Stone Soul

May 12, 2014

May 12, 2014, made it four days since Jakob’s hat had been reviewed by a music blog and been found wanting. The bitter sting of rejection had since waned, but the memory of the assault on his ego was fresh enough in his mind for him to find himself returned once again to the fantasy of bludgeoning the writer with a Shure 58 microphone. In the sordid scenario, he swung the mic on a chord in the manner of Roger Daltrey—a rock’n’roll David to the writer’s Goliath—and with a scream similar to Roger’s own at the beginning of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fool Again” he’d crush the cranky curmudgeon’s cranium with one swift swing. Mic drop. I’m out.

But as all of the other reviews from the Canadian Music Week performance of his band, Moonwood, were (mostly) positive, he’d decided to chalk the attack on his head-wear up to experience. An experience, he’d since decided, was not unlike the constant pen-lashings which an idol of his had famously suffered for years at the hands of the NME.

“At least now  I know how Morrissey feels,” he joked, a few nights later, to his friend James who merely looked at him askance and changed the subject.

Speaking of Morrissey, Jakob felt the singer’s autobiography (which in a brazen display of laziness had been titled Autobiography) would have been a far better book had the author restricted the scope of his memoirs to only stories about cats and birds—all of which were fantastic and touching. But unfortunately the heavy tome was weighted far too in favour of his infamous court cases, vague allusions to romantic trysts (which may or may not have taken place for all the author revealed) and complaints about the petty barbs of music writers. In fact, any mention of the the petty barbs should have been omitted as the constant whinging couldn’t help but insinuate into the mind of the reader the notion that the NME may have had a point all along. Still, anyone looking to purchase a book by the man would have been sorely disappointed if they’d cracked the spine and didn’t hear a single moan escape from the defiantly crisp pages—Ever the performer, Mr. M knew to give the people what they want.

Jakob glanced at the first paragraph of this entry and thought, I should probably delete all that whinging about my hat, but then decided, No, if the writer who’d inaccurately slagged his hat—he’d called it a green straw fedora when it is neither green (grey), straw (rayon/wool blend) or a fedora (a trilby)—aspired to sink to the level of NME or Noisey writers, then some Moz-like whinging was indeed the order of the day. Give the people what they want.

As if with the self-righting swing of a pendulum, the universe of Jakob’s ego sought to balance itself a few nights later. On Saturday the 10th (the first annual National Drone Day) his same band, Moonwood, had somehow been asked to headline the Toronto Drone Day event. Or at least they were engaged to put it to bed. This time wearing animal masks instead of hats—and was it because of this?—they received the highest praise possible from one member of the audience who said to her friend:

“During that last one I got super introspective and didn’t even know where I was.”

If the bitter, bored and unimaginative writer who claimed Jakob and his cohorts had tried “to abruptly shove the audience into a trance state they hadn’t earned yet” at the CMW show was in anyway correct, then Moonwood had achieved this goal in front of a an audience willing to meet them halfway and who didn’t have rocks in their ears or stones in their souls.


April 10, 2014

On the morning of Thursday, April 10th, Jakob detected only a mild foreboding upon the dark, oily surface of his espresso. The only sounds in the office were a hesitant typing several cubicles away and the pervasive hiss and thrum of ventilation fans. The day had gotten off to a quiet start for which he was thankful—the day promised to end in cacophony.

That evening his band, Moonwood, had been engaged by Reel Cod Records to perform at a club downtown called the Comfort Zone. The last time they’d played at the club, they arrived to find the dank, underground room littered with drug vials from, one would suppose, the night before. Jakob speculated the small glass containers could have been there for months, there was no evidence that broom or mop had seen the floor for some time. Nor was it the sort of environment which would benefit from a good heave-ho with the spit and polish; elbow grease would only leave another layer of oily residue on the chipped, black walls. They joked, with well-intentioned good nature, it would be better christened with the name Discomfort Zone.

Jakob found himself in good spirits. A pleasant surprise since he’d expected to wake with the familiar sense of dread which always accompanied the prospect of playing live. It was not, as you might expect, a case of stage fright. His nerves were in anticipation of the awkward social interactions that plague him at these events. If his misunderstood jokes and lapses in repartee were hungry, late-summer wasps, he was somehow the plate of watermelon that beckoned them to gather around in a swarm of buzzing discomfort.

