Archive for October, 2010

New toy!

We have a new toy: Trad o’ th’ Week, or maybe Month, or It’s Up To My Schedule. But! It’s a plan! And a toy.

Once a week or so, Solarbird the Lightbringer will do a single-day recording of a traditional song – usually Newfoundland folk – and members of the Crime and the Forces of Evil mailing list will be able to download it free. The first one – “Captain Kidd,” a song about the famous pirate – is already online. And you can get it by signing up to the CFoE mailing list at Fanbridge:

Yep! It’s a bribe! Yay, bribes! Basically these are like live recordings, but without the audience, and maybe with an accent instrument if there’s time. This version is zouk, vocals, and bodhran, which is genuinely as folky as I get. But it’s about criminals – pirates, in particular – so what’s not to love? Clickie and sign up OK!

busy busy busy

How can I be this busy but yet feel like I’m accomplishing so little?

Over on Facebook, The Lyons’ Den has an events page up for my November 20th solo show now. No poster image yet – I just sent them links to the files for that, though, having finally got ’round to making a poster this morning. If anybody wants copies (including print resolution), click here. The PDF is nicely high resolution and in proper full colour this time! o/

I also have a Facebook event for the show – I set mine up as soon as I got the gig. That one has the poster up already. XD

There’s a nice reaction to “Artefacts (You’ll Never See)” on the announcement post, with lj:westrider opining:

Mmm, I loves me a good Ghost Story Song. Only have a couple of them, so it’s particularly good to see another.

If you missed the song, here’re the players again:

Also, over on Dreamwidth, dw:unexpected_finn called “My Boyfriend,” “utterly brilliant… without [the] backstory the song actually stands alone as a dyke anthem in the class of anything from Lavender Jane.” And back on LJ, lj:mojave_wolf listed the still-incomplete Dick Tracy Must Die as a “New Good Thing,” advising people also to “look around on the site for the song descriptions, too–the coolest liner notes since the 60’s, at least!” Thank you all.

Tomorrow, Kohaku goes into the shop and fretwork is done. Friday, it’s back to work! TOO MUCH SLACKING lololololololololol XD


A bunch of people were talking about my handwriting over on Dreamwidth and Livejournal, which I found kind of amusing, so I started talking about developing handwritings and fonts during art school, and then the rest of the package that I included with the applications forms for Folklife. They needed all the forms filled out and a demo CD, but I figured getting a little attention wouldn’t hurt. I mean, I hadn’t planned on doing any sort of big graphics production, which is good ’cause this doesn’t rate that highly, but I do like what I threw together from things about the house:

Demo package in metallic black bubble envelope

What’s inside the package: audio CD with custom etching,
business card, personal thank-you note

Same, but from the back. (CD case backs are all the same.)
The wax blood drop on the envelope was an accident,
but I liked it so I kept it.

Closeup of the audio CD of songs

Envelope containing the thank you card.
(lol “Adjudicators.” But that’s my high-art brush handwriting, in metallic gel pen.)

wish me luck

Do you want to hear a scary story?

Do you want to hear a scary story?

It’s that time of year, isn’t it? A time for scary stories, a time for kicking up the past – or the past kicking back up at you. It’s a time for horrors, which, if they even have reasons, are beyond the ken of this world.

Do you have a taste for that sort of tale? It’s that time of year, after all. Come in, sit down, make yourself comfortable. Have an apple – do you prefer poison, or razor? Ah, well, have this dusting of unburied fable, then, in the form of a parable and duet with ghosts:

Yes, it’s another spoken-word intro followed by a song. In many ways, I don’t like that this is the follow-up to “My Boyfriend;” thematically, the two couldn’t be more different, and musically, they’ve not much in common either, aside from some of the instruments. It’s also difficult for me to sing; my best efforts are still lacking in my ears; it’s no doubt something to do with all that scar tissue in my neck and the ways I haven’t figured out how to work around all of it. But it’s the last track I can work on and release before Kohaku – my zouk – gets fretwork done this week, which he needs, and which I need before I can record the last two songs on this CD.

