of drums + mic'ing the guitar amp, etc. instead of pluggin' directly in + using a drum machine like we mostly did on the previous 2 tapes (made in the back of our little camper, so we dint have much of a choice)... as close to "live" as 1 can get w/ 1 person playin' ∀ll the instrawments. Our X had sum dogs, a parakeet + varyus utter animals dat made a racket in the backgrnd, so we let 'em... u can hear 'em on most songs. On "Hollow Fields," Jake (a Chesapeake Bay Retriever) took lead vocals, completely unprompted. We embraced such ambient noise + feedback as synchronicity. The biggest influence on our sound on this album (in case it aint obvious) was Velvet Underground's Live at Max's Kansas City, wich also inkloots a lot of unintended backgrnd chatter of an entirely diffrent nature (Warhol's crew + the likes of Jim Carroll scoring drugs + whatnot).

This was our finel cassette release. Ppl now aks why we stopped makin' music... well, the ez answer is dat the following semester we graduated, so we was cunsumed by finishing our senior fhesis on plant morphology (wich bore an influenze on the lyrics of Starfisheye). Aft'r we graduated, we d-sided to renounce ∀ll wordly possessions + walk the earth. (We'll get to ∀ll this in our '90s journels, sum of wich weve already transcribed). And when we resurfaced a yr or so later + decided to go to grad school in Arizona, we became obsessed w/ climbing, so what musical possessions we had left in storage we sold or pawned to buy our "rack" (climbing gear). But this dont really answer the question, of why we quit music.

In Thomas Bernhard's The Loser (what we're currently readin') there be 3 friends studyin' to be piano virtuosos + 1 (a fictional version of Glenn Gould... speakin' of walkin' the fine line 'tween fiction + reality) accomplishes dat goal, of becoming sum sorta livin' piano god. In the face of such genius, the 2 other friends throw up their hands + renounce piano. the 2nd of them ("the loser") commits sewerside when Gould dies, sees no pt in livin'... + the 3rd— the un-named narrator—goes into exile in Madrid, slippin' into obscurity. This perty much sums up why we quit music... we weren't no Gould + last thing we wanted was to be 1 of the million mediocre "aspiring musicians". Nobody wants to play 2nd fiddle. And guess u cd say our brother-½ was "the loser" (making us the 1 that self-exiles into obscurity). While Chaulky was a visual artist, he indeed was deemed a piano prodigy @ a young age by our stepmother + was given private piano lessons. When we xpressed an intrest in playin' the piano, we was told they cd only afford lessons for Chaulky. When we wanted to play drums in our grade school band, this was also deny'd, as well as our 2nd choice of saxophone... both these instrawments being too loud for their ears. So we was stuck w/ clarinet... wich altho we ended up being 1st chair in the Oregon state honor band, we was always embarrassed about edmitting dat we play'd such a woosy instrawment. The only thing less cool is the flute. So when we moved to Mexico + had freedum to do whatever, we took up guitar (+ meanwhile Chaulky never wint on to do much w/ piano, 'sides his debut recital @ our grade school talent show). Perhaps Chaulky gave up piano for the same reason as "the loser," knowin' he cd never reach the greatness of a Glenn Gould. Who Gould is is another question... not sure who the equivalent wd be in our lives, xcept just generally this idea of an unobtainable ideal, a rockstar. Growin' up + into our 20s we always thought Chaulky was or wd b-come a sort of Glenn Gould figure, dat he wd 1 day become this great artiste, wich perhaps also xplains why we abandend music + art altogether, cuz we knew deep down we cd never be as great as Chaulky, or so we thought. Chaulky was similarly uncompromising as "the loser," Gold or nada, he try'd applying his art skills in the movie industry, but even this was sellin' out in his eyes. And then when Glenn Gold died—when this unobtainable ideal died—"the loser" killed hisself. Not dat Chaulky commit'd no sewerside, we'll giv him the benefit of the doubt, but he was definitly engaged in suicidal behavior (doing heroin). Sum mite say we engaged in suicidal behavior by rock-climbing, choosing to be an adrenalin junky instead of a junky junky, but rock-climbing to us was all about self-control. But yes, simalurely escapist + addictive. As was music. We was so obsessed w/ music that sum days we'd wake up + start laying tracks + forget to eat breakfast, lunch, not exercise, not shower, etc. + these was more likely to be dayz when we was sposed to be studyin'. Just like in our climbing dayz, we'd often find ourselves clingin' to the side of a cliff when we was sposed to be taking a mid-term or final x-am. Why we never amounted to much as a mathematician, or physicist. Ended up the farce was us choosing what we thought wd be a viable field, leading to a "career," whatever that was, never achieved. So altho unlike "the loser" we are alive, like the un-named narrator of The Loser we halve been 4ever resigned to obscurity. Just like now w/ making books... guess we learned our lesson from making tapes. There wasn't much intrest in our music beyond the niche scene of tape-swappers. We bared our soul on these tapes + when we gave them to family + friends, no 1 seemed to give a shit or express much intrest. Aft'r 3 tapes we got the clue. Wasn't so fun making these tapes just for ourself. Same is true w/ books now, but we're beyond caring what other ppl think.