No, being on stage would be a sweet reprieve from trying—and failing—to endear himself to the promoters, DJs and other musicians he’d encounter that evening. Oh, the awkward silences he’d have to endure. Oh, the shameful, glazed look on the face of someone caught in the headlights of making the determination between whether Jakob had just deeply offended them with his well-intended cynicism, or if they should risk laughing along with the wry observation and stand up to be judged alongside. Jakob felt they should be pitied to be put in such a position, yet he knew he’d be powerless to do anything other than throw them under the conversational bus.

There’d be so many opportunities to cause people discomfort during the interminably long wait between sound-check and hitting the stage in front of the sure-to-be small crowd of keeners who’d deign to witness the shame of the opening band. Always a bridesmaid, Moonwood rarely played for more than seventeen people—only those brave enough cast social convention aside and dare to arrive on time for a show. Moonwood is a band for the unhip hipsters and the unseen scenesters who will be pushed to the back of the crowd later as the better-looking denizens of the night file in to see the more popular bands.

Mired in these thoughts for too long, Jakob was relieved to discover that the forboding ping from his email inbox for once had brought him good news. He’d been slated to lead part of a planning seminar the following morning but the loathsome exercise had been bumped into the following week. A crisis avoided. Perhaps other crises would be avoided later on. Experience told him that this would be the case; it would be a fun evening. Not every bed comes with a monster hiding underneath.

Take, as an example, the absentee monster he’d expected to find hidden beneath a phone call he’d made the previous day. The recipient of the call had been his mother and the subject was his very recent engagement to his girlfriend of five years, and singer in his band, Jacqueline Noire. In his mind there’d be conflict over the inability of his grandmother, Isobel, declining in health many provinces to the west, to travel to the nuptials. Surely, his mother would push for the wedding to take place in British Columbia, not Ontario. But this conflict, it had turned out, had been a product of Jakob’s imagination. Only joy and congratulations flowed through the line. Even more joyous, no words had implied a hope that this development would finally open the way for grandchildren—a hope, Jakob assumed, had long since withered in his mother’s breast to a nugget slightly smaller than a walnut heart.

On a less joyous note, the reason for his mother’s lack of expectation that plans be changed so that her own mother be able to attend the wedding was made clear. As his grandmother’s cracked and crackled voice came on the line, it was obvious she was unsure to whom she was speaking to and what “good news” she was meant to be excited about. With a frustrated and embarrassed tone of voice, she signed off and gave the phone back to Jakob’s mother. She would not have been able to attend not matter where the ceremony was to take place. Time is in short supply for Isobel. The bad days have begun to outnumber the good.

Time is as fleeting as clichés about Time are constant. Monday marked five years and six months to the day from when Jakob and Jacqueline had met. She drove him out to the location of their first meeting—the pick-up zone at Kipling subway station—and inside the car, with tears of sentimental joy upon her cheeks that beckoned his own to make an unabashed appearance—she proposed in front a line of confused commuters who awaited for their own loves (true, or otherwise) to pull up and drive them home.


Bringing BABEL back

February 25, 2010

I’m bringing my BABEL moniker back. It started out as an experimental, post-ambient/neo-classical project then evolved closer to some kind of industrial-dub before fully becoming the psyche/folk I now record as Moonwood.

My newest album, Zahlreiche (out in March, still deciding on packaging),  is the closest to what I’d always intended BABEL to be, so it seemed fitting to bring the name back.

This is the third movement from a piece for prepared guitars called Schnurvorbereitung. It’s the most like Moonwood out of all the pieces on the album. The rest are a little more Cage/Glass/Reich by way of Neubauten/Branca/Chatham.

Aubade, oh good

October 15, 2009

There’s a few nice reviews (I haven’t been able to Google any not nice ones) of Moonwood’s CD/DVD Aubade posted around the internet these days. The first was from the Fatal Interview blog. The second was from the Geogia Straight‘s website. Now I should probably start sending these things out to various media before the new year creeps around the corner. Things move slowly at Ampersand Publishing and Productions.

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