Posts tagged “re-releases

Re: Releases Continued: The Modernity Trillogy

Once again we bring you digital releases of albums that were only available on CD for many years along with a little history behind the releases. This time it’s three related albums that span 6 years (one of which, Modernity, was in fact released digitally).

2000-2006 – The Modernity Trilogy

[Prologue – The Modernity Double Album]

“Modernity” is an album I’d been making since December 2000 that turned into a trilogy of albums released in 2002, 2004, and 2007. After the two years it took me to write and record the Misery double album I had the stupid idea to do another massive project right away. This was going to be a double album about the modern human being in our changing technological world. It was going to explore ideas of identity, creativity, morality, freedom and dependence, in the rapidly changing media-saturated technological world of 2000/1. The album was going to be called “Modernity”, and the two discs were going to represent two extreme reactions to the modern human being’s attempt to find her place in this world. Disc 1 would be called “Sinners” and it was going to be a harsh, noisy, heavy, electronics and grating guitars type affair with lots of screaming vocals [the Cash single was a result of some of this work]; it was going to deal with resistance and critique. Disc 2 would be called “Martyrs” and it was going to be moodier, with jangly guitars; it was going to deal with the vulnerability of the human being in this world. I recorded a LOT of material for this project, but finished very few songs (the Cash single and its b-sides are part of the result of the Sinners material, while a chunk of the Martyrs material made it onto Lumina). After a year and a bit of work though I was burned out. Tackling another large project after the Misery double album (which was both torturous to make and a massive creative turning point) was a misguided idea. By the time I abandoned the project the band had undergone the most profound change in its history.

The many early incarnations of Dumbass (from 1994 on) came to an end in 1998. From 1998 on Dumbass was a solo endeavour. I spent two years working on a huge, complex project that opened up a new chapter in the band’s history. And when it was done I needed to form a live band. Fixer joined the live band as a guitarist, then guitarist and bassist, then guitarist and bassist and percussionist, and then he was writing music and Dumbass was a two-man band. Writing music with Fixer was a thrilling new experience, and so we decided to scrap the ongoing double album I had been working on and write a new Dumbass album together.

d15hymns-30[Part 1 – Hymns of Disillusion]

Hymns of Disillusion was the result of this new work. It was a new beginning, but it also ended up capping-off the work I had been doing up to that point in what felt like a creatively satisfying way. There are a couple of complete songs as well as some elements of songs that came from the unfinished Modernity double album sessions. And — though I hadn’t planned on this — when I sat down to write the lyrics I ended up exploring the sort of themes (identity, finding our place in this modern world, freedom & dependence, faith and disillusion, power, etc.) I had been planning to write about.

Hymns of Disillusion is largely an experimental rock album with electronics (you could call it “Industrial” but that might not give the right idea). It’s a high energy album that has a lot of movement. I would characterize it as “lively” rather than heavy (it certainly doesn’t have an ponderousness to it); it’s an album that feels very alive and vivid. I think we married the rigid nature of electronics with some loose and fluid performances on this record, which ends up creating something interesting between these two extremes.

Three favourite tracks of mine are Blindness, where Fixer sings on the verses, Quietly, where he whistles (amazing live), and Waste, a noise odyssey that we loved to play live.

For the album art we each painted three paintings without discussing our ideas with the other or showing them mid-production. When we brought the six paintings together it was immediately apparent that Fixer’s spray-paint flowers on canvas would have to be the cover. I love this painting, which is on the wall of my office to the right of me as I type this.

01 Ende Neu
(Einstuerzende Neubauten)
ZM: vocals, bass, plastic percussion, metal percussion, programming, guitar, slide guitar, strings
Fixer: plastic percussion, metal percussion

02 Lies
ZM: vocals, bass, guitars, drums & programming
Fixer: sampled analogue synthesizer

03 Just lie down
ZM: vocals guitars, bass, drums & programming, edits
Fixer: edits

04 Falling up is easier
ZM: vocals, guitars, bass, drums & programming, edits, synthbass

05 Quietly
ZM: vocals, bass, drums & programming, plastic percussion, metal, percussion, wood percussion
Fixer: whistling

06 Ignoble
ZM: guitar & treatments (circa 2000)

07 Don’t believe
ZM: vocals, guitars, drums & programming, synthbass
Fixer: programming & edits, synthbass

08 The Message
ZM: vocals, guitar, drums & programming, synthbass, samples
Fixer: programming, phase distortion digital synthesizer, edits

09 Blindness
ZM: chorus vocals, guitars, drums & programming, oscillation synthesis unit, edits, vst synthesizers, synthbass, edits
Fixer: verse vocals, modem machine synthesis unit, drums & programming

