Friday, July 29, 2022

Black Metal Forever

In some of the more remote regions of northern Scandinavia researchers are investigating reports of shadows, cracks, ice-fissures, and photographic artifacts that appear to involve spontaneous formation of text, often self-symmetrical. “It is as if Darkness itself is writing a message from the under-surface of reality,” says Hejwulf Garriksson, director of the Garriksson Institute of Applied Paleolexicography.  “It is working!” adds Snurri Jurdlesdottir as she sprays gasoline on the faded clapboards of the Juttupfjord Episcopal Church, a one-room wooden structure dating to the late 19th century. “You tell National Geographic you never come back,” she adds, stuffing another wad of her home-mixed amalgam of reindeer antler-velvet and psychoactive lichen into my mouth. Her brother Magnus Jurdlesson takes a few moments to drag some rotting birch branches into the approximate shape of his side-project’s band name. “Loadhammer!” he bellows, shaking his fists at the pale fishbelly sky of the Arctic dawn — a sky leached of color and the false promises of modernity. “Black Metal forever!” screeches Snurri in a larynx-raking snarl, bathing my eager face in urine still potent with an esoteric pharmacopoeia of hallucinogens. I drink thirstily, taking art-director-pleasing selfies the whole while, firelight  from the now-blazing church reflecting from my sopping face.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Lost In Yonkers

Listen to Lost In Yonkers

Matthew Leonard has taken us to Queens; now he’s taking us to Yonkers. Along the way, his train has stopped in Brooklyn, and somehow in Maine, and even a made few pit stops in middle America. Wherever this multi-instrumentalist songwriter/producer means to steer us, we end up going indoors. Lost in Yonkers, like all of Leonard’s output since his days with The Dales, is bedroom pop, albeit produced with a surer hand than most home recording. His use of vintage analog equipment creates a rich sonic tapestry for his neo-psychedelic musings. 

Matthew Leonard’s music welcomes you in, sometimes with a broad, beaming smile and sometimes with a demented grin. He’s got a warm, friendly voice, like that of a less-affected Brian Ferry, whispering and groaning over an increasingly peculiar range of instruments: Lost in Yonkers relies heavily on harpejji and optigan. 

Yonkers clearly represents the demented side of life—appropriately so, for what is clearly a COVID quarantine album. Beginning with the optimistic opener, “Pick Yourself Up Off the Ground,” the songs on the album ditch the usual verse-chorus format for a mantric repetition and repositioning, creating sonic riddles. What does Leonard mean by “give away”? Charity or mortality? Or have the words stopped meaning anything and turned into pure sound? 

This is the music of a man cooped up for a long time and talking to himself as he climbs the walls. Even the sped-up (or does it just FEEL faster? Is it just the bizarre phrasing?) cover of Vampire Weekend’s “Harmony Hall” sounds jittery and close. This isn’t Ezra Koenig’s wedding reception: the intimate room is cluttered with discarded shoes and stuffed coatracks. All corridors lead to the kitchen, where the conversation is smart and the coffee is strong. 

The album follows its jittery course, a close interview with an intelligent man who’s been indoors too long. Leonard shares his good humor and grace and only glancingly alludes to the universally looming fear and discomfort. In the end, Yonkers lets us onto Leonard’s back porch to breathe as Prince meets George Harrison in the smoldering “Get Free” and a nicely stretched-out harpejji treatment of Spoon’s “Inside Out.” Matthew Leonard may be muttering to himself a lot, but he’s still talking to us, thank God. It turns out Yonkers is a nice place to visit. Now, how the hell do we get home?   

--Dan Kilian

Undeniably better Crackerjack: 5 Song Review

Six Song Selection: Radio Lives

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A Cube Reflects

Hi.  I wrote this from the point of view of a gelatinous cube that falls into the sky after gravity is reversed by a party of characters who are investigating a temple structure that erupted from the ground:

Cartesiomorph X23Y788Z439 dropped unexpectedly into the sky.  It took as a point of logical departure that this surprising turn of events was correlated to the presence of carbon-based organic life it felt through the rock that had until so recently surrounded it on five sides.  As it fell it had time to ponder:

X)  Prior to the fall, a sudden vertical translation of its basaltic environment had exposed its uppermost surface to new material, largely atmospheric, but occasionally including solid organic matter.  The material was quickly dissolved and off-gassed to allow for meticulous study of the remaining durable components of this new influx.  Trace elements were incorporated into its substance, EAT I EAT I EAT bringing singular joy.

