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Dumbass 2020

Photo on 4-8-20 at 3.41 PMWe’re still working on new material…

In the meantime, here’s some info and such:

Dumbass is an old band (started in 1994). We’ve been making music a long time. Since 2001 Dumbass has been the duo of Zeke Mason and Fixer. We’ve made a lot of music together over the years, but it’s become a slower process since 2008 (we now live in different countries, to say nothing of families and jobs, which take up lots of time). For these reasons our output has slowed down a lot. But we’re still working on stuff… it just takes a lot longer now. Our philosophy since 2008 has been that new Dumbass music simply takes as long as it takes, and that’s it really. All that is merely to say that we’re actually still doing stuff, the project isn’t dead (we’ll both be 40 this year… if we haven’t stopped by now, the odds are that we won’t now)… and… to say that we think we should be done the next Dumbass album by the end of 2020 (that’s the hope anyways!). Until then, here is some previous work to keep you listening for hours on end:

Robbing Graves 1Robbing Graves

Our most recent album is 2014’s Robbing Graves.

It was our 15th full album and our 38th release in total. The fact that I think it’s one of our best albums, after so much music-making for so long, is very gratifying.

It was a very long, slow process to make, but it paid off.

You can download it for free (like all of our releases), and stream it, and read more about it, and see some pictures, etc. all HERE


The next most recent album was 2009’s God’s Garden

d35_gods_gardenGod’s Garden

God’s Garden showed us at the height of our collaborative powers, taking a looser, less thematically and theoretically grounded approach to composition that we hadn’t really used since Hymns of Disillusion.

We were definitely wearing our post-noise-rock hats with this one. It’s a stone-cold-classic.

You can also download it for free, watch videos, download single b-sides, and so on HERE


 

Before that, our most recent album was Modernity

d33_modernityModernity

Modernity, with it’s themes of social isolation, information-technology overload, and so on feels strangely prescient right now.

Modernity was the last part of a sort of unintentional trilogy that included the albums, Hymns of Disillusion, and The Me Generation. You can read about all of that, download all 3 albums, see some pictures, etc. HERE

We also made a full-length movie to accompany the album… I’d recommend watching it!


Three Crucial Albums

Beyond that there are lots more releases, but a great place to start digging into them is with three crucial albums: Die Mauer, Summer/Winter/Two Weeks, and The Execution of Certain Actions.

d17diemauerswcovercover2

These are some of our best. Die Mauer is a deep exploration of the idea of determinism. Summer/Winter/Two Weeks an exercise in freedom and control amid seasonal ruminations, and The Execution of Certain Actions is a deep dive into ritual.

As with the above, you can download them all for free, watch videos, etc. HERE


Historical Review

Over the past couple of years we uploaded a bunch of older releases that only ever saw physical release on CD. Now they are available to download (for free, obviously). We also saw this as a chance for a bit of historical reflection, so we commented fairly heavily on them, added some pictures and so on.

One of these batches of re-releases (or digital releases for the first time) were the above-mentioned other two albums of the Modernity trilogy.

d27jouissanceJouissance

The second re-release was the double-album Jouissance, an album about creativity, love, sex, and life. There are a lot more acoustic instruments on this one… It stands out a lot from the rest of our catalogue.

One of the restrictions we placed on ourselves while recording this was that it needed to be about performances over perfection, so we didn’t do any editing… Everything was recorded in long takes; if there was a mistake in a take we had to decide whether to keep it, or to re-do the entire take from the beginning.

As with all of these, you can download it for free, read about it, and look at some pretty pictures, HERE


 

misery_cover

Misery

And finally, the first of these historical re-releases was the 2000 double album Misery, which turns 20 years old this year.

It’s a dissection of the idea of change presented through an exploration of myths of death and rebirth.

I can definitely hear how young I was when I made it, but I’m still proud of it as an early work.

I recorded it over a period of two years of intense work. The two discs together form a continuous cycle… the first leads directly into the second, which leads directly back into the first… Try listening to it on repeat (it’s a big commitment, but pays off, I think).

Download it, read about it, see the pretty pictures, etc. all HERE


Well, that’s enough to situate you if you are new to our music and give you an update if you are not… Enjoy!

