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Grumble / Blog

on business from Porlock . . .

In Xanadu did Grumble Band A stately pleasure-dome decree: Where Alph, the sacred river, ran Through caverns measureless to man Down to a sunless sea. So twice five miles of fertile ground With walls and towers were girdled round; And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills, Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree; And here were forests ancient as the hills, Enfolding sunny spots of greenery. But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover! A savage place! as holy and enchanted As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted By woman wailing for her demon-lover! And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething, As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing, A mighty fountain momently was forced: Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail, Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail: And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever It flung up momently the sacred river. Five miles meandering with a mazy motion Through wood and dale the sacred river ran, Then reached the caverns measureless to man, And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean; And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far Ancestral voices prophesying war! The shadow of the dome of pleasure Floated midway on the waves; Where was heard the mingled measure From the fountain and the caves. It was a miracle of rare device, A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice! A damsel with a dulcimer In a vision once I saw: It was an Abyssinian maid And on her dulcimer she played, Singing of Mount Abora. Could I revive within me Her symphony and song, To such a deep delight ’twould win me, That with rock music loud and long, I would build that dome in air, That sunny dome! those caves of ice! And all who heard should see them there, And all should cry, Beware! Beware! His flashing eyes, his floating hair! Weave a circle round him thrice, And close your eyes with holy dread For he on honey-dew hath fed, And drunk the milk of Paradise.

There is only Rock

Here is no water but only Rock Rock and no water and the sandy road The road winding above among the mountains Which are mountains of Rock without water If there were water we should stop and drink Amongst the Rock one cannot stop or think Sweat is dry and feet are in the sand If there were only water amongst the Rock Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit Here one can neither stand nor lie nor sit There is not even silence in the mountains But dry sterile thunder without rain There is not even solitude in the mountains But red sullen faces sneer and snarl And pretend they are from other places From doors of mudcracked houses


One of these mornings,

You are going to rise up singing.

You will spread your wings,

and you'll take to the sky.

Until that morning,

There is nothing that can harm you.

with this knowledge and protection standing by.

Land is the Foundation of the State

Toward the end of the Ch’in Dynasty, Mo Tun of the Hsiung Nu first established his power. The neighboring province, the Eastern Hu, were strong and sent ambassadors to parley. They said: “We wish to obtain Mo Tun’s Thousand-Li horse.” Mo Tun consulted with his advisors, who all exclaimed: “The Thousand-Li horse! It is the finest animal in the province! The most precious thing! Do not give them that!” Mo Tun replied: “Why begrudge a horse to a neighbor?” So he sent the horse.

Shortly after, the Eastern Hu sent envoys who said: “We wish to have the Khan’s crown jewels as a tribute.” Mo Tun asked advice of his ministers who all angrily said: “The Eastern Hu are unrighteous! Now the even ask for our finest jewels! We implore you to attack them!” Mo Tun said: “How can one begrudge his neighbor an ornament?” So he gave the crown jewels.

A short time later, the Eastern Hu returned and said: “You have two thousand Li of unused land north of Han which we want. Give it to us for our kingdom.” Mo Tun consulted his advisors. Some said it would be reasonable to cede the land, others said it would not. Mo Tun became enraged and shouted: “Treason! Land is the Foundation of the State! True wealth flows from this! To suggest giving it away is to impoverish!” He ordered that all those who had advised doing so to be beheaded.

Mo Tun then sprang on his horse, ordered that all who remained behind to be beheaded, and made a surprise attack on the Eastern Hu. The Eastern Hu were contemptuous of him and had made no preparations. When he attacked, he annihilated them. Mo Tun then turned westward and attacked the Yeuh Ti. To the south he annexed Lou Fan . . . and invaded the Yen. After the campaign, he had completely recovered the ancestral lands of the Hsiung Nu previously conqurered by the Ch’in general Meng T’ien.

plagiarism at its finest

It is likely that claiming any of the songs for this promotion as finished are in a greater part commentary on the passing nature of such works. At best they are a lock-jawed attempt to articulate and interpret for the Cosmic Roar. The songs are not done, and not undone. A recording is a snapshot. The impression of their originality could have been much greater but I have only my own indulgence to blame.

Still, there remains among us a set of critics who seem to hold that every possible image and sound is traditional. These types have no notion that there are such things as fountains in the world, both small and great. They would charitably decide that every riff they hear flows from a puncture made in some other artist's tank. I am confident however, that as far as the present music is concerned, the celebrated artists whose work I may be suspected of having imitated, either in particular passages, or in the tone and spirit of the whole, would be among the first to vindicate me from the charge of plagiarism. Furthermore, on any particularly striking coincidence, they might permit me to address them by this ancient monkish Latin hexameter couplet:

5 This is mine! and it is likewise yours! And if this will not do, Then let it be mine good friend, so much I am the lesser of the two.

I have only to add that the meter and cadence of the lyrical content of Before the Fail, is not, properly speaking, irregular, though it may seem so from it being founded on a new principle of the same old rock and roll (boy girl meet, fall in love, break up, everybody is mad.) Nevertheless, the occasional variation in number of syllables and painfully derivative rhyme (open your arms, release the charms. .. seriously?) is not introduced wantonly, or for the mere ends of convenience, but in correspondence with the transitional bridge part, and thus serves the imagery or passion of the song.