10 Dry landscape
ZM: guitars & acoustic drums (circa 2000)

11 It’s ok, I’m wrong
ZM: vocals, programming, metal percussion, synthbass

12 The weight
ZM: vocals, guitars, drums & programming, percussion, crashes, papers, edits
Fixer: sampled analogue synthesizer

13 Time
ZM: vocals, drums & programming, bass, square metal tube, distorted acoustic drums, distorted metal percussion, screams
Fixer: texture guitar

14 This very earth
ZM: vocals, drums & programming, guitars, edits, Commodore Vic20 synthesis unit
Fixer: programming, synthbass, frequency modulation digital synthesizer

15 I used to believe
ZM: vocals, guitars, harmonicas, square metal tube, plastic & metal percussion, delay signal
Fixer: sampled analogue synthesizer, infinitely sustaining side guitar, delay signal

16 Insatiable disaster
ZM: voices, acoustic drums, delay loop (circa 2000)
Fixer: guitars

17 End of the end
ZM: vocals, acoustic drums, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, edits, programming, digital wave synthesizer

18 Torture
ZM: harmonica, chrometta, guitars, analogue synthesizer, chest cavity (circa 2000)

19 Waste
ZM: vocals, programming, electric guitars, acoustic guitars, phase distortion digital synthesizer, frequency modulation digital synthesizer, sampled electric guitar, synthbass
Fixer: programming, phase distortion digital synthesizer, frequency modulation digital synthesizer, strongs

20 Failing
ZM: synthesis unit remanufactured from a Nintendo video game unit

21 Weep
ZM: vocals, drums & programming, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, electric piano
Fixer: backing vocals

Hymns of Disillusion also spawned two singles, one for Falling Up is Easier, and the other for Blindness.

cover22-32[Part 2 – The Me Generation]

After we finished Hymns of Disillusion I was in Berlin for a couple of weeks and there came up with an idea for the next big Dumbass project; this was eventually to become Die Mauer (one of our best works). Making Die Mauer took us 1 year and 1 month from conception to final mix (before that we recorded another of our best albums: Summer/Winter/Two Weeks, but we released it after Die Mauer, for some reason). But along the way I had continued to think about the themes of the aborted Modernity double album, which I had addressed in some ways and from some angles on Hymns of disillusion, but hadn’t felt like I had explored all that needed exploring. Meanwhile, of course, the technological world was continuing to change rapidly. The information/media-technological matrix of 2004 was already manifestly different than that of late 2000. By that point it felt as though I had new things to say on the matter.

The Me Generation gets its title from a commercial for a certain (at the time) largely reviled computer operating system that depicted people “demanding more choice” (or something like that). And it got me thinking about the many different manifestations of the illusion of choice in our world, about advertising in particular, about manipulation, about infantilization, about identity as a product, power, and overabundance (in many forms) and its detrimental effects.

This was our first album that we made entirely free (we burned a massive amount of CDs and gave them out for free, took them to record stores and hid them amongst the shelves, left them in places where interesting people were likely to find them, and so on). We had had free MP3s on our website since it began in 1998, but online storage and bandwidth were expensive and we’d never been able to have more than 4 or 5 at a time online. With this album we wanted the whole thing to be free. And because we were talking about commodity culture, we wanted it to be a free physical thing that would be given to people, or shared, or found. So I put aside a chunk of money from my job (which was largely going to university tuition and books the time) for manufacturing. It helped that, again, technology had been moving rapidly. CDRs were becoming cheaper and cheaper as was printing.

We explored the idea of choice (and the possibility of the illusion thereof) in musical terms as well. We actually made 4 versions of the album, each less accessible and appealing then the preceding (but almost everyone just got the one version). The main version itself begins with our most accessible (and even poppy) songs to date and then takes a drastic turn into heavy, noisy, and at times lyrically ugly songs (there is a song called “The Retail Dance” told from the point of view of “the customer” that evokes a feeling of disgust from people who have never worked retail and a feeling of all-too-familiar recognition from people who have worked retail).

The instrumentation is similar to Hymns of Disillusion, but the feeling of liveliness is replaced by a more sombre tone, often rife with sarcasm, and, at several points the narrative of the songs are told from the point of view of those seeking to dominate, rather than those resisting or succumbing to domination. Looking at the ugliness of power from the ugly side makes some of these songs hard to bear; I probably listen to this album the least for this reason, but I think this also indicates that we hit on something real.