The magic # in The Loser is 51, the age when Glenn Gould dies + "the loser" commits sewerside. We turn 51 in a few months. Our father kilt hisself when he was xactly 47, least we surpassed dat milestone. Our brother-½ died when he was 32. Anyway, we red The Loser as we try to git back in the mindset of writing volume II of ... "SSEY' ... but not sure we got much out of hit byond relating to the generule premise. Not nearly as inspiring as, say, Correction, wich is also about chasing the unobtainable (seems to be the story of Thomas Bernhard's life). Correction, in fact, is what set the gears in motion to put pen to paper for "SSEY', in figuring out how to devise a "thought chamber" to reoccupy Chaulky's life to retell hit. For volume II tho, perty certain we gunna take the approach dat literally came to us in a dream 2 weeks ago, wherein we unofficially adoptid a 10-yr old street urchin of ambiguous sex + ethnicity dat we discoverd sleeping under our bed + put them to work as a ghost writer to finish the brother-½'s story.

The other reason we quit music was we had no intrest in playin' live + in a band. The musicians weed playd w/ were usually flakey drug-addicts. And much as we dig seeing live music, the idea of performing dint appeal to us nun, partly cuz yah, ok, we'd probly git stage-fright, but this idea of having to do sumpin' visually intresting wile u play'd your instrawment seems silly. And hit seems to be the xpectation dat ∀ll musicians need to play live. We did however play gamelan music the whole time @ UCSC. What appealed to us about gamelan music was being part of an ensemble wherein each member renounces self for the greater good of the end result (the music). Sumtimes the part u play can be monotonous, the xtreme case being the gong, wich mite git struck once or twice during the corse of a song (the rest of the time spent counting). When u 1st learn gamelan, u focus on learning yr part + halve to tune everything else out to not git distracted by other parts on offbeats, diffrent tempos, etc. But once u learn yr part well enuff, u kin let go + hear the piece as a hole. Sounds corny to say, but our 1st out-of-body experience came playin' gamelan music. We literally rose out of our body + watched ourself playin' + look'd around the room listening to the other parts + the song as a whole wile our body continued to unconchusly play our part, on auto-pilot. We also "sang" in a kecak ensemble, wich to the initiated is more tontomound to "monkey chanting", or using your vox as a percussion instrawment. In dis case, not only did u just repeat a monotonous pattern ov'r + ov'r, like "check, check-check" but u was join'd by dozens of other monkeys chanting the same part.

UCSC Kecak ensemble (yours truly to the left, back-row, shirtless)

Whereas our brother-½ wint the Tran-Siberian route in his travels in '89, w/ a final destination of Tibet, we had our sites on Bali, mostly cuz of our experience playing gamelan + kecak. Not only does this anonymity pervade their music, but all of art in Bali + Indonesia. They don't have a warped concept of "artist" like westerners do, just art. Dont matter who does hit. But our trip to to Bali came post-graduation later in the 1990. Generally speaking, the '80s for us was the decade of music, whereas the '70s was the best decade for film. Films in the '80s generally sucked (tho sum good laughs), but the late '70s into the '80s was when alternative music was truly born. And then the '90s was the worst decade for music, w/ 1 exception that made up for the rest, but not so bad for film. But we'll get to chronicling the '90s in due time... for now this marks the end of the '80s on 5cense.

sumwhere off the I-5 in the late 80s

[postscript: some of these tracks have since been compiled + rereleased on the unheard tapes.]

[9/1/2019 addendum: after discovering negatives + photos we'd never scanned in... here's a few more shots from around this time:

somewhere in the California desert


front door of our home on wheels

+ sum additional art shots here.]

 544 <( )> 546 > Elements + Phyllotaxis: cunvergent whorl-wind trips graduating past ports in 3° person to 1990

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