Those are very scary words, too, “the last two songs on this CD.” The last two songs on Dick Tracy Must Die, “Stay Away” and “Getting Away with It,” are queued up for production. Once they’re done, I’ll go back and do some adjustments on a couple of other songs, maybe… and it’ll be finished. That’ll be a relief, but it’s also kind of a shock, and given me a bit of deer-in-headlights. I’ve never worked this long on a single creative project before. I mean, I want it finished and out the door; I’ve got another CD and a half’s worth of songs already written, there are other projects I can do.

But that said, when I look at my Bandcamp site, and see an EP and a standalone single and a couple of other tracks, I don’t think that much of it. When I look at that same site and see that plus Dick Tracy Must Die with 12 tracks sitting there, and when I look at playcounts starting to spike up – you can’t see them, but my last two weeks were my best weeks ever, and I’m not even out gigging – and when I see people other than me talking about my music (thank you thank you thank you, I go nowhere without you), I can’t help but think…

…shit’s gettin’ real. And that’s awesome… but also terrifying, because it’s becoming possible to disappoint people, which I fear greatly, and no doubt too much. That way lies paralysis and madness, and those of you who have done this longer and better are probably laughing a little at all this drama over so little a thing. But for me, seeing this start to happen, on any scale, is huge. It’s becoming time, as they say, to step up – onto a new path – and I worry for my ability to do it. I want to; I just hope I can figure out how.

But then, like I said before – it’s that time of year, isn’t it. Happy Samhain, everyone.

one of those days, but in a good way

I’m having one of those days where I’m up at 0:19 and really should go to bed, and will, but I’m also knee deep in Artefacts (You’ll Never See) and at this rate it’s totally going out on Monday. Which’ll leave a big lag between that and the final! two! songs! on! the! album! except that the gap will be smaller because the luthier at Dusty Strings called and said he got an opening and can take Kohaku in for fret work a week earlier than expected!

This is awesome, because I can’t record much on Kohaku until this buzz problem is fixed.

I’ve also been hyper today because I got a couple of comments over on Livejournal that absolutely made my fucking week. lj:tahkhleet said,

I’m so glad someone else is writing in this vein. Musically and lyrically [My Boyfriend] is like a middle ground between Leslie Fish and King Missile. The improvised drumkit works… sometimes you have to do your Black Metal on mandolin and whatever less common instruments you have hanging around…

eeeeeeee! Blackmetal! And a couple of weeks ago I was thinking nobody would get the whole elfmetal thing all, ever. Squeetime! And then lj:goodconceited separately said,

[My Boyfriend] is brilliant and awesome. The super-shiny kind of brilliant that has to be shared with as many people as it can be…

…which made my brain explode. XD And then lj:cow linked and said to check this shit out. XD Thank you all for saying such awesome things, it’s probably way too good for my ego (lol) but eeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! so exciting!

Now I’m all hyper again. Ah, large animal tranquilliser, you’re my bestest friend. G’night!

Buckle up, cupcake, it gets bumpy from here

Crime and the Forces of Evil have an alter-ego. I don’t mean our secret identities, or formerly secret identities, I mean our alter-ego as the elfpunk band Mary Kaye and the Cosmetics. The Cosmetics play hardcore on exclusively Hello Kitty branded instruments and have yet to use more than four chords – anywhere. They write songs with titles like “Sick of America,” “Sad Muppet,” and this one, “My Boyfriend.”

There’s also a spoken-word intro on a separate track that explains how it’s actually a song about Bishōjo Senshi Sailor Moonsorta – but with very not worksafe lyrics. The intro is PG rated, tops, but seriously do not play the song at work. Or possibly anywhere. I’ve pasted the intro script below the players; like usual I deviated from it, but it’s close enough.

Yes, that’s a drumkit. No, it’s not a normal rock drumkit, it’s made of bodhrans and djembes and drumsticks and mallets and other random bits. Yes, that’s effectively an electric mandolin overdriven to hell and back, and a heavily filtered and overdriven electric octave mandolin, and, well, you get the idea. If I had something I could turn up to 11 on this song, I said fukkit and turned it up to 12. Enjoy:

So how many of you know what Sailor Moon is? Okay! So! Huge show if you were a girl in the 90s, told the story of the sailor senshi, superhero incarnations of the planets, defending the solar system against threats both extrasolar and extradimensional. A US company bought the rights to the first two series, dubbed ’em, aired them in North America, and it’s a huge hit. So they want more of that, buy the next two series sight unseen and immediately realise they have a problem, or more correctly, two problems.