And stay tuned for a new Dumbass album… hopefully by the end of 2020.


Re-Releases

To celebrate the 20-year anniversary of Trash Records we are putting some Dumbass albums online that only ever saw physical release back in the day. The first one is Misery (from way back in 2000!). See the Post below!


Re-Releases Part 1: Misery (2000)

misery_coverMisery

The Misery album took just over two years to write and record. I started working on it ideas for it in September of 1998 and finished it in December of 2000. In the early years Dumbass was a pretty aggressive noise rock band. For the next Dumbass album I wanted to push things a lot further in a lot of different directions. I had been reading a lot of comparative mythology at the time and wanted to create a large-scale concept album about the process of change, told through a mythological cycle of death and rebirth. I wanted to use the sort of symbolic story-telling methods that are observed in world mythology to talk about the concept of change in the abstract, to tell a story in archetypes that was actually about something more basic than narrative itself.

page_72-600x600I started by working out the sort of symbols and archetypes I would use, and then the stages of the death and rebirth story. I knew it was going to be a double album that formed a cycle, where the first disc led directly to the second and the second led directly back to the first. I had the idea that someone could put the two cds into a cd changer on repeat and one would flow into the other and back to the first and on and on an on…

I was still a teenager when I started writing this album and I can hear that when I listen to it, but it’s still an album that I’m proud of.

page_14-600x600Here’s what I wrote about it in 2004 or so:

“The making of the Misery album was an intense process. I worked on this album in total isolation, with no creative interaction with other people for a period of two years. I began with a lot of ideas. Musically, I wanted to make an album that would break Dumbass out of the
industrial-noise-rock box. I wanted the album to do everything. I wanted to make an album that explored so much musical ground, that afterwards, anything I wanted to do would make perfect sense. So the album needed industrial-noise-rock, in fact, it needed to push that even further. But it also needed to be mellower than anything I’d ever done. It needed to do all sorts of things that I’d never done. After 2 full years of work I had about 6 hours of completed music… and I don’t even know how much I scrapped.

page_19-600x600I also went into this album with an extremely complicated concept, which made for very strict and difficult working conditions. The album deals with symbols, and specifically (though not limited to) those representing change. At its most basic level, the album is about change, the painful, difficult, cyclical and yet progressive process of change. The album is about death and life, about rebirth and repetition, about evolution, weakness, strength, pain, joy, etc. For maximum effect, play both discs of the album, one after the other, on repeat (the album is designed to flow in a continuous cycle).

Zeke Mason”

Tracks:

page_152-600x600Disc 1:

01 Incipio (in medias res)
02 Cold Fate
03 Burning in my Dreams (Annihilate)
04 When
05 Fall
06 10 Seconds
07 The Way
08 Strength
09 Quiet
10 Wondering how far down
11 Submerge
12 I’d be
13 Belong
14 Grey
15 Surrender
16 The Dying God
17 The Void

If you can, listen to the whole album straight through, on repeat. The last song on the first disc leads directly to the first song on the second disc, and the last song on the second disc leads directly into the first song on the first disc. The album as a whole forms a continuous loop.

page_16-600x600

Disc 2:

01 In the Belly of the Beast
02 The Return
03 Disillusioned
04 The Chills of Memory
05 Strength from Weakness
06 Nine
07 Ascent
08 Atrophy
09 Blue
10 “The Chimes at Midnight”
11 Green
12 Archetype
13 The Living
14 The Nothing
15 Altered Now
16 Faithless Still
17 Ariel
18 Crash
19 Home is Foreign (The Final Ascent)
20 Fin.

CLICK HERE to head down memory lane and visit the old mini-site for the album. There is more of the album art up there and a couple of little surprises hidden here and there.

page_3-600x600Singles and Further:

At the end of two years or pretty much constant work I had recorded a massive amount of music.

page_52-600x600A lot of ideas were scrapped, but, in total, about 6 or 7 hours of music was completed. I had written songs specifically to go in certain places in the narrative, so when the time came to compile the album, I was picking from batches of songs that were meant to go in specific places on one of the two discs. The final album was about 2 hours and 40 minutes. Then there were three singles, each with a lot of b-sides; and finally there was an alternate, single-disc version of the album called Further, which told the same narrative, but in a compressed form, with totally different songs.