Happy listening!

understanding my place in the world

In a dream, I was in a printing house. Everything was nearly glowing from intense heat. In the various rooms I would learn how knowledge is transmitted from generation to generation.

In the first chamber was a tall man dressed in black, clearing away rubbish and hollowing out the space.

In the second chamber were conductors through which incredible energy flowed. These were folded around and writhing like snakes. The space was adorned with gold and silver and precious stones.

In the third chamber were several lions of flaming fire raging around, howling and scratching and fighting.

In the fourth chamber was an eagle with wings and feathers of shimmering air. This room was an infinite expanse, a vacuum, without walls or floors.

In the fifth chamber were forms, where the datum was cast from liquid and living metals into solids.

These were combined and arranged in a great library.

I woke up, and for the finest and most brief moment, I understood my place in the world.

Omaha 2013

Omaha, 2013

Hendrix! You should be living at this hour. Rock and roll has great need of thee, for it is a fen of stagnant waters; amp, cord, and pen. Near the bar, the Heroic drink with faces sour, having forfeited their ancient roar and dower of inward happiness. We are selfish men. O raise us up, return to us again, and give us manners, virtue, freedom, power! Your soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart; you touched the Sound and it became like the sea: pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free. And such did you travel on life's common way, in cheerful rocksuperstardom, until you drowned yourself in puke.

a flooding river

When I was 12 or 13, I was riding my dirt bike along the Little Papio Creek near 72nd and Dodge in Omaha. It was a muggy and brutal hot August day. One of those Nebraska thunderstorms was rolling in and I was trying to make it back to my friends house. Then the sky cracked open and what must have a been a billion gallons of rain and hail dumped on the city. The temperature might have dropped 40 degrees in two minutes. It was coming down so hard that the world went greyish black. I hid under the Dodge Street bridge to wait it out.

I sat there and watched the Papio go from 8 inch creek to a full flooding river, maybe 20 feet deep and 60 feet across in a matter of minutes. The rain and hail pounded down. The street drains were spraying runoff water 15 feet in the air. The wind howled. I remember watching what might have been whole trees rolling through that floodwater, and chunks of styrofoam, and abandoned furniture, and all the other trash in the city being washed away. And the fucking roar. The sound of that storm and the wind and the rain and the trash and the flooding river burned itself into my mind. I would not be surprised if it is physically etched on some part of my brain. It is more than 25 years later, and that sound is still “right there” in my consciousness.

Honest rock and roll is the only thing that I have found that even gets close to expressing it. The music I love has that “sound of the flooding river” quality to it. Honest means that the performance is telling the Truth. It doesn't seem to matter what genre, as long as it is True. This roar in my mind is a life definition. This music is the best of my ability to get that sound out.

The Sound is Rock and Roll

The Sound is rock and roll, tapped far from the Origin, many many branches down. It is now ninety-one years since its Advent: (1922. First rocknroll recording. Depending on who you ask.) and the Eternal Ringing rings on. It draws from the all-consuming roar that is beyond comprehension. Through the mind and ear, we hear it like a murk, muddled and confusing. But what joy is even the faintest portion!

In this fashion, a new realm of understanding is born. In a vision, Hendrix is the Angel sitting at the tomb: his musings are the linen clothes folded up. The new dominion of vacuum, magnetism, heat, skins and alloyed strings. Tensioned like fitful dreams. What fire there will be!

So. . . Understand this: Without Contraries there is no progression Attraction and Repulsion Reason and Energy Love and Hate Quiet and Loud (mostly loud) are necessary to Human existence. From these Contraries spring what the religious call Good & Evil. Good is the passive, the instrument that obeys Reason and produces. Evil is the active, which springs from Energy and creates.

Good is Heaven. Evil is Hell.

In its most pure form, Rock and Roll interprets from the best of each.

Building Amplifiers

Shortly after I learned about the magical wonders of touch sensitive distortion, my beloved Pignose broke. The bass EQ knob cracked apart inside the housing and rattled around. Now, I know me a few things about 'lectricity, so I got brave and opened it up. I was amazed at the mess inside. I couldn't believe the thing worked at all. Wires going every which way, blobs of solder, parts hanging off the boards. Amazing!

Since I had it open, I started thinking it would be cool if the amp did this and that and was quieter and whatnot. So I went to the internet and started reading. And reading, and reading, and ordering books, and ordering parts, and thus began my trip down the rabbit hole.

More than a full year later I have completely rebuilt the amp with some excellent custom mods. Everything is new. New transformers. New tubes, new knobs, new capacitors, everything. Now I'm finishing amps two and three (and starting number four) My goal is to get closer and closer to that perfect distortion sound. I can hear it in my mind. Lush, crunchy, sustained, each note fully articulated. Designing something with the touch sensitivity to go anywhere between a full-throated Hetfield chugga-chugga to a soaring Neil Young yowr like sound. I'm getting there. Closer and Closer. . .