01 Sign of the times

02 Cozy blue

03 Relax it’s ok

04 I’m you

05 Actions

06 Now

07 Observations from within

08 Dissatisfaction (I don’t know what I want)

09 The retail dance

10 Intermission (a distraction)

11 Sacrifice

12 Distraction

13 Crying the blues

14 Bored & stupid

15 What is?

16 Failing

17 Take it all

18 What is it?

19 Disease

20 Reflexive knowledge

21 Tantrum

22 Is it hopeless?

[I don’t have a track-by-track breakdown of the instrumentation for this album as we didn’t print it in the liner notes (track-sheets exist, but they are buried in some notebook amongst many other old notebooks in a box of notebooks amongst other boxes of notebooks {there are a lot of notebooks})]

d33_modernity-34[Part 3 – Modernity Revisited]

After The Me Generation we went in a very different direction with Lumina and Jouissance. But again, that same cluster of themes from 2000 kept reasserting themselves, but again, as the world of information technology continued to change at a rapid pace, these themes came up in new lights, connected to other themes, and brought up further issues: identity, power, media, technology, commodity culture, information culture, creativity, freedom and dependence, money, choice and the illusion thereof, abundance and lack, and finding our place as human beings in this information-technological world. Once again we started working on an album exploring these themes, and, as things had again changed, the resulting album was different.

In a way, though it wasn’t intended at the time, the three albums chart the progress of the massive changes that the internet brought through these years. In each case the goal of the album was to look at the modern human’s place in the modern world. But in each case, that world had changed from the last time we looked in on the situation. 2007, when we finished the last album in this unintended trilogy (the album is called Modernity, after the original idea from 2000), was already different from 2004, to say nothing of 2002, or 2000.

Once again, the instrumentation is similar to the previous two, which gives the trilogy a feeling of musical connectedness that is, of course, rooted in the thematic connections. Harsh electronics combine with noisy guitars again, but this album has neither the frenetic feel of Hymns of Disillusion nor the bleak harshness of The Me Generation. Instead Modernity often feels melancholic, more reflective, more empathetic, exploring a different range of emotions and reactions. It’s also more historically reflective; it looks back across the years of change rather than just being a snapshot of the times like the first two albums of the trilogy. [More info]

In addition to the album we made a long-form movie to accompany it. Rather than a music video for the whole album, The Modernity Movie is a visual reflection of the album’s themes and narrative arc; it tells a story. I was obsessively studying the theory of silent film from the early decades of the twentieth century at the time and wrote the movie according to its principles. The movie tells a story in images as the album tells it in music and words (in both cases, poetically, with necessary degrees of abstraction) using the narrative mechanisms of silent film.

01 Non-Simultaneity
02 Fingers
03 4 Days in the Life
04 Processing Plant
05 Self Defense
06 You Know Just What to Do
07 Machine Culture
08 Less Than
09 Give Me a Reason to Believe
10 Passing Away
11 The Evolution of Entertainment
12 Broadband
13 Impending Doom
14 The Edge

[Once again I don’t have a track-by-track breakdown of the instrumentation for this one]


Re-Releases Continued: Jouissance

We continue our series of re-releases of Dumbass albums that were only ever available on physical CDs with 2005’s Jouissance:

d27jouissance2005 – Jouissance

The original idea for Jouissance was to use sex as a metaphor for discussing art and creativity more broadly. I wanted to explore all aspects of this topic, from the frenetic energy of the flash of inspiration, to the ways in which art/sex has been commodified; a key theme was cliches and the ways they tend to present paths of automatic expression. And yet, as the writing process progressed an unexpected element crept in; amongst the songs on the planned topics, I also began to write a lot of straight-ahead non-metaphorical love songs. This was totally unplanned and it took us into uncharted territory. It put 010us out of our usual comfort zone, which is always a good thing, so we pushed it further. The result is an album that covers the planned territory, but has an added breadth and depth, and far more complexity. People who were familiar with our past work were surprised by the resulting album. I remember a friend remarking: “I would never have thought you two would have made an album like this.” …always a good reaction for us.

005Sonically we were pushing into new territory as well. Every Dumbass album tends to sound different because the music is always written to express the ideas we are exploring within the confines of each album’s guiding concept or subject matter. The idea comes first and the music serves the idea.

With Jouissance, we wanted the album to have a very organic and unpolished feel. We wanted it to sound like a band playing in a barn. It had never come out in our music before this, but both Fixer and myself have always been fans of artists like Neil Young and The Band, and we 027channeled a lot of that with this album. Though it’s just the two of us playing the music we wanted it to feel as live as possible, so there are no edits at all, just long takes. There is also very little processing (a bit of reverb and some very light eq here and there). We sculpted the sonic palette outside of the box while recording (with mic-placement, and so on) and used the computer as a simple recorder.