I’ve not uploaded MP3s of the b-sides and Further, because it would just be a massive amount of music. But if anyone is interested you can contact us through our facebook page and we can send them to you.

cold_fate_coverSingle 1: Cold Fate

Cold Fate was meant to be a sort of transitional track. It begins with an industrial-rock sort of vibe in the verse and choruses, but then moves into a more abstract solo section and outro. I wanted it to start somewhere familiar and end by opening up into a bigger landscape. The b-sides on the single were meant to lead the listener further and further away from the familiar.

01 Cold Fate
02 Falling Down
03 Nowhere You
04 Dethroned
05 Hate Beyond Hope
06 Solace

the_way_coverSingle 2: The Way/10 Seconds

The second single was a double a-side and loaded with b-sides. The a-sides are heavy and noisy and the b-sides match. It opened with a shorter radio-edit of The Way for college radio (which was the only place we got airplay, though, to be fair, we never sent cds to any other stations).

01 The Way (Radio Edit)
02 10 Seconds
03 Motion
04 Slight
05 Infinite Disasters
06 Pressure
07 Crucible
08 Dismembered
09 Excess
10 While (Ver. 2)
11 Relentless Punishment
12 Crawl
13 The Way (Album Version)
14 Loop
15 Once
16 Boil
17 Asshole

surrender_coverSingle 3: Surrender

The Surrender single featured more atmospheric and pretty songs. It was also  loaded down with b-sides.

01 Surrender
02 Twitch
03 Mirror
04 Mines
05 All I see
06 Rise
07 Flinch
08 Dawn
09 Dusk
10 Clouds
11 Survive
12 Harm
13 Systems Collapse
14 If
15 Being Watched
16 Slow Waves Rising
17 Surrender (Demo)

further_cover_copy-600x471Further

Further was an afterthought. Even with both discs of the album and three singles worth of b-sides there was still some completed music that I liked that I hadn’t done anything with. So I came up with the idea to create an alternate version of the album on a single disc. It tells the same narrative as the original 2-disc album, but in a more compressed manner, and with songs that have a pretty different sound to the ones that I selected for the album. I wanted to try to make selections that felt like they used the same archetypes, but in a very different myth.

01 Inception
02 Fall
03 Transgression
04 Alles ist Nacht
05 The Golden Age Before the Inevitable Decline
06 Crumble
07 Unsure
page_153-600x55908 Further
09 Revenio
10 Nox adest
11 Necessary
12 Cauldron
13 Deus Mortalis
14 Myth
15 Reaffirming the Sense of Discontent
16 Melancholy
17 Pale Grey
18 Machine
19 Hung on the World Tree
20 Avalon
21 Squall

 

 


Robbing Graves, the new album

Robbing Graves0“The negative form of the self exercises a loosening power as well as a binding power; at any time it can quite arbitrarily start all over again, and no matter how long one idea is pursued, the entire action is within a hypothesis.”

 

Robbing Graves is the new release from Dumbass.

It is an intense expressionist and experimental suite of music in two parts. The first part (the title track), is a 54 minute piece of music that is both sonically and lyrically challenging. It is deeply itertextual, both formalist and freeform, with lyrics in 4 languages, and music that moves from minimal and quiet to brash and noisy.

Robbing Graves weaves the past and present together, figuratively and literally through extensive use of archival recordings and incisive self-reflection.

The second part plays more like a traditional album, with more manageable song lengths, but it is in fact a continuation of an overarching narrative that moves, from bar 1 of part 1 towards its inevitable conclusion in the final song.

The album is available to download for free here at the Dumbass website.

Robbing Graves PortfolioIt is also available in a portfolio edition, with 2 CDs, a liner-book, and 4 hand printed woodcuts. Contact us through the Trash Records Facebook page if you are interested.

Finally, you can also stream the first Part of the album on youtube and vimeo.


Stream new music

You can now stream the 54 minute title track of the new dumbass album:


New Dumbass Release Coming Very Soon

Robbing Graves0


Coming very soon!


Dumbass Retrospective

From the new Trash Records Retrospectus/Prospectus:

Dumbass: Past, Present, & Future

Dumbass too is old. It’s an old band… older than Trash Records by several years. Dumbass started some time in early 1994… twenty years ago now. Dumbass has had countless members, made days worth of music, presented many faces to the world, etc. etc. etc.