Y)  Reverberations through the crystalline matrix of both its immediate environment and areas beyond indicated that similar translations had occurred throughout the Greater Lattice.  This would certainly be worth additional study, and – once findings were confirmed -- could merit a presentation to the 512 scholars of the Order I WILL BE BROUGHT TO FULL ADJACENCY, GLORY HEAPED UPON ALL SIX SIDES.

Z)  Organic life forms were repulsive in every way.  How much better to be composed of silicon and ether, a vitreous testament to the glory of living geometry.  The corrupt and offensive morphologies of these other beings – collections of the obtuse -- were an affront to the proper mechanisms of the universe.  DIE DIE DIE THEY ALL MUST DIE.  The proper fate of such things was to be deconstructed to their constituent atoms and sorted into raw materials for less entropic entities.

The axes of its thoughts were thrown askew as it entered the upper reaches of the atmosphere.  Of course, it realized, once it considered its surroundings:  I will now die.  FUCKERS THOSE GUTFUCKERS

And so it did, fluids boiling off into the rarefied air, its tissues losing coherence and spreading, chaotic, into a cloud of hexane and toluene, dissipating, disordered, dead.

--Steve Kilian

Thursday, December 27, 2018

One Page: A Dungeon

A cursed page pulls the party into the world of a thaumaturgic diagram. Will they become a footnote in the annals of scriptomancy?

This was a winner in the One Page Dungeon Contest.

--Steve Kilian

What I Want, or How To Seamlessly Lay Down Some Exposition

GLAAAAR!!!  Feel the bite of my +2 axe, Grimripper!  Know the finality of death as I cleave through your scaly torso and open your ribcage!  Pump the last of your sour fish-blood onto this beach, where you and your kind will be driven back into the sea!  Weep as your plot to melt the icecaps and flood the lands of Cragjaal, our beloved planet, is foiled!  Know that kidnapping the priestess Romava of the Skein-weavers as she passed through the underground passage of the funicular transport system that links the forbidden cloisters cut into the cliffs above Glavenhold to that fair city was ultimately useless, since she was rescued by me and my hardy band of adventurer-scoundrels, including Fenrikkler the rogue (who struggles with lycanthropy), Varloorius Greel, wizard of indeterminate ancestry, and Thudvurk Jerb, half-orc warrior and wielder of Baang, a +3 warhammer forged from black meteoric metal.  Don’t die just yet, Sahuagin scum!  I’m not finished.  Know also that our investigations into her disappearance revealed that the tunnel through which the funicular passed was part of an ancient network linking the surface to a mega-dungeon below the cloisters, and that the fine tilework and other finishes of the well-lit stations at either end of the tunnel soon gave way to dripping caverns infested with troglodytes and the human cultists who worship your fell fish-god.  All will be slain! 

Obviously I will be quitting my job and becoming a professional writer on the internet. 

--Steve Kilian 

Sunday, November 25, 2018

IST or Loving the Alien

In the hyper-elite subsector of international sex tourism which is our livelihood and passion, it appears that the more prosaic amusements are no longer considered cutting edge.  One can’t wave a run-of-the-mill invitation to an East Berlin orgy factory in front of a true connoisseur and expect to stay in business.  We have moved well beyond that.  Now we do a brisk trade in endangered species zoophilia.  Turtles are particularly prized, often with a clutch of eggs thrown into the mix.  Whole, cracked, just-hatched, no-yolks, yolks-only – whatever is pleasurable

But now we have something . . . special.  I am very pleased to offer to you, the Select, this remarkable opportunity.  Recent discoveries in Uzbekistan have led to a great deal of archaeological and military interest.  Fortunately, we have several associates in this region of the world, and have come into possession of two entirely intact specimens of unknown antiquity but incontrovertible quality. 

It appears that these creatures secured themselves in some sort of stasis pod – already determined to be easily breached by mechanical means – shortly before crashing down into the Uzbek forests at some point in the past.  As you can see from these x-ray photographs the creatures have various breathing or eating ports that would be delicious points of sexual entry.  The clefts where the ventral tentacles join the sub-thorax also present exquisite friction sites.  The dorsal protuberances need no elaboration as to their potential. 

Ladies and gentlemen, may I suggest an opening bid of forty-five million dollars?