026The vast majority of the songs were also written on a guitar, rather than on a keyboard, which wasn’t something I’d done since the late 90s. I think this album has some of my favourite guitar-based dumbass songs we’ve ever done. Fixer played a lot of organ on this album (he is a genius on it), along with guitar, saxophone, bass and violin. My one regret with this album is that we didn’t 045record more saxophone, but then it might not have fit into more songs. Fixer always seems to know when a song has enough elements better than I; the various songs for which he is credited for “abstinence” — besides being a bit of word-play in regard to the album’s theme — attest to this.

Each disc of the album has a different feel and flow. We really wanted each to feel like a distinctive side of the album. Fixer, as usual, was instrumental here (he generally 024plays the main role in sequencing our albums). The first disc opens with a suite of bombastic love-songs and then takes the listener on a journey through all manner of roots-y rock and even folky moments, while the second disc takes the listener into more experimental territory, stretching the sonic framework and vocabulary we’ve established into more abstract directions.

It was an album where we pushed ourselves into very unfamiliar musical territory, which is generally a good thing for us.

 


 

Tracks:

05flowers-303x600Disc 1:

01 Everything
ZM: vocals, guitars, drums, percussion, bass, hand claps, piano
Fixer: organ, hand claps

02 It’s time
ZM: vocals, guitars, drums, harmonica, bass
Fixer: organ

03 Pheromones
ZM: vocals, guitars, drums, bass, harmonica
Fixer: abstinence

04 Summer evening rain
ZM: vocals, guitar, hand claps
Fixer: abstinence

05 She
ZM: vocals, guitars, drums, bass
Fixer: organ

06 Deep eyes
ZM: vocals, drums, piano, bass, guitars, slide guitar
Fixer: slide guitar

07 Some kind of dream
ZM: vocals, drums, piano, bass
Fixer: Guitars
jh
08 Minds made up in time
ZM: vocals, guitar
Fixer: abstinence

09 These things I wonder not
ZM: vocals, guitars, drums, percussion
Fixer, guitars, saxophone

back_inner_3-250x18710 Tonight
ZM: vocals, guitars, drums, bass, firework
Fixer: wah-organ

11 Give & take in the extreme
ZM: vocals, guitars, drums, bass
Fixer: Saxophone

12 Miss captivating
ZM: vocals, piano, drums, guitars, bass
Fixer: organ

13 In the deep dark night
ZM: vocals, drums, recorder, bass
Fixer: guitars, electric motor

be_in_2-250x18714 All the things you are
ZM: vocals, bass, drums
Fixer: abstinence

15 Proximity
ZM: vocals, chord organ
Fixer: abstinence

16 Breathing
ZM: vocals, piano, percussion, camera, bass
Fixer: abstinence

17 Placere
ZM: Vocals, guitars, drums, book, percussion
Fixer: bass

back_inner_1-250x18718 Sex is a commodity
ZM: vocals, guitars, drums, bass
Fixer: abstinence

19 Afterglow
ZM: vocals, guitar, harmonica
Fixer: abstinence

Disc 2

01 Holistic being
ZM: vocals, drums, piano
Fixer: guitars

back_inner_4-250x18702 Halt mich fest
ZM: vocals, drums, organ
Fixer: guitars

03 Holding hands
ZM: vocals, drums, bass
Fixer: bass, guitars, violin

04 Du bist du
ZM: vocals, guitar, percussion
Fixer: abstinence

05 5am (falling for you)
ZM: vocals, guitar, harmonica
Fixer: abstinence

b_in-250x18706 A fortiori
ZM: vocals, chord organ, guitar
Fixer: abstience

07 1,2,3,4…
ZM: vocals, guitar, percussion
Fixer: abstinence

08 Frenzy & flashbulbs
ZM: vocals, percussion, guitar
Fixer: guitars

09 What do we want?
ZM: vocals, guitars, voltage, organ, percussion
Fixer: abstinence

back_cover-250x18710: That’s right
ZM: vocals, guitar, percussion, book
Fixer: abstinence

11 Now
ZM: vocals, percussion, bass
Fixer: guitars

12 Sex in words
ZM: vocals, guitar
Fixer: abstinence


d29everythingandmisscaptivating-390x337

Singles:

There were no singles from this album at the time we put it out. Later on we made a sort of Promo Single of Everything and Miss Captivating, with a couple of B-sides from the Lumina collection:

1 Everything (from the album: Jouissance)
2 Kiss/Muse (from the album: Lumina 1)
3 Miss Captivating (from the album: Jouissance)
4 No Matter (from the album: Lumina 2)
5 What is (from the album: Lumina 2)
6 The Me Generations [Apathy] (from the album: Lumina 2)

 

And Fixer made a wonderful video for the song Deep Eyes:

 


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