We started out with me, a guitar, my friend Jeff, and a collection of buckets and paint cans that he banged on with two very large screwdrivers. Our early recordings were made on thrift-store tape recorders, making sound on sound recordings by linking 3 decks together using an RCA y-cable that I got from a broken motorcycle helmet intercom at work (we used headphones plugged into the microphone jacks as mikes).

We have been, for most of the life of the band, an “experimental” project. We certainly started that way, and we are deep into another experimental phase at the moment, but there have also been times where we utilized the skills we developed through experiment to express certain ideas without at the same time, working on new experiments. This is why I like to refer to Dumbass as primarily an “expressionist” band. We are often experimental – pushing ourselves into new creative territory, experimenting with technique, with the creative process, with ourselves – but we are always expressive, and, particularly, expressionist.

Our most important influences (though perhaps not the most obvious sonically) were artists like Bowie and Pink Floyd as well as Skinny Puppy and pre-thrash Ministry (these last two are easier to hear). Nearly every Dumbass album has been a concept album; we come up with an ideal (usually a philosophical discussion or explration) and then try to express it sonically. This makes for a catalogue that varies widely as far as sound, feel, and even musical genre goes.

We’ve broken into scrap yards in the middle of the night with a portable tape recorder, made recordings high up in the mountains, hours and hours of driving away from civilization. We re-wired old computers and bashed drum kits. We programmed synthesizers and recorded raging rivers.

The most important moment in Dumbass’ history occurred sometime in 2000 when Fixer joined the band. There have been more people in this band than I remember, but the band has been Fixer and I since 2000 or 2001 with a small number of people coming and going since then.

We are currently working on new material. It’s a big project, and I think it’s very good. But its slow going. We’re being very careful with it, and, unfortunately, we don’t have much free time to work on it. And we live hundreds of miles away from each other at the moment. But the new material is progressing, in slow, meticulous little bits. This is an experimental project, and we are pushing ourselves hard. Central themes are difficulty and distance, which we are artificially enhancing rather than trying to alleviate and overcome. I hope we will have something to release by the end of the year, but no promises.

In the meantime, as I mentioned in the Trash Records retrospective, we are going ot upload some material that never saw a web release. The first thing will be The Execution of Random Actions, in which we explored the notion that human beings are no more able to be truly random than computers. We began each recording session with no pre-decided ideas or plans. We tried to do things randomly:

“I’ll record some drums.”

“I’ll record some bass.”

“I’ll chop up what you just recorded.”

“I’ll chop up what you recorded a week ago.”

“I’ll slow this down.”

“I’ll delete the guitar.”

Etc. etc. etc.

We plugged instruments in or miked them up and just pressed “record.” Lyrics were written the same way: I would randomly decide to lay down a vocal. Sometimes I would open my notebook and just write whatever came out, sometimes I would decide to edit this or that text, sometimes I would just stand at the mike and make it up on the spot. At one point I flipped through my notebook, reading lines and words from songs from previous albums at random. And yet…

And yet, it’s all strangely musical. And yet, lyrical themes developed (a series of song texts that revolve around the seasons, for instance). Random things should surprise you… what surprised us was just how un-random it all sounded. We had an inkling that this is how it would turn out, but not the extent (did this inkling affect the outcome?).

I like this album a lot, but it got a bit lost between the bigger projects that preceded and succeeded it. It’s nice then to put it out now where it can breathe a bit more.

This is a noisy album, it’s sonically harsh at times, but it has, I think, a strangely deep musicality to it that I have a hard time explaining (a result, no doubt, of the “random actions” forcing our musical subconscious, instincts, muscle-memory, etc. to take the wheel as our conscious planning-minds tried to forsake the driver’s seat). It’s also a lively and, I would say, again, strangely joyous album.

Look for it in May.

And look for updates on the new project as it progresses.

ZM


Updating the Dumbass webpage

This may take some time.
It’s a big site overhaul.

“The negative form of the self exercises a loosening power as well as a binding power; at any time it can quite arbitrarily start all over again, and no matter how long one idea is pursued, the entire action is within a hypothesis.”