FIRST: one of the villains is gay. It’s not subtext; it’s a plot point. But being drawn in the fine tradition of bishonen, he’s pretty. VERY pretty. So they look at him and think, “you know… with some edits… and recasting… and new dialogue… we could make him… a her.” And they do. I understand it still airs this way, in English, but I don’t care, I watch Japanese.

But then they have a SECOND problem. We meet three new sailor senshi: Sailors Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Uranus and Neptune, both women, are a couple. It’s not subtext. And it’s time to play everybody’s favourite game: LET’S HIDE THE LESBIANS! They look at Sailor Neptune… and go oh god oh god oh god, and so they look at Sailor Uranus and think, “Weeellll… she’s pretty butch… she’s a race car driver in real life… and she’s got short hair and wears pants all the time… maybe we could make her… a him.” I’m told that this actually made it out into the wild before – and I PRAY this is true – someone rang them up them going, “youuuuuu IDIOTS. Do you not know – because your audience certainly knows – that those uniforms they transform into to fight crime are GIRL’S SCHOOL UNIFORMS and YOU have just invented the WORLD’S FIRST TRANSVESTITE SUPERHERO?”

This is about THAT Sailor Uranus, sung by THAT Sailor Neptune, and it’s called, “My Boyfriend.”

no way to build a drumkit

This is no way to build a goddamn railroaddrumkit:

Click for Legibility

No new song today. There are still plenty of you who haven’t listened to all the rest I’ve posted, so hup to it. Maybe new song tomorrow, though. Probably Wednesday. Maybe Thursday but I hope not that late.

It’s very, very, very silly. You have been warned.

Bonus song

Kohaku needs to go to the shop for some fret repair, so I thought I couldn’t do anything with him this week, which means limited options for song recording. (I’ve been working on My Boyfriend, which… will require some explanation when it comes out. XD But it’s mandolin-driven.)

But I realised that the buzz problem was with frets all the way down at the head of the instrument, and that for the most part, I could get away with songs up the neck – like this CD’s instrumental, “Cascadia (How I have Missed You).” It’s a solo zouk piece; I kept adding different drums and taking them back out, and other instruments and taking them back out, so eventually I gave up and realised this is what it wants to be.

It’s a song about rain and forest and mountains and missing all of them. 403 over on Dreamwidth said it sounded like the Snohomish Pass through the mountains, in the rain. That’s pretty much the idea. It’s also never performed exactly the same way twice; like history, it doesn’t quite truly repeat, but it does rhyme. This untimed and fundamentally raw recording is just one record of the emotions of the moment, which is exactly what it’s intended to be. Enjoy:

<a href="">Cascadia (How I have Missed You) (Instrumental) by Crime and the Forces of Evil</a>

New song of the week: When You Leave

When You Leave, this week’s addition to Dick Tracy Must Die, is the second track originally recorded on Sketchy Characters to be released completed in finished form. I say “finished,” but really, honestly, it’s re-recorded almost from scratch. I kept only the tempo and the original bamboo slap recordings – they’re mixed differently now, and fucked with a bit, but the originals, so there’s still a connection between the two.

<a href="">When You Leave by Crime and the Forces of Evil</a>

This song’s about the difficulty of getting out of a bad situation; about the ability of that bad situation to reach further than you think; and it’s about the help and sympathy you don’t get when you make your break for it. It’s about the retribution you might inspire, the resentment of those who choose to stay behind, the nightmares that may follow you – and a warning not to get too comfortable too soon, because you might not be as far out of range as you hope you are. Think of it as an ode to PTSD and hypervigilance.

Musically, it’s not quite as spare or as brutal as Hide from Me; the bodhran like a heartbeat has some warmth to it in its panic, and the bamboo slaps aren’t as bloody. All that’s mostly because for all its warning and threat and stalkery badness, it’s fundamentally cautionary. It’s not “don’t run, or we’ll do this,” it’s “when you do run, be prepared. Be ready.”

Are you ready?

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